"Many of the things that I find myself doing - writing a song, making up a recipe, creating a story, drawing pictures, taking photos, filming a silly movie with the kids - leads to unintentional creative practices."
Steph Budge is hesitant to say she is an artist. But as she read in the interview with Laura Brown, anyone can claim the title of artist and that is a beautiful thing! The funny thing is that I personally have always considered Steph an artist. I have admired her work as a musican and most recently I have been addicted to her visual art, checking in on her Instagram account daily!
Steph played in a number of bands over the past twenty years. Bands I have loved! She has recently turned her focus to drawing and painting. While she works mainly with pencil and watercolor, she is now also exploring digital illustration using Procreate.
Steph lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota with her two young sons and works full-time as an editor.
Enjoy the interview. Steph is amazing! Admire on!
Jes: How would you describe your creative/artistic practice?
Steph: My creative practice is a crucial component to my overall health and happiness. I have a daily craving to bring something to life that has not previously existed. The creative process itself feels joyful and rewarding. Many of the things that I find myself doing - writing a song, making up a recipe, creating a story, drawing pictures, taking photos, filming a silly movie with the kids - leads to unintentional creative practices.
For many years, I played in rock/punk bands - which are obviously collaborative efforts. When my children were born, I transitioned into solo creative endeavors due to the time constraints that naturally occur for new parents. Right now, I am mostly drawing and painting. I am also slowly starting to work on music again. I would love to do some creative writing in the near future as well.
So much of what I know of being an artist came from being involved in local music communities - and I am not even a musician! Maybe it’s the values of punk and independent music that has shaped my outlook on creativity and expression. For example, I think I am a collaborative artist because of the community building components I learned through punk rock. Have you had a similar experience with being involved in punk and the music community? Has it influenced your overall creativity?
Yes for sure! I have spent the majority of my life with people in the local community who are constantly creating. Like yourself, not everyone in the community is a musician - a lot of people play music, but some are visual artists, screenprinters, woodworkers, painters, some write poetry or short stories, some take photos, write jokes, or direct time traveling plays in the basement of a bar. It leads to a comfortable cozy feeling that anyone can create things while not knowing exactly what they are doing. People can try new things without having the fear of being perfect or refined. Perhaps because the community is typically not a group of trained professionals, it feels like anyone can teach themselves, either learn things on their own or from their peers that are experienced. I am lucky to have a community that really supports each other in their artistic endeavors. I participated in my first art show/sale this past summer - I was invited by someone who I met playing music and my table was next to a person I met playing music. The camaraderie is really special to me and I am very thankful for the community.
Are there particular interests that you have when it comes to making music? Do you have a preference over what themes or sounds your bands explore?
My interests have changed over the years. For many years, I wanted to create angry, aggressive, and heavy music. I played in several rock and roll guitar/bass/drum three-piece groups with loud amps and shouty vocals. While I still enjoy listening to that style of music, I am not interested in creating it at the moment.
Lately, I have wanted to increase my piano skills and go back to writing electronic pop music like one of my old groups called Finger Pressure.
You come from a very creative family. Have you always been involved in the arts?
Yes to a certain degree. My sisters and I were encouraged to play piano, listen to music, daydream, read lots of books, write stories, and draw. My mom took me to a used music store to buy my first acoustic guitar when I was fourteen and drove me to a weird musical flea market to buy my first electric bass guitar when I was fifteen. However, my parents started our family when they were both pursuing artistic careers and it was financially difficult for them. Because they found it difficult, they were understandably not as encouraging when my sisters and I wanted to pursue creative careers as well. While I did not study art or music in school, I always played music during my free time. I love playing music and making art and I cannot imagine I will ever stop. But it is also difficult to refer to myself as a “musician” or an “artist” since neither have ever been my part of my jobs, career, or studies.
I know you are a mother of two (very cute) boys. There’s this horrible myth that artists, especially women, can’t be parents while also maintaining a career. So many women have been debunking this myth. What’s been your approach with parenting and being an artist?
It is definitely a different world maintaining a creative practice as a parent. In some ways, it is almost easier because my free time is defined and usually short, so I am extra excited to have the chance to work on something creative. It is easier to stick to a schedule. Sometimes I feel the most productive that I have ever felt. The hard parts are feeling too tired to work on anything. Or feeling a certain amount of guilt when I take a night to draw rather than do laundry or clean under the couch. There is always something that needs to be cleaned!
The kids themselves are a great source of inspiration. Since kids are always drawing or painting or making up stories, a parent’s mind can easily slip into a creative place. Sometimes we will sit down at the piano and I will try to learn a song and they participate as well. It is a lot of fun.
Lately, you have been making visual art under the moniker Tootooalso. Your drawings and paintings are colorful, playful, and cheerful. Animals tend to be your subjects. What has inspired this line of art for you?
I have always drawn in a very cartoon-like style. I enjoy drawing animals and plants because they are universal and inclusive. Creating a colorful, playful, and cheerful world is a bit of an escape from real life. Recently I have wanted to create cute, jolly, and pastel drawings. When my sisters and I were young, my dad sculpted a set of alien creatures. I remember him getting really into creating the different characters’ personalities, backstories, and their universe. I can see that same path happening to me at any moment!
Where can we find Tootooalso online? Do you sell your work at events?
I am on Instagram as @tootooalso and I have a small number of works on Redbubble. I also have an Etsy shop but I haven’t set it up very well yet. I am new to selling visual art and I am still brainstorming the best way to go about it.
Are you currently playing in any bands right now? If so, where can we find your music online? Do you have any upcoming shows we should know about?
I am not playing in any bands right now. I am tentatively calling my new project Side Text and I have an Instagram account @sidetext but nothing booked or online yet!
Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
Thanks for considering me an artist and bringing artists together in the community. All the interviews in this series have been inspiring and very enjoyable to read!
All images courtesy of the artist.
"I'm working to approach my art practice like I do meditation, as a connection to the present moment, because it is this space I am less confined, more open, less likely to question myself and just go for it."
This past Saturday I met artist Toni Gallo and I viewed her multimedia solo exhibition, I CAN FEEL TRUTH SOMEWHERE OVER THERE, HERE BEYOND FURTHER, showing at Soo Visual Arts Center in Minneapolis. After immersing myself in her art, I participated in a special meditation she lead in the gallery. Ten minutes into the meditation, I felt my closed eyes begin to water, thinking that maybe teardrops where forming. I touched my face and felt dry skin. At that moment, I felt the very essence of meditation - the feeling of being connected to the self, the body, truth, and the inner mind. I felt present and moved. I also felt a release that I think created the sensation of tears. It was transformational. I hadn't experienced anything like that during any of my previous meditations.
