Monthly Archives

January 2015

New Habit

By | Everything Else

I’m still getting used to being my own boss. I’ve mostly managed to stay out of my own way, which is important since I’m not fond of being told what to do. I do have certain expectations about how much attention I pay to the whole “making art” thang but I purposely don’t have specific “numbers” associated with my production — no number of pieces by a particular date, or amount of money I need to earn. It’s still numbers that come to mind though when I evaluate how I’m doing. That’s something I want to change. Sometimes old habits can really kick your ass, and new habits take longer than you think to instill.

Since the New Year I’ve been very productive. I’ve not felt pressured so my process has been relaxed, and even though I have put in lots of hours it hasn’t felt like work. It’s been FUN. More than fun, it’s been that satisfying “all is right with my world” feeling at the end of the day. THAT feeling is how I want to “evaluate how I’m doing.” If I can continue to feel that way then I must be a damn fine boss, right? I’ll keep you posted.

So far I’ve finished a big new Pom Pow blanket, “Clown Daddy”…

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Also my second Treefort tarp, formerly known as “Winter Trees’ Dreams of Spring”…

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now has a Second Life as “The Unconscious Arsonist” (details)….

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TVAA has a juried exhibtion, “Menagerie,” coming up and I did a brand new tarp for it titled “Sss(mmm)sss…”….

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It’s big, 10 feet by 3 1/2 feet, so here it is in sections:

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I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about looking at life from new angles — choosing different perspectives from our usual choices in a way that gets us out of our ruts. I don’t think we should waste our time feeling pressured to do things just so we can say we did. I do think we should DO the things we can’t stop thinking about (the life enhancing, won’t hurt anybody including you, things) in spite of the naysayers. And I think sometimes it helps to actively choose your new perspective.

Well, I’ve put making art that only stresses me out on my Fuck-it List, I’m Just Doing the kind of art that I can’t wait to get out of my head and into the world, and I make sure I get at least a couple of hours of play done every day in my studio.

I’m making a choice: instead of letting my old habits kick me in the ass, I’m going to make it my new habit to kick ass.

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Care to join me?

Quite Contrary

By | Everything Else

Remember attempting “Opposite Day” when you were a kid? I say “attempting” because it was impossible, mostly because it devolved so quickly into doing and saying all the bad things you weren’t allowed, or couldn’t normally bring yourself to say or do, and that would feel so yucky you’d quit by the second recess for sure.

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I mean telling your best friend she’s “ugly” and you “hate” her because “dude! it’s Opposite Day and that means you’re “beautiful” and I “love” you” just sounds hollow, and you start to wonder how you really feel.

When you’re a kid you think it’s as simple as a choice between “ugly” or “beautiful.” When you get older you know it’s impossible to separate the ugly from the beautiful, or the feelings you have for the person you are “judging” from your feelings about that sort of judgement in general, or the utility vs. the futility of any sort of debate regarding beauty, period.

I guess my feelings about “Opposite Day” are pretty clear — I thought it was “ugly” and I “hated” it — which is why it might seem counter-intuitive to those of you who don’t know what a rebel I am, that in spite of being older and firmly mired in the “there is no black or white, only grey, zone,” I am thinking of applying the rules of “Opposite Day” to my own life.

WTF?!

Think about it. This is not a new idea. In fact some of the best rebel thoughts are Mega Opposite Day ideas:

“Pay it Forward”

“Commit Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Beauty”

“Want What You Have, and Give What You Need.”

These are concepts to live by, and they are all the opposite of ideas we got used to taking for granted until some very smartasses turned them on their heads.

I’ve always played a little game with myself where I decide what I think I want — 100% for sure — and then I list alternatives, and sometimes I end up changing my mind and going with one of those alternatives instead.

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Or:

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This is that same game only with higher stakes.

I’ll give you an example. One of the single most difficult things to do as an artist is to price your work. I can hear the “Amen, sisters” from here. And so there are some stirrings in the arts community that there might be some alternatives to the way we get paid for what we do as artists.

