Category Archives: Business of Art

Tools I Can’t Live Without {Redux}

As part of restructuring my blog – and deciding what subjects to focus on in future posts – I came across my “Tools I Can’t Live Without” posts. I enjoy writing these and often get feedback about them, even years later.

These posts are also taking on a special meaning as Greg and I talk about possibilities for retirement. We’re probably 15 years out but we’re planners by nature so we’re already having those discussions. One of our ideas is selling everything and traveling by RV Van for a few years. Just the thought of a very small space both thrills and terrifies me. I love the idea of not much to clean and no room for clutter. I do not love the idea of cleaning out my studio and of trying to figure out which art tools are so important I must take them and which are not necessary.

I told Greg, “Maybe I’ll retire when you do.” He laughed and pointed out that making art is for me like breathing. He’s right. I’ll make art until I not physically able.

So I am looking at my art tools a bit differently. I often find myself thinking about the tools I’ve used that day and which I could do without. Fortunately I have a lot of time to think about this. In the meantime, here are the past “Tools I Can’t Live Without” posts.

Tools I Can’t Live Without: Teflon Bone Folder

Tools I Can’t Live Without: Kutrimmer

Tools I Can’t Live Without: The One I’m Embarrassed to Admit (to)

What tool(s) do you use in your art that you can’t live without?

Look for more “Tools” posts soon.

~Ginger

 

Finding a Balance

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Hello again. It’s been a long time. I have been blogging in fits and starts and, for almost a year, not at all. I think about it all the time. I’ve got dozens of blog posts written in my head. But none of them made it to the computer or your inbox.

One of my biggest challenges, and I suspect yours as well, is being able to say, “No.” I enjoy helping people and making people happy and I am quite good at over committing myself out of the best intentions. Unfortunately I often fall short and feel sad/frustrated/guilty for not living up to my own expectations or promises.

After more than a year of falling short in too many places, I’m in the process of re-balancing my time as an artist and teacher (and wife, daughter, sister…). One of my priorities is to get back to regular blog writing.  I’ll share more about that soon. And more about my work. And tools I can’t live without. And events of note. Looking forward to chatting with you soon.

~Ginger

 

The Bibliophile Mystery Series

Well hello again. Still working like crazy from Codex orders (this is a good thing!) but I thought I’d tiptoe back into blog writing with this quick post. My friend Marilyn S. asked if I’d ever heard of the mystery books by Kate Carlisle that have a bookbinder as the main character. Nope. I hadn’t. So I requested them from my library and they’re so fun!

Brooklyn Wainright is the main character in the Bibliophile mystery series. She’s a bookbinder, book restorer and just generally crazy about books in any form. These mysteries are light and fluffy and easy reads. They fit in what I’d call the girlfriend mystery genre. The main character, her girlfriends and her family are the center of the stories (after bookbinding, artists books, and wonderful book details, of course) and there is a handsome man or two or three in every story. And a cat.

I’ve read the first two books and think they are so much fun I’ve ordered the rest of the series from the library for my trip to San Diego next week. I love the careful details about the condition of the books, what will need to be done to restore them, mentions of book structures and Brooklyn’s passion about books. Bookbinder tools as weapons, why not? Bonefolders, blades, awls, goodness knows we injure ourselves enough while working with them! She even teaches an accordion book making class in the second story.

If you’re from the Bay Area you’ll find them especially fun. Brooklyn lives in San Francisco, comes from Marin, and even mentions the San Francisco Center for the Book and the Bay Area Book Artists!

I hope you enjoy them as much as I am.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Living With An Artist at Crunch Time

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by Mick Stevens in The New Yorker

Hi everybody.  Its me, Greg, your guest blogger here again.  The 2017 Codex book fair is just around the corner and Ginger’s work is coming together nicely but she’s swamped right now.  Which is why you get me.  I shall continue my previous theme and discuss Codex prep from my perspective.  Specifically, I see Ginger is super busy and stressed so what can I do to help alleviate that (without making more work for her)?  We’ve been through this a number of times preparing for various art shows and here’s a few things I’ve learned that will help.

