Who Will Buy My Love?

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.

Detour over.

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:

Acrylic painting, photography – digital collage (©️Robin King)

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:

Acrylic painting, photography, pencil drawing – digital collage (©️Robin King)

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.

Time for a Nose Job

 

In-Process: “Politics Is Messy” (©️Robin King)

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.

Spinning in Time

“Dithery Me” (@Robin King)

Goodbye to Instagram – again. I hoped that this time would be different but it wasn’t. Instagram’s too enticing, too yummy, and too hungry. It devours content. If being there weren’t so much fun it’d be terrifying. Because of my ridiculous relationship with Instagram I neglected this site, Twitter, Redbubble, and nearly everything else.

To make things worse, the timing is bad. There are non-art events ahead that I need to prepare for. Their dates are non-negotiable and I’m woefully behind.

However, I did spend a little time with Affinity Photo last week. Results were mixed but I learned enough to have hope for the future. And I took a few shots with the new camera. One was bad; the others weren’t good but adequate. I don’t know when I’ll get back to the camera. November, probably, and they’ll be sunshine setup shots. Maybe macro – yay!

The only creative joy I’ve experienced for the past month or so is making tiny digital images (like the one above) just to post on Instagram. They’re enjoyable to do but I can’t post them for sale on Redbubble.

So: back to reality! Assuming my physical state isn’t adversely affected by the work-work I have to do in the next couple of weeks (and that no other calamities occur), I ought to be back to creating again by the end of October.

Until then I plan to spend at least an hour a day here, and on Twitter and Redbubble, trying to make up for time lost. See you soon!

Shifting Art Gears: Time to Touch the Colors Again

“Cry Day” – photography/digital collage (©️Robin King)

Lately I’ve spent my art-time – what there is of it! – experimenting on my iPad. It’s not an iPad Pro and its storage capacity is limited, but that’s OK. Having to find workarounds adds to the enjoyment for me. 

The basic structure of the experiment is that I create 1000x1000pixel images. That’s small enough not to take up too much storage space but large enough to post on Instagram without bad blurriness

Using only the Autodesk Sketchbook app and my existing photos I’ve created several multilayer images – nearly all faces. It’s been great fun and I’ve discovered new ways to use the app that I plan to apply to other imaging apps, on my desktop. Success!

But this morning I walked by a scramble of barely-used Derwent Inktense watercolor pencils sitting under a box of tempera sticks and my fingers wanted to grab all of them. It’s time to take a break from pixels and use some traditional materials: I need to touch the colors!

…..

Here are a few of the other images I’ve made or re-edited recently and posted on Instagram:

“Papers, Please” (©️Robin King)
“Fear tastes like a rusty knife…” John Cheever (©️Robin King
“Blue Tuesday” (©️Robin King)

 

Clicking and Hoping

Today I found time to sit at my Mac and try to make progress with Affinity Photo.

The good news? I learned quite a bit.

I’m now able to open several photographic images as layers, compile and edit them, then turn them into one new image – using Affinity Photo. That may sound like nothing but it isn’t nothing if the program you’re using now is nothing like the program you’ve used to perform those actions for the past 16 years. I lost Photoshop Elements when Big Sur arrived. I know Photoshop Elements. Affinity Photo is new to me. They’re nowhere near as similar as I’d like them to be. But, as of today, I can create a multi-layer digital compilation again.

Yay!

Earlier attempts to use Affinity Photo weren’t as successful. My preferred method of learning is to click and hope. Instructions? Step-by-step videos? Nope. Just let me open the program and TRY STUFF. If it’s possible to get there I’ll get there. But I may do a lot of grumbling along the way.

Anyway…today was the big day when all that clicking and hoping paid off. I took a few micro setup shots of plastic in sunshine with the camera, transferred them to the computer, then began working with Affinity. The result was decent. I still found it awkward to work with the image as a whole in Affinity Photo because selecting it takes me places I don’t want to be. That difficulty made the composition weak and I’m not satisfied with it for prints. But taken in pieces or tiled, for products? That could work! The image (above – as a product mockup) looks good. I may or may not post it for sale on Redbubble; still thinking about how to re-compose the thing without losing the features that I like.

After Affinity and all those synapses crackling in my brain I needed a break with more tactile toys so opened a storage box I haven’t looked in for years. I knew it was art supplies but I packed it up so long ago I didn’t know what it contained. It was acrylic markers! Ooooo…those fat, slurpy plastic tubes filled with liquid acrylic paint and fitted with felt tips! What a find! Luscious acrylic gooeyness!! Tomorrow is all about the markers!

…….

Affinity Photo: https://affinity.serif.com/en-gb/photo/

The markers: https://www.liquitex.com/us/products/professional/colors/acrylic-marker/

 

 

Mouse Pads, Desk Mats, and Suddenly It’s Thursday

Redbubble is introducing MOUSE PADS and DESK MATS soon. I spent some time earlier in the week “enabling” images for the new products and am happy to say that many of my existing product images look good on them so my work will be part of the launch. In a few days I’ll do a preview here, but this is an early look: 

And…it’s Thursday. This week was supposed to have seven days like all other weeks do but it feels like it had MAYBE two. Suddenly this week is running out of days. Nearly all of the plans I had to create new work or at least complete some in-process things went bye-bye, fast. That detail from a painting – above – is one example. I thought I could at least give the guy a mouth this week but as of today things aren’t looking good for him and his mouthlessness. Maybe this weekend!