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Get ahead: Create more art that seems more timely, ahead of time

Last week’s Inauguration celebration of the United States’ first female and first Black Vice President seemed like a remarkable event, and it brought an array of images of Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden to our Instagram feeds.

Some digital, drawn or painted images were created weeks earlier in anticipation of their move to the top of American politics and others were created on the fly.  We recommended to Mint alumni Trinity Brown that she create a wire wrapped necklace similar to the one Vice President Harris wore to her swearing-in.  We suspect fabric fashion designers are recreating  the beautiful Maison Schiaparelli gold dove brooch Lady Gaga wore, signifying her hope for peace in the United States.

Then we realized that creating art that feels like it jumped from the headlines or captures the essence of our cultural experiences is a valuable trait for emerging artists to develop.  Offer art that is fresh, timely and relevant, even if you created it months or years earlier.

How do you do that? First look ahead to memorable or significant moments that resonate with you and your work. Perhaps it’s the reopening of schools after covid-19 vaccinations are widespread, or the the birthday of Rosa Parks, which we mark because of her ties to Detroit and because of our beautiful Mint print based on Mint worker / artist Bryan Wilson’s painting.

Second, set a Google Alert to be notified of news and information about your favorite subjects, those that show up in your art and imagery often. Ask for just the best results; some may provide inspiration or a reason to share your work.

Next create a calendar for yourself of events and dates that suit your

Martin Luther King Jr. collage by artist Isadora Gacel (used with permission)

creative style and interests – or buy our 2021 calendar to inspire and write them in.

If you photograph or paint beautiful buildings, note the birthdays and other significant dates of architects Albert Kahn, Norma Merrick Sklarek and Maya Lin.  If flowers and plants show up often in your images, perhaps key moments for botanist George Washington Carver or Arber or artists Georgia O’Keeffe or Claude Monet belong there. If your art springs from the fight for equality and civil rights, track important dates from Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work to the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death.

Whatever your subject, pour over media timelines and museum retrospectives for dates and events that resonate with you and your art. Look for lesser known events or people or ones that seem newly relevant.

Detail of Arise Rock’s winning triptych painting © Arise Rock

Document the Black Lives Matter movement and the demonstrations after the cruel killing of George Floyd, as Mint Youth Arts Competition winner Arise Rock did.  May 25 will be one year after Floyd died after pleading with police. Or create photos or mixed media slamming the growing gap between rich and poor, known as income or economic inequality.  Unfortunately, these images will be timely again and again.

Keep making more work that suits your cultural moments and themes. That way, when one piece sells, you may share a second and a third.  Consider which one may be powerful enough to be made into a print.

And if you think you’ve missed your moment with Vice President Harris, consider that she will have a very busy first year in office with many moments to shine. Plus she was born on Oct. 20, (1964), so that gives you plenty of time – and a clear deadline – for  creating a portrait or series of pieces about her.

© Vickie Elmer, 2021, for Mint Artists Guild

Watch for our guide to intriguing events in 2021 that may inspire your creative work. Coming up in February in the Mint blog.

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Good places to find wisdom and answers during these dark uncertain days

 

Despite the New Year and the change in presidents coming, the world may feel dark and uncharted and full of questions right now.  It’s unclear when covid-19 will disappear or when a good job will appear. It’s questionable when we will be able to get together in person again safely.

We know you likely have some questions you’re pondering.  (If you don’t have any at the moment, you may want to read our beautiful questions post or our start-the-year-right questions post to rev up your creativity and curiosity.)

Good questions are important. Yet they must be paired with the right people or resources to answer them. And as wonderful and generous as Mint Artists Guild is, we are a small nonprofit and are not equipped to answer all of yours. We try to answer some in this blog  and in our FAQs section; others at our workshops and in our Creative Summer jobs.

Now,  we will give you places where answers are found – many places and people. We would be foolish if we didn’t mention family members and close friends as important sources of insight and information.  Grandma Judy or Uncle John are wise and care about you.