So, thank you, Toni, for letting me enter that place - though your art and openness.
You can participate in her next meditation session this Saturday, August 24th at 2 PM at SooVAC. Toni will be available from 1-3 PM to talk about her art as well. You'll see so much and feel so much!
Toni Gallo grew up in Minnesota drawing dinosaurs and pond life, graduated from Perpich Center for Arts Education and headed to California where she received her B.A. in studio art and was awarded a scholarship to attend California State University intensive painting program in Italy following graduation. After returning home she continued making and exhibiting art in Minneapolis and between 2008-2012 was a member of Rosalux Gallery. Over the past 6 years, integrating yoga and meditation practices and eventually becoming a yoga instructor now compliment her studio practice. This combination of practices has formed a body of working exploring consciousness on an aesthetic level. Toni currently lives and works in NE Minneapolis with her husband and children. Toni is also a fiscal year 2019 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board.
I feel fortunate that Toni answered some of my questions about her art and practice, featured here in this special interview! Read and admire on!
Jes: I am excited about your exhibition with Soo Visual Arts Center. It’s strongly interdisciplinary. Can you talk more about your show and the themes behind the work?
Toni: Originally, I had proposed to make 8-10 new paintings and offer meditation sessions in the exhibition space. I ended with 11 paintings, some much larger than I had originally imagined, an audio component, and a few scheduled meditation sessions.
The project is about practice. Developing the habit of awareness.
A combination of practices have converged in the studio, which have formed paintings exploring consciousness. The paintings express captured experiences of connectivity. Although it may be fleeting, the momentary connectivity that occurs to make the art is present moment awareness. Being awake and engaged to the current moment is access to self under the ego; your vital energy permanent and connected to past future and everything in between. It’s the state you’ve been pining after. Here beyond further.
The works are suggestive, figurative, landscape abstractions, naturally uncovering paradox through a balance between polished and raw, busy and calm, intuitive and intentional. Each painting is a different path to the same place.
The idea of the paintings talking to the viewer came later. It made so much sense. Writing, teaching, yoga and meditation are so integral to where I am with painting, because of the stretching of myself it demands, which has empowered my life beyond measure. People want to know the why and how behind art and I would absolutely not have been able to unearth this expression in paint without exploring these other practices. It made sense to find a place for this expression.
I am interested in how you explore impermanence in your art. Can you talk more about this and how it relates to the body as well as the mind?
It seems fitting that I answer this question with one of the pieces I recorded for the show [above image].
THE WALLS SEEM SURE OF THEIR SEPARATION EVEN IN THEIR STATE OF DECAY.
You think you don't have an impact, but everywhere you are leaving a trail.
Nothing is permanent, but all leaves a mark.
The moment of construction is the beginning of decay.
Notice the intricate structures you've built around yourself.
Let go after you build up.
Become aware by observance at the seat of consciousness
Awareness is illuminating, is knowing.
Once something is known, let go, because it has already changed.
The challenge in letting go lies in our belief of the importance of forms holding everything together.
The walls come down, by practicing non attachment, what's left is THE stuff.
The reach to achieve another version of yourself dissolves, authentic expression flows, fleeting, impermanent and perfectly as it is.
these are the rough parts,
the fluidity in between, puts union in focus
Connect to your knowing. Your intuitive validity
It is housed in an inward focus rather than an external search.
As you observe the endless waves of change unfolding, it increasingly becomes easier to practice non attachment, knowing that this too will morph, transform.
Just when the habit of awareness is developing, serendipity becomes the current wave.
It carries an ease. Along comes change, without care and space, attachment to the experience emerges and the push and pull sets in, the search is on again.
Away from self the naming begins
Roles are confining.
Get out of your own way.
Identities are the product of naming, these forms are limiting to infinite potential.
To understand what is divisive becomes the force of unification.
To let go is the only way in.
growth turns towards decay
the fade becomes the build
I appreciate your poetic and mindful response! I feel this moves nicely into my next question: How would you describe your art practice? What’s a typical studio day like for you?
I'm working to approach my art practice like I do meditation, as a connection to the present moment, because it is this space I am less confined, more open, less likely to question myself and just go for it. When I get too tripped up in my thoughts and start looking too far ahead, I remember to notice my breathing as it is happening. These moments of connectivity are for sure fleeting, but the habit of awareness is building strength.
During the preparation for this exhibition I worked longer stretches of time, more often than I can EVER remember. It was amazing!
Most of the time I'm working on more than one piece. It's important in the moments where I hit a block to have something else to turn to, otherwise I start to force it, which usually causes more problems. When I'm inspired by a new piece, I get the materials right away to keep the connection strong and stay open minded. I write a fair amount too. My meditation cushion is in my work space. I don't have a specific time or structure around when I sit or for how long, it's a gentle, resonant reminder of the power of practice. And, I listen to music, so much music. Although, this last few months I spent hours listening to the Ram Dass Here and Now podcasts, which I highly recommend.
You recently received the Artist Initiative Grant through the Minnesota State Arts Board. What was that process like for you? Do you have any recommendations for other artists who are interested in applying for this funding source?
Writing the grant was so hard for me. Honestly, a few times I wanted to give up, but I kept questioning the truth out of myself. I’m so glad I did, because the process and the experience have been transformative and I am so grateful.
My best advice for artists interested is to make it another practice, go through the exercise of challenging yourself. Even if you don't receive the grant it's important to stretch out of your comfort zone and articulate things in another way. I was able to look back at a previous attempt and consider the strengths and weaknesses. They offer valuable resources, it’s helpful to read the other recipients’ proposals as well.
Now that you have this show under your belt, do you have anything on the horizon that you’d like to share?
I'm so inspired right now. I'm planning on applying for another grant. I've got a handful of short-term plans/projects and a long-term dream to have a large studio space outside of my home to work, experiment, teach and exhibit from. I'll continue building the body of work that is on display, exploring what is expressed from the habit of awareness.
I had never before done anything multidisciplinary and now I'm really curious about creating spaces and happenings that offer people an opportunity to view and experience art gallery spaces with a different sensory component. And different, meaning closer to home rather than far out. At home people are raw with a greater tendency for the intuitive spirit to permeate, while outside there is a more calculated presentation.
