Tag Archives: inspiring

Unusual Pin-Up Photography

The following cheeky pinup photos were taken by Australian photographer Wallyir. I am utterly fascinated and inspired by these photographs made by posing simple wooden artist mannequins, model toys, and other every day objects. Each photos is mesmerizing — and together, the series definitely tells a story!

beginning blank canvas painter and muse at the easel playing up study of a portrait portrait of a muse pinup art photography willyir cast of three wallyir

It seems the photos were taken in 2010 and at least some of them submitted as photography assignments at About.com. There we can really see the photographer’s sense of humor:

Lessons Learned

  • Fine tune D.O.F to have back ground still recognizable.
  • Any dust on such a small subject is very noticeable.
  • Lighting need not be very complicated (or expensive) for a good effect.
  • Using a kitchen bench,Freezer Top or Computer desk to stage your photography will result in those areas being needed immediately or life as I know it could cease.

Other similar works by Wallyir:

vintage motorcycle and girl wallyir

rose et noir pinup figure photography

old ladies black and white photography by willyir

Literary Art, Puns, And Bookmarks

Continuing my interview with Robin Blum, founder of In My Book® — the bookmark and greeting cards in one

Happy Ending In My Book Bookmark & Greeting Card

How do you go about getting the art for the bookmarks and cards?

I am fortunate to work with illustrator (and Brooklyn neighbor) Meredith Hamilton. I found her on a wonderful listing of artists for hire called The I Spot. I love the New Yorker-y style of her pen and ink illustrations and feel that they are perfectly suited to the slightly irreverant nature of the cards.

How do you select the images? How tied to literary themes — and puns — are they?

There are presently fifteen styles of In My Book. When we first worked together in 1999, I gave the text of the greetings to Meredith and we brainstormed what type of images would work. In My Book, you’re a classic ended up with marble busts of distinguished and scholarly types, reading books of course; you’re a mystery clearly called for one of the great wonders of world (Stonehenge) and you’re some dish was teamed up with a red-hot mamma having fun cooking up a storm. More styles are presently in the works and will be available in Spring of 2012.

Are there any designs that seem most popular? Any trends in terms of the art, or it is mainly a matter of book genres?

The most popular styles are the ones that seem to suit the greatest number of people. Who wouldn’t be flattered by the notion of being ‘rare’ or ‘a classic’?? Publishers Weekly says: “Multi-tasking as both bookmark and greeting card…illustrated with charming pen-and-ink drawings by artist Meredith Hamilton, these sentimental greetings make endearing enclosures especially when the present is a book.”

How often do you add new designs? And when you add new ones, do you discontinue any older ones?

The line began with twelve styles in 2000 and added three more styles in 2003. Next year three additional styles will be added, so there will be a total of eighteen styles. Although obviously some sell better than others, I have chosen not to discontinue the older ones. This is different than most greeting card companies who base their inventory on sales; I tend to think that book readers are more or less traditional and that “you’re a character”, “you’re a hero”, “you’re the last word” will never go out of style.

I think so too, Robin.

The cards have sold for $3.95 (including envelope) since the company started in 2000; buy them now and get a jump on holiday gift giving –and the upcoming price increase in 2012!

Inspiring Art Link Round-Up

Stop Lounging & Be Inspired By Art

At Asylum 13 Riots!, an interview with artist Brent Dewell on how art helps him cope with Bipolar Disorder. (I agree in art as therapy.)

Biologically-inspired designs by Neri Oxman.

A look at the antique Alphabet-album.

Need portable creative organization for on-the-go inspirations? From the creators of Make Magazine comes the Maker’s Notebook.

Image: The Lovers, 1936, by Man Ray.

My Rosary: Modern Piece With Period Style

I spotted this piece at a thrift shop on Sunday. The “Madonna” appears to be a contemporary image created from an scan of an antique photo which was digitally enhanced, colored then printed. The “My Rosary” seems to be text from an old piece of paper. Together they were simply matted (with an especially nicely beveled cut window for the text) and placed in an old metal oval frame painted black. All together, it has the appearance of a period piece.

Doodle Week Challenge: Doodle Away Your Bad Dreams!

I don’t usually post the Doodle Weeks; and, like too many of you, I am a sad participating in them as well. (Shame on all of us!) But, as coincidence (or my weird psyche) would have it, I had a bad dream last night — so bad I had to blog about it at my nearly dead dream blog. And the rule at that blog, such as it is, is that I’m to sketch or doodle a little part of the dream or otherwise illustrate the post. (Perhaps this is where my self-direct art therapy comes into play; why this art moves me so and maybe even why I was prompted forced to have such a strong dream, one strong enough to force me to post and therefore doodle.) So anyway, I had to draw a basset hound.