But they may not always feel right, or have the capacity to answer. Sometimes starting with an independent, anonymous source is easier. A general internet search may offer reasonable answers, especially if your question is factual or fairly simple. Sometimes a trip to the public library to select some books works well and librarians may guide you.  Or head to your favorite blogs or podcasts and search for insights. 

If you want to pose the question, here’s a few options:

Seek the caring elders.  Go to ElderWisdomCircle, which provides intergenerational advice to all kinds of questions about covid, career, relationships, finances and more. ElderWisdomCircle.org brings youth together with older adults – almost virtual grandparents – to “provide empathetic, caring, and supportive advice based on their own life experiences.” Advice is emailed back, and youth may choose to have their question shared on the site or kept confidential. It is a nonprofit organization based near San Francisco that has a clear privacy policy.

Questions upon questions. Search Quora, the question and answer site, and you’ll find thousands of questions from serious to silly to sexy. Quora has lots of questions about how the world works and what’s changing, and plenty about sex and relationships. It also has a section specifically for teens, called TeenTalk and a few sections on covid-19 including one on the human impact. It also has a robust section for visual artists. Quora is a company based in Mountain View, CA, and the site does have more ads that in the past.

Chose another answer site.  You may find your question works well on Reddit, which has many SubReddit areas including ArtistLounge and other creative spaces. Or head to Snippets if your question and answers are short and easy to answer,  which is another of the question and answer sites in this LifeWife post.   Yahoo. Answers and may other sites are available with everyday people and well-known experts sharing insights and nonsense. Choose one that seems right for you and the questions you’re bringing. Or you may even find it interesting to post on two or three sites simultaneously and see which one yields the most valuable answers.

Where do you go to search for answers and insights? How do you find wise people to help you? Please share your ideas and resources in a comments!

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More questions to cultivate as the new year approaches

 

“Fear is a question. What are you afraid of and why? Our fears are a treasure house of self-knowledge if we explore them.” – Marilyn French, author and feminist activist

Fear of the unknown can be powerful, painful and plentiful, especially in a pandemic.

Not knowing what lies ahead may seem like it’s a new problem in the covid era. But in truth, we often are caught by surprise by events and changes we don’t anticipate, whether it’s being fired unexpectedly or a distant relative dying and leaving us a sizable inheritance or the popularity of an exhibit like Heroes: Now and Then

With New Year’s just around the corner, it’s a good time to ask and answer some questions to light our paths and make our creative journeys easier to travel.  Increase your curiosity and you will unearth something valuable about yourself. Here are three we especially like – building on the beautiful questions we posed in the fall:

What did you learn about yourself and your dreams and aspirations in the last year?    Take time to understand how this pandemic year affected your goals and aspirations.  Perhaps you’ll do this through looking back at a vision board made a year ago and creating a new one. Or maybe you will talk to a trusted mentor or friend about this or pull out a journal and draw or write some new dreams.

What one big audacious thing do you wish to complete by Dec. 31, 2021? This question will help you think bigger and bolder about your plans. Chase away caution and triple or quadruple your goals.  Then narrow it down to one wonderful huge, meaningful remarkable goal.

“You’d corner me in your conformity but even in dormancy i’m sleeping with enormity, stretching the belly of the earth & everything i was born to be.” 

– Curtis Tyrone Jones, author and coach

Who do you need in your tribe to grow and thrive?  Everyone needs a tribe or a “kitchen cabinet” of advisors and close allies. Who is in yours? And who do you wish to invite in?  And how are you engaging one or two new people for this near year ahead? These questions invite you to create a circle of supporters, and to connect with teachers, former bosses or family friends who may be able to help your career or your education in the year ahead.  Perhaps you want one of Mint’s leaders to join your tribe. Ask us or join us.

