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).
Think of a visual representation of a statements or concept, as a series or a single image.
Consider a style or media that would be striking, and imagine it taken to a level beyond your ability.
Research said media if it is new, and think on the concept or image for a while – but not so long that something new takes its place – because the longer this thought process, the more ambitious it should become.
Once the thought of even trying begins to fill you with an equal level of dread and excitement, begin.. even if it is after your bed time.
Don’t stop until it is looking as good you had hoped, because this is the *true* starting point. Now work to take it even further, as far as the piece demands, beyond whatever level of ability you thought you were limited by.
Walk away regularly with the image in your head, process it, think of the parts you like, the things you don’t, and things you would like to add.
Remove and go over anything you have doubts about without mercy.
Add in only what won’t crowd the piece
When you reach the point where any change will only make it “different”, but not “better”, you are done.
“Sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things by breakfast”, is a good phrase to remember.
Most *Everyone* draws at some point in their life. Those who are intrigued by failure, inspired by the seemingly impossible, continue beyond the point of jagged teeth and crayoned stick fingers.
An artist should never seek to do what they already know they *can* do – and perhaps such is the evil in commissions, which are most often specified according to past works, and limited by scope. Not that all commissions are bad – an artist must accept only those that allow the artist a fair share of creative freedom, as well as room, opportunity, or even obligation to try something new.
An artist who finds himself or herself with extra money, tends to spend it exploring a new mode of art, a new mode of printing, or trying to break into some bigger and more time-involved media or project. It isn’t that we are without wisdom, we know what is wise, and choose to ignore it out of a strong and passionate love for art. Buy canvas, sell paintings, buy scanner, sell reproductions, buy printer, sell giclees, buy lithography press, sell lithographs, buy bigger canvas and better paints, sell paintings, fret over a choice between crowns or a big chunk of marble, sell sculpture, buy clove oil … some ramen noodles …and a better chisel.
When I first started the “Airships and Tentacles” series, in wow… 2006… I don’t even think that “Air Kraken” was a word yet, though I could very well be wrong. I can’t remember specifically, but given Final Fantasy’s tendency to make *some* version of every base creature for each and every environment, it would be insane if they never had some sort of airborne cephalopod in all those years.
Yes, It is foolish of anyone to believe they invented anything… logs and stones rolled down hills long before the wheel, and there is sure to be a comic book from the 60s or illustration from the 1800s with flying cephalopods *somewhere* – and a hundred movies and books in-between. I am only saying I hadn’t yet seen them in paintings, especially luminist and/or American arts-movement-styled paintings, and I thought it would be fun to add hints of in the first painting – and loved that touch enough to continue it through the series.
My airships, started with a commission for Robert of Abney Park, based on the existing designs by Eliza Gauger, which may or may not have been based somewhat on an equal interest in things such as Final Fantasy. The fun of imagination, came more in execution and styling, and moreso in the landscapes themselves. Over time, as the result of much research on bag sizes, gas content, altitude, temperature, etc… balloon sizes grew, ship sizes and engines shrank – I also started to lean more towards the stylings of DaVinci for wings and other parts – and mixed a bit of the aesthetic stylings from my favorites like Derek Riggs, Michael Whelan, Brom, Bethalynne Bajema, Gustave Dore, Pieter Breughel (E&Y), Zdzislaw Beksinski, and others wherever characters, creatures, scenery, or technology allowed.
Anyway, I wanted to do a series of what is essentially landscape art, explored by this fascinating mode of travel – as a means of adding a human element for the viewer to view through, without focusing on figures so much as to make it “character art”.
I sought to combine Lovecraftian elements and mythos with Vernian machines and aptly romanticized visions of exploration; in this, I also wanted to hide every bit of my usual dark and spooky art in such a way that it goes mostly to completely unnoticed.
The latter is most likely why this series was the first series I ever did that people *both* liked, *and* would hang on their walls (Criteria: Does not scare children, much; Does not creep in-laws and future in-laws out; Does not give the potential future girlfriend reason for pause; Does not get a cubicle-dweller fired).
I *thought* I was going to explore this into many, many other types of media – and planned to have a sculpture in wood and a sculpture in metal in the series of nothing else. But, I’ve done more paintings in this series than I intended to, and many, many engravings. The very last painting ships out tomorrow… technically that is not true, because there will be *some* of that in the Infernal device – but I am counting that as my sculpture piece to complete the series.
I’ve got one hell of a collection together in this – plenty enough for the book I committed myself to making works for. I’ll be releasing it in a time when dirigibles and flying Cephalopods have over these years become an odd sort of ‘norm’ (a subcultural standard that to most, comes out of *nowhere* for no apparent reason). The journey has been in interesting one, and I feel that alone merits the book’s release if nothing else… pending until all this Infernal Device stuff is under control.
Thank you everyone who supported the making of this series by buying prints, sharing links and such – and of course thank you everyone who continues to do so.
I really have no idea what I am going to do from here, because I have *many* ideas and will have to choose one, or combine a few – but whatever I am thinking, I am sure going to look forward to it the moment I allow myself to look forward to other things.
Right now I am looking forward to getting the first build of the Infernal Device done, and looking to make it better than anything I could ever possibly do.
In celebration of the closing of the series (okay… I really need money to get my butt to Maker Faire Detroit), I am making large giclees of the very first image from this series available online. They are 30 inches by 24 (printed area is slightly less), and they are printed on fine art rag paper. I will also sign and date these. These are not limited editions – the reason is that the metallics and canvas prints I sold as limited editions, must always remain more special than any version I put out afterward. These are prints I make available in small quantities at conventions, with no set number to be made – but they beautiful, high quality, and they are the biggest prints of this image you can get without buying one of the 4 remaining giclees on canvas.
If you would like one, these few prints are available HERE – and are only $100 until they are gone.
Because we needed video up for The Infernal Device‘s kickstarter page, and didn’t have one, I decided to do a workshop video to talk about progress on the model. Problem being that I did not have any camera person to move the camera to key points like… I don’t know… my head, the model, the table of gears.
Still, I am proud of it – if not simply because I managed to not wear a helmet with blue spandex, nor am I waving a frisbee about.
If you would like to know just what the hell I am going on about in this video, you can see images of the parts we’ll be using, the part of the model already built, progress pics of building this drum, pictures of us and our works, and actual things about the Device and why we’re building it, details about our ArtPrize bid, all at InfernalDevice.net.
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.
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).
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.