Saturday, March 26, 2011

Book Review: "The Artists Guide: How to Making a Living Doing What You Love” by Jackie Battenfield

5 out of 5 stars

I can not say enough GREAT THINGS about this book or recommend it to enough artists! The Artist's Guide: How To Make A Living Doing What You Love has been a big eye opener and helpful guide for what it takes to be a professional artists. Jackie Battenfield freely shares the knowledge she has gained as a professional artist for the last 20+ years for beginning or re-beginning artists to reference as they embark on their own journey. Battenfield takes a very practical and realistic approach to what it means to be an artist. She gives a thoroughly overview of a lot of the responsibilities, problems and needs an artist will face and how to deal with them.

I know for me as a student, there are many unsure areas of what needs to be done to make money in the art world. Battenfield has been very helpful in paving a more clear picture for me of what it will take. I am not saying this book gives every answer I'll ever need to know or is the only resource I would ever need, but it helps bring light to a lot of what was once unknown. It makes it clearer how and where to start a career as an artist.

In her book, Battenfield covers a lot of essential skills an artist should develop, like setting goals, how to write an artists statement, a resume,a bio and how to make work samples, and she gives advice on organizational skills. She discusses grants, residencies, copy right laws, taxes and building a network of artists and other art professionals to draw upon for help. She offers guidelines for exhibiting your work and gives resources for finding galleries that are a right match. She also outlines who the key players are in the art world and what role they play. (Most of this information I had little knowledge of beforehand so I received it all gladly)!

At the end each chapter, Battenfield gives a list of resources (with a brief description of what information that resource contains) that gives direction of where to look next for more information covered in the chapter. I found her brief descriptions to be very helpful in choosing what other resources I would be interested looking in to.

To sum up my overall feelings about the book, I was actually sad when I finished it. Battenfield began to feel like real, helping friend to me. I felt like I knew her and her career intimately. Her writing approach was often personal, she gave great antidotes and I could relate to what she was saying. I even felt at times as though as I was having a conversation with her. It was a very easy and enjoyable read. This is a book I plan on re-reading over and over again throughout my career and I see myself reference it often for advice about the many responsibilities I will face as a professional artist.

Book Review: "How To Get Ideas" by Jack Foster

5 out of 5 Stars

My husband suggested this book to me. It was a required book for his English class. Anyone in an field, whether in the arts or not could still glean tools towards creative thinking found in this book. How To Get Ideas was a fun book for me to read. It is a short, quick read (I finished it in a week), but it is packed full of information. As I was reading it I kept thinking, “Wow, I need to tell my teachers about this book and convince them to make it a required reading for their classes.” Foster starts his book out by defining what exactly is an idea. He declared it a “new combination of old elements.” Just having the definition of an idea alone helped me to start thinking and seeing things a little differently.

Foster gives 10 great tools in 10 great chapters for generating ideas (or as he put it “idea-condition your mind”): Have Fun, Be More Like a Child, Become Idea-Prone, Visualize Success, Rejoice in Failure, Get More Inputs, Screw Up Your Courage, Team Up with Energy, Rethink Your Thinking, and Learn How to Combine. After every couple pages I would find myself putting the book down to write notes, ideas, and insights to his suggestions. I felt very inspired to put what he was preaching into practice. It takes effort, but I see it as a valuable return.

Foster finishes the book with a “five-step method for producing ideas.” There is a chapter for each step where he discusses what to do and why to do it. The idea is to combine idea making tools with an idea making formula and great ideas will be born. I felt like Foster, who has worked for years in the advertising industry, had a lot to offer on creative thinking. He gives personal stories and insights, but his book is also stalked full with examples and quotes from others as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gumoil Prints

This is a really cool, but rather difficult alternative photographic process called the gumoil processes. It was invented by Karl Koenig in, I believe, the early 1990s. It uses similiar chemsistry as a gum bichromate, but instead of water or acyclic paint it uses oil paint. It isn't printed the same as gum bichromate processes. The image is printed first with just the chemistry, then you brush the oil paint on top and rub it back off. The print is then placed in a bleach bath to be etched, followed by a 10 minute rinse.

This was kind of difficult processes for me to print with. It is very finicky and easy to lose my image quickly. I was running into problems where the paint was too thick so that the image couldn't be seen or else the paint was washing off in the bleach etching bath. It was really hard for me to keep the details of the photo as well. I had about 6-8 images I printed multiple times for this series, but these were the only two I was actually satisfied with. I love the gritty, old look that gumoils offer so I want to keep practicing to see if I can figure out a way to better control my printing. I am really glad I tried it and got at least something to turn out.