This fall I'm planning to do a series of smaller still life paintings tentatively named, My Living Museum. The intent to continue exploring the power of expression through documentation of external accumulation, personal aesthetic and design; the visual materialism/make-up of home. I've never previously painted subject matter for the purpose of documentation in time and place, but I was reminded of the intrigue that looking into a record of how things appeared in times past held, by looking through art history books, the recognition of sameness and contrast in living then and now.
"I view fun as a catalyst for change and believe in the importance of providing immersive spaces where people of all ages and demographics are given permission to play."
I love Robin Schwartzman. Not just because she is my friend but because she is truly inspiring. I have never met another artist that explores color, play, and place in such a way. I have been admiring her for years! From outdoor art installations to mini golf, Robin invites you to explore, have fun, and connect with others!
Robin Schwartzman is a Minneapolis based artist, educator and lover of mini golf. She works as a Research Technician for Drawing, Painting, Printmaking and the XYZ Lab in the University of Minnesota Department of Art. She also teaches a class on 3D Modeling and Digital Fabrication. Outside of her day job, Robin is one half of A Couple of Putts as well as a professional caricature artist.
Robin’s sculptures and installations use 3D digital fabrication mixed with a colorful and playful aesthetic to create participatory and immersive experiences. She has worked on commissioned projects for the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Virginia Commonwealth University Qatar, Northern Spark, Made Here, Artscape Baltimore, Canal Convergence Scottsdale, and the Art Shanty Projects, to name a few. She received a BFA from Syracuse University in 2008 and an MFA from the University of Minnesota - Department of Art in 2011. Robin has received honors including: ArtPrize 10 Juror’s Shortlist for 3D; Award for Innovation, American Institute of Architects, Spartanburg 2015; Jerome Foundation Fellowship for Emerging Artists, 2013-2014; Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, 2012.
In this interview she talks in more detail about how she makes her work, what Holey Moley is, and how you can hire her do caricatures at your next event!
Read and admire on! You'll love Robin too!
Jes: Your artistic interests and art projects in leisure and play have brought you all over the world. I also notice that the idea of place is important to your work too. Can you talk about your what attracts you to these themes and how they appear in your art?
Robin: This story will start how many do - childhood memories. I grew up on the east coast and every summer, my family would take an annual, week-long trip to the Jersey Shore. For me, the best day of vacation was when we got to go to a small amusement park called Fantasy Island. The visuals of bright lights, moving colors, a cartoon alligator dressed in a dapper top hat and red and white striped vest and trash bins topped with smiling clowns stuck with me. Between the ages of 4 and 11, there would be countless trips to the plethora of amusement parks, large and small, that dotted the tri-state area of NY/NJ/PA. Every carousel ride, hand painted ice cream sign, cloud of cotton candy and scream of pure happiness that I shared with my sister and cousins became the ultimate distraction to my parents’ tumultuous, 7-year divorce. I turned the focus of most of my childhood back to those moments of joy.
And as I got older, I found ways to continue to surround myself in fun environments. I spent my summers through high school, college and grad school drawing caricatures at amusement parks and fairs across the country. After school, I spent time working in a fabrication shop that makes oversized props for waterparks, cruise ships and theme parks. After spending a lot of time with themed spaces and researching their history, I realized that many, many people have fond childhood memories of them. That’s when I became more interested in the idea of leisure space, collective nostalgia and the power of using signs and symbols to tell a story and sell an experience.
In my own creative practice, I borrow playful visual and social elements from leisure culture and transform them into new ways to experience ourselves, our communities and each other. Tropes such as Burma Shave style signage, classic marquee letters, hand-painted type, specialized color palettes, anthropomorphized characters, larger-than-life objects and chasing lights are inspired by memorable aesthetics of a bygone era and my own enthusiasm for lo-fi fun. Working at the intersection of art and design, I create interactive games, large scale installations and participatory performances that encourage play and re-imagine place. I view fun as a catalyst for change and believe in the importance of providing immersive spaces where people of all ages and demographics are given permission to play.
I am often asking questions about how theming can function outside of its commercial roots. Can a giant marquee transform a familiar urban landscape into a Wonderland? Can the game of mini golf highlight a community and celebrate its history? And can a flashy façade be used to entice people into finding value without money, being kind to strangers, and collecting and memorializing moments of generosity?
Many of your projects fall within the public art realm. You also build a lot of your art from scratch. What kind of tools do you use and what’s your creative process like?
For years, it was challenging for me to turn the ideas I was imagining into physical objects and to the quality and scale that I dreamed. But that challenge is what motivated me to learn how to use digital fabrication technologies to help produce my work. Every idea always starts in my sketchbook with quick scribbles and fragments of ideas jotted down on the page. I often pull together many visual references and inspirations, whether its historical photos, my own photos or works by other contemporary artists. From there, my ideas move to the computer. I use programs like Adobe Illustrator and Rhino to digitally illustrate my ideas, either in 2D or 3D space. With Computer Aided Design (CAD), I am able to quickly work through iterations of concepts without any commitment to material or scale. Sometimes, it takes up to five or six drafts of playing around with an idea to finalize it. Being able to see a scaled and dimensional version of my idea in digital space is so helpful to its realization. Once it’s time to actually make/build it, the hard work is done. I can pull dimensions or curves from my models and use those to help me cut structural wood and metal or to use a laser cutter or CNC router to cut organic shapes and forms. It’s all like one big puzzle, where I use different tools to make the pieces and then use my digital model as a map as a guide for how to put it all back together.
Once assembly is complete, I always like to go back in and do hand finishing work to bring the artist touch back in, whether it’s drawing, painting, using a jig saw or hand sanding.
What kind of advice would you give to an emerging public art artist?
Always leave room for error. Both in your timeline and your budget. Public art takes a lot of work and a lot of people coming together to make things happen. In fact, sometimes I feel like being a public artist is more about managing people and schedules than it is about actually making the art.
That being said, between weather, durability, scale and scope, things that you could never have planned for inevitably will go wrong. There’s no way to prevent them from happening, you can only anticipate that something will happen and be ready for it. Stay patient and flexible (two things I’m admittedly not great at myself) and be kind and grateful to everyone who helps you make it happen.
What kind of resources have you used as an artist?
I look on mnartists.org all the time to scope out new opportunities. I use Google Drive for everything, from budget sheets to folder and file sharing. Especially when working with collaborators, having a living version of everything is so helpful. I’m also addicted to Instagram, sometimes to share my work but more so to get a daily look at work by hundreds of so many different types of talented artists from across the globe.
