I really enjoyed this conversation between multimedia artists Jeremy Bailey and Rafaël Rozendaal. Both artists deal with the intersections of technology, performance and the web in interesting ways. I'm particularly interested in any artists who also operates in the world of commercial digital design (Jeremy Bailey is a designer at Freshbooks - the online bookkeeping platform). Both artists have a very practical approach to what it means to be an artist in today's internet-driven world.
"Rules for American Living (We can do this)" 1-4, 2016, acrylic, graphite and spray paint on magazine pages, 4.25" x 5.5" each.
A bunch of drawing and sarcasm happening in the studio today. Take one home for $5 billion doll hairs.
Back in May I completed a set of murals at GMA Architecture in Eugene, Oregon. Along with two wall pieces I did a triptych on maple panels (shown above), as well as a series of collages on paper using materials the architects provided me - renderings, conceptual sketches - mixed with my own abstract shapes. I still need to get these properly photographed with everything in its right place.
Most of my painting work is fairly messy and process oriented, but this was a good opportunity to use a lot of the bold, graphic ideas that tend to only show up in digital projects. Everything I put on the walls was in fact designed in Illustrator, and then either projected or in the case of the entry wall, drawn in place using a grid. I've been using broken letterforms a lot in newer work still in process, and they are derived from discarded stencil letter shapes.
Much thanks to Joe and Danny at GMA. It was a fun weekend of late nights and podcast listening in order to get it all done between the work week. Looking forward to doing some more work like this.
In an earlier post I shared an image I made at the studio during a slow work day. The statement "Art is Hard" is so basic and simple it's kind of stupid, like it should have been around forever. Maybe that's why it's stuck with me. I've also posted in the alley window of my studio. It's rad watching people stop to take pictures of it.
Anyway, I realized I wanted this statement on a t-shirt, so I submitted it to Cottonbureau.com. It's now live and available to order. The way Cottonbureau works is, a given design needs to get 12 orders inside 2 weeks to go to print. It's a really cool model, and they do a good job curating. One of the founders just posted a really interesting read on how they developed on Medium.
My design hit the target last night.
I shared the image on Ello.co and someone responded with "fuck yeah, that's what makes it so rad." It's true.
Art making is rad because it's hard to do it right.
Get the shirt here: http://bit.ly/art-is-hard
P.S. If you're an artist in need of a kick in the brain, I would recommend checking out Elliot Earl's Youtube series "Studio Practice". Check out this episode titled "Destroy habit, synthesize knowledge and take action". Good stuff.
The above speech, titled “On Amnesia, Broken Pottery, and the Inside of a Form,” is a 2013 keynote address to the graduating class of artist Teresita Fernández's alma mater, Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of the Arts. Here ten practical tips on being an artist are listed below.
- Art requires time — there’s a reason it’s called a studio practice. Contrary to popular belief, moving to Bushwick, Brooklyn, this summer does not make you an artist. If in order to do this you have to share a space with five roommates and wait on tables, you will probably not make much art. What worked for me was spending five years building a body of work in a city where it was cheapest for me to live, and that allowed me the precious time and space I needed after grad school.
- Learn to write well and get into the habit of systematically applying for every grant you can find. If you don’t get it, keep applying. I lived from grant money for four years when I first graduated.
- Nobody reads artist’s statements. Learn to tell an interesting story about your work that people can relate to on a personal level.
- Not every project will survive. Purge regularly, destroying is intimately connected to creating. This will save you time.
- Edit privately. As much as I believe in stumbling, I also think nobody else needs to watch you do it.
- When people say your work is good do two things. First, don’t believe them. Second, ask them, “Why”? If they can convince you of why they think your work is good, accept the compliment. If they can’t convince you (and most people can’t) dismiss it as superficial and recognize that most bad consensus is made by people simply repeating that they “like” something.
- Don’t ever feel like you have to give anything up in order to be an artist. I had babies and made art and traveled and still have a million things I’d like to do.
