spark!

my workspace in my studio

over the past year or so, i’ve been languishing in the land of frustration while trying to learn more about abstract art techniques and just trying out new things. experimentation is great, but sadly i have a hard time getting out of my own way and unhooking my analytical left brain mind so i don’t overthink everything… which is not really that conducive to abstract painting. so there have been a ton of paintings started and nothing finished; many painted over and started again… and yet, again not finished.

so i decided to look for some structure, some instruction, some inspiration. a teacher. something i could do online, asynchronously as my schedule is erratic and my time for art very inconsistent. but something that would get me back in a habit of creating regularly, hopefully daily, even if it was just little exercises to stretch my creative muscles.

many internet art instructors offer free workshops as samples of their style and content in the hopes of convincing you to sign up for their paid course. so i did a few different free workshops, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. all were good and i’m glad i did them, because it got me moving and painting. but i can’t say the outcomes were all that great. i did seriously consider one of the paid courses – it’s a year long class with oodles of modules and content and every two weeks live calls with the instructor, who i really liked. but i was sort on the fence about liking her actual artwork, and her teaching style, while initially drawing me in, didn’t end up producing many a-ha moments or finished products. it mostly left me frustrated again. and the course was more expensive than i was willing to justify.

but then i stumbled onto art2life, which initially seemed a little like a cult in some ways to me. lol. but i started watching some of instructor nicholas wilton‘s free videos and listening to some of his podcasts, and almost immediately i really resonated with his personal california woo woo vibe. my timing was perfect to take his free online course called breadcrumbs. i signed up and watched some of the live calls but life got in the way and i didn’t even complete but one of the exercises – but it was enough to make me realize i felt at home with him, like he was a good fit for me. plus i really dig his personal artwork. (not that i want to emulate his style but i like where he’s coming from and we share a love of color, texture and paint that just makes me feel like i can learn from him.)

so even though i didn’t finish the breadcrumbs, i took a few days to ponder if paying for his 3 week course called spark might be good for me, and if i could afford it. it’s $500 (or they have a 3 month payment plan that makes it slightly more expensive though stretches the payments out over time). but then i remembered i have paypal credit which offers 6 months interest free if you pay it off, for larger purchases. divided up, that’s $85/month which isn’t bad and totally doable for me. so i bit the bullet.

and after a few days of making sure i had all the right supplies – the only thing i had to purchase was an appropriate sketchbook that had paper thick enough to lay acrylic paint on, which i finally found at david art center in metairie for $25 – i am all ready to start this course today with this afternoon’s welcome call. i tidied up the studio and my sparkbook – that’s what they call the sketchbook for this course – is all labeled and ready to have paint lathered on it, marks made, bits of paper collaged onto, etc. i’m actually excited! frankly, that alone is worth the expenditure of the money… to feel excitement again about making art. and the bonus is that there’s a whole community via facebook around it.

though the course is only 3 weeks long, i’ll have access to all the videos and materials and the fb community for a year, in case my schedule prevents me from keeping up with the live classes. which is entirely possible. but i’m going to really try to participate live cuz i think it enhances the experience.

anyways, that’s what i’m up to. hopefully i’ll feel good enough about what i’m doing in the course to post on instagram about it and show y’all what i’m learning. or maybe i’ll wait til the end. who knows. but for the first time in a while, it’s nice to have something to look forward to.

resist.

i made this design back in the fall of 2016 right after the presidential election. a simple concept, but a much-needed one in that moment in time. i initially made stickers and sold thousands of them. i also made tshirts. i originally hand-printed tshirts on my kitchen counter with a hand-drawn screen; i printed and sold hundreds of them. eventually i switched to print-on-demand cuz i couldn’t keep up with, well, the demand. the design remained popular throughout trump’s years in office.

once biden was elected, interest in the design waned as we all took a breather. but, well, here we are again. the day that the leaked draft opinion on dobbs from the supreme court was released, i made an image of this design my facebook cover photo. no one really noticed until today. the post is from 2016 and the comments are mostly from then or a few years later. but people never look at the dates and i guess folks thought it was a new post… and now folks who never knew about the design before – maybe we weren’t friends then, maybe they just weren’t on facebook much – now want the design. cuz, well, we are again in a moment in need of resistance.

so.

here’s where you can buy the t-shirt/tank top/hoodie and a bunch of other options. scroll down on the page and you’ll see all the various shirt options. (i’m working on a new campaign that will offer different colors of shirts – stay tuned.)

and here’s where you can buy the stickers in my etsy shop.

i’m currently brainstorming to come up with a more abortion-rights-specific design. i can’t believe i never made one before now. if you have thoughts about a slogan or saying or concept that you’d love to wear on a shirt or have on a sticker that fits our now post-roe world and that you aren’t seeing out there, message me your ideas. whatever i come up with, most of the profits will go to the new orleans abortion fund.

