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!

you are loved

this is the first of possibly a few t-shirt campaigns i’ll be running in advance of the holidays – and if you haven’t heard, retailers are saying you better stock up early because of all the supply chain shortages and delays caused by the pandemic. so this is a 7 day campaign and the shirts will ship by october 12th.

50% stays with me to help me recover from the financial hit of hurricane ida; 50% goes to the lowlander center in solidarity with the underserved communities most affected by ida down in lower terrebonne, lafourche, plaquemines, and jefferson parishes.

let’s spread a little love, y’all!

link to purchase here: https://www.bonfire.com/you-are-loved-artbymags/

keep loving, keep fighting – the pink edition!

hi y’all! long time, no update. i know, i know – i kinda suck at keeping up with this site. but truth be told, ever since my brain surgery last fall, i have been fairly blocked creatively and haven’t really been doing much art-ing. i’m trying to bust out of that inertia so hopefully i’ll have more to report soon.

but for now, i just wanted to make a quick post to tell you about this cool thing that happened recently. backstory: i’ve been on etsy since 2006, which is a really long time. and i’ve been selling stickers and t-shirts with my original designs for many of those years. but only recently have a few of my designs gotten interest from outside organizations wanting to license them! i’m pretty protective of my work and won’t just license my designs to anyone – so far i’ve only done it a few times and to non-profits whose missions i support and believe in.

in 2018 i licensed my “educate agitate organize” design to the davis-putter scholarship fund in louisville, ky, who made t-shirts to give out to their donors and recipients. it was really cool to have one of my activism-themed designs going back to the louisville community that took such good care of me in the post-katrina years. i didn’t know about dpsf before they approached me but turns out they are a really cool organization that supports young social justice activists. check them out!

and then earlier this year i got a query from planned parenthood of south texas about my “keep loving keep fighting” design. the first time they contacted me, they wanted to use the red design as-is for their e-newsletter around valentine’s day. so i said yes. and then they got back in touch with me last month because they wanted to make stickers to give out to their clients who come in for services. so we worked together to modify my design to fit their branding. i kinda love it in pink!

so if you know anyone in south texas who uses planned parenthood for their health services, tell ’em to go get their free sticker!

other than that, not much going on. i’ve been playing around with my teespring store trying to update it but in the process accidentally erased everything, so it will be a minute before i get it all sorted again. i’ll make a new post when i do. til then, hope everyone is doing well and getting ready for the summer!

winter 2020 update + artbymags face masks!

I guess I haven’t updated here in a long time. I always forget I have an art website because I don’t use it for direct commerce – it’s mostly just a blog. And my art/design biz has been on hold these last few months so I haven’t had anything to write about. But the quick update is: I had brain surgery (really) October 13th and I’ve been in recuperation mode ever since. I have not been working and have been focusing solely on my health – a privilege I’ve had thanks to my sweet friends setting up a GoFundMe for me prior to surgery and literally hundreds of folks in my community and networks chipping in to support me during this time. I am so humbled and grateful, and trying to take all the time I need to get back to normal.

I am making a very strong recovery, despite being left with a few nerve-related deficits. (My benign tumor that was 100% removed was on my brain stem and entwined with my 10th cranial nerve, or vagus nerve, which controls things like breathing and swallowing and speaking.) So I’m battling double vision and paralyzed vocal cords, but making slow steady progress via physical and speech therapy. It’s just a waiting game for the nerves to repair themselves, but I hope to be back to business as usual after the holidays.

My post-brain-surgery self hasn’t had a lot of physical/mental/creative energy to make art or do any actual printing, but sitting in front of a computer isn’t that taxing for me. So the wonders of technology have enabled me to set up a bunch of my designs on print on demand site Teespring, and now you can get some of your favorite artbymags designs on cloth face masks!

https://teespring.com/stores/artbymags/collection/face-masks?page=1

*I have ordered a sample to check for quality but it has not arrived yet, so I can’t tell you anything about the quality of the mask yet. Sorry! I will update when it arrives. But I’ve generally been pretty happy with everything I’ve gotten from Teespring so I’m hopeful they will be great!

I’ve also been adding all kinds of new weird products like pillows and fannypacks, as the designs allow, to my regular store. Not every design looks good on other kinds of merch, but if you visit my artbymags store on Teespring you’ll find lots of new stuff with old designs, in a ton of different colors. I’m still updating so check back often!

https://teespring.com/stores/artbymags

I’m hoping to get back to the making of art soon, but I’m having to slowly re-integrate various activities so as not to do too much too soon. But overall, I’m doing pretty amazing after such a major surgery so I’m trying to have patience with the process and just go with the flow.

Thanks for checking out my site and supporting my creative work.