I love the Barter Boat. Tell me more about it, RADAR Art Collective, and how the project lead you all to be part of ArtPrize 2018. What was that experience like?
RADAR Art Collective consists of myself, Anna Abhau Elliott and Desireé Moore. The three of us met during our six-month Artist Residency at Hub-Bub in Spartanburg, SC back in 2015. We kept in touch after the residency and accidentally stumbled into the idea of Barter Boat together back in 2016. It started as a different project, really. It was originally called Minnesotan Ice and was made for the Northern Spark Festival themed around Climate Chaos. The idea was to freeze tiny objects and trinkets, what some may consider trash, into ice pops (made of literally ice) and exchange these with people for their own stuff out of a giant and brightly lit carnival-inspired facade of a boat. The logistics of making thousands of ice pops was insane, so instead we transitioned to just putting the stuff into the eco-plastic bags we were using to package the ice pops, except without the pop. And the title of the piece evolved into Barter Boat.
We got invited to bring the project to the IN Light IN festival in Indianapolis later that year, and things just sort of snowballed from there. People love trading their things and telling us stories. We love collecting things and curating them into packages, or we like to think of them more as handheld assemblages. And we found that it all becomes more meaningful as we travel from city to city across the country, collecting small treasures and connecting strangers through their stuff. Since 2016, the Barter Boat has been to Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Baltimore, Atlanta, Scottsdale, Breckenride, Grand Rapids, MI and Spartanburg, SC. This October, it’s headed to Bentonville, AR for an event at The Momentary and then onto Cincinnati, OH for the BLINK Light-Based Art Festival.
Barter Boat was fortunate to make the Juror’s Short List (top 5) in the 3D Category at ArtPrize 2018. Juror Rebecca Carbin said this amazing quote about Barter Boat:
"It uses humor and lightness as a way of introducing and unpacking some pretty complicated questions about commodification and consumer culture -- the things we value, the things we throw away, and how those things, those little pieces of nothing, actually become a thread that connects people."
Many of us know you love mini golf and co-founded A Couple of Putts with your husband Tom. Can you talk more about your background with mini golf and how you’ve built a career around an activity that you love so much?
Tom and I had both played mini golf growing up. He has memories playing at LilliPutt in Coon Rapids. I have memories playing in my hometown of Bethlehem, PA as well as at the shore. I always enjoyed the game, but it wasn’t until I met Tom when our passion for mini golf moved to another level. Our first date was at Big Stone Mini Golf in Minnetrista, MN. It was a magical place that was the perfect backdrop for a magical day. After that, we kept dating and playing mini golf together. The more we played, the more we realized that there weren’t a ton of great resources out there for the game. A lot of courses had super dated websites or none at all. It was hard to find good photos or history of the game, aside from the one mini golf book that was published back in the 80’s. So we decided since we were playing anyhow, that we’d start documenting and reviewing courses and put them on a blog. We came up with the name A Couple of Putts while waiting in line for a water slide at Noah’s Ark in the Wisconsin Dells.
From there, things just sort of took off. Later that year, the Walker Art Center put out its call for Artist-Designed mini golf. We designed and built our first hole called Can You Handle This? and it all just came so naturally to me. I was able to mix my cartoony aesthetic with my growing fabrication skills all in the name of something unapologetically fun and playful. Since then, we’ve played and reviewed over 200 courses as well as designed, fabricated and/or consulted on holes for the former Indianapolis Museum of Art (currently known as Newfields), Virginia Commonwealth University in Doha, Qatar, ArtCourse at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Bull City Mini in Durham, NC, Sparkle City Mini Putt in Spartanburg, SC, and have contributed designs for the last six years at the Walker Art Center.
You’ve been pretty busy lately! What you’ve been working on? For folks out there who don’t know - what’s Holey Moley?
It’s been a busy year for me, but somewhat quiet in regards to my art-making. This past spring, Tom and I filmed Holey Moley for a week out in California, finished consulting on two different mini golf projects in Kansas City and Durham, NC, got married, and went on our honeymoon to Tanzania.
What’s Holey Moley, you ask? It’s a new extreme miniature golf game show on ABC Primetime. There are 10 episodes and on each one, 12 contestants compete head to head over three rounds for a chance to win $25k, the Golden Putter and the coveted Plaid Jacket. It’s like Best in Show meets Wipeout combined with Double Dare and mini golf. There are 25’ windmills and holes that stand 12’ over a pool of ice cold water where you get dunked if you miss your putt. It’s crazy and insane and we both got the amazing opportunity to be contestants on it. Tom’s episode aired on August 8th and mine is coming up on Thursday, August 22nd at 7pm EST/8pm CST. And if you miss it on primetime, it’s streaming on Hulu as well as abc.com.
On top of all of the cool things that you do, you are also an award-winning caricature artist! When did this part of your career start and can people hire you for parties and events?
This part of my career actually started first. I started drawing caricatures at a local amusement park near where I grew up as my high school summer job back in 2002 and I’ve been doing it ever since. I love this art form so much, as it allows me to go back to simple analog drawing with a pen and paper. I can also push my limits using digital drawing apps like Procreate on my iPad. It’s really a fun way to observe and connect with total strangers. Drawing the face is also like a puzzle. You have to observe all of the shapes and unique characteristics that make up one’s likeness and figure out the best way to stretch, skew and scale them on the paper. It’s a real challenge that I don’t feel like I’ve mastered as well as I’d like to, which keeps me curious and motivated to get better year after year.
There’s also a great caricature community out there called the International Society of Caricature Artists (ISCA). I’ve been a member of ISCA since 2006 and try to attend the annual conventions whenever I can. It’s one giant family of caricaturists from around the globe who gather for one week each year to draw each other, share skills and push the limits of the art form. Plus, I have a killer collection of caricatures drawn of me from the last decade.
I still draw at parties and events when time permits! You can find my caricature services online at caricaturesbyrobin.com.
Where can we find you online?
You can find me on instagram @robinschwartzman or follow my mini golf endeavors online at acoupleofputts.com or on twitter/instagram/Facebook as @coupleputts
Thanks for answering all of my questions, Robin. I will be for sure tuning into Holey Moley on the 22nd, and I hope my readers will too!
All images courtesy of the artist.
"I have always strived to live an artful life. I believe you do this by connecting with an art-filled community."