Jazzfest time!

Just a really quick update to put my “Last Night A Brass Band Saved My Life” t-shirts up front and center here on the blog, as I went to Jazzfest on Friday and wore one of mine and got stopped like ten times by people loving the shirt and wanting to get one. (I love it when that happens!)

So here are the links:

T-shirts – https://artbymags.creator-spring.com/listing/last-night-a-brass-band-saved

Tanks – https://artbymags.creator-spring.com/listing/lastnightabrassband2017_tanks

As always, $5 from each shirt sale will be donated to the Roots of Music program.

Happy Jazzfest y’all!

march update

just a quick note to say i’ve been forced to take a short pause on the art life to regroup. there are some changes happening in my living arrangements which i will share once they are completed, but it’s all part of the plan for my year of change and refocus on my art practice. i’m excited and can’t wait for the dust to settle.

in the meantime, i’ve just added a mailchimp mailing list signup widget on the right (or below, if you are on mobile), or you could just go here to signup. a million years ago i used to send out a monthly newsletter manually using gmail; now i’m gonna try to get all high tech and use mailchimp.

it won’t probably be monthly to start as i’m not sure i’ll have new updates that frequently but that will be a goal. i will of course continue to update via social media and this website but if you’d rather just get it in your inbox so you don’t have to remember to go looking for me, please do sign up. once i get fully back into production mode, there will be perks to being on my mailing list.

2022 is for selling art!

so i’m back at it, devoting more and more time to making and selling art as the universe seems to be clearing my schedule of all other things. it’s kind of a scary time for me financially but i’m trying to lean into it and just keep keepin’ on. so i’m gonna leave this as a pinned post with the most important links:

my etsy shop – for paintings and stickers and other handmade things

my bonfire store and teespring (now called spring) shop for print on demand t-shirts

all of my links can be found here, so bookmark it: linktr.ee/artbymags

new year, new adventures

new years are for trying new things. and this old dog – ok, middle-aged dog – has spent the past year or so trying to learn some new tricks… and i’m finally ready to talk about it. i’ve been expanding my mind, suspending disbelief/my intense skepticism about things i don’t understand, and following my intuition about falling down a rabbit hole because i think there’s something there for me — even if i wasn’t sure what that was. i haven’t talked about it publicly for a bunch of different reasons, but among them is that i wanted to make sure i at least sort of knew what i was talking about before i did… and i guess part of me was hoping i could already be successful at it before i did. that hasn’t quite happened yet but i’m tired of keeping it to myself, so i’m just saying fuck it. time to let the cat out of the bag.

what the fuck am i talking about? i’m talking about crypto. but really i’m talking about NFTs.

what does that even mean? and have i lost my mind? well the second question remains to be seen but as for the first question, i will probably write some more detailed posts getting into the nitty-gritty of all this for those who care to read about it. but for now let me just say that NFTs, if you haven’t heard about them, are changing the art market and many artists’ lives. and i felt like i owed it to myself to explore the space to see if i could be one of them. or if i could even just turn it into a secondary income stream, now that i’ve cut back on my petsitting and set the intention of spending more time on my art.

so maybe you have heard that NFTs are “non-fungible tokens” and have struggled to understand what that means. all that means is that they are unique digital assets (like jpegs or audio or video files) that are authenticated, stored, sold and traded on public blockchains. this technology answers a lot of questions around authenticity in specifically digital art, where it’s really easy to just right-click save whenever you see a cool photo or piece of artwork online. you can still do that, but now there’s a way to actually support the artist who made it and collect the originals of those pieces in digital form.

why would you want to do that? well, that is harder to answer if you’re not someone who spends a lot of time living on the internet. for some it’s about supporting the artists. for others it’s a status flex on social media, owning cool art or whatever is the hype of the moment. some folks take their NFT collecting very seriously, especially those treating them as investments to be flipped for profit on the secondary market. and for others it’s just a fun thing to do – it’s entertainment. it’s like a new (digital) version of trading cards. but it is something that is quickly being adopted by artists, musicians and celebrities, corporations/brands, sports teams/leagues and athletes, the gaming industry and even things like event ticketing. all of these are using NFT technology now and soon it will be the norm, or at least that is what web3 enthusiasts believe.