Amazing facts about the doggie doodles: One, they are done in pen! Amazing feat for anxious me. Two, the first one, posted at the dream blog, is the one I like best.

Perhaps these were so easy today because I needed this art therapy so badly; it was easy to bark away the bad spell. Or, perhaps they were easy because I used to doodle dogs all the time. Some sort of muscle-memory thing. As a kid (what we’d call a “tween” today), I used to doodle dogs like this:

In any case, I do seem to have shaken the worst of the after affects of the nightmare.

In fact, I feel rather light and — dare I say it! — joyful.

So, kiddos, I challenge you to doodle your bad dreams away.  Doodle something little that cheers you up.  It could be a dog, something you once doodled as a kid, or whatever pops into your head.

When you doodle, be sure to share it with us as part of Doodle Week.  (Come back here and leave a comment, a link to where we can find it!)  You can share your doodle, share your thoughts on the doodle exercise — both!  I look forward to seeing and hearing how the doodle drawing works for you!

Art Is A Real Nail-Biter: A Visual Interpretation & Psychological Exploration Of Awkward Quirks & Tendencies

At The Cat’s Pajamas, Jessica shares an art assignment:

For my art class we had to come up with a commentary to explore and create 12 pieces based around this written statement. I’ve been working on it since September and I’m really excited that it’s finally all done! It’s pretty neat seeing everything come together as a series. My commentary is: a visual interpretation and psychological exploration of awkward quirks and tendencies. They’re all mixed media, done by hand, using old books and magazines and all sorts of other materials I’ve found.

The series of awkward quirks and tendencies includes, titled by quirk or habit, Nail Biting, Hair Twirling, OCD and Grinding Teeth, which are shown below.

I find this all incredibly inspiring! Not just the assignment of art based upon written statements, but the idea of dealing with your quirk, compulsion, habit — or the fear of it. Just think of all the possibilities… Art therapy anyone can do! Cool concepts sure to start conversations when the artworks are on display.

And, as if that weren’t enough excitement, you can purchase prints of (most all of) these works too.

Talking Photography With Alexander S. Kunz

After enjoying the landscapes and nature portraits by Alexander S. Kunz, I wanted to talk about photography with him; the self-taught artist graciously agreed.

Photography — in it’s original concept, anyway — was the means by which to capture a precise moment in time, the way a person, place, or object was. But your works capture something less literal and more ethereal, more emotive and fanciful than a documentation. Before we get to the philosophy, let’s address the issue of “how”… The photos are taken with digital cameras, but are they digitally manipulated or “photoshopped” as well?

Yes, my photos are definitely digitally manipulated. I’m using only raw data – and I process it only in Lightroom. That’s the short answer. But it’s not easy to keep that apart from philosophy. 😉

Forgive me if I get a bit techno-philosophical right away: in my opinion, every photo is “manipulated” somehow. There is no such thing as a “pure” and truthful depiction of reality in general (no matter if it’s film or digital). Reality is simply very different from that what we can and will capture on a photo.

Without getting into too much detail, and oversimplified: the digital sensor records nothing but luminance (and then color through a filter array), and my personal take is: everything that comes after that is part of the manipulation already. Even contrast, saturation, sharpness, color hue are just parameters of that manipulation (different films are different in that regard too). The only fix point in the world of digital photography is the light that the sensor captured. So why should I bother to NOT manipulate anything else if it’s in favor of my perception and what I want to convey with an image? It’s a mindset that frees me from being bound by the “realistic” and documentary approach to photography.

The term “photoshopped” often implies cheating. My alterations are limited to, for example, removing small unwanted elements in the frame, like a piece of paper in the grass of an otherwise unspoiled scenery, or the tip of a twig, a power pole sticking into the frame somewhere. That might be cheating to some of course. And I manipulate color, contrast, light and dark without shame. 🙂 And needless to say, it also includes creating the balance between that what our human eye can see, and that what the sensor is able to capture.

What’s your photographic or artistic philosophy? How would you describe the process of developing the photographic technique to match your philosophic vision of photography?

My philosophy: I want to show beauty, and I picked landscapes and nature because I love being outdoors, I love hiking, walks at the beach, forests and deserts all alike. The beauty that I look for is often found in “small scenes”.

