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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.

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Start being smarter and more frugal today with our tips

Start developing a frugal mindset and watch your savings grow. (Photo: Thought Catalog / Unsplash)

 

There’s never been a better time to become more frugal and save some money. No matter your age or stage, no matter if you have a full ride scholarship to a prestigious university or see community college making sense, many signs point to the power of spending less for a while.

The U.S. economy is already in a “sharp, short recession,” and the unemployment rate could hit 12 percent by June. Michigan’s jobless rate could reach 24 percent by then, its highest level on record, according to University of Michigan economists.   

The coronavirus outbreak will mean far fewer summer jobs this year and far more unpaid bills. Many families will have huge hospital bills to pay,  or loved ones who died or are unable to work for weeks.  So while economists and politicians debate how long the economy will be hurting, individuals need to start saving.

Here’s some advice for young people that works well for all people:

Create an emergency fund. The world is unpredictable and honestly, sometimes frightening. So even if you think you will never need it, build a fund for if things do go off track. That promised summer job or commission could evaporate in the economic downturn. Start saving money to cover your basic expenses  – mobile phone, Netflix and some food – for at least three months.  Bankrate suggests six months and offers many tips on getting there.

Set a clear goal. If you see it, say it, share it and write it down, you may believe it. Know why you’re saving money now – half could be for your emergency savings and half for something brighter and more beautiful. Decide how the extra savings will be valuable to you, whether it’s a new tablet, a huge canvas to paint or a trip to New Orleans or Nigeria, once the world is a safer place.

Do it yourself. With so many Americans sheltering at home, now seems like the perfect time to learn to manicure your  nails, wash and press your shirts or make smoothies or coffee as good as the $4.50 cuppajoe  you used to buy. Or style your hair yourself, as Laila Ali, daughter of the late legendary boxer Muhammed Ali, does. Laila Ali is a fitness and wellness entrepreneur, yet every week she skips the salon and does her hair and her daughter’s at home. “I don’t have time to drive an hour to a salon and then sit there for a couple more hours getting my hair done. It’s really not that serious or important to me,” she told Kiplinger.com in a

Learn to cut, color and style your own hair to save a lot of money. (Photo: Teymi Townsend / Unsplash)

piece on frugal habits of the rich. The piece also has money-saving advice from actress Halle Berry, Hilary Swank and others.

Cultivate frugal habits.   Start developing your thrifty mindset now, while there’s fewer temptations and no where to go. Instead of a subscription to Hulu, see if your public library has free access to movies and shows.  Skip the takeout food in favor of some pasta cooked at home. Take a three hour break before you buy anything that costs more than say $75, to see if it still seems worthwhile – and to shop around for a bargain price.  

Play money games.   Yes, you may learn a lot from Monopoly, The Game of Life or Minecraft.  Check out online games recommended by The Balance, which says and role playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons may have valuable lessons in managing money and resources.  Or create your own at home and start teaching your younger siblings some money basics.

Our next money management piece will share podcasts, blogs and other ways to learn and develop your money management skills and frugal self. 

 

 

 

 

© Vickie Elmer, 2020, for Mint Artists Guild

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Poetry, painting, portfolios: More creative activities

Paint quickly or leisurely and share a sliver of your life.  (Photo Ankhesenamun 96 / Unsplash)

We are weeks into our “stay home / stay healthy” quarantines and some of us may be going a little stir crazy.  Others may feel uninspired or bored.

Yet we need to following our governors’ mandates and stay away from friends, school, clubs and gatherings and coffee shops.  We still may partake of  parks – and plenty of creative activities at home.  For while our patience and peace of mind may be running out, our creativity will continue.

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use the more you have,” poet Maya Angelou said. 

So get started on one or two of this week’s creative ideas for challenging times:

Listen to poetry. Head to Poetry Out Loud and listen to old time and contemporary poems read by actors and poets. Maybe you will head to a park and listen to or read a poem. The site also has some amazing collections of poems, focused on spring and cityscapes.  We like the wide array and diversity of poets represented and appreciate the ease of searching for a poem. We wish there were more poems recordings but perhaps with another month of stay at home, stay safe, there will be!

Learn to be happier.   Yale University’s most popular class starts this week – and it will introduce anyone to the Science of Wellbeing. “We think we need to change our life circumstances to become happier,” Laurie Santos, a Yale psychology professor told CNN.  Yet it’s often the little things like social connections or gratitude that matter most. Sign up for free on Coursera; it will take about 19 hours to complete. 