  • Volunteer to be a studio assistant.   Your first reaction may be, “I’m not an artist, how can I possibly help in the studio?”  True, I don’t know much about art but I do know how to measure paper and use a bone folder.  I can even work a Kutrimmer.  In fact, I quite enjoy putting on the headphones and cranking through a stack of paper or davey board.   I don’t know anything about book bindings but I can run to the store for more art supplies.  I often tell Ginger, “Pretend I’m a small child (not a stretch) and give me specific and clear instructions, I won’t be offended.”  Even taking on small menial tasks can be a help to her.
  • Encourage your artist to take breaks.  There are natural stopping points in Ginger’s work such as waiting for paint or glue to dry.  Or when transitioning from one book to the next.  That’s a good time to suggest a break.  Sometimes we go for ice cream and other times we just lie in bed and pet the cats.  A walk is always a good option.  Sometimes Ginger wants to talk about her work and other times she doesn’t even want to think about it.  We might take a dinner break and watch half hour of mindless TV.  Laughing together is always a good stress reliever.
  • Don’t take it personally if your artist is always busy or distracted.  This is not the time to stamp my foot and say “but what about me?!  Pay attention to me!”  During crunch time the artist is always thinking about his or her art.  We might be doing something completely non-art (including sleeping) but part of her brain is still working on art problems.  So I don’t take it personally if I’m talking to Ginger and she gets that faraway look in her eyes before jumping up and rushing off to the studio.
  • Make sure your artist doesn’t neglect his or her health.  One of the best ways to do this is to encourage your artist to get more sleep.  It sounds contradictory but more sleep can actually be more productive.  I’ve seen Ginger get into the bad pattern of working eighteen hours one day but then dragging for the next two days before giving in to a long sleep to catch up.  The net result is less productivity.  And more stress because then she feels like, “Oh no, I’ve been dragging and sleeping too much, I need to work even harder!”  I realize that Ginger will laugh at this because normally I’m one of those “Five hours is enough for anybody!” kind of guys but I realize that everybody is different and during crunch time you have to do what works best for you.
  • Be ready to give tough feedback.  This is a difficult one because I see Ginger working so hard and I see she’s stressed and fragile and my instinct is to tell her that everything she does is great.  After all, I want to be encouraging and I want to help her soldier on.  But I would be doing her a disservice.  We both agree that just because there’s a deadline looming it’s no reason to lower standards.   There are plenty of times in life where I’ll say, “It’s good enough, just get it done” but not when it comes to Ginger’s art.   So continue to give the tough feedback but be prepared to deliver it with an extra dose of kindness.  See my previous post on “The Art of Art Feedback”.
  • Don’t add extra pressure to your artist.   Yeah, this isn’t the time to remind her about her looming deadline.  It’s also not a good time to say, “Wow, you must be so stressed!”   Believe me, she’s acutely aware of it.  It’s also not the time to burden her with issues that aren’t urgent.  Do we really need to plan our 2018 vacation right now or can it wait a few weeks?  I find it’s helpful to jointly map out our week in advance so that Ginger knows which tasks or events I have covered and doesn’t have to worry about how non-art tasks are going to get done.
  • Remove distractions from your artist’s daily life.  This goes hand-in-hand with the above point.  Make or bring dinner.  Do extra household chores.  Offer to take the pet to the vet.  Attend the family function by yourself so she can keep working.  In fact, guess what?  You yourself might be a distraction.  The question to ask myself is, “Does Ginger really need to be interrupted or is this just a needy attempt to get attention?”
  • Give meaningful and specific encouragement.   Right now Ginger is very focused on a huge to-do list and what’s not going well.  Those unsolved problems are weighing heavily on her mind.  This is when she needs encouragement but not that general encouragement which, while true (“hey, at least you get to make art, isn’t that great?”), isn’t very helpful.  One of the best ways to encourage is to point out what I like about each new work.  What really pops out and how does it make me feel.  Sometimes Ginger gets to a point where she only sees what’s wrong with a piece.  It helps to have a fresh pair of eyes tell her what’s right and how well the piece works.

I hope you find these suggestions helpful.  They’ve definitely worked for me.  If you’re an artist then show this list to the people living with you.  And identify those people whom you can really depend on and allow yourself to lean on them a little.

-Greg

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Holiday Gift List #2 – Support An Artist!