And while I always liked making photos, using film and polaroids or my first digital compact camera was… too static. I felt like not being in control. Having grown up as part of the “generation C64” (one of the first widely spread home computers), and also being something like a computer freak ever since, the marriage of photography with the digital darkroom on the computer was probably the best thing that could happen to me. I’m a digital child.

I quite often find myself looking at some beautiful scenery and making a photo of it, but at home I find that it just doesn’t transport the entire beauty and emotion that I had seen and experienced when I released the shutter (and I also think that’s something that happens to almost everyone). And it can’t – it’s just a photo! A 2D snapshot of a very very short moment in time that lacks the sense of movement, depth, smell, sound… I find that what the camera captures often needs to be refined, increased, idealized, reduced, distilled… to the essence of what actually made me lift the camera and release the shutter.

So, to conclude… it’s this technology that makes my photography possible, and that what my camera captures is the starting point. Sometimes, it’s a long way from there to the final image and requires and includes heavy manipulation, sometimes it’s a light path with just some touches here and there.

“Creating the balance between that what our human eye can see, and that what the sensor is able to capture” is an interesting statement… I want to say something very clever about Le Petite Prince, by Antoine de Saint Exupéry — about how “The essential things in life are seen not with the eyes, but with the heart.” How do you feel about using the “cold” sensor of photographic equipment to move the human heart and emotion?

I find the attribution of “cold” a bit odd. The camera with that sensor is just a tool. Like a chisel, or a brush. Using “technologic devices” to create something that (hopefully) stirs the beholders heart and creates an emotion is common in many art forms, isn’t it? But we have this tendency to refuse anything that is new or modern it’s acceptance at first. Our grandparents didn’t like music made with electric guitars, it was “only noise”, and so on… 😉

As long as it works, it doesn’t matter what that tool is, or how old or new the technology is that we’re using when we create something. (but needless to say, “seeing with the heart” and the wish to capture that what you love with a photo is what makes any passionate photographer get the camera out and make a photo first place.)

What prompted me to contact you was this image, Ask The Mountains:


I continue to be amazed by the crisp nearly pristine quality — something, which when coupled with the cool color tone, I normally would regard as “mechanical” and “cold” — how it moves me in a very good, elated, way. …I guess there’s no real question there. *wink* What were you trying to create with that image?

I wanted to create something that was “more than just another layers” photo. My question to you would be: why does it move you?

I can tell you why it moves me: I’ve been there, and I had this feeling of wide, open spaces, I understood the history and the (in human terms) “infinity” of these mountains, of nature in general; the promise that the world is big and has something new for us every day, the temptation of the unknown and the longing and the thrill of exploration, to find out what these ridges and mountains are, hear their call, go there…

And well… it can serve as an illustration to what I said regarding my philosophy: if you take all that what I felt away, you’d end up with the hazy and somewhat dull original scene that my camera captured. That’s why I bumped up the contrast and the blue saturation so much. I wanted it to look “over the top”, it had to “pop” just that much to give me back that feeling. And hopefully transport some of it to others as well.

Back in the days of film photography, photographers would joke (or ruefully muse upon) the number of shots or even rolls of film they took, wasted, before they took the “good one.” Do you think that’s still true in digital photography? (Minus the rolls of film, of course lol) How many photos do you think you take, even manipulate, before you have “the good one”?

To answer your first question: I think that it’s even WORSE with digital photography. Being freed from the “every click costs” thinking with using film, one tends to simply make more photos. That includes me. 🙂 We’re not wasting rolls of film, we’re wasting shutter actuations. That’s not a bad thing, but culling has become the most important thing for the digital photographer. Very very rigid and extensive culling. (wishful thinking here *grin*)

And to the second question: That’s really hard to answer. If I’m really hard on myself, maybe it’s 1 “long term portfolio quality” photo for 1000 shots taken. I’m happy if I can find 10 really really great photos for my personal selection of a year’s top 10.

A little background. Let’s say I’ve been on a hike for a day and I come home with… 100 photos? Only some 30 of them might actually be different enough to keep them apart – the rest is experiments with different exposures, depth of field, compositions. (It’s the luxury and curse of digital photography. A curse because it’s a lot of material that one SHOULD get rid of and delete pretty soon. The problem is: we’re not doing it.) Of the 30 individual photos, maybe 10 are keepers (for whatever reason). Sometimes, one of them might be “the good one”, portfolio quality. Maybe long-term portfolio quality, ie. it will still stand out in a year or two. Only time will tell that.

