Archive for the ‘Art Commentary’ Category

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 2

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I know. This list should have been 3, 5, 7, or 10 long. Not 101.

20 a day is a ton. 101 total is waaaay too many. people who like art, however, and thus, my website, are smarter and sexier than average. I have faith.

Don’t worry, most of these are mere trifles, and won’t require any thought.

There may be one or two hidden in there that have some nuggets of wisdom…

Without any more waiting, continuing from the first 20 things I learned,

20 more things I learned by making 101 Woodblock Prints

  1. Someone else might like most what you like least.
  2. Photograph your art during the day, in the morning, when you have the most natural light available. Indoor lighting is awful for photos.
  3. Give a print a night or two before pasing judgment. It might look better in the morning. Or worse. Either way, give it time.
  4. The color will look darker when it is printed than it does on the palette. Context changes how things appear.
  5. If you leave your computer on to take notes/post to twitter/whatever, you are gonna get ink on the keys
  6. If you are not careful opening ink jars and getting ink out, it will splatter, and your walls will look like a Jackson Pollock painting
  7. Order a LOT more transparent medium than anything else.
  8. People will take pictures of your apartment if you hang your art in the window to dry.
  9. Good ink is worth the extra 15 bucks a jar
  10. I need better brayers.
  11. Cotton rag paper isn’t the best for relief printing, even if it looks nice. Get washi.
  12. Do people care about what goes into making art? I don’t know.
  13. Watching TV in the background will just slow you down.
  14. Listening to audio books won’t slow you down.
  15. Listening to heavy metal will speed you up.
  16. Especially if it is Slayer.
  17. Especially if it is “Reign in Blood“, Slayer’s fastest album (210 beats per minute average!)
  18. Don’t cut corners.
  19. Also, don’t carve corners (or yourself).
  20. And definitely don’t ink the corners.

Curious what the next 20 lessons are? Click to read numbers 41 through 60, amigo. You can also read numbers 61 through 80, muchahco!

101 things I learned from making 101 prints, Part 1

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I finished my 101 Woodblock Series the other night, so I thought, what better time to make a list post?

Everyone needs a snack.

These 101 prints were a lot of work. They are for sale to newsletter subscribers for the price of a latte at Starbucks. They go on sale to everyone in a week or two, and the price is gonna go up to about 25 bucks. If you want one, you save over 20 bucks by buying one now. Sign up for the email newsletter to get the goods.

Moving on, a list in many parts..

101 things I learned by making 101 prints.

  1. 101 is a lot of something to make.
  2. Making one hundred and one is as simple as Making 1, then repeating 100 times.
  3. Pink is an easy color to make look good.
  4. Orange isn’t. Sorry, Orange.
  5. Art is a product, like any other. It just has a different set of emotions attached.
  6. Reduction printmaking requires more planning than you did.
  7. Not all 9″x12″ blocks are the same size.
  8. I can go without food when I’m working on art, but not without coffee.
  9. Two pots of coffee is twice as good as one pot
  10. When I drink tea or coffee later in the evening, it is easier to work, but harder to sleep
  11. I get frustrated when I can’t mix the right color.
  12. I get excited when I mix the right color.
  13. Use rags liberally, don’t worry about conserving.
  14. Ink is certainly messy.
  15. If you get a lot of ink on your hands, soap won’t work. Time for paint thinner.
  16. A little paint thinner never hurt anyone. I hope.
  17. Wash your hands frequently. You’re gonna need the hardcore soap, the green stuff with little bits of pumice in it.
  18. If you really think a particular color won’t look good, don’t use it. Mix up another color.
  19. Careful planning can save you time, and ink.
  20. Too much planning can waste time, however. Thinking about what to do never got anything done.

The next 20 continued in tomorrow’s post.

Or, for the overachiever, jump ahead to numbers 41 to 60. Wash it down with numbers 61 to 80.