Happy holidays, everyone! Be safe!

a few ways to art the vote…

remember when we all used to blog? well i’m gonna try to get back in the habit and stop relying on facebook so much.

in the last few days i have become aware of a few calls for art to inspire folks to get out to vote in the presidential election in november. which is, you know, kinda important. and i fully believe in the power of art to inspire, motivate and galvanize enthusiasm for the election.

website design by https://simplesc.tt/

the first one came out of the blue from one of my fellow artists for obama, from that grassroots movement of creatives (of which i was a part) that came together in 2008 to help elect barack obama, culminating in the manifest hope gallery show in DC during the inauguration. he’s spearheading an effort based on the concept of UNITY – http://time2unite.org/. here’s a snippet of the email he sent me:

I’m reaching out to ask you to join an army of artists, designers and creatives. Similar to the work we did in 2008 for the Obama campaign, I have hope that together we can inspire other artists and designers to express a single message we desperately need to hear. UNITE. IF WE UNITE, we can secure this election for a Biden/Harris victory and move past 45, and begin to heal this country. Whether you are a progressive activist, a part of the exhausted majority, or an ideal moderate, we need to all UNITE. We need to once again illustrate a word and begin the process of letting things manifest themselves. Let’s once again unleash our collective creativity.

i plan to create at least one design, if not more, and i just love the idea of a grassroots visual uprising to bring people together to defeat the fascist in the white house. i encourage you to do so too!

the second comes from a new nola local organization, creative community league, seeking designs for a GOTV postcard campaign. here’s the post directly from facebook:

CALLING ALL ARTISTS: $100 for a winning Get Out The Vote (GOTV) postcard design

November elections are right around the corner! In an effort to support local Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaigns, Creative Community League will offer FREE GOTV postcards to advocates and allies working in Louisiana.To support local artists, Creative Community League invites artists and creators to submit a design for a 4×6 postcard. From the submissions, three designs will be chosen. Artists of winning designs will be awarded $100 each. Deadline to submit a design is August 30. Designs should be full-color, 3 1/4” W x 3 3/4” H, and 300 dpi. Please send the image as a pdf to Amanda Sanfilippo at amandafromcreativeleague@gmail.com.

Launched in 2020, Creative Community League is an initiative that utilizes cultural strategies for movement building, supporting artists, storytelling, and other dynamic community engagement in moving reproductive and sexual awareness into creative spaces. Creative Community League is funded by the Packard Foundation. Visit us on Facebook at Creative Community League. For additional questions or if you would like a FREE order of 50 GOTV postcards, email Amy at amyfromcreativeleague@gmail.com.

sounds like a cool idea and i’m excited to hear about the new local effort. i’ll see if can come up with something.

the third i just learned about this weekend while attending netroots nation at home, this year’s all-virtual iteration of the annual progressive activist gathering that i’ve always wanted to go to but never managed to afford. this year on a whim i decided to apply for a scholarship as even their reduced covid-affected rate was more than i could handle financially, and surprisingly, they approved me!

it was a great experience, i learned a ton, and i was able to take part in several design-related panels/trainings, amongst so many others. during one of the diy design sessions, i decided to post in the chat about the above UNITY call for art, and was immediately approached by a woman from people for the american way (PFAW), who recently launched their own national “art the vote” campaign with the theme of enough of trump. they’ve enlisted several big name artists like shepard fairey, carrie mae weems, jeffrey gibson, tatyana fazlalizadeh, ed ruscha, deborah kass, and others, and launched a kickstarter to fund billboards in key swing states featuring these artists’ works.

jeffrey gibson’s “enough of trump” contribution

the kickstarter page explains that if they reach their goal – and they did, in fact they quadrupled it! – they will expand beyond the 12 artists they started with into other states. and so while i don’t see an explicit call for art on a grassroots level, i don’t see why folks shouldn’t use this theme to make your own version to spread wherever you live or online. i’ll update here if i learn anything more.**

so, there you have it. some inspiration. i frankly wanted to write this all down mostly for myself, so i’d remember to use these prompts to make something. it’s been hard over these last five months to feel inspired, frankly. but it’s time to get back to it, for my own mental health. i’ll show you whatever i come up with – you show me yours!

**edited 8/18 to add: upon reading the social media toolkit on the enough of trump website, i did find their “get involved” details:

Want to submit your own artistic entry? Make your own post on Twitter with whatever art you’d like – a drawing, song, poem, anything! 

Make sure to tag @peoplefor AND use both #EnoughOfTrump and #ArtTheVote in your post so we can find your entries – and we might retweet you!

(When you submit content to PFAW, you grant PFAW permission and a non-exclusive, royalty-free license to post or display your content on PFAW’s website and any other PFAW media platform. Content you submit must be your own original work and not the work of a third party.)

artbymags in the time of covid

wow it’s been a year since i updated here. what a difference a year makes.

well, i could write a long rambling recap of the past year or even the past few months and my occasional creative forays – perhaps another day – but for now i just want to plug my new Bonfire shop.

yes, i still have a Teespring store, but i decided to give Bonfire a try and i really like it. right now i’ve only got a handful of designs on Bonfire, but i’ll be adding more in the coming months. most importantly, i want to point out that i’m donating 100% of the profits from the sale of the STOP KILLING BLACK PEOPLE and the NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL shirts to social justice/activist groups. click through to the order pages for more info.

oh, and sticker sales have been booming these last few months over in my Etsy shop! seriously, it’s becoming hard to keep up with! i can’t keep my KEEP LOVING KEEP FIGHTING, RESIST, and NO HUMAN IS ILLEGAL stickers in stock! every time i reorder them, they sell out again! it’s keeping me very busy and though i don’t really make money off the stickers (because i like to keep the prices low to keep them accessible), i love knowing that these things are going out to every corner of the country and getting slapped onto cars, bikes, skateboards, water bottles, laptops, and phones everywhere. it’s all about spreading the messages.

that’s it for now. stay safe, everyone. and stay home as much as you can. unless, of course, you are hitting the streets for a protest. because black lives do indeed matter. (but, you know, wear your masks, stay physically distant, and wash/sanitize your hands frequently if you are out there.)

#blacklivesmatter