Posted on

Freaky Tiki Lowbrow Luau

I’ll be at this one, with Bethalynne Bajema, and Anthony Carpenter, and with art from James B Hunt and Chad Savage, as well as a large assortment of the best lowbrow and pop surrealist artists in Grand Rapids.

The event page is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/529928347047019 , but you can read the full description below. I still recommend adding yourself to the facebook event page to be in the know for new updates and additions.

Also, the pen and ink I did this flier from (and that I will be doing one of my paintings from, is available in my store, HERE.

Join us Saturday Night, February 16th – At Ice Cream Gallery and Toys In Grand Rapids, Michigan for Valentine’s Day Weekend Tiki Party, hosting a broad sampling of American Pop Surrealists, Pop Artists, and Lowbrow artists.

From sculptors to engravers to illustrators to painters and more – drawing from many styles and many genres… dark and brooding to light and whimsical – making for a very unique and interesting Tiki-Themed show at one of Grand Rapid’s newest and most interesting art venues.

Refreshments, snacks, dancing, live music, and art will be served – visit our facebook page for updates and more info.

https://www.facebook.com/IceCreamGalleryAndToys

Artists:

James B Hunt (Visionary Lowbrow): http://nxoeed.tumblr.com/
Chad Savage (Dark Artist Extraordinaire): http://chadsavage.com/
Kirbi Fagan (Fine-art Illustrator): http://kirbiillustrations.com/
Myke Amend (Dreamscapes in Paint and Engraving): http://mykeamend.com/
Bethalynne Bajema (Spooky and Ethereal Cheesecake): http://www.bajema.com/
Anthony Carpenter (Retro Chic and Pulp Genius): http://carpenterart.tripod.com/
Roger Scholz (Wicked Illustration): http://www.facebook.com/illustrator.scholz
Liz Amend (Fantastic and Otherworldly Sculpture): http://www.lizamend.com/
Alexandra Johnson (Sugar-Sweet Oils and Watercolors): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Alexandra-Johnson-Art/309152012432262
Kate Jauw (Magickal and Spiritual Art): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Henriott/123488321123494
Kit Kat Von Bitch (extreme pin-striping, lowbrow, and signage): http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kit-Kat-LOW-BROW-ART/115597481823253
Daniel Sarhad (Lowbrow Mad Scientist): http://www.facebook.com/MadScienceArtsGR

Posted on

Infernal Teardown and Commissions Available Again

Infernal Device at Night
The Infernal Device at night time

So, this last week we wrapped up the Infernal Device show at the Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tear-down went pretty smoothly, considering that we had to break down nearly two tons of complicated mechanical machinery in less than two days. From standing atop our 17-foot tall wind and solar power sculpture and rotating mural to disassemble Todd’s wind collector, to getting the solar panels and reserve batteries loaded up, to breaking down the 7-foot tall, 7-foot in diameter, 7-sided rotating mural, to breaking down the massive surrounding structure – and all of its pistons and gears and chains, to scooping up nearly 3 cubic yards of decorative stone – all went fairly well – much thanks to help such as Glen Swanson, and Steampig artists/team members: Alicia Vanheulen and Thomas Birks.

There was a *lot* to talk and blog about during this huge 6 month project, and I missed out on that from being too busy each and every day of it – but if you would like a recap, progress pics, and more pictures of the device itself, you can find them all at http://facebook.com/infernaldevice

The project, is not over. We are re-grouping. We’ve all spent a lot of the last six months, and a lot of expense on making  this project happen, and now comes the time when we recover, rest up, catch up on all those other things that have been screaming to be done these last few months… things like blog updates, new art, and standing obligations.

I’ve spent 6 months without posting new artwork, without making sales, without shipping most of the few sales I had made, and needing to catch up on the last rewards shipments from our kickstarter – and I’ve found myself in a spot where I *need* to sell things, but cannot afford to sell things if I have to pay to have them made or shipped to me. My at-home stock is all but depleted, and I have nothing on hand but a lot of paint and wood to paint on.

I have seven new paintings from the device itself, each 3 foot by 7 foot monsters making one continuous repeating 21-foot by 7-foot mural… but not the money to have them imaged.. as well as doubts as to whether I can sell 3 foot by 7 foot prints at the price I would need to sell them at.

So, I’ve put a few commissions for sale – to get me back into the swing on doing artwork, to get some new artwork on this site, and I figure since they are such favorites: I might as well add some new pieces to the “Airships and Tentacles” art collection since I have yet to get it published.

If you are interested in getting an artwork commissioned, and incredibly cheaply – there are several options available – a 24×24 inch painting (already added), an 18×12 inch painting (already added), and more engravings (I’ll have that offer up soon if it is not up already).