Amanda Palmer has a book about this topic, The Art of Asking, which I haven’t read yet, and a TED talk I’ve seen twice that’s pretty interesting.

Another artist doing something different is Andy Mort, a musician who goes by the stage name of Atlum Schema, and who like Amanda Palmer is doing the unthinkable and (WT double F?!!) letting the buyers determine what they will pay. Opposite Day!

As a visual artist making a variety of work in a variety of media, some pieces taking weeks, others just an afternoon, it feels a little different not setting your own price, from a musician selling CD’s, MP3 downloads, or tickets to their concerts. But in fact I think it’s the same. No one is going to offer you five bucks for a piece you’ve obviously spent 6 months producing — and if they do it’s up to you whether or not to take it.

I’ve actually done this a couple of times and the best way to describe how it’s different from the way I usually do it is to say it’s a little like tasting arugula for the first time when you’re used to spinach. In England they call arugula, Rocket. Well letting your patrons determine what to pay you for your work is definitely shooting the moon.

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And here’s the thing — I actually made MORE money when I didn’t tell my patrons what to pay me.

Now I’m a little obsessed with looking for the opposites. What are the alternatives to my “for sures”? How can I turn this idea on its head? Upside down? Inside out?

I’ve even started wearing my Goofy watch again — it tells time counter-clockwise.
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The Opposite Day perspective is simply consciously looking at things from a different angle. Go ahead and give it a whirl. What’s the worst that can happen?

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Here’s mud in your eye!

In Like a Lamb

By | Ordinary Days

I’m taking real liberties with that title because I’m not referring to either March or the weather. See today as I write it is January 4th — a day I have been very careful to spend quietly, just like a little lamb, so as to avoid any possible conflicts with those near and dear to me brought on by the “thorny full moon” which is currently under siege from Pluto and Uranus. Seriously.

You would too if your silverware did this whenever you ate out…

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Or the street lights all did this when you drove by…

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I think that full moon might exert a little pull where I’m concerned. Anyway, so far so good.

Even more good news is that this is supposed to be a gangbusters (“gangbusters”…don’t you ever wonder if these words really mean what you think they do?) month for my work life, and since my work life is really making art, this should be a gangbusters month for… making art. And to that I say it’s about time!

I’ve spent most of my time lately setting things up so that I can make art, and have a place to show it. I’ve even helped a tiny bit to influence the city I live in to appreciate the fact there are a bunch of us here worth getting to know.

But now it’s time for me to just Make Art. To materialize the inventory I’m carrying around in my head. To move from the “To-Due List” to “Just Doing It”, and I am really, really ready.

What makes this year different from last year is that I am entirely on my own as far as incentive goes. Last year I had both the Treefort Public Art project, and See Spot Walk, plus four shows to curate for TVAA.

This year we are going to New Orleans for two months and that will briefly restrict the size of the work I can do, but besides that I am unencumbered by responsibility to anyone or any organization. I am my own boss. Soy Chingona!

As part of his New Year’s Resolutions Mike is reading a blog called Art Biz Blog written by an Artist Marketing Coach named Alyson Stanfield. I read a few of her posts as well and one sentence in one excellent post in particular (Your Job is In the Studio) caught my eye. She said: “If you don’t make art, you have nothing to market.”

She couldn’t be more correct. How do you like the gif Mike made for me when I pointed out how cunningly “make” and “art” are nestled into “market”…

The word "market" transforms into "make art." This animated GIF is designed by Melissa "Sasi" Chambers and Michael Chambers

Cool right?! What a guy, and he’s handsome too!

Anyway this got me thinking that this year will be a different sort of approach for me because I will be making art first and then marketing it. Last year the market came to me and I made the work it asked me to make. I am liking the freedom to do what I want. We will see if the market wants what I do.

Which I guess means I’ll find out if “gangbusters” actually means “blowed up good.”

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Nah.