Thursday, January 31, 2013

By Invitation Only.....

As much as I would love to believe that being an artist is all about the art (making artwork), that's obviously not the case.  Marketing and self-promotion are as important to being a studio artist as making excellent and intriguing artwork.  Reviews, 'buzz', foot-traffic, word-of-mouth reputation, are greatly facilitated by some kind of marketing/promotion.  For most artists, with the stereotypical artist's budget, that means 'self-marketing' and 'self-promotion'.

The following are just a few examples of different promotional images/posters/pdfs/whatever that I have sent out in the last few years to promote various shows I've been in.  The old saying about '...if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it make a sound?' applies to art shows as well.  If you have a show and no one sees it/writes about it/talks about it, what do you really have?  Art is about communication whether it be the interaction between the artist and materials, or the artwork and the viewer, -fundamentally a dialog must take place.

The show might only last 30-90 days.  The documentation (written, verbal, or photographic) lasts for years...

An arrangement of ceramic shards that existed just long enough to take a picture was what I used for my show Artifice, Artifact, and Allegory back in 2011.  Nothing fancy, I set up the pieces on the floor in my studio, put a desk lamp of to the side so the light would rake across the pieces to accentuate the texture, and then shot the picture.  A 10 minute process (well, realistically about 30 minutes....).

Some of the promotional images for a group show called PLAY were just created on my scanner.  PLAY featured the work of Susan Czechowski, Jillian Moore, Monica Correia, Terry Rathje, and me.

I scanned various toys, beads from Mardi Gras in New Orleans, and some magnetic letters (and removed the magnets first so they had no chance of messing up my scanner) to make the image.  I also included the Queen Grimhilde/The Hag figure that was part of the inspiration for my piece Tower of Janus (Older post regarding figures and relief sculptures).  Another toy in the mix was Gumby (top right corner of the image)

Terry Rathje ran with the Gumby idea from the scans to make this radically more informative poster for PLAY.

It was a sad coincidence that right before our show officially opened, Art Clokey, the creator of Gumby, died in his sleep (Wikipedia article on Art Clokey).

Speaking of Terry Rathje and his work making invitations, I would be remiss if I didn't show off probably his best effort in regards to impact, interest, and continuity.  For the show ELEMENTAL, featuring Emily Christenson, Matt Pulford, Terry Rathje, and me, we wanted a series of interrelated invitations that we could send out via e-mail every 3 or 4 days prior to the opening reception for the show.  The venue (MidCoast Gallery West in Rock Island) could also use the image(s) for their website and/or Facebook promotion.

The first image to go out....

The second.....

The third......

The fourth image/invitation went out early during the week of the opening reception.

This one (the fifth image) not only went out 48 hours before the show, but also was used for a print advertisement in The River Cities' Reader (the free local arts, music, theater, business, and politics newspaper ) which we partnered with for the opening reception since they were celebrating their 18th year in print and wanted a venue where something fun/cool/cultural was happening that evening*.

*An important side anecdote: The Publisher of The River Cities' Reader (and fellow artist) Todd McGreevy contacted me about partnering our two events on the same night at the same venue a little over two weeks before the opening reception.  He said what got him thinking about us/our opening/show were the invites.  He told me that if it had just been one invite, he might not have paid much attention to it.  By the third one, he was intrigued, informed, and ready to act.

Although I heard a few grumbles about bombarding friend's inboxes, our turnout would have been paltry without the promotional work.

A trio of images from the opening reception of ELEMENTAL

The show was up for two months and during the run of the show, there was an event in The District of Rock Island (The District website) called Gallery Hop!  We had another opening reception (a midway reception?) on the night of Gallery Hop.  This is how Terry modified the show announcement/invitation to keep it new and fresh, yet consistent with what we had put out before.

This past Summer, I pressed Terry into design service for the show invitations for Merican-Tastic!  The challenge for this show was that we were staring down the barrel of 3 different receptions.  So we needed thematically cohesive promotional images, but different enough that we weren't sending out the same old thing for each reception.

The color images are taken from artwork in the show (more or less -more with Heidi, and less with me).

The backgrounds were a series of scanned collages on my trusty $40 scanner/printer.  I took out the color and subdued the contrast before I e-mailed them to Terry to slap down a little text.

I wanted the background images to be related to some of what was going on in the show, but not detract from the text/information of the invitation.  All of these scans are a combination of snack food wrappers and old photograms of mine.

The images for the third invite....

...and the fourth.