2017 In Forests Calendar

Continuing with the holiday theme of gift giving and receiving, here are more wonderful gift ideas for your friends and yourself this holiday season. All of these artists are on Etsy, so get a cup of your favorite beverage and take a few moments to go through each of their offerings. You’ll probably end up ordering yourself a gift. You’re welcome.

1. If you haven’t already seen artwork by Andie Thrams, you’re in for a treat. The photo above is her 2017 Calendar, In Forests. It is a digital print of original artwork and a bargain way to add Andie’s artwork to your collection at only $26.00. Looking for something you can display on a wall? She has several 8 x 8 prints of her work ready to frame. I’m in love with her Poppy piece for $60.00

POPPY: Framable Art

And as much as I’m sure you’d like an original artists’ book by Andie, they’re hard to get. So she has graciously reproduced them digitally and you can add them to your collection or give them as a gift for only $40.00. I have the 2012 book and it’s beautiful!

2012 In Forests Artist Book

2012 In Forests Artist Book

2013 In Forests Artist Book

2013 In Forests Artist Book

2. For some of the most fun miniature artists’ books, zines and cards you’ll find anywhere, check out Raesofsun with art by Rae Trujillo.

As you know, I’m partial to cats, so I’ve already collected many of Rae’s cat cards. Here is one of my favorite. You can get one, too, for only $4.50

Blank, Card, Cat, Just Because, Cat Card, Blank Card, Greeting Card, Smiling Cat, Birthday Cat, Silly Cat, Cat Art, Cat Painting, Happy Cat

Also in our collection, I gave it to Greg last year for Christmas,  and one of my favorites, is I Love Doughnuts, a miniature artists’ book. $50.00

Artists' Book, Handmade Book, Miniature Artists' Book, Miniature Book, Handmade Book, Doughnut, Donut, Photographs, Pink Box

For a bit of humor and hand drawings, check out Admit One: Flea Circus, for $20.00

Artist's Book, Miniature Artist's Book, Miniature Book, Handmade Book, Flea Circus, Circus, Flea, Pink, Funny, Humor, ticket, Admit One

3. For the sublime in a tiny package, you’ll want to check out the work of Bryan Kring

One of my favorites, and a book we have in our personal collection, is done by Bryan through the SFCB Small Plates series: The Hunter and The Bear $44.00

You might also like Learning to Fly, $150.00

Learning To Fly, Moveable Diorama Book

And Insecta Coleoptera, $200.00

Insecta Coleoptera, Limited Edition Artist's Book

Looking for some more options on Etsy? Use the search term “artist books” – in the quotes, to find a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

 

Pop-Up “How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space

This post is the 4th in a series detailing the “How To” books that survived my studio clean out because they deserve the space they occupy. I’ve been waiting to share with you about the Pop-Up Section until the Pop Up Now II show opened at 23 Sandy Gallery in Portland, Oregon. If you’d like to see the show in person it isn’t too late. The show is open until December 17th.

In case you’d like to read the previous posts:

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #1

“How To” Books that Deserve Shelf Space #2

“How To” Books that Deserve Shelf Space #3

Pop Up Now II at 23 Sandy Gallery

Now, to move on to Pop-Up “How To” books. Here they are in no-particular order. And I have to mention there are a few more that I want but don’t own yet.

The Elements of Pop-Up: A Pop-Up Book for Aspiring Paper Engineers by David A. Carter and James Diaz

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Don’t like the title scare you away. You don’t have to be any kind of engineer to use this book successfully. If you’re going the kind of person who needs a physical representation of pop-ups in order to figure them out (as I am), this book is for you! It has step by step instructions and detailed information on each kind of pop-up included and…

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it has actual pop-up samples of each kind. If necessary you can take them out of the book and take them apart, but not easily. (Don’t ask how I know this.)

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The Pop-Up Book: Step-by-Step Instructions for Creating Over 100 Original Paper Projects by Paul Jackson

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This is a beautifully illustrated book with extensive diagrams, photos and examples of each kind of technique. For example, “Shape of Slit.” While it looks complicated, the pop-up below is actually two folds and a cut slit. Paul Jackson will have you making fabulous pop-ups in no time.