Certainly digital photography is much less expensive than film and print photography, and it’s far more instantly gratifying — just slip in the memory card, and voila! No waiting to develop prints. But still many would-be photographers hesitate to begin… What advice or tips do you have for those folks?

Do whatever you’re comfortable with. The hords of tech-gurus that preach things like “if you really want to learn how to use your camera, use the fully manual mode” or “if you want to get the maximum out of your photos, use raw data” might be right, but from a beginner’s point of view, it’s just not the most important thing. If someone decides to get a camera, it should be FUN to use and operate it. Shooting JPEGs in full-auto mode is just fine. The feeling that it might be limiting will come all by itself sooner or later for those who pick up the photography virus. 🙂

I learned a lot about the tech-side of photography solely through the internet and with the information that is available there for FREE. That’s awesome!

But I wouldn’t really trust “the internet” (photo forums or platforms) to get good advice and learn about (more than the basics of) design and composition though. I bought books for that. The average internet crowd might know little about photographic design, style and composition, and still put “nice composition!” as a comment to your photo. Or self-proclaimed “experts” criticize your photo while the only thing they ever heard about somewhere somehow was the rule of thirds (and then no one everrrr is allowed to break it!). It’s annoying to say the least, not very helpful quite often, or even dangerous if you really want to grow as an artist.

I’d like to thank Alex for making the time for the interview and invite you all to keep up with him at his blog.

Inspiration For Making Your Own Frames

I like this post at Elemental Cheapness in which Sabrina Mantle shares her creative ideas for reusing items to frame art. Creativity doesn’t end with the artwork — display can be creative too!

Most, if not all, of Sabrina’s examples come from cheap discounted, discontinued and As Is items from Ikea. That means what she shows may not be pieces you can actually snap-up yourself, but there’s plenty of inspiration for keeping your eyes open to possibilities… Discount isles, thrift stores, garage sales… Your own basement! You know I love thrifty ideas!

The most practical idea, shown below, is the simple use of glass, strung and hung with ribbon.

I also got a bunch of 7×9 pieces of glass with holes in corner (which I threaded ribbon thru) at Ikea’s As Is department for 50 cents each, just finished mounting photos on those for upcoming show I am doing, they look great!

I really like the idea — both in terms of aesthetics and the re-usability. Just slide the photographs and images out, and put new ones in, so it would be a great idea for art shows. (Acrylic options might be more suitable for ease in carrying about and careless shoppers.)

An Interview With Ghosts In The Machines Creator Erika Iris Simmons

I so fell in love with the stunning art made from cassette tapes by Erika Iris Simmons that I just had to speak with her and learn more about her incredibly iconic works.

Erika Iris Simmons

Erika, I don’t like to ask a lady her age — especially right at the start! — but in this case I feel compelled to do so… Your works, especially the Ghosts In Machines, have a youthful pop culture quality, but the detail work is incredible, which lends me to believing you are older (at least in art years!) than I think. So, how old are you, when did you begin the Ghost In The Machine Series, and how long have you been working as an independent artist?

Thanks! No worries, I’m not shy, I’m 27 now but I started making this series in 2008, when I was 24 I think.

I was a waitress at Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando at the time, looking for interesting art projects. I didn’t have a lot of money to spend on art supplies so I went through all the junk drawers at home, tearing up anything I could find, dabbling in composite art. I was fascinated with optical illusions and wanted to make something really different. I think going to work everyday surrounded by music memorabilia definitely had an impact! haha

One day I thought to use the cassette tapes in my art – when I started messing with the ribbon it curled up and reminded me of Jimi Hendrix’s afro, so that was the first portrait I made.

Ghost in the Machine: Jimi Hendrix, Cassette Tape On Canvas

At the time I was reading some science books about the philosophy of the mind; that’s where the “ghost in the machine” theme came from. It was great to sit there while working on these, wondering about the meaning in the data on the tapes and how by simply rearranging the tape on the board I could make it look like a face. My goal was to not cut the tape or take any away, just arrange it.

I’ve been working as a full-time independent artist for two years now.

Have you had any formal training or study, an art degree?

No formal art training; I got a ton of art books out from the library, but mostly its just been trial and error.

The Ghost In The Machine pieces are how I first found you — the amaze me because they incorporate the spirit of the medium, the tape and film, and display the iconic images we see when we experience their performances. What inspired the works?