If you want to reflect further on 2020 with timeless questions, turn to these 20 inquires from the Art of Simple, a blog about embracing a slower, less complicated life.  Or if you long for still more questions to answer as you look ahead, read the list of 19 from Brands for the Heart or head to LifeHack for questions to consider the kind of life you want to build. 

“The greatest gift is not being afraid to question,”  said actress, playwright and civil rights activist Ruby Dee.  So we end with another question that drives us:  How will we collaborate to develop more creative opportunities for children and youth and make a bigger difference in Detroit

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Three beautiful questions creatives may ask and answer now

Ask yourself some very good questions to identify your purpose, your direction. (Photo by Emily Morter / Unsplash)

The world is filled with uncertainty and questions. Lots of questions and more questions.

Many of them are irrelevant or lead to nothing but fear and dead ends. Some, though, may help you see the path ahead, your future career or your most valuable contribution.

Questions power the growth of Google and the brilliance of Albert Einstein and the success of many individuals, wrote Thomas Oppong in Medium. He writes about productivity, self-improvement and achieving success.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “At a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.”  If you want some questions to ask your kid sister or a nephew, check out these 20 creative inquiries for children from Minds in Bloom.

So as we face a time of challenge and change, it is time to rev up our curiosity. Let’s start asking ourselves good questions that could lead to something beautiful. Here are three to start:

“What will your essential service be?” This question posed by media queen Oprah Winfrey during virtual college graduations asks you to consider your role in the world, how you will affect humanity.

Why are you here today?  This question could make you probe deep into your purpose in life. Or it could simply help you focus on a short-term goal or project that merits your energy and attention right now.  The here could refer to your neighborhood, your city, the world – or even your dining room table.

What will you create that shines hope or heroism, demands justice or gives aid to the powerless?  This question focuses on your creativity and how you will use it for the greater good. How will you make something that will contribute to the raising of consciousness or the reduction of racism? What wrong will you challenge or what hero will you highlight?

Use these questions as a starting point for conversations with roommates or with family. Or write about them in your journal. Doodle ideas during inktober and draw maps that lead you to a better, brighter more beautiful future.

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Sydney G. James’ big, excellent advice for emerging artists

Sydney G. James near one of her many murals. (Photo: © Bre’Ann White)

Her Malice Green mural in Highland Park, completed in just a few days after months of sitting on the couch during the covid-19 pandemic, was until recently, her latest completed work. It also was her first male figure in “forever.”

Sydney G. James had missed working on the big murals, and she sees big public art pieces as her perfect canvas. Almost all of them depict women of color, often women she knows.

Now  James is finishing something even bigger – a mural in the North End of Detroit loosely based on the Vermeer painting Girl with a Pearl Earring.  James’ Girl with the D earring is approximately 9 stories tall, painted on the Chroma building developed by The Platform.

She is documenting her team’s mural creation on Instagram, but is clear the work comes first. She expects to finish it in about six days, lightning speed especially during a pandemic.

“Produce, produce and then promote.” Put in the work and develop a work ethic, she advised the 13 Mint Artists this summer.

“If you take a job for 50 cents or $5 million, the work should be identical. That’s your currency. That’s still an advertisement for you.”

Sydney James painting a mural on Schaefer Highway in 2017. (Photo: Quicken Loans)

“Each new piece better be better than the last,” James said. That should be your intention. “Don’t make ugly shit.”

Then turn to your artist’s social media and promotion. Use great hashtags and follow exceptional artists. “Follow dope artists from around the world,” she recommended. James was one of five guest artists to talk to the Mint Creative Summer Jobs program.

James shared some of her career journey since graduating from College for Creative Studies in 2001.  She worked in advertising, as a ghost artist on a television show in Los Angeles and taught art in school. Now she’s all in on murals and has painted them in Atlanta, Hawaii, New Orleans, Ghana and many in Detroit, including a number of years with Murals in the Market.

She  believes artists must be willing to say no to clients who will be a pain in the neck or want you to change colors three times. “You got to figure out how you want to plant and where you want to plant your seeds,” she said.