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Playing with Pop-Ups: The Art of Dimensional, Moving Paper Designs by Helen Hiebert

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Helen Hiebert’s books are always excellent. This one features moveable features like volvelles in addition to the pop-up elements included in the first two books. I especially like that she includes historical information about the techniques.

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If you feel like you already know all there is to know about pop-up techniques, it’s still worth the purchase of this Helen Hiebert book. In addition to a very strong “how to” section, there is this beautiful gallery section. Here are some samples by Julie Chen.

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The Art of Pop-Up: The Magical World of Three-Dimensional Books by Jean-Charles Trebbi

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While this book does have some “how to” at the end, and some samples (see the last photos), the real strength is the history and examples of pop up and move-able books. It’s an education and eye-candy combined.

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I especially love the “Picture from ‘Transforming Performers: with Surprise Pictures” on the page below. Such a simple and do-able concept, but also eye-catching and a terrific way to advance content in a book.

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There is also an extensive gallery section that will introduce you to pop-up artists and their work. It’s a great jumping off point to spend some time with Google and learn even more about these pop-up geniuses.

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These last two photos are samples of the “how to” section of the book. Adequate, but not a good starter book. And honestly I don’t use it for this. But the first two sections are fabulous.

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Well, now I want to go to the studio to make pop-up books! How about this? Next week I’ll give you a freebie tutorial on making pop-up trees. Perfect to use in holiday cards.

Do you have a “How To” Pop-Up book you’d recommend? Please share in the comments!

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com

“How To” Books That Deserve Shelf Space #3

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Still working on the studio clean out, but now working in the studio with some cleaning at both ends of the day. It’s exciting to see my new ideas for Codex taking shape.

In the meantime, here are the next five “how to” books that have earned their space on my  studio bookshelf.

As a reminder, my criteria for a book staying include one or more of the following:

  1. Unique binding ideas
  2. The best photos and instructions for a particular binding
  3. A gallery of book examples with outstanding artists books.

In case you’re wondering, here are List #1 and List #2.

This week’s five:

Sleight of Binding by Cherryl Moote

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This book has all of those fun “how did they do that?” bindings. Flexagons, KaleidoCycles and more. The instructions include basic drawings and are a bit more challenging than some of the other books on my shelf. I think my friend, Janice, would love this book. She loves puzzles and math and has the patience to make bindings over and over until she’s got them down. This is one of those books. Worth having, but you’ll need the time to make the structures work for you.

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The Essential Guide to Making Handmade Books by Gabrielle Fox

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This book has terrific step-by-step directions with very good photographs. Gabrielle Fox makes each binding accessible to beginners and experienced artists alike. Each section also has a Gallery of Ideas, like the one featuring the Train Log by Hedi Kyle, below.

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The Art and Craft of Handmade Books by Shereen La Plantz

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This book has beautiful images and some great bindings. Among my favorites are her Recessed Skewer Bindings. You can see from the two sample pages below she begins with a binding concept and then extends it into other ways of using that binding. I just love that approach. She also includes many, many samples from terrific artists. In my opinion this is one of those “must have” books.

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Hedi Kyle Festschrift 2009 by Multiple Authors

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This is a fun book celebrating Hedi Kyle and her contribution to book arts. There are several stories from artists who have worked with and/or been influenced by her, several diagram drawings of her structures and articles about bookbinding and conservation. It is available on Lulu by Rutherford Witthus.

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Cover to Cover by Shereen La Plantz

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Another book by Shereen La Plantz and another must have. Terrific gallery images with samples from artists such as the Fish Messages by Judith Hoffman, below. Clear and conversational instructions with ways to extend each binding with new ideas.

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Well, there it is, three blog posts, 15 “how to” books and we haven’t even finished one square out of 15 in the bookshelf. We’re going to take a break from “how to” books until November when the Pop-Up Now II exhibition will open at 23 Sandy Gallery. Then we have the Keith Smith books. The books about being a professional artist. The inspirational eye candy books…

Next week, studio lighting and a guest blog post by my husband, Greg, who patiently researched and swapped out bulbs until my studio became the beautifully lit, real colors, less eye strain environment that I needed.

~Ginger

http://www.gingerburrell.com