I never wanted to be an artist until I saw the work of Ken Knowlton. He makes incredible composite portraits. My favorite is his portrait of Einstein using nothing but black dice. It blew my mind and I thought I want to make something like that, something that would resonate with people. I just kept experimenting after that.

Ghost In Machine: Madonna

They are incredibly fluid and effortless looking, as if they just spilled out that way, but I suspect there’s a lot more to them than that. 😉 Can you tell us more about the work involved, how long it takes to make a piece — how many tapes, etc. are used?

I almost always just need a single cassette, unless the work is really big. You’d be surprised how long the tape is inside.

Every piece is different, but I usually start by drawing the basic outline, focusing on the facial details first. I go about filling in the design, either gluing the tape flat and cutting away when necessary, or folding and twisting the tape into the desired shapes. This can take weeks if its very detailed. Toward the end I try to let the tape fall into really natural shapes and “capture” that movement with dots of glue. Finally, I use epoxy to permanently mount the case.

Of the works I’ve seen, you seem to use or recycle other items to create your works of art. Do you consider these altered art works? How do you feel about that term?

I call these cassette tape or film sculptures, but the term altered art works too. It falls into a lot of categories, I think. I often hear people call them “installations.” I don’t know why.

Your Audrey Hepburn, Breakfast At Tiffany’s piece is probably my favorite, so far! I love the use of 8mm film, right down to the reel!

Audrey Hepburn Work In Progress...

Audrey Hepburn Ghost In Machine, 8mm Film

Erika Iris Simmons Artwork In Progress

Working With Film To Make Ghost In Machine

"Reel" Breakfast At Tiffany's Hair

Shadow Details

Audrey Hepburn Ghost In Machine

The Graceful Ghost In The Machine

I read at your blog that the Breakfast At Tiffany’s work was the result of a woman who approached you about doing a series of collection of Audrey Hepburn pieces… Does that mean you do custom or commissioned works?

Thanks! I’ve actually made my living for the last few years making custom pieces for people; I still do sometimes, but not as my bread-and-butter like I used to.

Does doing works that way, at the direction of others, frustrate you in any way as an artist?

Yes, every single time! haha. There is no way of avoiding the pressure of “performance.” I am not a performer and I’ve found that my work is much better when it comes from the heart and not from a need to pay rent. I find myself questioning every action. Instead, I just take the commissions that I feel a spark for. I used to have a “custom work” page on my website, but I don’t solicit those offers anymore. A lot more time for experimenting.

How much do you charge for such works? And, as you currently have no originals for sale, only prints at Etsy, how much do original works cost?

Honestly every piece is different. I sell some for hundreds, some for many thousands, so its a hard question to answer… An average Ghost in the Machine piece is about $2500. The only prints I sell are letter size and A2. But the size of the originals range from 12 by 16, up to 40 by 60 inches, so there is a wide range.

Your other works, that I’ve seen at Flickr mainly, are also composite or altered works. Do you feel that will likely remain a part of your style, or do you feel that you’ll need to move on in a completely different direction at some point in time?

I don’t really define what I do by the medium. I feel like the running theme in my head is finding a story within a single object. Recursion and nested concepts are what fascinate me, so whether I’m painting or writing or doing any other creative activity I think this theme will remain.

Portrait of former Dodger's pitcher Fernando Valenzuela, made from an authentic major-league baseball, "grass stains and all."

When you are best known for a series, or when someone spots an older series, like Ghosts In Machines, how do you as an artist feel when you move onto another series, project or style of work?

It doesn’t bother me that I will probably never “out-do” the success of this series because I know the biggest thrill is the idea and execution rather than what other people think. The images will one day be played like that song on the radio that you’ve heard fifty times too many, but I will always remember what it felt like to hold something like that in my hands before the glue was even dry, having never sold a piece of artwork, knowing that I made something special.

Its nice that people are still interested though, I do appreciate it.

Bob Dylan by Erika Iris Simmons for AARP

At The Ungulate, we hear a lot about how “success” is at least partly defined as making a living in art; yet we also hear from artists who feel great frustration in the commercial aspects of that sort of success. Aside from not soliciting custom works as much as you once did, how do you plan to address or balance these issues for yourself as an artist?

I’ve never been interested in money – I threaten to quit art and go back to waiting tables any day! ha. But seriously, making art for a living is by far harder than I expected, and I feel I’m one of the lucky ones to have so much support and exposure. But some months I still barely scrape by. Don’t get me wrong; when it rains it pours. But its hard counting on the weatherman. In lieu of commissions I’m working with a stationary company for a little rolling income. The ‘m’ word: Merchandising. We’re still putting the website together – I don’t know a date it will be live…

But you’ll let us know, right?

