I am on my 8th studio. Over the years they have changed. Sometimes they were in my apartment, sometimes a barn and sometimes they were separated from my living space, you can check out a series of images of a few of my studio spaces here.
I am currently working out of my attached garage in a rental house in West Seattle. It is a battle. The space is about 300 square feet with open walls and no insulation. I have put up drywall on one 8 foot section to provide myself with a wall to draw on but the rest of the space is just open 2×4 walls; it is very brown. In this space I have all my tools: table saw, band saw, lathe, table top sander, miter saw, 2 nail gun compressors, and all the normal hand tools one would expect a former general contractor to have. I have 20 years of rolled drawings and paintings, a flat file over flowing with prints and drawings, a myriad of wall mounted sculptural objects and a massive amount of wood and paper. 5 bikes also live in the space along with various household items.
Right about now you are asking yourself is there a point to this list? Is he just making a list for its own sake? No really there is a point and I will get to it in a moment. I also have a rolling table that is 8×4 feet where I put together Swarm Containers. It is relatively clean but certainly not dust free. Dust is everywhere, no matter how hard I try to control the dust from the saws a thin layer of 1 micron type dust ends up every where.
And here is my point. Despite the challenges of cold, virtually no finished walls, compressed space and multiple types of work that don’t really mesh together going on all at once I still make it happen. I push forward with the creation of new work and the production of work that is very close to maintaining me and possibly allowing me to upgrade my studio. While the size of the studio is pretty close to what I need the configuration and the “cross contamination” of all the stuff not art related really make focusing on work problematic. I do it because my vision requires me to do so. I visualize a time, in the not so distant future, when I am in a space with finished walls and heat. My productivity in this space is high with only my DUMBO studio really seeing more breakthroughs in my work. I hate it and love it at once as I have have with many of my studios.
Make your art no matter the conditions.
When is done? What is the best way to convey the message I want to send? Do I even want there to be any message? I think that a lot of artists spend a lot of time thinking about stuff that doesn’t really matter until after the work is made. Making the work is the most important thing all the rest will come as you contemplate and discuss what you have made with friends and fellow artists. I believe in the story behind art my work has lots of it but I don’t rely on it when I am making. The process of making is ruled by the visual.
The perfect time is never. If you spend your days looking for the perfect space to show in, the perfect group of work to show, the perfect group of people to show the work you will never show anything. Sometimes the worst possible setting can mean the best turn out and other times the best space on the best night can lead to a dead end. You just have to go ahead a jump into the void. The void will let you know what to do next.
I have spent my entire adult life in the pursuit of creating art. It has its ups and its downs. I have lived on art sales for short periods of time in my life but have never made it to that point where I could exist and make work fulltime.
It is a hard thing to figure out. Artists work all sorts of odd jobs in order to live and have enough time to create. We try to get people to see our work through gallery shows, online media and word of mouth but these avenues may not always reach enough viewers or the right viewers who can help us achieve our goals.
This is why I have started pushing my work out into the world through more aggressive means. Most recently I have applied to the West Collection. I would be most pleased with having my work become part of their permanent collection but in such a large field it is hard to be seen or heard. That is why I am also pushing for votes in their contest. I am not a fan of popularity contests but I am pretty good at rallying people for me. So why not. Check it out cast your vote for me. The prize will help me move all my art into a studio and allow me to make art fulltime.
I have been spending a lot of time recently working on putting together grant proposals. They aren’t easy. I am not one to second guess myself but when you are asking a foundation or organization for a grant of 25 thousand dollars it is hard not to question every thing you write. I well know that the most important thing for an artist and their grant proposal are the images they present, that said I am struggling so much with my cover letter it is unreal. I have rewritten it so many times and almost sent it out a couple times. It is ridiculous because I am typically not like this. I usually dive in and make it work. But writing a proposal is not like making artwork I can’t continually work on it. I can’t erase everything and start from a veiled shell on a new piece. Once I drop the proposal in the mail I am at the mercy of a group of jurors deciding if they should give me a huge chunk of money to make art with: it is purely daunting.
OK now to finish it.
It is a great story. My friend John Petzinger emailed me to say he saw an ad on craigslist looking for artists. I replied to the ad and heard back, almost immediately, from Sense Nail Spa in the Washington State Convention Center in downtown Seattle. The salon had looked at images of work from Sweetie Boutique and B of A and asked if I would like to show some work in their space and of course I said yes. This happened so fast from the time John sent me the ad to the time I was showing them my work was only about 24 hours. I took in a couple Swarm Containers. When I got there Robert, the manager asked me if I could do an installation on their main wall behind the front desk. He told me there was a neurological conference arriving the next day and that over the next week about 10,000 neurological professionals from around the world would be coming through and hoped I could install it the next day: Friday.
Zanne was in China. I frantically inquired with Izzy’s main play date friends and all of them came back and said “sorry…..” It was too short notice. I called John. “Hey remember that ad you sent me…” It turned out John came to help me on Friday and Izzy went to run errands with his wife. Thank you so much you two. John took great shots of The Swarm going up and was a great help in prepping pieces for me. I ran out of steam just about the time the salon was closing and all parties involved decided I should finish on Saturday. Izzy would spend the afternoon with John and I would finish.
The Swarm wrapped its way through a corner and another and then around to the other side of the wall. It is not decorative, it does not blend in, it does command the space and grab attention both inside The Salon and through the glass windows. If you live in Seattle you should try to see one of the four installs that are currently up. They are all listed in this post.
Art can change your world.
My work space/dining table is now covered with Sporozoan Swarm Containers as I put about 10 of them together. As I am doing this I am once again reminded of how I thought my 175 square foot studio in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn was so small. I made great use of that space and was able to make about 10 or 15 drawings that were about 4 feet by six feet in size.
Here I am working off my table to make the building blocks of huge pieces and using the walls of banks and boutiques to create my larger work. It is an exciting and terrifying process as I watch the primary focus of my art shift from the making of large solitary objects to the creation of thousands of tiny pieces that ebb and flow finding temporary locales in which to exist.
It is in this excitement and fear that I am finding a passion I cannot ever remember having: one of almost giddy elation. This work has rejuvenated me, my work and the excitement of people with regards to my work. Making work to exist in public spaces for only a short period of time feeds into my idea of serendipitous experience producing memories with grand meaning.
Art can change your world just allow yourself to see it.
I love drawing with charcoal, pastels and pencil. The dusty quality of the two former mediums provide a perfect landscape for the finish of the pencil. They enhance and reject one another all at the same time.
Drawing is the beginning of everything for me. It allows me to work out, very quickly, ideas that would be far harder to realize in print or paint formats. It is also my medium of choice for drawing from models. And considering that models and the human form is where 90 percent of my ideas come from, me and the paper and drawing utensil standing before the twisted body of a nude is a match made in the Utopian place in my head.
Draw, draw, draw…
My first studio in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn was tiny, about 150 sq feet, but I made good use of it and miss it. I was in it for about a year and a half and I made a lot of work in that space. Sometimes the best work comes from the least likely spaces.
The dining room table is easily transformed into a packing station for The Swarm. I thought the map would change a lot after sending these five out but… Map.
I am going to look at a press today in the hopes of being able to print soon. It will feel good to get back on a press and smell the scent of ink.
This print from the Sporozoan Cavities suite is done with an A la poupee technique. The plate was made through a series of etches that were reworked by hand. I am hoping to finish the suite some time this summer so that they are ready for my show at Twilight Art in October. It will be a great show and I want to have the suite done early enough so that I can make a suite container for everyone who is going to want to own one.