Free Art Friday, Eggs, and Marketing

Friday, January 29th, 2010

I didn’t even know it, but today is Free Art Friday.

I won’t make the mistake of not knowing again.

It was a lark that I discovered this – I almost didn’t go for a jog during my lunch break, but I did. On my way back up Folsom Street towards the office, I saw a sign next to a table:

Free Art Friday

Of course I stopped to investigate.

Guerrilla Marketing, with food

The artist, who I soon learned was named Tracy, had a table set up offering a choice: a free hard boiled egg, or a free drawing of an egg. I couldn’t make up my mind (I was hungry from my jog), and after some conversation, she kindly offered both.

Tracy Grubbs on Free Art Friday

Tracy Grubbs offered fresh hard boiled eggs, or a drawing of an egg to every passer by

The whole interaction and experience was so pleasant and unexpected that I’m writing about it now.

I’m also writing about this because it shouldn’t be unexpected. I wish this was much more common.

The artist is Tracy Grubbs, a San Francisco painter. I asked about her art, and she told me that lately, she has been examining shape and space in her art, and in particular the empty space around objects as a subject matter.

(I hope I am remembering her words correctly)

As I was looked at the drawing I received from her (it’s down below), and thought about her words about space, I saw the empty paper as part of the composition, just as much as the ink. The unmarked areas are as much a part of the drawing as the marked areas.

I mentioned my own woodblock printmaking, and we discussed her “mercenary” marketing methods (my description). She sets up in front of her studio, on the edge of the Financial District. Folsom isn’t the busiest street, but there is a decent amount of foot traffic. Her location was a good balance between enough people coming by, but not so many that she would be lost in the hustle and bustle.

The real trick is to get people to slow down and engage, she mentioned. As I was talking to her, another guy stopped for a minute, and left with an egg. Two ladies walked by, but did not stop.

I thought the egg was the cleverest part of her marketing. In a strange way, the option to take just an egg made the entire interaction much more light-hearted, and lifted any pressure that may have been part of an interaction.

The art and the egg

Eggs from Tracy Grubbs

The Eggs I received from Tracy. The hard boiled egg has since been eaten.

I ate the egg for lunch. It was delicious.

As I write this, my egg drawing is attached to my calendar at work. I’ll bring it home with me tonight.

I encourage you to take a minute and check out Tracy’s site, it is right here:

She does striking paintings of impermanent automobiles. I’m going to leave it to you to click through to her site to see what I mean by that; I rather like them. You won’t be disappointed.

Go check her website out now, I’ll still be here when you get back.

I’m in

“Free Art Friday” has a nice ring to it. I think I will participate.

The aspect of Tracy’s set up that I liked most is that she was taking the time to get art into people’s hands. Art does not have to be something stuck in galleries, only appreciated by people “in the know”. Tracy took her art to the streets – literally – and people went home with art in their hands.

That is cool, it is inspiring, and I think we could use more of that in our culture.

I have to spend my Fridays chugging along at DayJob, so I’ll have to set up a virtual table for people to visit. Look out for my own FreeArtFriday posts next Friday on my Twitter account. I’ll probably have drawings of fire hydrants to give away, or something like that.

Want in? Follow me on twitter here: @BadDeacon.

My Art is About Gears, Plants, and Flowers

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

I have been asked recently what kind of art I make.

When people ask me this, they aren’t asking the medium that I use (which is relief block printing), they are asking what kind of imagery I draw.

Simply put, right now, I draw gears, flowers, and plants.

Yes, that is correct, there is a gear in there.

The usual word that some art critic might use with their wacky vocabulary is “juxtaposition” to describe this, but really, I think of it in a much more simple way – I just combine them together.

I am interested in machines, how they work, how they transmit power from one place to another, and how they can be designed in rather clever ways.

Maybe this is how I ended up as a Mechanical Engineer…

I really like flowers and plants also. I see the lush green of the plants that seem to swirl and unfold out, dotted with bright points of brilliant red, white, yellow, purple, and orange of the flowers.