Of course!

Until then, we can still marvel at the other works by Ericka Iris Simmons, and enjoy spotting them all sorts of places, like the Bob Dylan piece for the AARP.

Fear Of The Blank Paper

Staring down the pristine, stark-white surface of a blank page can be soooo intimidating… This phenomenon occurs with writers too. So what can you do when you’ve got your supplies all set, but that blank white page just stares back at you, taunting you, teasing you, bullying you…

Well, if you’re like Steve Thompson, maybe you carve your Crayolas into Star Wars characters.

If pencils are your tools, Dalton Ghetti‘s carved graphite works may be more inspiring to you.

If words are (supposed to be) your weapons of choice in the creative fight against the blank page, how about carving those pencil tips into letters? (Also by Dalton Ghetti.)

Take that, blank paper! We’re still getting our art on!

Creating Ceramic Mosaics Of Silent Film Stars

Annette Kellerman, The Australian Mermaid, "the Diving Venus"

A few months ago I was contacted by Nick Bannikoff, a graphic designer in Sydney, Australia, who had recently worked on the refurbished Annette Kellerman Aquatic Centre in Marrickville. The centre is now finished, and Bannikoff was assisting with the creation of a graphic interpreting / explaining Annette Kellerman’s life to be installed at the pool. Because I’m rather well connected to Kellerman on the Internet, Bannikoff was hoping I’d be able to assist him finding decent quality images to include in the graphic; which I did, by connecting him to silent film collector Mary Ann Cade. Because I’m rather nosy fascinated with Kellerman, film and art — and unable to get to Australia myself — I asked Bannikoff to tell me more about the project.

 

Background:

The redevelopment of the pool was undertaken by Marrickville council a while ago. The existing pool was only 33mm and a bit dilapidated. There’s plenty of information on the project here.

Annette was born in the council area and the centre (AKAC) was renamed after her in ‘94 (I don’t have any information on that process).

As part of the project a separate graphic design firm was engaged to design the logo for the AKAC (along with several other facilities), and we were engaged as specialists to design the signage and environmental graphics. For a better idea of what we specialise in, you can visit Society for Environmental Graphic Design.

The Mosaics:

We wanted to create an inviting entrance to the change rooms, and decided that the best way to do this was to create life-sized graphics of people standing at the entrances. In effect inviting people in (it also has the advantage of very clearly differentiating the male and female entrances). Annette was obviously a natural choice for the Female change room, but being such an extraordinary character it was difficult to select a male counterpart. In the end we settled on Cecil, a contemporary of Annette’s (this was important to us) who was sadly killed at the Somme in 1918. Had we not been constricted in our selection to an Australian, we would have recommended Jonny Weismuller, whose career so closely mimicked Annette’s.

Knowing what we wanted to do we were inspired by two sources. A photo of a confident young woman in a bathing costume with a very contemporary lighting scheme, and the work of mosaic artist Brett Campbell.

We particularly liked the confident pose and dynamic lighting for the young woman. We felt if we could present Annette in the same way it would convey more of her life and story (than any photo) and make her more relevant to a contemporary audience. We engaged the services of a talented illustrator, Justine Missen, who over 2-3 weeks developed sketches of Annette and Cecil with the stances, shading and attitude we wanted. I’ve attached a couple of images from the process. As we always knew we wanted to create the final work in mosaic, Justine sketched to that end, mapping out the broad areas of colour that we knew could only accommodate a limited amount of detail.

As I mentioned, we had decided early on that if we could execute the graphic as a mosaic we would. The material would fit beautifully within a swimming pool environment, and given Annette’s life was a perfect medium with which to portray her. Brett Campbell, being part of the inspiration, was then engaged to create the final pieces. Brett helped out a great deal with the selection of the tiles. There is actually a very limited range of colours out there, and we wanted a nice glossy finish and a ceramic tile which we felt matched our aims (there is a much greater colour selection available in glass tiles). Due to the fact the entrances were a little dark and out of the way, we also wanted nice bright colours which made the selection even more difficult. He worked in his studio in Queensland (about 1000km away) and would send photos of the progress on a weekly basis, which we would then discuss and occasionally make adjustments or suggestions. This part of the project took about 2 months.

Finally, Brett visited site in late November last year and installed the mosiacs over 3 days, along with another mosaic that formed the background for the main identification sign for the AKAC.