- You don’t need a lot of friends or curators or patrons or a huge following, just a few that really believe in you.
- Remind yourself to be gracious to everyone, whether they can help you or not. It will draw people to you over and over again and help build trust in professional relationships.
- And lastly, when other things in life get tough, when you’re going through family troubles, when you’re heartbroken, when you’re frustrated with money problems, focus on your work. It has saved me through every single difficult thing I have ever had to do, like a scaffolding that goes far beyond any traditional notions of a career.
This is not a complaint. Merely and acknowledgment on a Monday. Also I wanted to smell paint while I was working on a client project.
This image popped in my head the other day as something I wanted to say to someone, after hearing them talk about a struggle with a new set of pieces they were working on. I literally pictured it as tossed-off spray paint on paper or a wall. Deliberately non-art, as most blunt communication is.
I made this today, before I started work. One of the best things about a dedicated workspace is the narrowing of time between idea and execution. Even if it's a silly mental image you need to get out of your brain, so you can move on with your day.
A few weeks back I wrote an op-ed piece for our local weekly newspaper. Hyperallergic.com just posted an article by one of Eugene's own writers, Suzi Steffen, covering the current drama surrounding the latest gallery closure in Eugene. The mention of my piece kicks off Steffen's article.
Of course I wish I was getting covered on one of the biggest art blogs in the country for artistic reasons. Ha. My opinion's flow a lot easier than the artwork however.
I was also interviewed, along with several others involved in Eugene's art scene, for a big piece in this week's Eugene Weekly. While the author raised questions regarding, and advocated for, a city funded arts center, the best thing about this piece was letting people know the Public Art Committee (of which I'm a member) is not taking in as much funding as other cities our size, and our "1% for art" revenue could be increased.
Hopefully by this time next year, our city will be getting national arts coverage because of some as-of-yet undiscovered arts funding innovation or cultural break-through.
Here's to hoping.
Our Give Shop event was a lot of fun. Some prints are still available and we will continue to donate any proceeds to CASA of Lane County. Thanks to Jay Jones for shooting and editing this rad video.
The 8th grader who lives inside my head is very real. This kid has all of his dreams and interests wrapped into a single workspace, and it financially sustains itself. It includes, but is not limited to, the following:
- Art studio for both client and personal work
- Practices space for drumming/music projects
- A mini halfpipe, 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 feet tall, with maybe a painted parking block or two in a corner for mid day sessions.
In truth, I feel like I'm halfway there.
My 450 square foot design studio exists primarily as my base of operations for client work. I've had weekly rehearsals for a new music project, in the space for about a month, and my drums are scattered all over. I currently can't play during the day due to other nearby professional offices, but I do take screen breaks over my practice pad throughout the day, working on getting my chops back.
I've recently moved my painting studio out of the dark corner of my garage, into the design office, and have spent more "design hours" doing things by hand, at least in the early stages of the creative process for client work. This has been awesome. Computers are killing me softly and I need to get out of my chair more.
The 41 year old, who hangs out with the kid in my head, would only add the following requirements:
- Double the square footage, and the monthly revenue to expand into a neighboring unit. Right now I can't leave everything out all at once. Everything needs it's own corner.
- Enough white wall space to continue holding monthly pop-up shows and showcase new design artifacts I'd like to make and sell this coming year.
- A shower so I could work out and go running during the day and smell good for the wife and daughter when I get home. The sons don't care.
The building I'm currently renting space in is completely empty, except for me. Unfortunately the whole building is for sale, who knows how long it will stay on the market and/or sit empty. I have a gut feeling it will get torn down when it sells. It's the only building available on this block to demolish and rebuild in it's place, and the city is all about new development.
More dreaming later. Back to work for now.
I keep coming up with these ideas
In this case, I've had this one for almost 2 years now, and I had to get it out of my head. "Wouldn't it be cool to do a show about giving, and make prints that say the word "Give", really big, and then give all the money to a charity?"