(Photo by Bre’Ann White used with permission.)

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Freedom! Live life frugally this summer

Visit garage sales to find economical art supplies. (Photo: Lesley Epling / Morguefile)

This summer,  more than most, artists need to economize. They may find themselves with no art fairs, with galleries closed or gone and regular buyers feeling frugal themselves.  Unemployment is high and uncertainty is too.

So it’s the perfect time to learn to live and create on the cheap. Follow the lead of model and television star Tyra Banks, who said: “I’m frugal. I’ve always been this way. When I was young, my mom would give me my allowance, and I’d peel off a little each week and have some to spare.”

Create a more independent approach to living by cutting your spending – and increasing your future possibilities. Here’s some ideas for emerging artists:

Develop a frugal outlook.  Some people grow up with this, following their mom or aunt to yard sales. Others must work to ingrain a make the most with the least mindset in their lives and creative practices.  Start with a living life large on the cheap mantra, or borrow mine: “I live an abundant life on a modest paycheck.”

Get creative. Reuse items in your art. Develop a mixed media series glued and painted on old cookie sheets. Or concoct a project using blueprints as the backdrop. Create a list of possible materials:  Old windows and doors work well as canvases to paint and some artists create on records or books. Sculptors may remake old metal shelves or rakes and shovels.

Find joy in the journey.  Your approach to frugality should make it fun or an adventure.  Create a “cheapskate challenge” with your siblings or friends. Plant peppers or potatoes or find one of the many free food handouts that are all around these days. Plan dinner with four friends at home instead of heading to a bar or restaurant. Log how many days you go without buying anything online, and celebrate when you hit 30.

Find it for free on Craigslist and Nextdoor.  Search in a few areas, starting in the “free” section. Then look for garage sales, gigs and other items for sale.  If you are really looking for something specific, consider placing an ad as a way to land what you need. Be clear that your budget is tiny.

Head to estate sales or flea markets to find unconventional art supplies. (Photo Alexander Shustov / Unsplash)

Shop garage and estate sales.   You will find plentiful options in the summer and fall. Head to estatesales.net or download a garage sale locator app to identify where you’re going.  Look for multi-family sales or church sales for a wider array of items. We recommend showing on on the final day, when prices are discounted by 50 to 75 percent.

Find flea markets and junk yards.  Grab your mask and gloves and go after some real bargains. But don’t buy it just because it’s affordable. Buy it because you need it for your art, your family or your future.

And follow our other tips on smart and affordable paint brushes and materials.

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Create hundreds of pieces and share your humanity, 1xRun cofounder advises emerging artists

1xRun co-founder Jesse Cory stands with his wife Roula David. (1XRun / StockX photo)

Create. Contemplate. Create some more.  Then market your work.

These are the steps 1XRun co-founder Jesse Cory recommends to emerging artists, to any artists who want to advance their work and themselves.  Artists must understand and articulate their message, their why, he said.  They learn that from contemplation – and by creating a lot of work.  Cory was the guest expert at a Mint Artists Guild workshop on pricing work confidently.

“Be bold. Tell people why you make art,” Cory said, giving his best advice to emerging artists. 

He and the 1xRun team select new artists based on three main factors:

  • Build your talents. They want to be able to see the time dedicated to improving an artist’s craft.
  • Develop a defined aesthetic , or a cohesive color palate.
  • Know your mission. Artists must be clear about why they make the art they create.

“You have to make hundreds and hundreds of pieces of art work,” he said. His art print company 1xRun needs 30 to 40 pieces from one artist to create an edition or series.

Among the dozens of artists whose prints sell through 1xRun are Jon Burgerman,  Carly Chaikin,  Copyright, Bob Dob,  Naturel and Tatiana Suarez.  Denial, the Canadian artists also known as Daniel Bombardier, recently had a month-long takeover of 1xRun   Its artists are local and international, creating fine art, illustration, street art and many other genres.