Other things you may be interested in:

As part of the project the council also commissioned artwork for a couple of locations. One of the artists, Mark Wotherspoon, took his inspiration from the life of Annette.

The piece is entitled “Silver Screen Mermaid” and a plaque will be installed soon that reads: Inspired by the collective consciousness of Annette Kellerman, the divine silver screen mermaid and Hollywood starlet (1887-1975)

Alien Reporter Advice On Creating Comics

I’m no comic expert, but ever since I saw both Ghost World and American Splendor (pretty much back to back), I’ve wanted to create a comic. I bought a basic black sketchbook to draft my ideas… And that’s about it. The crisp white pages were too intimidating. But when I came across this post at Bungy Notes , I had a fabulous Ah-ha! moment:

I am about twelve strips into a weekly comic I publish over at Black Magpie Theory called, “Klexmur, Alien Reporter.”  It’s been a life-long fantasy of mine to create and publish a regular comicstrip.  If you’ve paid attention here, you know I have more than a passing interest in comics.  I also approach my work from a performance studies background, which holds (at least in some versions) that the best way to understand something is by doing it.

It’s that last line there, the “I also approach my work from a performance studies background, which holds (at least in some versions) that the best way to understand something is by doing it,” that’s the kicker.

I may just have to view the process as performance art — if only for an audience of one.

The New Sand Art

Pinup artist Charlene Lanzel has moved onto something new: Sand Art.

Charlene Lanzel’s Sand Art™ also known as sand animation, is beautiful to look at, but lasts only temporarily. Perhaps what makes this art form so appealing, aside from its beauty, is its fragility.

Sand art is the most compelling new art form to come around in decades. A new trend in art, sand art is a form of live sand painting which evolved from earlier sand animation films. Sand art is dynamic and requires the artist’s presence to happen.

…Charlene Lanzel’s sand art is done live onstage, where people can see the artist doing the performance in total darkness. A video camera is positioned over the glass table upon which the artist creates sand magic. Sand scattered on a light box is formed and reformed into ever changing shapes and images that tell visually powerful stories. Charlene creates these fluid illustrations for large audiences, with an overhead camera instantaneously projecting onto a large screen for the audience to see. It is a practice which uses the visual and aesthetic properties of sand to create a live animated image. Sand is a fluid material and its grains settle by chance, creating living images made of a single texture. This sand art makes life and time flow by, right in front of your eyes.

Charlene Lanzel’s sand art performance is rehearsed and choreographed to specially chosen live or recorded music, enhancing the mood.

And she’s got a Valentine for you:

The Art Of Making Stuff, Making The Pain Going Away, And Making Child Artists

In case you’ve missed my flurry of posts, and so have missed meeting the lovely artisan-crafter behind I Sew Cute and As Luck Would Have It, consider these comments by June on the importance of art your inspiring introduction:

Making stuff is so rewarding on many levels. It really is my therapy, taking my mind of physical pains I have due to two autoimmune diseases, allowing me to get lost in the creative process.

I was a lucky kid to have the folks in my life who made it possible for me to learn and grow as a maker of things and hope I can maybe be that someone for somebody else, encouraging them and giving them the confidence to try…

My sister in law is now a cross stitcher because I gave her a kit one year. And well, you’ve seen my kids.

“Babygirl” (her nickname given her by her brother) was just now begging me to give her the stuff to make bracelets — and they draw every day.

My boy came home from school the other day and told me that someone said he wasn’t an artist. I had to ask him if he thought they were right about that or not. We talked about how everyone can be an artist — if they want to be.

He’s happy about drawing again now.

Creatively Organize Your Workspace

At Design Sponge, Haylie Waring shares her creative solution for storing, organizing and displaying sewing notions:

Due to the lack of space in my studio, I am constantly forgetting what notions I have packed away in my organizer containers that I keep hidden in a storage closet, or up on my highest shelf. When you don’t know what is in those containers, it is hard to know where to begin, and I am often tempted to just go out and buy more supplies. This DIY project is the solution to that problem, and it seconds as art work on my work-space walls.

…Also, I like to tag each board with a number that will match up with the storage container where you keep your coordinating back-stock, so things are easily located.

Included in the step-by-step project instructions are two of her original 8×10 design templates. And while she’s used buttons & ribbons, there are lots of other options for beads, fabric swatches, lace, etc. Scrapbooking fans could adopt this for use with papers, stamped image, etc. too. The sky’s the limit!