Yes. It would be cool. And so it shall be. I'm designing the print myself. If it goes well, I'd like to rope in other designers to contribute, and keep the party going year after year. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Get all the event details over at artsdigital.co. I'm acting as my own sponsor once again, combining resources from ECA and my design studio. I'm also teaming up with the amazing Threadbare Press, who will be doing the screen printing magic on her portable PrintCycle.
5:30 – 9pm
First Friday, December 4th
at the Artsdigital.co design studio
945 Olive, in Broadway Alley (map)
Last week I wrote a post over on ECA's blog in response to comments I was seeing online regarding the closing of yet another gallery. The Eugene Weekly asked me to expand the post into an op-ed piece and I was happy to oblige. The entire text is featured here, or you can read it on the Weekly's site. Check out the original post on eugenecontemporaryart.com.
Guess what? There's no money.
Seven steps to make the Jacobs Gallery closing not matter at all
Arts funding is important. Without it, even our longest-running institutions close. The Jacobs Gallery at the Hult Center is the most recent in a string of examples.
People wring their hands when yet another art venue closes in Eugene, and the standard frustrations are conveyed: “There’s not enough funding!"; “I can’t survive as an artist in Eugene!”; “Nobody buys art!”; “Someone should step up and donate!”
All of those statements may be true, but they don’t get to the heart of the issue. The art-going public in Eugene has made it clear for years that the experience of supporting art is not worth the time or money. If people don’t show up to see it, if they don’t make their end-of-the-year donation, or purchase work for their collection, it’s because they aren’t compelled to do so. Plain and simple.
The voters don’t show up to the polls if they already think it’s an ineffectual process.
Our art scene sucks.Read More
I recently came across this great lecture by painter David Salle from 2010, speaking at AFA Christie's.
In opposition to most critical writing on the contemporary art coming out of NYC in the 80's, he asserts that while critics saw a distinct divide between the Neo-expressionist painters and the culturally and politically critical conceptual artists, these artists not only knew and worked along side each other, but didn't view their own work to be at odds with each other at all.
He makes his points by talking about an exhibition he co-curated that put the work in mention alongside each other for the first time. He also argues that successful painting, in his mind, blend pictorialism and presentationalism.
As someone who studied art history, but pursues painting, I find this really refreshing to hear. It's easy for critics and theorists to separate conceptual thinking and the practice of painting, but hard to reconcile in painting. Salle is a prolific writer and critic himself, so his ability to articulate his thoughts will be helpful for anyone who thinks about the critical value of their own work. Especially if they are a painter. He understands the theory, but it is a painter down to his core.
"For certain undamaged lemons II" 2015, 38"x40", mixed media on canvas.
This one is new, and the first completed in the studio space (I've moved my painting out of the garage). Some different moves here that came as a surprise. There is definitely an affect that comes from working in a new space, let alone one that is more open and comfortable. I've also added some new materials to my kit, namely spray paint and graffiti pens. These have little to do with street art, but I have always perceived my canvases as a space to collect the markings of "a passerby". This is always me. The way the surface can collect the debris of working, and the building up and tearing down of layers has been a consistent theme since I began painting in earnest in the early 2000's.
Recently I found myself describing my love of the way a skateboard collects the markings of it's own activity. A once pristine graphic illustration, most likely silk-screened or heat transfered on, meant to instill the identity of the pro rider who's name is on the board, quickly gets taken over my the insistence of the boards rider. His stickers have been added, and scared by curbs and pool coping. It becomes something new, merely by becoming a mediator between the rider and surface.
I might hate it tomorrow. Right now I still like it.
Finally getting my studio back together after hosting a couple pop-up events in my space. New collages, drawings and paintings are on the way.