In a way, things that grow are a bit of the opposite of machines. One is made by nature, organic, smooth, random. The other is made by man, manufactured, rigid, exact.

My art is not a statement about society, or man, or nature, or the environment. It is about myself in one way or another. For some reason, this combination of elements fascinates me.

It is obvious to me to combine these two subjects together.

My hope is that you will find something that you find interestign amongst the images I make. Maybe one of them will jump out to you, and it will make sense to you.

The reason why may not be clear, and it may not be obvious, but in that moment when you see something you like amongst the art I am making, I feel like I have shared a little of myself with you, and you have warmly received it.

= = =

If you haven’t yet heard about the 101 Woodblock Series, it’s time to fix that! I am working on a series of woodblock prints that is a crash course through means and methods of relief printmaking.

At the end of this project, I will have 101 unique pieces of art, each of which has been printed from some combination of wood and linoleum blocks.

I want my crash course to be your benefit, so the results of this project are going to be sold to you for only the amount to cover my shipping costs and the cost of materials.

In other words, dirt cheap original, unique art.

The subject of this series is exactly what I talked abotu above, gears, plants, flowers, plus some good old fashioned design thrown in to hold it all together.

If you have started to think, “yes, that is something I am interested in”, sign up for my newsletter, and you will get updates about the project, first notice when the prints have gone on sale, and behind the scenes looks at the creative process.

Click on “101 Woodblock Series” on the left to sign up for the newsletter.

Art Galleries and Collectors Have Dinosaur Mentality

Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

The New York Times is running an article, Digital Creations Come of Age about Digital Art and some of the little annoying problems that collectors and dealers are facing trying to collect and sell this stuff.

They are looking at this entirely wrong.

In the age of Pirate Bay, unique ownership of anything in digital form is like trying to scoop up water with a net.

For those of you that didn’t go read the article, the author writes about the challenges that artists and collectors face when buying and selling digital art. A piece of digital art, after all, is made up of a bunch of 1’s and 0’s on a computer, disk, or other digital storage device.

If someone makes a work of art with digital methods, what is the original piece of art? If the art is nothing but a file, how can anyone be sure that their copy is unique or original?

The article goes on to say,

Uniqueness is central to the digital art paradox. On one hand, its lack of uniqueness is a fundamental characteristic, part of its originality; on the other hand, the sense of exclusive ownership that uniqueness bestows is what collectors and investors typically want.

The problem that these artists and collectors face only come up because they are trying to apply the old model of art to new media. The “fundamental characteristic” that digital art may not be unique shouldn’t be considered a problem, it is an interesting part of the art, Collectors and Investors be damned.

The whole cycle of museum/collector/investor is one of the reasons why art seems so inaccessible. If you are not “part of the club”, you just won’t get it. Digital art has the potential to reach beyond that art culture, since it can be freely accessible to everyone.

The article ends by kinda indicating this, even if it does go a bit overboard and gives in to the temptation to use hyperbole:

Perhaps the idea of the unique object is becoming obsolete, just as software programs that are only used online rather than owned, are slowly replacing physical software packages that one owns.

Digital art should be embraced for what it is, and should be distributed and shared with the world in the way that most makes sense given the characteristics of the medium.

If this doesn’t fit in to the defined structure that galleries, collectors, and investors have come up with for traditional artistic media, then the party should go on without them, and they can show up to this new party if they want.

If you haven’t yet, go check out the New York Times article here:

Digital Creations Come of Age

Art Is Design

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

…at least it is on this site.

The scope of this site extends far beyond just web design. Design, after all, transcends just the internet.

I’ve got an art project coming up, it may be major, it may be minor, but the wheels are in motion to make it happen. It will be documented here. I plan to get this project in motion by this weekend. I just have to get a printing brayer and ink..

This project may be related to the upcoming Deacon Design 101 as well.