Catherine A. Palmer received her BFA from the University of Minnesota. Her subject matter can be identified as a conversation with the world she lives in, influenced by feminism, personal circumstance and the on-going attempt to create a pure art object. She has been exhibiting in Minneapolis since 1997 in galleries, community colleges, and coffee houses. She actively volunteers for a variety of arts institutions too.
What inspires me the most about Catherine, beyond her intuitive colorful paintings, is her commitment to community and sustaining a career as an artist. If you were to ask me: Jes, how do you sustain your practice as an artist? I would say: To make sure that you fill your life with art. That doesn't mean only making art. That means knowing other artists, seeing art, appreciating art, supporting the arts, collaborating, and making your life full of art...as you make art...whatever that art is!
That's why I admire Catherine. When I think of folks in the Twin Cities that live a life dedicated to the arts, I think of Catherine. Please learn more about her practice and the projects she's been working on by reading my interview below. Admire on!
Jes: What’s your approach to getting a new piece going? What’s your process of creation?
Catherine: It really depends on what I am going for. But mostly I just like to get jiggy with it. I work very intuitively. I will have a loose idea and then I try to flush it out onto the canvas or paper. I am currently working on figurative abstractions. Step one was to go to a figure drawing co-op. Step two is to take those same drawings and try to make something cool happen.
Your work is abstracted yet often it is figure based. Can you tell me about your visual art and where you find inspiration for your images?
For the most part, I am trying to make still posed people look like they are dancing. The inspiration comes from my love of dancing and the love of mark-making. I loved to roller skate as a kid and as a young adult, I spent many years in different bars, raves and circuit parties. I would host and throw parties. Club, House, techno, trans, disco, funk ECT. It was all about dancing for me and this continues into my art.
I am attracted to how you use bright colors or high contrast in your paintings. Can you talk more about what leads you to select the color palette you work with?
I love color. My only rule is that I don't use phthalo green on it own straight out of the tube. I don't really have a philosophy about it. I just like it and use color as the color presents its need. I am really into fluorescent colors currently.
What’s your studio like? How often do you get to be in your studio?
I have a studio now at the Solar Arts Building. I try to get there as much as I can. I normally go to the studio two to three times a week. I work a 40 hour day job. I would love to be at the studio more often, but bills take precedence.
Since I have known you I have noticed your deep commitment to building community or staying connected to other artists. Can you tell me more about the artist communities you have been part of and why having community has been important to you?
I have always strived to live an artful life. I believe you do this by connecting with an art-filled community. I like to volunteer and dedicate my free time at art organizations. I currently volunteer at The Minnesota Museum of American Art (The M), Women's Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM), and on occasion with The Show Gallery. I am currently participating in The Show's CoLab project. I also help run a drawing co-op and an event called Fresh Art for WARM. I feel like giving back to the art community. It keeps me connected with it and also refreshes me. I get back just as much as I give out.
I read in your artist statement that you are influenced by feminism. I am interested in how artists explore or are influenced by feminism in their art. How does that present in your work?
Feminism - that is always tricky to explain. I'm sure that just the act of me pursuing my passions is feminist enough. I think I am more on the 5th wave feminism, which I basically believe that everyone is important and should be pursuing their best life and allowed to pursue happiness and be treated equally. I think art should be experienced and accessible to all.
What resources have you used as an artist?
I took classes through the library system that are put on by Springboard for the Arts. I was in WARM'S mentorship program in 2015-2016. I have done an artist in residence with Gallery 408 in New Mexico in 2010. I received my BFA at the University of Minnesota in 2001. I also participated in the Split Rock program in 1997.
Are you working on anything new or have events coming up?
My studio [at the Solar Arts Building] is new. We moved in April 2019. We are open the first Thursday of each month aside from July and January. I am working with my CoLab partner Mike for The Show Gallery. There will be a final exhibit and a jury selection for that. I just became a member of the Wyoming Creative Art Community.
Where can we find you online?
Thanks for answering my questions, Catherine!
All images courtesy of the artist.
"My intention from the start has been to create multiple iterations of Yours in Sisterhood, both to be able to include many more voices and to make the project accessible in more forms to more kinds of people."
IRENE LUSZTIG is a filmmaker, archival researcher, and amateur seamstress. Her film and video work mines old images and technologies for new meanings in order to reframe, recuperate, and reanimate forgotten and neglected histories. Often beginning with rigorous research in archives, her work brings historical materials into conversation with the present day, inviting viewers to contemplate questions of politics, ideology, and the production of personal, collective, and national memories. Much of her work is centered on public feminism, language, and histories of women and women’s bodies, including her debut feature Reconstruction (2001), the feature length archival film essay The Motherhood Archives (2013), the ongoing web-based Worry Box Project (2011), and the performative documentary feature Yours in Sisterhood (2018).
Born in England to Romanian parents, Irene grew up in Boston and has lived in France, Italy, Romania, China, and Russia. Her work has been screened around the world, including at the Berlinale, MoMA, Film Society of Lincoln Center, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Anthology Film Archives, Pacific Film Archive, Flaherty NYC, IDFA Amsterdam, Hot Docs, AFI Docs, BFI London Film Festival, Melbourne Film Festival, DocLisboa, and RIDM Montréal. She has received grants from the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, Massachusetts Cultural Council, LEF Foundation, New York State Council for the Arts, and Sustainable Arts Foundation and has been awarded fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Flaherty Film Seminar, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Fulbright, and the Rydell Visual Arts Fellowship. She teaches filmmaking at UC Santa Cruz where she is Professor of Film and Digital Media; she lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
I met Irene in October 2016 when I signed my friend Paige and I up to participate as readers for her new project Yours in Sisterhood, a film that explores letters sent to Ms. Magazine—the first national, wide-circulation feminist magazine in the US. I was inspired by Irene's feminist filmmaking approach, the topic of her film, and the potential of bridging history with the current day. I knew I wanted to be part of the project! I have stayed in contact with Irene over the last few years because she kept us readers and supporters updated along the way. Since Yours In Sisterhood premiered in 2018, the film has screened all over the world and continues to show, reaching new people all of the time.
Irene has been working on the next chapter of Yours in Sisterhood, expanding the film into an archival project so that she can share the many readings that didn't make it into the completed film. She recorded over 300 of readings! Below is the reading Paige and I read together!
I am happy to share this interview with you. Enjoy getting to know Irene and her project Yours in Sisterhood! Admire on!
Jes: I am moved by your work, Irene. I feel like everyone should see your most recent project Yours in Sisterhood, a film project that has toured the world, connected feminism with the past and present, and created a community among those invited to participate. When did this film idea first present itself to you? How long did it take you to complete it?