Be a “two-minute genius.”   Artist and writer Danny Gregory‘s book Art Before Breakfast offers oodles of exercises and activities to encourage visual artists to create, sometimes while eating eggs or biscuits. We are savoring his exercises at lunch and dinnertime too, and recommend one the calls “Two-minute genius.” Divide a page in your sketch book into eight or ten or more squares. Then take two minutes “to draw anything you see in one of those squares….It’ll make you want to fill more and more squares every day,” Gregory wrote.  He wants us to document our lives, and in these times we should have plenty to sketch.

Work on your portfolio.   Start organizing your portfolio – whether you’re applying to colleges or seeking a gallery to represent you or expanding your creative website.  Make sure you get outside advice and share some stories behind the art you created. This advice comes from California College for the Arts.   And don’t stop at one; you may need a few different portfolios

Paint imperfectly.  Set up your paints and then set the timer for 55 minutes. Create something in an hour, and suspend all your judgment about it.  It could be messy and incomplete.  It could need another hour to get better.  The important thing is getting it going and knowing that it’s only a short time out of your day – but a time without boredom or worry or unhappiness.

We know these are not perfect for everyone. So for more ideas on creative projects for challenging times, check our first posts, which featured writing or drawing your pet,  depicting yourself as fruit, learning faceprinting and singing along to ’60s music.

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Knit, sew, sing: Creativity in Complicated Times, pt 3

Learn to knit or crochet during this time. Photo Imani / Unsplash

 

We all deserve a boost after being at home for anywhere from nine to 15 days.  So here’s some recipes for boosting yourself – by trying some new artsy activities or preparing yourself to land a summer job.

These activities may seem frivolous in these challenging times, but they are not.  They give you something valuable:   Joy and a sense of accomplishment. And they take your mind off the things we cannot control and put them squarely on things we can control – and create.

So let’s get creative!

Learn to knit or crochet.  Once you learn the basics, knitting can be relaxing, almost like meditation.  My friend Wendy Shepherd, executive director of Mittens For Detroit, shared two YouTube channels  – this and that one and also Tin Can Knits for getting started.  “It’s also a great opportunity for the kids to video connect with their elders who knit, to sit and knit alone together,” said Shepherd.  If you need to de-stress as you learn, read these wonderful pointers from Interweave, which develops magazines, information and events for crafters.

Sing along to the ’60s.  Yes, that will bring on The Beatles hits such as “Here Comes the Sun” and “Love Me Do.”  But also sing beautiful songs along  with Irma Thomas belting “Time Is on My Side” or Aretha Franklin singing “Do Right Woman” and The Temptations “Get Ready.”  Select a couple every day from Pitchfork’s list of 200 great ’60s songs.  Singing releases endorphins and raises our mood, strengthens our immune system – and calms the brain, researchers have found.

Create a scrap art project.   Start saving items from your recycling container and scanning the ground when you take your dog or kid brother out for a walk.  Stash egg cartons and cardboard boxes; dry orange peels or scraps of wood. Flatten old cans. Snare mostly empty paint cans from your garage. Then look for inspiration. Or look to the sun or nature for an image. If you are lucky enough to land a free creative learning supplies kit from Arts & Scraps, Mint and Brilliant Detroit, you will have plenty of materials. (These will be distributed free to Detroit families through Brilliant Detroit.)

Create or update your resume.   Download a sample resume, especially one for a young person, and use it as a guide. Or follow the excellent advice outlined in The Balance Careers post, starting by writing down all the types of work and awards. Make sure you sell yourself and state why you’ll be an excellent person to hire. You may want to enlist someone to assist you with this and remind you of some of your accomplishments. After you finish your first resume, definitely ask three adults to edit and review it and suggest improvements.  

Some people will want to take it a step further: That could look like a LinkedIn profile. Or it could mean a work program, such as Americorps that is hiring soon. If you live in Detroit and are ages 14 to 24, register with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent now to help land a job this summer, including those with Mint for creative youth.  If you live elsewhere, see if your city is running a youth employment program and connect to it.   

We are sharing some virtual activities on our Facebook page so follow us for those. And we will share some more ideas next week, including some from our creative community. So send us yours today!