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Buttoneyes Birthday

> Buy prints here <

This piece, was inspired hugely by news of the upcoming Cabal Cut release of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed and news of a possible anniversary book; It was further inspired by Bethalynne Bajema’s profound love for all of Clive Barker’s works.

The painting was originally to be a part of “Featured Creatures”, a movie monsters art show at the Ice Cream Gallery, but at 24×36 inches, in acrylic, and with little time to work on it – I knew I could not give this piece the love and attention I wanted to, and ended up submitting a smaller and more free-formed painting of Henrietta from “Evil Dead”.

Over the past months, this is mostly what I have been working on when I sit down to paint, and I have very much been looking forward to finally being able to show it…

Anyway: you can tell I am excited that the movie is coming up on its 25th birthday, and the 25th birthday of the book is upon us now – as well as announcements from Clive Barker and others about this release being a real thing, to add to all of the excitement of last year’s announcement about a possible made for cable Nightbreed Series.

Anyway.. here are some closeup images of the piece:

> Buy prints here <

> Buy prints here <

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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

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Evolution

In the, wow, nearly 20 years of this site, 10 years at this domain, a lot has changed, and will continue to change.

I’ve been in the middle of another major site overhaul for starters, so you might see some things shift here or there even as you browse.

The store will continue to work as usual, and will continue to carry many, many art prints, art originals, and other things – but I am working hard to get the gallery filled with the 100-some images I have available, in order to make it much easier to see what types and sizes of prints are available for each artwork all in one place… because I realize it can be rather overwhelming to sift through 400 items and feel you are miking the best choice.

I’ve removed eyesores like the facebook feed and the twitter feed, because they took up a lot of space – and it was silly to have them, since you are already here, and most posts over there are about things that are available here.

I’ve also removed them because, well, I am going to use them both a lot less often. Twitter really just seems like a lot of people talking into the wind to imaginary friends, Tumblr and Pinterest seem to be the sport of sharing as many images as possible as quickly as possible, Livejournal is filled with Russian spambots where people once were, and Facebook, since they started promoted posts – well, for 800-some people I see a little “10 people saw this post” at the bottom “insights”, and it all seems pretty pointless.

… as does the internet in general, if all it is to be is a billion people slaving away at sharing things quickly, forgetting moments later for the next sharable thing… not visiting sites, or reading articles, just “liking” them and sharing.

… it isn’t exciting anymore; It isn’t even pleasurable or relaxing anymore – just mind-numbing addictive boredom and a day filled with forgettable moments… click – share – click – share – comment – click – share…

Though I spent a lot of time building up readership on facebook – as have many others with their pages: the best solution seems to be if everyone were to go and start that again elsewhere. I’ll only be there, in the sense that my posts from here will feed into my “fan page”… at least until they make that a paid service too.

On the up-side, this has forced me to get back to what I shouldn’t have stopped doing: updating right here – like I did years ago, finding a few things that well-worth blogging about and putting some effort into sharing as articles and reviews worth typing about, rather than all sorts of things “sort-of ” worth sharing at the click of a button.

I don’t have a mailing list in place yet, one of a hundred things on the slate for these next few days… but if you have a decent browser – there is an rss button at the top.

Please check back often; Aside from posting new artworks and books and such things here, and special offers, I plan to return to posting about music, the art of others, event reviews, and whatever else fits well in this space.

If you came here looking for special offers, well, there are many new prints being added in the process of building the gallery, and many products being marked down until the end of December.

If you would like to see those specials, you can now find many of the newest deals through the gallery.

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Exhibitions

These are just a handful of upcoming and past appearances.

I do have many more appearances in mind this coming year, to be announced – and my mind is so fuzzy on the older ones, so I’ll add them as they come to me.

I’ll also update a lot of this with proper links gradually over the coming weeks.

Current/Upcoming:

“The Low Life” at Ice Cream Gallery and Toys in Grand Rapids, MI. Ongoing.

Steampunk Symposium at the Crowne Plaza Cincinnati North in Cincinnati, OH. April 26th through 28th, 2013.

Past Appearances:

Urban Lights Holiday Market at Ice Cream Gallery and Toys in Grand Rapids, MI. December 8th 2012 from 12PM to 9PM.

2012 World Steam Expo in Dearborne MI (Vending)

2012 Steampunk Symposium in Cincinnati, Ohio (Guest, Exhibitor, Vendor, and Panelist)

“Steampunk Soiree” at the Revolving Museum in Lowell, MA Feb 7th through March 3rd 2012

Mobilus in Mobili at Wooster Social Club in Soho NY (Exhibitor : filming of steampunk NY Ink Episode)

Artprize 2011 – (Guest and Exhibitor) at the Gerald R. Ford Museum in Grand Rapids MI.

Maker Faire 2011 Detroit (Guest and Exhibitor)

2011 World Steam Expo (Guest, Exhibitor, Panelist)

Steampunk Form and Function at the Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, MA (Exhibitor)

Artprize 2010 (Exhibitor)

Lift Off! at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra CA, January 9, 2010 – February 1, 2010 (Exhibitor)

Horrorfind Weekend 2006 (Exhibitor)

Pittsburgh Comicon 2006 (Vendor/Artist)

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The Edge of Dreams

I did this as a drawing a while back for my free coloring pages I offered here, which is a coloring page not in my for-sale coloring book, and decided that I really wanted to do a color version myself… even though its fitting well into the series would even further-delay the release of my Airships and Tentacles art book, still in the works until the last two commissions are done.

The image is one of a little girl drawing out her surroundings with a magickal piece of chalk… floating fish, airships, men riding sharks, and geometric stars like snowflakes are some of the major scene elements, but like always: there are lots of things hidden within ice formations and other elements.