Irene: That’s kind of you! In some ways it felt like the project came together quickly (for me—some of my other films have taken 5-6 years, and this one took 3 and a half years, from research to release). But in other ways the ideas of the project have developed over a much longer time. Often things that feel unresolved to me in a previous film become the questions that lead me directly to the next film. After I had my son, in 2007, I found the experience of new motherhood to be really lonely (like many women). I started wondering about what felt, at the time, like an absence of feminist group, community, or public conversation spaces to discuss experiences that felt complicated or difficult. My research and search for role models led me to a bunch of 70s feminist documentary films that seemed to be doing a radical kind of work around making listening spaces (inspired very directly by the methods of consciousness raising groups) that I found incredibly compelling; and my viewing of these films set in motion a lot of thinking (and many questions) about the 70s, the kinds of conversations people seemed to be having, and how these spaces felt different (or sometimes not different) from conversations now. Some of these questions found a form in my previous feature film, The Motherhood Archives, but at the end of that film, I still wanted to do more thinking about the 70s, about speaking and listening, and about feminist conversation. So these personal questions about feminist conversation are what initially led me to the archive (most of my projects begin with archival thinking) to spend time with boxes of unpublished letters to Ms. I spent about a month during the summer of 2014 reading a few thousand of these letters. Once I started reading the letters, I immediately felt that they were amazing. There’s a powerful radical energy that I felt reading letters in the archive, and I wanted to think of a way to bring that energy out into the word—that’s how the experiment of remaking or restaging the letters started.
For those who haven’t seen Yours in Sisterhood, how would you describe your film and what is it about? How is this film different from your previous work?
Yours in Sisterhood is based on my archival research reading thousands of mostly-unpublished letters sent to Ms. Magazine—the first national, wide-circulation feminist magazine in the US—between 1972 and 1980. I collected a few hundred of these letters for my project—on a wide range of topics that are important to feminism—and then I traveled around the US for two and a half years, filming contemporary strangers reading these letters aloud on camera. Each letter was filmed in the city or town that it was sent from, and each participant had the opportunity to respond to the letter that they were paired with. I filmed these readings with over 300 people in 32 states, and the finished film gathers 27 of these readings to create a collective portrait of feminist conversation across time and geographic space. Most of my film projects begin with archival materials and a bunch of questions I am trying to work through—so in that sense Yours in Sisterhood is on a continuum with previous work and methods. But in most of my previous work I use a lot of archival or found moving image materials onscreen—in Yours in Sisterhood, I wanted the viewer instead to feel the archive only through the bodies and performances of the readers. Visually, the film never leaves the present tense. So that feels very different from some of my other work. It’s more performative, more durational, and more formal than my older work. I like to learn new ways of making with each project.
After watching the film, I am obviously struck by all of the voices represented. I replay many of readings of the letters in my head. I am interested in the pauses after the readings, where there is a prolonged moment with the person on screen after they are done reading. It made me think strongly about the passing of time but also how important moments are. With those pauses we, as in the audience, can consciously be with that reading, to acknowledge, reflect, and be in the moment with that reader and letter. Could you speak more to why you included these pauses and to how your film explores history, time, and the present?
Yes, the pauses are really important to the form of the film. Some audience members have called them “silences,” so it feels important to point out that, even though the pauses are non-verbal, they are really not silent at all—they are very sonically active spaces where the viewer’s attention can turn away from human speech to engage with all the other sounds of place (insects, birds, traffic). So one way that those pauses function is to foreground place. I also think of the pauses as spaces of time travel. I was reading a bunch of 70s feminist sci fi while I was making the film, and started to take seriously the idea that each reader in the project is engaging in a kind of time travel as they embody the voice of someone from 40 years ago. It feels appropriate to give each reader a few seconds to travel back to the present. I think there’s a lot of very active emotional work that is happening in the pauses. And finally, the pauses also give a pace to the kind of listening that happens in the film (both the listening that each reader does through reading, and the listening that an audience does). It felt important to give each encounter in the film a lot of time and space and to ask the viewer to listen with patience to each person (something we are increasingly bad at in our attention-challenged moment). I think the pauses teach the viewer how to attend to the film.
What kind of resources did you use to make your film?
I’m lucky to have a “day job” teaching in a university. Through my job, I have access to (small) university research grants to keep my projects moving even during times when I’m not able to get bigger grants—the amounts of money are much less than a conventional feature film budget would be, but it’s usually enough to keep working in a small and scrappy DIY way. This film was especially hard to find outside funding for—it is both experimental in its form and about women—two things that have not been exciting to funders in the past (though the climate around funding women-centered work has recently been shifting in hopeful ways).
Through my job I also get to know a lot of amazing young filmmakers, so I was lucky to be able to hire my students and former students to help with shoots, with research, and with assistant editing. I had really wonderful helpers who traveled and filmed with me all over the country. I produced, filmed, researched, and edited this film myself (which is unusual for a feature length film), which means that my budget was a fraction of a feature film budget where other people are getting paid to do all of those things. My tiny feminist crew was always just me and one other helper driving from town to town. At the end of the project I did need a bigger chunk of money to get to a finished mixed and mastered film, so in the last month before the film’s festival premiere I had to crowdfund to finish the film. Asking people for money felt scary and weird at first, but people were really kind, and in some ways it felt true to the spirit of this very collective project to raise a finishing budget collectively through many small donations.
Where can folks watch Yours in Sisterhood now?
The film is still showing around in film festivals and other cinema venues—this month it’s showing in L.A. at Los Angeles Filmforum, which I’m excited about, because I did my first shooting for the project in L.A., over three weeks in the summer of 2015. I’ve been really invested in trying to find screenings in places where I filmed with people. It’s showing in Italy in September and is going to have a French theatrical release later in the year. I list screenings on the film’s website and Facebook page so that people know where it’s showing. The film also has a distributor, the wonderful Women Make Movies. Their website lists DVDs at institutional library prices, which are very expensive, but they will secretly sell reasonably priced home viewing DVDs by email request.
I know that you recorded over 300 readings for the film and a select amount was used for the final cut. I imagine you knew this when shooting for the film. As someone who is a participating reader, I always felt I was part of the project, regardless if I was in the film or not. You always gave us updates along the way, encouraging the community that was making up your film. What has been your plan or intention with the readings that aren’t in the film and have you envisioned sharing them?