1xRun’s Bicycle Day Collection 2020 features work from Obey Giant, Camille Rose Garcia and more. (Photo: 1xRun)

1xRun was established in 2010 by Cory, whose background is in marketing, video production and documentaries, and Dan Armand, who previously worked as a web designer and artist. The two developed two art galleries, both now closed, and much more. In its first five years of business, 1xRun sold more than $5 million in art prints, original art and services. Sales are rising, even during the pandemic, Cory said. 

During the Mint workshop, he gave a simple formula for pricing limited edition prints:  Set the price for your original piece, then divide it by the number of prints you plan to make. That’s the price of the prints. So a $300 painting with 15 prints means each print is worth around $20. 

1xRun’s model calls for a 50-50 split with artists on print sales, after the company recoups its production costs. Cory suggested artists  “don’t hold on too tight” to their work.  

“You have to humanize yourself to the collector,” he said, by sharing photos of yourself as well as your work on Instagram.  His collection was built with wife Roula David, who worked in restaurants and now leads their Murals in the Market festival. They buy work mainly from artists they work with on the festival or in 1XRun, because Cory said, they have meaning or “memorialize” a relationship or moment in time.    

© Vickie Elmer, 2020 for Mint Artists Guild

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More creative ideas: Dance, sidewalk messages and art made from nature

Learn contemporary or traditional dance. (Photo: Murilo Bahia / Unsplash)
Join in the cheerful chalk challenge. This was created by Mint Artists’ Eleanor Aro.

 

It’s lucky week seven of our creative activities and we know you’re ready swing into spring and get outside for some of your creative activities.

So grab some sidewalk chalk, stretch your muscles and take your sketch book outdoors. Let’s get started on some new or renewed creative projects.

Create nature art.  It’s Earth Day and its springtime, so make things from nature’s bounty and beauty. Gather stones from a neighborhood park. Pick seven different leaves and lay them into an art piece. Use sticks and mud and bits and pieces gathered during a long walk to create. Or turn bunches of leaves and flowers into “nature’s paintbrushes.”  For inspiration, read the Artful Parents interview of artist Richard Shilling who calls it “land art.”  For more ideas on marking Earth Day, unsubscribe to catalogs and try more ideas from Teen Vogue.

Dance like nobody’s watching. Learn how to ballroom dance – fox trot, cha cha or other steps. Or try modern dance or tap dance – as long as your dance partner is yourself or someone who is at home with you. Dance inside – our outside. Look into one of many free online lessons from The Dance Store or Learn to Dance or others. Or check out dance options from Dance Lives in Detroit, a new local nonprofit resource.

Do a DIY day:  Create your own journal or a sketch book. This JelArts tutorial shows how to be crafty and save money by making a sketchbook at home. Paint on your favorite pair of jeans. Jimena Reno shows how to paint and turn them into a unique fashion statement.  These suggestions from Mint marketing intern Journey Shamily are crafty and creative fun ways to make the

Join in the cheerful chalk challenge. This was created by Mint Artists’ Eleanor Aro.

world your canvas. 

Create with sidewalk chalk.   Join Mint Artists Guild and several other nonprofits in the cheerful chalk challenge, a way to encourage families to go outside for activity and play and then create an upbeat message or piece of art using sidewalk chalk.  Follow all safety rules as required by state and federal mandates.  Share your chalk art on social media with the #chalkchallenge and #chalkyourwalk hashtags and send your best image to us to share. 

 

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Start boosting your productivity with advice from mega-artist Hubert Massey

 

Mint cofounder Hubert Massey talks to Mint artists in our studio. (Photo © Brendan Ross for Mint)

 

Hubert Massey creates massive public art pieces, like the fresco at TCF Center and large mosaics in parks and overpasses in Detroit, Flint and elsewhere.

Most of his projects take months to complete. Yet most of them start with ideas, and sketches. Massey, who is a co-founder and a board member of Mint Artists Guild, is staying home now, but that doesn’t mean he’s slowing down.  He’s creating smaller pieces – paintings, sketches and an obelisk prototype for a public art piece.