Though it is incredibly cartoony (from a cartoony sketch that is no surprise), and way more colorful than I tend to do things, I rather like it… enough so that I wish I could better communicate the look online, but you know how web graphics go: never nearly as much can be seen or felt as looking at the original painting, or at least the prints which look dead-on the original painting thanks to giclee printing technology.

And, because of the vivid coloring in this one, and because of my love for metallic prints, especially where blues and reds are concerned, I decided that I wanted to offer something more than just giclees and the original painting on my site. In addition, I am offering 25 metallic full-size (18″ x 12″) printings of this, hand signed and dated.

You can view all of these items in my store, and here is a page that shows only prints of this image.

A view of the painting and details of the painting below.

Edge of Dreams Steampunk Surreal Airship Childrens Painting
Edge Of Dreams Painting and Details
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Hendrick’s Gin Giveaway

Recently, being some several months ago or less, as “recently” tends to go for me, Hendrick’s Gin contacted me to participate in their “Curate a Box” contest give away.

Though I have been rather up to my neck in getting out the rewards for the Infernal Device Kickstarter (which when done I plan to celebrate by logging all the ins and outs of the experience into a seriously detailed tutorial), I really hate to pass up good opportunities for promotion, especially when it involves interesting new challenges.

So, in between bonding prints to wooden constructs, waiting for layers of decoupage glue to dry, refining screens for printing, and wrestling with packages, I’ve been hopping into the basement workshop and doing some work on this wooden box they sent me – the box and contents to be given away by Hendricks Gin when done, through their fascinating newsletter and blog at Unusual Times.

My plan, as with all things I do, is to make an heirloom quality and long-lasting piece, so I felt I should do a bit of added reinforcement to the original box with some fine bits of oak, birch, mahogany, maple, and/or cherry, which are the sorts of wood I prefer to make my constructs of and paint my paintings onto.

The wooden box, straight out of the package
The wooden box, straight out of the package

The very first step, of course, was to remove the box from the package. There was a wonderful promotional book from Hendrick’s Gin in there as well, but Insects and Angels Author and Editor Bethalynne Bajema so-loved the little book and all the artwork within, that well… she was still thumbing through the book, and I might have lost a finger if I tried to reclaim it. Anyway.. the box, above.

Basic Box opened
Basic Box opened

Another shot of the box, it’s insides just the perfect size for a number of unique 8.5×11 printings of some of my select artworks.

I plan to fill this box with:

1) At least 6 hand-signed fine art prints on a special paper and of a special size to make them one of a kind.
2) A Magickal Bag of Holding
3) A polar bear
4) A bunch of Arctic Salmon for the polar bear
5) Bethalynne says that Magickal Bags of Holding are not available anywhere around here, and are quite likely mythical.
6) An original painting, as the inside top of the box, which fits snugly but can be removed and framed.
7) Tacos! Everyone loves tacos!
8) Apparently the above is also a violation of postal code.
9) Some sort of sea monster… though a rather tiny one, made of clay and hand-painted.
10) I don’t know yet… it seems like a lot so far, so I’ll have to see what else the box can hold…. maybe some stickers and patches.

Stage One: Cut a piece of oak to serve as a sturdy top to the box.
Stage One: Cut a piece of oak to serve as a sturdy top to the box.

The first thing I did was to cut some pieces of oak – two for the insides of the box (one to reinforce the bottom, one to be painted and inserted into the box later), one to make for a hard and sturdy plate for top of the box.

Box Top
Box Top
Panel for Painting
Panel for Painting
panel for the bottom of box insert
panel for the bottom of box insert

Work Space: YeGads!! …

Ground Zero
Ground Zero - dust, wheels, pulleys, cogs, a half-repaired bandsaw, and more dust
Ground Zero 2
brass bits, metal fittings, brass switchplates, knobs, more pulleys...
Ground Zero 3
Ground Zero 3 - saved bits of cherry, walnut, heartwood pine, oak, and mahogany. I use every little bit of wood, down to tooth-pick-sized bits, for everything from furniture, boxes, painting, down to using the smallest bits for fine details and decorative touches.
Ground Zero 4
Ground Zero 4 - animatronic bat machine - in pieces and on hold for a little while more.

Above 4 photos: Ground Zero… I have been working from one thing into another for way too long. The workshop is piled in bits of brass and unsorted wood… and I am pretty sure there are some clamps and other important tools under there somewhere. I should clean up beforehand to make all of this go easier…

… ohhh… maybe after one more cut.

Balls!
Balls! ... made of cherry, flattened on the tops, drilled, and dowels glued into them.
Holes drilled for the "feet" of the box.
Holes drilled for the "feet" of the box.
Feet Attached
Feet Attached - Outdoor quality wood glue on each dowel, pushed into snug holes in the bottom of the box.
Box, Standing
Box, Standing, feet attached
Clamps
Clamps - not the best for the job. I have lots of ones perfect for ths task... which I am sure I will find when I clean the basement.
Stained - top view
Stained - top view - a mixture of red cherry and deep mahogany
Stained-bottom view
Stained-bottom view
Varnished
Varnished - partially... many more steps to go.

A thin coat of poly completes the night’s work. Tomorrow I’ll sand this down with fine paper, varnish it again, wait another day, sand it down with steel wool, varnish again, wait another day, sand with steel wool again, wax, buff, wax, buff, wax, and buff… until the box is looking very nice.

During that time, I’ll also be working on the painting to go int this box, 3 other painting commissions, shipping, and kickstarter rewards… the good thing about all these projects, is that they each have steps that involve waiting for things to dry or to set… the trick is managing that time so there is always something to do on the next while waiting on the other.

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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.

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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”.

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– 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.

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– 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.