I’m so glad to hear you say that. I definitely felt acutely aware of reproducing the problem of the magazine editor, making my own very tiny curated selection of voices and leaving so many others out (even as I was trying to think critically about that exact historical process of privileging some voices over others). It’s really nice to hear that you felt like you were part of a project community—this is something I worked really hard on. I realized as I was making the project that I was feeling this incredible sense of feminist community as I moved from town to town meeting so many people, but each person I met was only engaging with me for an hour or two (and maybe the hour or two happened a year or two ago by the end of the project). And the many people in the project didn’t really have a way to meet each other. So it felt important to me to try to share that feeling of interconnection with people—even though it’s hard to stay in touch with 300 people! Some people have been in regular contact since filming, which has been amazing—I have a bunch of new project friends all over the country—but there are also people I never heard from again after we filmed together.
I did know as I was shooting that I would only be able to include a small fraction of the many readings I was documenting, in part because I also knew all along that I planned to edit the readings in the film with very few cuts. It felt important for each reading in the film to feel like a full encounter with someone (as opposed to a very different style of film I could have made, intercutting lots of readings and moving from person to person more quickly). My intention from the start has been to create multiple iterations of Yours in Sisterhood, both to be able to include many more voices and to make the project accessible in more forms to more kinds of people. Now that the film is out, I’m working on an artist book (that includes close to 100 readings) and an interactive archive that will include around 200 readings. The interactive archive will be a more inclusive and more accessible (with captions!) form of the project that anyone with a web browser will be able to engage with. The archive interface is in progress, but in the meantime I’ve been releasing a reading a week from the “archive” on Facebook, Instagram, and Vimeo. So that’s another way that people can see the project.
I am very curious about your path as an artist. What helped start your career and what has sustained it?
Starting and sustaining creative careers are both hard! I have these conversations a lot with my students, who are just starting out with their creative aspirations. My parents are immigrants with math and computer backgrounds, so I didn’t really have family models for being an artist, but I always drew and painted and made things, and I wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember. Practically, I was able to become an artist because I lived in an affordable city with cheap rent for most of my twenties (Boston—sadly no longer an affordable city) and could afford to work very part time and spend a lot of time developing my ideas and skills. I was really underemployed until my thirties, when I started teaching full time, and had a lot of free time. Emotionally it’s also hard to become an artist—I think you need to be able to sustain a kind of internal grandeur about your own ambitions for yourself over many years. When I was younger, I felt like I was performing a radical act of imagination every day that I woke up and told myself I was an artist (years before the rest of the world took me seriously as an artist). This is really hard emotional work (especially for women and people of color who often have fewer role models, less support, and therefore less confidence) but also critical. In my twenties, my other wildly ambitious creative friends were essential—we built a mutual world of belief in each other together. Now that I have a teaching job and have been making films for a longer time, it is much less scary and hard to be an artist and I have a lot more institutional support (though I also have way less free time, so nowadays my struggle is to clear enough time to make work that is exploratory, open, and can’t be made quickly). I have creative and intellectual communities, and my work with students also sustains my work in really important ways.
I am a self-proclaimed feminist artist and filmmaker, so I wonder about your own artistic practice and how it is influenced by feminism. For me it comes out in the aesthetics of my work, my approach as an artist, as well as through my perspective. How does feminism present for you in your creative work?
At this point in my work, I think it is part of everything I do—aesthetic choices, political investments, ideas about care and listening, ethical frameworks, production processes, and how I work with and center collaborators. There is a long history of documentary work that is not very feminist, a long history of exploitative, extractive, and violent documentary looking, and entrenched systems of hierarchical structures in film productions. These are all legacies I am really aware of working against.
Is there anything else you would like to add? What do you think you’ll do after you're done with Yours in Sisterhood?
I’m just starting to research a new project this summer… but it’s so new and unformed I’m not sure I’m ready to share with the internet yet! I can say that it’s based on one of the towns I encountered while filming Yours in Sisterhood, a place I feel compelled to learn more about.
Where can we find you online? How can folks learn more about you?
(and also the YIS Facebook and Instagram accounts).
Thank you for answering my questions and letting Paige and I be part of Yours in Sisterhood, Irene!
All images courtesy of the artist.
"People are often intimidated to claim artist as part of their identity and pursuing art as a career that supports you financially is difficult, but I think the beauty of being an artist is that anyone can claim the title!"
"Bloom where you're planted," is a phrase found on one of Laura Brown's recent postcards. Over the last couple of weeks I've held and looked at her postcard many times. I get a lot of inspiration from it by holding it in my hand, reminding myself to grow and appreciate where I am in my life. I just became a member of her Postcard Club so that I can collect more of her postcards!
Laura Brown is a printmaker, book artist, collaborator and teacher. Currently, her work uses the vocabulary of ubiquitous construction signage as a way of investigating social and political upheaval in today's American society. She draws inspiration from everyday experience, from the most mundane and routine patterns of life. She holds an MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. She has participated in residencies at the Myren Graffikk in Kristiansand, Norway; the Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, California; Minnesota Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale, New York. Her work appears in collections at Yale University and the Library of Congress, among others. Her work has been shown internationally, nationally, and locally, most recently at the Soap Factory in Minneapolis, MN. She teaches at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and is an active member of the print collective Proof Public, which aims to amplify marginalized voices through letterpress printing.
In this interview she talks about her installation work, what her first studio was like, goals she has for the upcoming year, what resources she uses as an artist, and more!
Jes: How do you describe yourself as an artist and the art you make?
Laura: I have a background in printmaking, and I mainly use silkscreen and letterpress printing processes. They give me a lot of flexibility in using color and producing work at a quicker pace and greater volume than other printmaking processes. I am working on integrating my print practice with my love of textiles and quilting. I have sewn since I was young and I see a really strong connection between printmaking and quilting in that they are both communal activities and lend themselves to socializing and connecting with others.
I am interested in knowing how you combine printmaking and installation work? When did these two worlds align for you?
A major shift in my work happened in grad school. There can be pressure in that setting to make Really Big Work. In my program, printmaking was not a cool media to be working in, and there was a lot of pressure to break out of just making prints to hang on the wall. This isn’t unique, there’s quite a trend of it in the printmaking community as well. I think this can be helpful, but I am not into making big work simply for the sake of it. But I knew that my program would be a challenge when I chose it, so I tried to embrace that.