You can find all of those offers here: https://mykeamend.com/new/products-page/?ptag=commission

Posted on

Slave 1881 Finally available as a giclee on canvas

The HP 4670, rocks. 600 DPI, in seconds. Perfectly flat, no distance from the painting, means I can finally get good imaging of my paintings without the $300+ a pop imaging fee, which means savings to you.

I decided to take this one step further, because limited editions and all, though they appeal to some people – most just want a good wall hanging at a good price. And the added cost of having these shipped to me, so I can stretch them, sign them in paint, re-varnish them, print up certificates on hahnemuhle paper, stick holograms on them, etc… well… this is a bit of an experiment.

Not to say they *aren’t* somewhat limited, I mean, my life is finite… unless you both believe in quantum immortality and also believe that you and I will never part coils – in which case I guess you have forever.

But, whether you and I live forever, or otherwise – I anticipate I’ll probably sell about 20 to 50 of these, before I stop selling them, and you can be one of 20 to 50 owners – without all that cost and delay involved in limited editions.

You can buy  them here

Posted on

New Tee shirt design

Well, actually it is an improvement and upgrade on the previously proposed tee shirt design. Now that we’re ready to go to production on these, I started off doing some graphical cleanup and decided it would be cooler if the shirts were two sided and had fancier text on them.

I’m catching up from the kickstarter – having sent out files and orders for all elated prints, the coloring books, the downloads and other rewards we offered – the limited edition tee shirts for the kickstarter were needing some rework before final printing, so I decided to go ahead and rework these as well – so I could order all of them at the same time.

If you have already ordered shirts, you might notice that the new price is a dollar more – don’t worry, you’ll be getting your shirts for the price you paid.

All shorts ordered up to now, or ordered now, should be ready to ship on or around the 15th of June. So, if you are reading this after then, they are already to ship.

These will be sold until this batch of 50 or so shirts sells out, and then we’ll be introducing a one-sided design using the device as the large image on the front.

PURCHASE:
purchase link: http://infernaldevice.net/Artprize/store/fundraising/infernal-tee/

back:

front:

front (closeup):

back (closeup):

Posted on

Work with me here

I am seeking two people who live in Grand Rapids, or are willing to travel to Grand Rapids for the Artprize competition/event.

Most importantly, those people would be able to be here during Artprize, Late September through early October, or at least be able to transport their part of the project before the event begins. Preferably, they would live in the region and be able to work on the project right here – that work period being from May through September.

This would be a collaborative project, with winnings split evenly between collaborators, should we win. Expenses would be covered by whatever sponsors we can find, and I’ll be seeking space to work in, in addition to the perfect venue for our work – hopefully one that will yield the most visitors.

The types of artists/artisans I need are as follows:

A plumber, or preferably someone who has experience and tools to weld brass, and feels they can do so imaginatively. Bonus points if you have some experience with functional structure and moving parts.

An Architectural design/engineering student (or preferably certified structural engineer), because venues and insurers are very happy when there is paperwork ensuring them our work won’t fall down and go “Boom! Squish! Aaaagh!”

Someone who works with electronics and electrical might also be nice to have, as we probably won’t be able to use coal power our device.

A co-painter might also be desired… preferably one who works in the pop-surrealism vein and does not mind putting down paint with other people’s paint.

Someone who works in alternative energy would be a plus. Electrical is the fall-back, but I would *like* to see this thing powered by green or alternative energy sources – anything from solar power, to sterling engines, to just a bio-diesel powered generator… or otherwise.

Persons experienced in grant writing and/or press releases. I’d be happy to count you as a collaborator as well – as long as you are willing to pitch in on driving, organizing, and/or some physical work in the process.

Of course the fewer people we have, the bigger the share, so people skilled in multiple areas outline above would be preferable – but I feel our team should not be so slim that it presents difficulty. That perfect balance is what I am looking for.

Creative Freedom:

I’ll put in ideas, thoughts, and designs where/if *wanted*, but want you to have as much creative freedom as you desire. I want this to be a collaborative project, not an artist as an overseer project. You can put in equal input on what I am bringing to the table, wood working, painting, promotional ability, web site skills, programming skills, graphic design skills, and a broad knowledge of most everything practical, to make a huge and impressive piece that is *ours* collectively and equally.

What is to gain?

Aside from participating in the nations largest open-entry art competition, which spans an entire downtown area:

$250,000 is the first prize,  $10,000 is the second prize, $50,000 is the third, and fourth through tenth prize are $7,000.

I am confident that if we do not win, we should be able to find a home for the finished work pretty easily, because we are that awesome. Interested parties can contact me through my contact form (hit the little envelope on the pipe at the top of the page).

