Making art is pay to play; I wish it wasn’t.

I was reading a post on a friend’s Facebook page a few days ago. Her daughter is a dancer; she was a dancer in her youth. The post (which my friend didn’t write, but was commenting on) was an open letter to some dance-related organization about girls showing up to audition for something and having to pay a fee to audition. There were a lot of comments, mostly that expressed outrage that anyone should be expected to have to pay to participate in an audition. I didn’t comment because I am not part of that community, but I snorted and thought to myself “Welcome to the club!”

As an artist, I have to pay to audition all the time. Nearly everything I apply to has a “jury fee” associated with it. I was talking with friends about this several months ago and we were all surprised. They had never heard of a “jury fee” and I didn’t know that my non-artist friends didn’t know this was a thing. So that seemed like a great reason to write a post about it.

Most of the shows and exhibitions my work would be a good fit for have an application process. You submit an artist statement and maybe another statement about how your work fits the theme of the show. You upload an art resume. Then you choose images to represent your work or the specific pieces you think would belong in the show. The specs for these are always wildly different. You spend a LOT of time recropping and resizing your images so they fit whatever format that the spec says. Then you pay a fee. The last few shows […]

2019-02-14T16:32:53+00:00Everything Else|5 Comments

Done is better than perfect.

At first glance, you might think that the photo at the top of this post represents the metaphorical dumpster-fire that was 2018, but it actually might be one of my favorite things about the year.

As we were heading in to the end of 2018 and holiday season, we realized we didn’t have any plans. I don’t mean “no plans” as in “we only have a few family things and we might have a day to lounge around in our pajamas”; I mean nothing. We had scheduled alternate dates to celebrate Christmas with family, no one was visiting, and we were so busy with wrapping up year end at our various jobs that it didn’t occur to us to even make plans with friends. Two weeks with nowhere we had to be and nothing we had to do. No one to entertain, clean the house for, or cook for except ourselves.

It was glorious.

So we rented some dumpsters.

I know that might not sound like everyone’s ideal way to spend the holidays, but it was amazing. We moved in to our house almost 20 years ago. (I have no idea how that much time has gone by.) We came from a different state and a tiny condo so we had nothing when we got here and we just moved with everything we had. Turns out that the nothing multiplied into a LOT of junk. Things from college days. Hand-me-down furniture that people gave us because we had empty rooms in our house and no chairs. Things that we might get to “someday”, like a weaving loom I never use. More chairs. Old carpet left by the previous owners. And we put it in places and on shelves and […]

2019-01-01T18:12:33+00:00Everything Else|4 Comments

Designing inspired by snark: The steampunk squid damask

This design always makes me shake my head. It continues to be the most popular design in my Spoonflower shop and it was entirely inspired by snark.

I created it when I was working on the Spoonflower Handbook. One of the projects we wanted to do was a shower curtain and my co-authors and I had managed to convince our editors that the print should be something a little off the wall. We wanted something that wasn’t just Pinterest-worthy, but had a little of the amazing weirdness that can be found among Spoonflower designs. So we settled on octopi, which were a big trend at that time. (They are still pretty popular.)

But we couldn’t find a design that we all agreed on that would fit in to the curriculum in the book. We had a plan for the projects in the book to help you build different skills and teach techniques as you progressed through the book. We needed this design to help teach a particular skill. The trick was to find something that both taught what we needed it to teach and passed the thumbs up of the people in charge of the “look” of the book. (That wasn’t me.)

We tried something made with clip art, but that didn’t fit the design lesson (and licensing was tricky). We tried hand-drawing something inspired by that.

We tried using a vintage illustration from a 1918 encyclopedia.

I cut it out and repeated it, I made many different colorways, we scaled it to different sizes. I made and printed 27 versions of the “octopus design” and nothing could get the thumbs up from everyone who […]

2018-12-04T14:01:44+00:00Everything Else, Spoonflower & Fabric Design|Comments Off on Designing inspired by snark: The steampunk squid damask

I wanna be in the room where it happens.

We saw it. It took signing up for a waiting list, winning a spot in a lottery, clicking through at just the right time and a whole lot of luck, but we scored tickets and saw Hamilton on Tuesday night.

I’ve been trying to stay away from knowing too much about the show because I wanted to experience it for the first time right there. I must be one of the only people on the planet who does not have the music memorized. I don’t even own the cast album. And I was a theater major and president of my high school Drama Club, so this was hard for me. But I know how amazing it is to see something live, with a room full of people who are excited to be there. I wanted that experience.

Hamilton is breathtaking. And I mean that in many ways. The first act literally never takes a breath. There are no scene changes to wait for, no transitions, no scenes full of dialog where you can sit back and relax. There is music and choreography and visual tableaus to take in from the very second the show starts until you feel like you can exhale at intermission. I have never seen a show that grabs you like this and doesn’t let you go. I will argue that Wicked has the very greatest act one closer ever, but Hamilton leaves you with a similar kind of rush.

Thinking about it, I am a little surprised that Hamilton is as popular as it is, honestly. It is an odd show. Maybe that’s what does it. It is more like an opera than a musical. There are about five minutes of the whole show […]

2018-10-07T22:36:57+00:00Everything Else|Comments Off on I wanna be in the room where it happens.

You’re not doing art wrong.

A couple of years ago I joined an art organization and went to a monthly meeting with about 20 people. I was excited to be part of a group and to talk about art related things. On the agenda for the meeting was to have a discussion and show-and-tell about our sketchbooks. It sounded like it could be interesting hearing about other people’s process (and it was) but I don’t keep a sketchbook. That’s not a part of my process; I’m not a sketcher. So we went around the room and people talked about how they organize ideas for pieces or make lists of tasks to do. Some made more journal type books with beautiful complex works of art on each page. Some used theirs as a mood board or inspiration source where they created a collage for pieces they were thinking about. All cool ideas and interesting to hear them talk about each version. But when my turn came around the circle, I didn’t have anything to show and it was at that point where, unfortunately, I stopped enjoying the meeting.

I do sketch things. Like that little dog up above. I printed out the circle on a piece of card stock and made a sketch and then I scanned it and used it as a guide to draw the version on the right in Illustrator. I am a lot looser when I draw things on paper, so I often do a little rough sketch of characters especially and use that to help me with proportions and placement when I get into the computer. It’s a process that works well for me. But this little sketch is […]

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