Anyway, at some point, someone asked why my quilting didn’t seem to be connected to my studio practice. Until that point, I was keeping my sewing for myself and I didn’t want to directly merge the two in the grad school environment where I knew it would get criticized for being “craft” rather than “art”. But I saw potential for sneaking quilting practices into my studio work as a way to solve the challenge of making larger work. I started by printing on modular pieces of Tyvek and sewing them together to make signs that looked like construction signage, which was popping up seemingly everywhere. In the real world, the construction felt like a harbinger of upheaval, like inevitable gentrification. At the same time, I can see the potential for positive change, and I wanted to create work that explored that.
Graduate school felt really isolating to me, and I wanted to expand my making and showing from privileged art spaces like galleries and academia. So it all kind of naturally (and literally) grew from there, and my first installation was outside The Soap Factory, where people would encounter it anytime they were walking or driving by. That led pretty directly to the signs that are currently up in the skyway in St. Paul, a commission by the Minnesota Museum of American Art. Hundreds of people walk past them every day.
I can see a lot of potential for expansion with the materials and processes, which I’m hoping to pursue this next year.
Can you tell me more about your project Empathy Economy?
That project felt like such a serendipitous thing. I love the library, so when Northern Spark was slated to be there, I knew I wanted to propose a project. I am totally fascinated and preoccupied with money and the way it affects our lives in systematic and personal ways. Libraries are such a lovely alternative economy and it all got me thinking, what if there was a place where you could get what you need that wasn’t money? What does everyone need? We all need empathy and a space to be heard, I think. Cardboard seemed like an appropriately unsecure medium to house valuable resources, so I built a teller’s booth out of cardboard and printed a currency of encouraging notes and withdrawal slips with corresponding options. It led to so many amazing conversations! There were people who would step right up and tell me extremely personal things as they handed me their withdrawal slips and I was able to lend an ear and offer them a tangible thing that they could take with them to remind them that they are not alone.
I also pretty curious about Proof Public. How does belonging to a collective like this support your art practice?
A question I’ve been thinking about lately is, can community be an artistic medium? I mean, I think the answer is yes, and Proof Public is a place I get to explore that. I feel like the work exists in meeting and helping others express themselves through the medium of letterpress printing. It’s one of those opportunities where printing leads to conversations. Because we are all about providing access and encouraging people to print their voices, it opens the door to hearing about peoples’ perspectives, specifically around current events and issues. I love those conversations, and they definitely don’t happen when I’m working alone in the studio.
What was your first studio space like? What is you studio like now?
My first studio after college was in my parents’ basement! I lived with them for about a year. I can’t believe it now, but I bought an etching press on Ebay and set it up in a bedroom. They were really gracious to deal with the smells of ink and mineral spirits and me blasting The Arcade Fire. I’ve crammed my workspace (and that press! Though I eventually sold it) into a lot of different scenarios over the years.
Now I have a ridiculously gorgeous and big space in the Casket Arts Building where I sew, teach classes, and host events. I call it CHEER! because I want people to be encouraged to explore their creative impulse and find support to learn at any phase and level of interest. My long term dream is to have a space that is a storefront or something more accessible, where I can offer a community and resources to artists. I would love to have a reference library, coworking space for artists, and small residency.
I do all my printing at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, where I also teach classes. It is a phenomenal resource and I have realized that a lot of people don’t know it exists.
Speaking of resources, what kind have you used to support your career?
I have tried a lot of things over the years, and I would say that some of the most meaningful choices I made have been to take classes. There are so many community education resources in the Twin Cities! I talk to people, I reach out. I show up and ask a lot of questions, which means I get to know a lot of people and learn from them. Mentors have been so important to me, especially after I left school.
Many years ago, when Kickstarter was brand new (and then later, when it wasn’t so new), I used it to fund some projects that really helped shape my practice.
Some of my favorite current resources are Beth Pickens, Jen Armbrust’s Proposals for the Feminine Economy. I listen to a lot of personal finance and business podcasts, I read books about business and habits.
What kind of advice would you give someone who is trying to build or start a studio practice?
I would say, just start! With whatever you have, wherever you are. See where it leads. Don’t get in your own way. I hear a lot of people (myself included) making excuses about why they haven’t started yet, or why they can get started, but the truth is, you have to start somewhere. Ask for help when you need it (you will need it!). Don’t be shy. Don’t overthink it. Enjoy it! Read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. Post Sister Corita’s Rules somewhere where you can see them.
People are often intimidated to claim “artist” as part of their identity and pursuing art as a career that supports you financially is DIFFICULT. BUT I think the beauty of being an artist is that anyone can claim the title! There are plenty of professions where you have to take an exam or go through long education and training programs. Not with art! If you want to be an artist, be an artist! I mean, I wouldn’t suggest saying you’re an artist without actually attempting some kind of creative engagement or inquiry, but it’s an occupation/hobby/career/thing that is literally open to anyone and everyone.
I recently joined your Postcard Club which I am so excited about. I love to get little surprises in the mail! For those who don’t know, what is the Postcard Club and how does one join?
THANK YOU! I started the Postcard Club for a few reasons: I love sending surprises in the mail! I also wanted a regular reason to play and experiment with printing in ways I might not usually, and I am experimenting with creating ways for people to support me as an artist, as well as the growth of CHEER! as a community space and resource. Printing is a practice where all the work is in the set-up, so it takes almost as much time to print one thing as it does to print 100. This makes it a natural medium for reaching an evolving number of people. I offered pre-sales through my website, but new members are always welcome through Patreon. Other commitments have kept me from really engaging with the actual Patreon site, but some recent growth in my number of patrons has me thinking about ways to expand the club and offer more rewards and levels of support (the key is to engage and garner support without creating a ton of extra work for myself--a delicate balance!). This is a great time to join, actually, because I’m a few postcards behind and I’m just sending all of my future postcards to everyone, even if they just joined. I think I’m on #4 and I want to catch up to #8 (of 12) by the end of August.
I follow a lot of your updates via Instagram. How do you prefer to use social media when promoting your art? What’s your approach?
My approach. . . varies. I like to be personal on Instagram, and transparent about what my experience is like, because I think when we are open and honest, it invites others to do the same. I also try not to spend too much time looking at it, or letting it dictate what I do or how I feel about myself.
Thanks for answering my questions, Laura! Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Thank YOU for the interview! If people are interested in connecting on Instagram, they can find me at @laurabrownart and they can check out more of my work at laurabrownart.com.
All images courtesy of the artist.
Artists I Admire is a series of interviews with artists I think highly of.