As an added bonus, the next few images are from a show that a friend of mine recently put on, and I felt the marketing images/ideas were too cool not to show.....

Sarah Robb did a fantastic job coming up with different, yet interrelated, images for her two-part poster to promote Candy Land (See earlier post regarding Candy Land ) back in December.  She had two separate openings that targeted two different demographics, yet the shows were basically one event.  Here is the poster for Kid's Night......

...and here is the one for Adult Night.

What impressed me was how well the two posters functioned side-by-side to convey the message that there were two separate events that were rooted in the same idea.  Kudos Sarah!

So we close with a peek at one of the ingredients for the promotional effort for Merican-Tastic! II: The Son of Tastic (coming in August to Quad City Arts).  I will share more once I do some Dremel work grinding off plastic fins and burs.

Psssst! The word of the day is 'Spread the word'.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Carving Part V: Time To Pay The Piper

So I have been carving a bunch lately...

After hours and hours of generating sawdust, a small percentage finds its way into my Dremel Tool.  When I slide the power lever and nothing happens for a second or two (or I have to slide it back and forth to make some kind of contact) I know it is time to open it up and brush/blow out all of the sawdust.

I highly doubt that the manufacture recommends that I do this.  But rarely do we get where we are in life by asking someone's permission.....

First thing I do is unscrew the snout/cap piece.  This holds the two halves of the body together.

I should also point out that I cannibalized the smaller black snout off of my Dremel tool which died this past  summer in order to replace the big ole honkin' gray snout that came with this new model.  I'm sure some crack design team somewhere had a reason for putting that gray monstrosity on there, but I find it awkward to hold and impossible to get in and cut at the angle I prefer (the gray snout is too long and gets in the way).

Time to get out the 'star bit' (a 'T 15', if you're curious) and go after the four screws in the back.

I set the screws and the snout off to the side and out of my way (It's for their own protection really).

I probably should clean this thing out more often than I do.  It's unlikely that it is a good thing that it rains sawdust like an excited beaver sneeze.

The new model has four main pieces that form its shell.

Back in the olden days the shell has just two pieces.....

But for aerodynamics, or more cutting power, or safety reasons, the new model has needs these little vent panels.  Even though the my older model had vent slots, apparently removable (and wobbly) panels were what was needed.  There is no possible way that they were just added so some engineering and marketing bozos could justify their positions.  (for the readers who are visiting this blog from other countries, that last sentence is what we, in America, call sarcasm.....)

I should also mention that the two main halves of the shell were also held together with stickers describing the model number and some other sumthin' sumthin' that I obviously didn't pay attention to.  Scoreboard: Stickers 0. Me 1.

This little post and crescent-shape piece of flat metal tend to pop out when the case/shell is opened.  They are what locks the 'drive shaft' in place while you are changing out cutting blades/Dremel bits.  They get set off to the side along with the four screws and the snout.

Definitely way too much sawdust inside this sucker.

I use three things to remove the sawdust. A clean dry soft bristle brush......

A toothpick for those nooks and crannies......and compressed air out of my head.

HIGHLY IMPORTANT!  When dealing with the actual machine part versus the case part of the tool, be sure to gently, but firmly, hold onto the top wheel and the bottom wheel the entire time.  If it slides out of place, your ten minute cleaning exercise will instantly become a 30 minute production full of frustration as you try to simultaneously spread open the two spring loaded flanges and possibly have to reconnect some wires.

The post that locks the 'drive shaft' goes fat-end first into the hole marked with the arrow.  *Please note: Not all models come with a giant floating arrow that points to what you need....

Then you set that crescent-shaped flat piece of metal (metal band) so the circle in the center of the band rests on the 'nubbin' protruding from the metal post.

Everything has a nice little nook that it's supposed to fit in.  If you have to force it in, something probably isn't where it needs to be.  Making sure that the wires go on the inside of the screw holes will make you life easier when you try to rejoin the main parts of the shell.

As soon as I get it back together and it clicks into place, I screw the snout down so it can't pop back open again.  Then I re-install the four screws in the back to hold it together properly.  Before I put my brush, toothpick, and screw driver away, I start the Dremel to make sure that it still works (this is less of a concern if you held onto the top and bottom wheels and didn't have to reassemble a bunch of wires).

It is no exaggeration when I say that my Dremel Tool ranks right up there with Duct Tape, hot glue, staple gun, microwave, refrigerator, and stereo as far as studio essentials go.  Please note that Duct Tape was capitalized to emphasize its importance......