Sponsors needed:

Right now, I would love to hear from suppliers of fabric and canvas, art paper, lumber, brass tubing/piping/hardware, tool companies, transportation/logistics companies, hobby shops (gears, cogs, shafts, servos), salvage yards (much of the same), art supply companies (paint, gesso, acrylic medium, pencils, markers, brushes, etc..), and anyone who has a hangar, industrial space, or large garage for us to build in.

Progress to date:

I’ve already grabbed a domain and hosting for the project, in trying to be more pro-active than last year. I will be using my “spare* time to build the site for this project over the next month or so. Details will be on that will be posted here once the site is up. Everything from there will be rather “hush hush” and done via groups, phone, email, or in-person, aside from press releases, until the ArtPrize bidding process begins.

Posted on 2 Comments

The Artist’s life: Myths and Misconceptions

This post is for those who are aspiring artists, those who are living the artists’ life/fighting the good fight, those want to know what the typical artist’s life is really like, those who erroneously assume we are on some pedestal above the working class, and especially those who see us as something lesser than the hard-working masses.

I really enjoy what I do, and I enjoy every person I interact with online, and every person I meet at shows and conventions along the way, when we are able to make conventions anyway.

Often times, I find myself being labeled or referred to as a “successful artist” – and I suppose that, if artists were paid in web hits, kind comments, web features, magazine features, book features, television news spots, peer/colleague recognition, and used bandwidth, that just may be… And, really, there could be nothing better, save for that ever-distracting rumbling from within…

– Some people mistakenly think that being an artist means not having to work – joyfully stroking away at a canvas with a very long brush so we can still recline in a golden hammock, while dining on peeled grapes and supervising our apprentices to urinate more passionately upon a silk-screened soup-can.

– Others assume that being an artist means not wanting to work, as if we spent all of our days on play and recreational drugs, and only picked up a brush to avoid “real work”, or maybe just to have something to offer for money… like that guy on the corner offering to sell you a handful of dumpster findings from his pockets, because he knows you’d rather just give him 50 cents.

For an actual artist, one who lives for art, and lives as an artist, *neither* assumption could ever be farther from the truth:

Now, I am talking actual artists here: Not those jet-setters who would gladly have fame rather than create something worthwhile – Not those coke-headed scenesters to whom “art” is rubbing elbows with the wealthy over champagne while conversing about the deep and existential meanings behind sloppy paint on a half-assed doodle ready-made to satisfy the “chic” galleries’ demand that an artist produce 12 pieces a month to be considered – Not the “I’m gonna splatter this paint on a canvas” guy you see making a living off 5 minutes work per $50 painting (or sometimes $4,000,000 painting).

… No, I am talking about those who couldn’t live without being able to create things worth being proud of, and would gladly die of starvation or lack of sleep if it meant finishing that one last work… which in its conception and crafting is nothing short of amazing, but completed, will never, ever be good enough, but always one step closer… while never anything worth patting oneself on the back over.

Even a step backward is a step forward, every failure is a triumph. We learn through experience, improving our art through noting the good and the bad – and for all the works you’ll ever see, are at least three that get crumpled, scrapped, abandoned, burned, or shot and buried ceremoniously.

Artists included – Any of us who struggle to work for ourselves, are the most tyrannical of bosses – We typically spend 16 to 36 hours at a time on our work between 4 to 10 hour naps, grabbing a shower or a bite to eat when there isn’t an important deadline to meet, or paint threatening to dry on the pallet. (I’ve managed over 150 hours of straight-painting in my worst/best days – bathroom breaks and Mountain-Dew refills excluded).

On the very best days, those hours are spent on art alone, though those days rarely come – so the days get longer and longer, bedtime gets that much further away, just so some actual art can be managed before “day’s end”..some 48 hours later.

If we are doing well online, much time goes into ordering tubes and packaging, ordering prints, wrestling with cardboard and glue to make painting-shaped boxes, rolling prints, printing labels, signing things, making certificates, running to and from the post office… it keeps us from our work, but it is happy work. Sending my art to hang in the home or office of another person keeps us going, emotionally and financially.

The rest of our time is spent writing blog entries, redesigning our sites, managing our “social” network pages, creating sales, adding new products to the web, looking for affordable advertising, logging clicks and cost, submitting to boards and sites and magazines, answering our email, waiting for others to answer theirs, looking for new markets or merch like skins and tattoo flash and tee shirts and such, and doing work for others to make ends meet: Web design, ad design, various other things “artistic” which are not “art” and often soul-sucking – especially that every hour spent here, could have been another hour of painting.