so yeah, I have been lurking in this world for the past year or so, having first stumbled into it because of folks i follow on twitter talking about the meme-based cryptocurrency dogecoin. but it led me down a rabbit hole trying to understand crypto and eventually NFTs, and has in fact given me enormous amounts of inspiration and exposed me to all kinds of art both physical and digital that i would’ve never been exposed to before. it’s been a steep learning curve but has definitely expanded my mind. and i am energized and excited for how this technology is helping artists create as well as make money on the internet.

i am obviously not a natively-digital artist but i am learning some of the tools and as someone who has dabbled in graphic design i do have some rudimentary knowledge of programs like adobe photoshop and illustrator, as i’ve used them to design my stickers and t-shirts for years. i’ve been spending a lot more time with my ipad and the drawing program procreate. i’m not there yet, in terms of making my own digitally-created art. but in the meantime one way physical artists are participating in the NFT world is by selling digital photos of their physical work, or sometimes digitally altered versions of their physical work.

a process shot of 2 layers of an abstract painting that eventually got many more layers, available now as an nft

(i’ve been experimenting with running photos of my paintings through adobe illustrator to vector them, and then editing them, sometimes changing colors or words or other aspects, therefore making them new and different from their original physical pieces. i’ve also been taking a lot of detail and process photos and videos of my work, with the hopes of turning those into abstract NFTs, like the one above. that physical painting ended up with many more layers of color on top, so what that image depicts does not exist in physical form any longer – except as an NFT.)

some of my paintings available on opensea

i have some of my work up on the NFT marketplace opensea on the polygon/ethereum blockchain, some of my recent paintings and also some photographs that i’ve taken over the past few years. i also have a random assortment of things up on another marketplace called rarible on the tezos blockchain. there are different marketplaces and different blockchains to mint NFTs on and i can get into all that in another post. but they each have their own audience, vibe, and types of artwork that sell better; pricing can vary widely between them, often correlating to the price of the underlying cryptocurrency of the blockchain being used. i’ve been experimenting with several marketplaces but so far I’ve only sold one out of an edition of 100 photos of my cat sticker on rarible that many of you saw me post on instagram. it was thrilling to sell my first NFT but also it was only worth $4.30 at the time of sale so i guess i shouldn’t get too excited. (my hope is to sell all of them to help pay down my vet bills.)

ok, that’s probably enough detail and enough links for you to click through for now.

but there. i’ve come out. i’ve been anxious about talking about this publicly because i think some of you will really think i’ve gone off the deep end or abandoned my moral compass. NFTs are often deemed a cash grab, but honestly, i think the entire art market could be considered such – i mean, we live in a capitalist culture and we all have to make a living, and i’d be lying if i said money wasn’t a big motivator. but please know i have approached all this with and still harbor a healthy amount of skepticism and i have spent a ridiculous amount of time researching and observing and investigating everything in the space. it is frankly not as shady as you think it is. it’s not all maga hats and libertarians in the space. there are a lot of women, queers/trans/non-binary folk and people of color who are doing really cool things, and i have found overwhelmingly progressive political views across-the-board, which frankly surprised me. (when you look at the data about who is participating in the crypto world, the demographics skew younger and towards people of color, although those with incomes much higher than mine.)

i have found it a very exciting and forward-thinking space and particularly when it comes to the 1/1 art NFT realm it is really empowering and inspiring. it’s democratizing art in a peer to peer fashion even faster than what etsy and other online marketplaces did in the 2000s. there’s a lot of potential and just a lot of experimentation, collaboration and open-minded thinking about it all.

the bottom line is that i quickly came to the conclusion that it would be stupid for me as an artist NOT to get involved in this. because if i can figure this out, find my place in it, especially now before it has really hit the mainstream, then maybe i can finally make some decent money from my creativity that can pay some bills. but even if it never amounts to that, if it keeps inspiring me to make more art, keeps opening my mind to new ways of thinking and being creative, and keeps helping me meet other artists around the country and the world, then it is all entirely worth it.

so. if you’re already into crypto and NFTs, holla! if you aren’t but you are interested to learn more, let me know that too, because i’m happy to write some more posts with how-to’s and more basic level info for folks who want to dive in. it would be good to hear from anyone interested.

and if you hate NFTs/crypto or you’re just really not into this and think i’m crazy, that’s fine too. we don’t have to all be into the same things! you can just ignore all my blathering about it all. i’m not gonna stop making physical art. if anything this might get me to make more art – try different styles, mediums, subject matters – some of which i will sell as physical, and some of which i will sell as digital. i’m just excited about all this. and i just really wanted y’all to understand what the appeal was for me.

thanks for reading and stay tuned!