“I still don’t have enough time in the day,” he said. He runs Hubert Massey Murals, which brings together artists, engineers, community groups and businesses to create large public art projects. 

“I have the habit of getting up early in the morning,” Massey told Mint. He starts with breakfast and a smidgen of news. Then Massey turns on jazz music and turns to work on the creative project for the day. By 3 pm

This mosaic wall in Southwest Detroit was created by Mint cofounder Hubert Massey several years ago. (Photo: Vickie Elmer)

many days, he’s finishing up and ready to take a walk.  

Developing such habits and a schedule help with productivity, Massey said. “Start at a certain time…. Schedule your work hours.”

Here’s three more tips from Hubert Massey on staying creative and productive:

Create a list. Artists need a projects list, where they capture the ideas they may want to pursue, he said.  His list includes painting portraits of some other well-known Detroit artists such as Michael Horner and home improvement projects. Keep your list updated and look online for ideas.

Set goals.   Know what you want to complete by the time everything is opened up and go after it. Or set smaller goals. Massey enjoys watching documentaries related to science and art, and suggests emerging artists watch one a day of an artist or musician.

Engage with others. Massey likes to hold community forums and ask questions and hear stories. Start this on your social media, or with a conference call with five or seven people. Ask questions such as “what are 10 images you want hanging on your wall?” he suggested. 

Don’t worry if your art supplies are thin or nonexistent. Use whatever you find around the home – newsprint or recycled materials or paint on old bowls. “If you’ve got a pencil, then draw,” Massey told Mint.

You have to be strong within yourself and do what makes you happy.”

Watch for more insights on creatives managing themselves and their work  in future posts.

© Vickie Elmer 2020 for Mint Artists Guildart

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Paint a poem and more mixed up ways to get creative

Poetry and painting go hand in hand. (Photo Trust Try Katsande / Unsplash)

We are in our sixth week of sharing creative activities for youth, for all who are staying home to stay safe.  Some of us are feeling bored and uninspired.  Others may need something different to break up our usual creative work.  Others may be wishing they could take a “spring break” from real life, but know that isn’t possible right now.

Instead, we suggest you take a break from your usual and try something inspiring or surprising – right in your home or back yard. We’ve got you covered this week with an array of offerings for all ages:

Create something random. Websites such as Art Prof, Doodle Addicts and many others offer ideas to draw. Whether it be a character, scenery, your fears or curtains billowing through a window, the possibilities are endless.  Mint marketing intern Journey Shamily, who made this recommendation, especially likes Artpromps.

Try some improv.  The Detroit Creativity Projects’ brings improv artists out to share cool games in its Improv Project new YouTube Channel.  Try one for something fresh and fun. Or check the Canadian Improv Games online training center for more improvisation ideas.

Interview your grandma.  Grandpa also could be a good person to

Spend a couple of hours interviewing your grandmother. (Photo: Ashwin Vaswani / Unsplash)

interview to learn more about your family history or to discover the most difficult moments in their lives.  Create a list of questions or draw from these 20 by Family Search.  Follow the excellent etiquette and other advice from genealogist and author Sharon DeBartolo Carmack. If you need more family history research tools, check our previous post for some excellent recommendations.

Put poetry into your painting.   Pair poetry and painting, and you have something twice as wonderful. Perhaps you will insert a line of poetry into your art work. Or perhaps your piece will be inspired by a piece of poetry.  Choose a poet whose work is filled with imagery such as Mary Oliver (try “Song for Autumn” or perhaps “Spring”)  or by Lucille Clifton (perhaps “My Dream About Time” ) or Eleanor Lerman (“That sure is My Little Dog.”)  Or maybe you want to write your own poem and then illustrate it! It is still National Poetry Month.

Look back on our five previous posts for more inspiration and look forward to more coming next week from Mint Artists Guild.