These Ain’t Your Granny’s Stitches

Dale Spender feminism quote in needlework by Rosa Martyn (of My Little Stitches) isn’t the only feminist needlework out there, but it’s a great example of something — a cause, a philosophy, a book — inspiring you into picking up a needle and thread. In this case, Martyn did her cross stitch on the back of a cotton jacket.

Motivated? Good!

See more of the modern and radical needlework out there by keeping up with the Craftivist Collective.

See Also: Sew, Whatever Happened To Learning How To Use Needle & Thread.

Handmade Craft Shopping Parties

Back in the day, I offered and held a few home parties for selling my artworks. Being about 15 years ago, ish, I felt like I was charting new territories.

I had a bunch of catalogs and brochures from other successful home party plan businesses — and my vast knowledge of attending such parties — to build my plan on, but even then, the concept was just that — more concept than anything else.

I made sales at the parties (and secured plenty of commissioned works as well), but found I really had to sell the idea of such a party by educating the potential host or hostess more than anything else.

Now that home party plans are so mainstream that a woman between the ages of 20 and 35 fears invitations in the mail, the indie crafting party isn’t an educational exercise — and the lure of less common products is far stronger than say the usual home party suspects, resulting in more attendees and an increase of wallets being opened.

I mention this trend for two reasons.

One, if you’re a crafter, craftsman, or artisan looking for a way to make sales and connect with your local community, you might want to consider using home craft shopping parties. Even crafters who just have an over-load of made things could probably find an occasional party a good way to rid themselves of surplus handcrafted items, and those with mad skills could combine selling creations with workshops at parties.

If this sounds at all like you, Miss Malaprop has a great article, 5 Tips for a Successful Handmade Craft Shopping Party, which also includes links to some great resources. She even peddles the stuff other folks make at the home parties she demonstrates/sells at. (Keen idea for those who want to increase their offerings past their own skills.)

I respectfully disagree with CraftyTammie, when she says that she wouldn’t throw a party and invite her friends because “they all know i have an etsy shop, and i figure if they want to buy something they will let me know.” Shopping for art, for gifty stuff and crafts, is very much a visual in-the-moment thing. And people need to see it.

The second reason I mention the home party plan idea, is that if you are not a maker of things but a lover of them, you might wish to host a craft selling party in your own home. You and your pals can get together, shop, maybe even become inspired to make a thing or two yourself, all while you support arts in your community.

The only real tricky thing with hosting one of these home parties selling handmade things is finding a willing artisan or crafter. To that end, The Ungulate has started an Art Directory, including a category for listings of creative folks who are willing to do home parties selling their arts and crafts.

Image Credits: Handmade goodies from MissMalaprop’s shop.

Is Art In Your DNA?

Over at The Emerging Times, Michael Ferrare has written The ‘Picture Painting’ Gene, an article on Thomas Harrison’s book, Instinct:

In the book Instinct, Thomas Harrison describes many ways to leverage who you are (using your DNA) to promote success in business and in life. Of the many natural genes he mentions, one gene that may be hidden inside of you is the “Picture Painting” gene—a natural desire or way to create an evolving picture of yourself.

While Harrison, a corporate CEO, has written the book to explore the connections between DNA and entrepreneurial success, the author’s message is that “no matter who you are, there are learned success secrets you can put in place to compensate for what you inherited in ‘your’ genetic lottery.” According to the author, it’s a matter of “inborn traits that have to be ‘switched on’ to create the personalized winning scenario that’s right for you.”

Simply put, it’s a matter of visualization; the old sports dealio, where you see the basketball going in the hoop. Or, for those who fear they are talentless but wish for greater ability to create, you unlock the talent within your DNA by seeing your future as a more creative type or a successful artist (which surely is entrepreneurial).

Surely most of us could use a little more faith in our creative abilities. And if entrepreneurialism is an art, or some sort of talent, certainly other arts and talents can be so unlocked.

Ferrare, in his post, uses an example of a friend who uses the “picture painting” to leave a corporate ad agency for a more creative career in writing — and sums up the trickiest part of the process, post visualization techniques:

When you share your picture with a friend, get ready for a comment like “Hold on, don’t get ahead of yourself.” Don’t let their comments, or cynicism diminish your vision. Instead, remember that that’s the point—getting ahead of yourself.

I’m imagining that perhaps it’s best to paint a picture of your friends and family being supportive of your picture-painted-perfect future before you share it.

Image Credits: via Amazon.