My artist initiative project, Eugene Contemporary Art, put on a pop-up show in my design studio last night. ECA hasn't done anything over the last couple years, while I was getting Artsdigital.co off the ground. But as soon as I moved into the studio space, I knew I wanted to try to do a couple exhibitions. ECA used to be a full blown non-profit and residency program. Due to funds and time, I put it into hibernation mode. This was my first attempt at getting it off the ground again, but with a much simpler premise - show work when I can, and operate with a mentality of having no resources whatsoever. It's kind of freeing actually.
Putting on a show is a lot of work, and I didn't have a lot of time to curate something complex. Asking your friends if they want to show ephemera from around their studio is pretty easy. Everyone has loads of it. It was really fun. The turnout was great. I'm going to do another in October.
See more pics on eugenecontemporaryart.com.
Lots of black and white drawings happening in the studio lately. Like a lot of ideologies, there are aspects of Anarchy I agree with. Other aspects I find funny.
Recently I read an article on the activist culture in my hometown of Eugene, Oregon. The anarchists and other political groups working against corporate development and invasion of their neighborhood eventually fell apart because they couldn't agree on anything.
Everything has a point at which it falls apart.
I've been struggling with the studio practice this year. I've started dozens of pieces, covered most of them over with white more than once, and started over. These two have left me curious. They were untouched in these states for weeks. I expected to come to some kind of sudden conclusion as to what the next move in paint should be. As I walked into my painting space over this past weekend, the "sudden conclusion" was that they were done.
Most of the pieces I've worked on lately have been a mix of old visual language elements, and an inability to just stop making more marks or layers. I've been dissatisfied in feeling like I was pointlessly trying to get to a place where the work needed to be settled and compositionally complete. I could blame this on my day job as a graphic designer, where everything must have visual harmony that creates a better experience for the user. I've been wanting, and working, towards surfaces that challenge and unsettle what I want them to be.
It's not that the image shouldn't resolve or have composition, so much as it had to leave me feeling they were at the edge, where comfort is just out of reach. If it's possible to be satisfied with tension and discomfort, then these do it.
It's been a dull, sickening feeling, building for sometime now...
...occasionally offset by short periods of pill-swallowing, matrix-ignoring enjoyment of talking to my friends old and new, spread all over the globe. It's the only way I'll be able to talk to all of them in one place. For now anyway.
In the meantime, the site itself gets harder to manage. Privacy controls get more frustrating, or flat out disappear. They make a shit-load of money off of our content, clicks, and browser activity. For a long time I've only been using FB in an incognito window, but that only screws up their ability to collect my data on the surface and mess with the ads it would serve me. It doesn't stop them altogether.
If you want to read more on the subject, check out this great set of links covering all aspects of Facebook's douche-baggery. Yes, I found it on Ello, and yes, I've been using it since the beginning. It's not a replacement for FB. All the friends I've invited don't use it AT ALL, except this homie. So the experience has been much different.
But the Ello model has created enough noise about privacy that it's become impossible to ignore my irritation any longer. So much of my life is spent online, Facebook has taken much more from me than it can give back. I'm sure this all means I'll have to eradicate Instagram at some point soon as well. They are owned by FB and will be ramping up their advertising there soon.
This post is mainly for my friends who come looking for me. I've never made my profile available to the public, and I've only friended people I knew personallyl or had at least met in real life.
Just think about it for a minute.
If you quit using it today, how many hours would you free up in your life to read that book, go on that bike ride, or meet an actual friend for coffee? Beyond the privacy issues, it's about how I've allowed it to get in the way of things I want to do. I've got a lot of those things that get in the way. Facebook is only one. But it's the one who's thumb I'm most excited to chop off at the moment.
Scrap 'em off.
A recent interview on the Unit Editions blog on how two, well known, UK design studios got their start.
AS: So it seems that the motivation in all cases was not money, but a desire for autonomy, wanting to be in charge of your own destiny. And that’s more important than money.
That pretty much sums it up for me as well.