Things being what they have been these years, we spend more and more time on the latter, less and less time on the former, and all those extra hours of tearing our hair out and staring into this screen, mean bedtime is that much further away if we are to get any actual painting or drawing done… because an artist who does not create, is not an artist, but a “seller” if they are so lucky as to be making sales in that time.

And when things suddenly go well… due to some freak internet occurrence, some kind soul with a lot of traffic posting our images, or numerous kind souls posting the same to their friends, Tumbling, Stumbling, Tweeting, whathaveyou, or just the purchase of an original work: When we have shipments out of the way, if we have money left over, what we don’t re-invest in replenishing our art supplies – we use to allow ourselves time for our very best days: A worry free day or week of making more art, maybe sleeping and eating more regularly… maybe even putting ourselves on the list for a convention.

… and for those days of pure art, still working most of the day, we feel like kings; It boggles my mind to see these people who get huge funding and fame for their art, and could actually bear to spend their days just riding out that fame, when they could be using all that money and attention to make bigger and better art… and not just things that will sell or grab headlines simply because a famous person made them.

Truth be told, if art were not so incredibly important to us, we artists could live far, far better begging on the street, or even working a minimum-wage job. We are in a class below “poor”, and often looked at as much less – though we don’t get government money to sit on our butts, no medical coverage, no paid rent, no food stamps, no $5,000 EIC for making babies we can’t afford … Instead, we *choose* not to be a burden on society, we *choose* to overwork ourselves to death, and do so for much much less, and a lot of nothing in between.

We live on caffeine, adrenaline, will power, and most importantly the hope that all of our hard work will someday mesh with the American dream: That determination and sacrifice will pay off in the end.. knowing that having spent years of your life on this pursuit, that giving up now, or tomorrow, would render all that suffering and struggle pointless.

And this is not for lack of skills or knowledge; The both of us are very adept in crazy things like PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, Actionscript/Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, and other things that *could* be making us a decent living; We put all that time invested learning into our web sites, magazines, pre-press on our own artworks. We know how to work power tools, we know how to shape and work with lumber, we know how to work with more materials and how to do more things than most people could imagine, because every thing we don’t yet know, reflects something we may one day want to use for art… and we learn it all on our own time, without grants, without scholarships, with no reward greater than simply knowing … and being able to do whatever we cannot pay others to do.

We are thrilled to be able to justify $8 on drive-thru food we don’t have to cook, being able to spend that time instead on art is like Christmas for us… the same goes for trading blown-out boots for the next 2 years’ “new pair” or getting a pair of glasses that are less scratched-up in order to struggle less with the painting. We drive a car the mechanics gave 6 months to live, and have done so for 3 years waiting to have $350 that does not need to go to bills or art. We pay for our medical expenses out of pocket – and just hope for the best on anything we cannot pay for: Abscesses, unknown pains, troublesome coughs, broken bones if they are not compound fractures.

… Really, If I haven’t just cooked up the last breast of chicken and the last egg in order to make sure the cats are fed, or if I am not stressing over catching us up to “$nothing”, it is a pretty good day… yes, I live on the brink of homelessness – and I work very very hard to live on that brink.

For all of our work, despite the amount of homes that have our art hanging in them (including those where the art was paid for), or how many people know us online, or how many places you can find us, or the appearance of our web sites, these hard-working artists are really lucky to make $1 an hour for their 100+ hours a week.

… And I hope I die never knowing what it is to give up on my dreams. If that is sooner, or later – then I hope the the latter as I am not yet where I want to be with my art. Though I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with what I do, I know that choosing comfort or even life over art is death for me.

Any artist who can survive another day, having lived a day as an artist, is a lucky artist

… and I suppose, *yes*, that does make me “successful”.

——————————————————————————

– If you are another artist and maybe looking for some clues on how to survive “the Great Art Depression”, it is pretty simple: The secret to survival is to not give up and die. Those businesses who made it through the 1930’s Depression, came out on top, and remained there for the rest of the century.

——————————————————————————

– If you are not an artist, and I have provided some level of understanding, or if you simply agree – Please take the time to add to the success of the creatives you appreciate seeing work from. Buy a CD, buy a book, or an e-book, watch a program and wait through the commercials… And though some of the art you enjoy may be a bit dark or crazy for your walls, do something more than just setting a desktop image. Maybe this means giving them $1 – not as a handout – but in appreciation for the millions of hours of thankless work and study  they invested into just getting to the point where you can enjoy an image – or maybe this means telling a few others about their work.. stumble, tumble, blog, do *something*… become a part of the creative process, a part of history, by tipping the scales in favor of what you like to see, hear, or read.