“Confutatis” – inspired by:
Two things are true: (1) I need to make some money and (2) I need to make what I love.
Years ago – before I was ancient – I could’ve learned how to make “beauty.” Maybe I could’ve learned how to make cute/adorable/charming. That’s less likely. But, instead of doing what I could’ve done to feed a consumer need, I fed my own.
I made what I love.
Now it’s all I can do. It’s all I want to do. I need to make what I love.
Now and then I can produce “beauty,” etc. But it’s….meh. I don’t love it and I can’t fake love well enough for my “beauty” to be be beautiful to the world.
Let’s shift gears, OK? Take a little detour…
Online advice about selling visual art via print-on-demand sites always includes this gem: “Know your audience.” That’s excellent advice, applicable to most of life’s endeavors. But how do you know and satisfy an audience that doesn’t exist? Beyond supposition I haven’t a clue except that it would be people like me but who had money to spend.
Given my timeline (I’m ancient, remember?) in the early spring of last year I decided to focus on what I love to do. That seemed wise because even if nothing sold I could at least enjoy what I was doing and my dwindling time wouldn’t be wasted pretending to love something that might not sell anyway.
Ooooo! Exciting! Must’ve worked great, yes? Here’s how well that plan’s worked: Nothing’s sold except a sticker of an [arguably] beautiful abstract I made 13 years ago. I earned $.33 (cents, yes) that I’ll likely never see because the payout threshold is $20. Want to see it? Click through to my Redbubble shop.
Who was my audience? No idea. Maybe a music lover. Maybe a violin player. Or maybe someone who likes little abstract images that will stick to things.
Reeling from the realization that I wasn’t getting anywhere I updated equipment and purchased new software. Beginning mid-summer last year I frantically tried to make what I thought might sell. What was that exactly? Not what I love. Everything else. I’ve tried hard to create for that other audience, the one that likes beauty and charm and adorable cuteness but IT’S NOT ME. I’m drowning in loveless creations.
I need my love.
I need my faces.
So – enough! I’ve had enough! Maybe I’ll make abstracts along the way, maybe I’ll take pictures of pretty things, maybe I’ll crank out a few colorful patterns just to please the POD site’s algorithms, but my new plan is to make – and try harder to sell – what I love.
Like this face:
Is it ugly to you? Creepy? Scary? Weird? Edgy? Disgusting? Bizarre? It’s beauty to me. I loved making it! I love seeing it!
And I love this one:
Does it intrigue you? Bother you? Make you feel compassion or confusion or anything at all? It’s dark and bleak and touches me deeply. It’s beauty, to me.
I’m my audience. All I need is a few people like me who share my love and will buy it.
Note: The above may seem like whining and maybe it is. To be fair, I’ve flip-flopped this way before. I’ve also been wildly inconsistent with promotion. And – maybe – what I love isn’t really meant for anyone but me. Maybe it’s just “bad art,” not even good enough for a refrigerator door. Maybe my love is wasted, misplaced. But it’s still love and I’m going to make these faces until I can’t.
The face up there isn’t the test. It’s the fun! I make faces when I want to enjoy myself without restraint or reservation.
ABOUT THE FACE: It’s a digital collage. One of the layers is an abstract I made using this website: http://jacksonpollock.org. You draw on your screen, take a screenshot. Try it!
Artist/designer/photographer Phil Perkins – https://perkinsdesigns.com – shared that Jackson Pollock link with me. Thank you, Phil!! It’s terrific!!!
EDITED: So what’s the test? It was the presence of the face. I know we can post social media links here that display and I wanted to try one from Instagram. Several months ago I tried a Twitter post and, although it was visible on my “actual” site, it wasn’t in the WordPress Reader. Not good! I deleted it. When I originally created this WordPress post it included an Instagram post. It was visible – the test was successful. But tonight I deactivated my Instagram account and the linked post went away. So…I uploaded the face to WordPress.
There’s so much news! Some is good; most isn’t. Some is objectively important to how we navigate our days; most isn’t. But it arrives, wave after wave of words and images. There are times when it threatens to overwhelm, to swallow us in the information maelstrom.
When I composed this piece I deliberately restricted the news aspect of it and allowed the face to be prominent. Yes, the effects of the “tide” are there but they don’t overwhelm, not entirely. The image is a digital collage that incorporates three photographs and one layer of digital painting. If you think you see a paint palette in there (with acrylic paint smeared on it), you’re right.
“All the News” is available as open edition prints and stickers. Here’s a direct link: https://www.redbubble.com/shop/ap/93859197
“We Never Saw Eye to Eye” began its life (in 2011) as a casual sketch of Boris Karloff’s face from one of his movies. His expression wouldn’t leave my mind so I drew it.
The face doesn’t look like Boris Karloff but I did a decent job with the expression so I kept the sketch to incorporate in a digital compilation. The other components are a formerly-trashed acrylic painting and an acrylic ink drawing. I made it using a flatbed scanner and Photoshop Elements, several years ago.
This year I decided to make it available in my Redbubble shop on their “graphic” tee shirts – along with the usual prints/products – because the expression resembles mine too often these days. It has a strong “GRRRRRRRRRR!” vibe.
Back off…keep moving…steer clear.
I like it.
Several years ago I made “Politics Is Messy.” I knew there was something “off” about it (the nose, mostly) but it was a piece born of anxiety and anger. Once I let the feelings out through the image it was…ummmm…irrelevant. I filed it and walked away.
But its eyes are still worth doing something with. So is the graffiti-like overlay. The nose, though, needs help. It’s not horrible but it disrupts the composition.
Easy to fix! (I hope.)
In a day or so I’ll dig out the original digital file, open it in Photoshop Elements, and reshape the bridge of the nose. If all goes well I ought to be able to do that with a soft brush, “burning” lightly in the bridge area to create a shadow. Maybe I’ll work on the mouth, too, because right now those lips look like two amorous worms.
Wish me luck!
For those who are interested, “Politics Is Messy” is made from a pencil sketch, an acrylic painting, a digital painting, and scans of a magazine article and furious ink scribbling.