Thursday, April 23, 2009

In art, bigger really is better

These days in the art community there is a wonderful movement that strives to get back to handcrafted, placing a premium on pieces that are brimming with the artist's personality. I agree, I much prefer the one-of-a-kind over the mass produced. I prefer smaller pieces that are well done over larger pieces that lack detail. That said, there are some things about your art that are better bigger.

Bigger Dreams. Goal setting is important, but don't forget your dreams in the day to day. When you are afraid, reach even higher.
Bigger Quality. How can you improve on your quality?
Bigger Knowledge. Take a class. Call a mentor. Read a book. Get into the studio and experiment. It is amazing how learning will spark the creative juices. Learn something new already!
Bigger Reputation. What do you want people to say when your name is mentioned? Make every effort to keep your word, ship on time and offer value every chance you can get.
Bigger Body of Work. Keep on growing. Keep on reaching. Keep on working.The most successful artists are the ones who are faithful to work work work.
Bigger Circle of Friends. Get out there and make sincere connections. Not just for your career but for your sanity. Friends keep you honest, give your ego a healthy boost and make sure you keep some balance. But adding to your professional Rolodex doesn't hurt either.
Bigger Heart. Be generous with your information. Offer freebies. Donate profits or do work to sell for charity. People love people who aren't afraid to share their knowledge with them.

These things, added up, will add up to a fulfilling artistic career. And all that will translate into bigger dollars, but all the other "biggers" will ensure that your increasing profits are not temporary, but a natural, permanent growth. And that bigger is definitely better.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You can judge a book by its cover

The cover of a book, especially an antique, determines its value. A great volume with an intact spine and flyleaves is sought-after by collectors the world over.

When you make a book, keep in mind that the cover is not an afterthought. It is not simply a holder for the title or something to keep the pages inside from getting ruined. Yes it is all that too but it's more.

It's like the front door. It's the readers first interaction with your work. It's the thing they hold and manipulate to get to the "good stuff." It's the first stop on a journey through your work. Why not make it really count?

An article to enjoy is this one on an exhibit of the Morgan Library and Museum. A limited collection of their books spanning 1400 years displays the exquisite detail of the covers. You almost hate to open them up for fear the text won't live up.

When you maker your next book I hope you will take the opportunity to make the cover a work unto itself.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finding artist book inspiration

Creative block is one of the things I struggle with. Things are rocking along and then one day, without warning, it's like someone dammed up the river of ideas. Suddenly I got nothin'.

If you are stuck, lacking inspiration or just afraid to try something new, maybe you can try one of these:
  • Found Magazine is filled with ideas and inspiration. It's all about old receipts and love notes and pictures of strangers just begging for their story to be told. It's fun to peek into the life of a stranger this way.
  • Watch a video at TED.
  • Leave your work, close the door behind you and take a walk. Clearing your head does wonders for the creative process.
  • Check out these these packaging solutions. How creative!
  • Visit Vamp & Tramp Booksellers to peruse all the artist book happiness they have available.
  • Visit the Handmade Book Community's board to see what amateur and professional bookbinders from all over are up to.
  • Zybooks also has a good variety of artist books to drool over.
There are ton of other book artist sites but these are a few that I enjoy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

vlog: make your own book cloth

Here's my first ever video tutorial--on making your own book cloth. Hope you find it helpful. Please understand, it is my first shot at this. Hope it's not too long!

Make your own book cloth from Anna Hawthorne on Vimeo.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Using your artistic voice

I was reading this post on Sarah Hodson's blog. There is a new machine out there that I am crazy about. It's a screen printing machine that Provo has come out with that, like the Cricut, is going to revolutionize the craft world. See a video demo of Yudu here.

What I appreciated about Sara's post was the video from Provo featuring a man giving the homeless a voice using the machine. Please view the video.

It really got me thinking about communicating faith in art. There is reason for us to create beauty, to communicate the Gospel, to offer hope and help. We as Christians have a unique voice. We bring the hope of Christ to what we do. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Col. 1:27

When we allow Christ to shine in our art we have something unique to offer, not just any hope, but the hope of glory.

Christ is come to save, to heal and to deliver. When we can get that across, not just in a literal way, but in the subtle artistic communication--that is one to one, artist to patron---you are able to reach the very soul of another person. Art disarms, connects and elevates. For a moment in time you are able to communicate soul to soul with a person you may never actually meet this side of heaven. you are truly, as Ron DiCianni puts it, "Going into all the painting at a time." Or one book. Or collage. Pick your medium, the principle is the same.

What an exciting time to be an artist. Modern technology has brought the ability to get your art into people's hands to the next level. Take advantage of every opportunity you have to communicate the Good News to everyone you can. Be bold, be subtle, be brave.

In my next post I will share my personal art scriptures and how they fit into my artist statement.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The reluctant journaler

I don't journal. There it is. I said it. 

A book artist who doesn't journal? How can a bookmaker not spend hours filling beautiful books with deep thoughts flowing from her pen? I suppose it's like a musician who doesn't listen to her own music or a painter who owns none of her own work. 

One reason I don't is because I think I don't have time. I would love to make artist journals but they are so labor intensive that I prefer to spend my time on other things. I drool over the stacks of books some book artists own and I admire the work it takes and the insight that journaling brings. But even a simple journal would work just as well, you may say. Well then you don't know me very well. I have a huge all-or-nothing aspect of my personality that finds it hard to do anything just a little bit. 

Also all the books I make end up in the hands of family and friends and an occasional customer. There isn't much left for me, but I don't think that's too unusual. It is hard for me to keep a book when I know it will have such a happy life in someone else's hands.

Another reason is because I am a perfectionist. I would spend waaaay too much time getting the pages just right and defeat the purpose of the journal. One book that may help me overcome this perfectionist tendency is Chrysti's latest giveaway.

See her post for all the details and you can enter to win one for yourself. Would a bookmaker encourage such wanton destruction? Absolutely. Anything that will get someone to pick up a book is a good thing.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is Bristol?

My almost 11 yo daughter was flipping through the latest Dick Blick catalog, eyeing the tempera paints and charcoal pencils and gum erasers. When she got to the paper section she asked me question I had no answer for: what is Bristol paper? I have bought it many times for my text blocks when I wanted a toothy medium weight paper that was good for several different media, but wasn't really sure what made it distinctive. Wikipedia had the answer:

Bristol board (also referred to as Bristol paper) is a heavyweight paper used for technical drawingillustration, and other two-dimensional art forms. Its basic size is 22.5″ × 28.5″ (572 × 724 mm) and its bulk thickness is .006 inches (0.15 mm) or higher[1]. Bristol board is rated by the number of plies it contains.

The original bristol board was made in Bristol, England and was a pasted board made of paper containing rags.

Bristol board provides two working surfaces, front and back. This quality separates it from illustration board, which has only a front working surface. The surface texture can vary for different applications, including a smooth plate finish and a medium vellum. Artists working with friction-based media, such as crayon, chalks, or charcoal would use a rougher texture. Smooth finishes are generally more suited to other types of media, such as inks.
Bristol paper is also used for paperback book or catalog covers, file folders, tags, and tickets. Engravers or Wedding bristol paper may be used for formal engraved wedding invitations.

So now that you know you can choose the paper for your next project more carefully. Sometimes it really does matter what paper you use. Mixed media artists love the freedom of working with most anything but sometimes you need the right paper for the right job.