2014 Photoworks-in-Review

2014 was a very good year for me.  It was the second year of not having a day job, and many of the bugs that occurred in 2013- like not having enough workshops scheduled, or having months with no work and no art sales at all- were more or less taken care of.

Photography-wise:

I did around 25 model shoots, same as the previous year, and most of them were piled into particular trips.

Two weeks were spent in my wife’s home country of Macedonia, where I was able to actually do the immersive cultural-type photography when one has money to travel and can speak the language.

I’ve been fortunate to be exhibiting as a solo arist or with just one other photographer rather than buried deep in group shows.  Photos were exhibited at the Tempe Library for 4 months, a downtown Phoenix gallery Capture 12 and currently at the Arizona Opera.

Stylistically I did a ton of mixed media photography, particularly the xerox transfer style which evolved into a series called “Sketches.”

Virtually all of my gear has been replaced and upgraded- from the Fuji X-E1 I bought last December to the Fuji X-T1, to a set of portable monolights and lots of grip gear for video, portable LED lights and a Macbook Pro.

I’ve even been able to get some of my older photo work properly printed and exhibited for the first time- in particular, my Western Zen series taken at Japanese and Chinese gardens around 2008.

Video also became a huge part of my output.  I’d been hampered by my war horse Nikon D700 having no video function, but the Fujis sorted me out and I made dozens of music videos, tutorials, and video art pieces which have been littering my youtube and vimeo channels.

I did attend my first creative conventions as an exhibitor in Kansas City and Phoenix, though those weren’t particularly successful, I feel like it’s part of the growing process and I’m proud to have done those things.

and in other creative avenues…

For once I released an Artificial Human album through Amazon and iTunes, which turns out to be surprisingly easy. (AH is my electronic music project that I’ve plowed away at for 15 years).  Many of those songs were the basis for the music videos which I’ve been filming.

I made something in the neighborhood of 100 ceramic masks.

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New Futurama Sculptural Masks on Etsy

If my Etsy stats (and sales) have taught me anything, it’s that people adore Futurama.  Luckily for me, they adore it enough to buy primitive mask stylings I do of the characters.  These guys were recent additions to my Etsy shop.

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A lot of the business advice to indie creators is “know your audience,” and the Simpsons/ Futurama/ Matt Groening audience I know very well, since my house is littered with those products.  I have figures, a wind-up tin Bender, a painting of Zoidberg in Australian Aboriginal art style, large tin wall advertisements, etc.   oct 2014 pt 3_103 oct 2014 _101

New Simpsons/ Futurama Masks

I frequently make masks inspired by the Simpsons and Futurama.  At their respective peaks they are my favorite shows and have probably shaped my brain more than anything else- more than Star Wars, Star Trek, the Muppets, the Beatles, any other slice of pop culture you could name.  It’s a joy to do these masks even if they come out as very primitive renditions of the characters.  Too bad one can’t make a whole art career doing Zoidbergs!  These and other sculptural masks are available on my Etsy.

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Review: National Gallery of Macedonia

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Simon Semov – Child Sitting In The Apple Garden 1980

There are rare artistic institutions where I just like everything that is within the walls.  The Anderson Contemporary Arts Museum in Roswell, NM, leaps to mind, as well as the Mesa Arts Center where I also happen to teach classes.  These institutions are examples where quality meets craft minus the pretension.  This May I was fortunate enough to find another museum that inspired me with its collection:  the National Gallery of Macedonia.

Founded in 1948, it’s located in a downtown Skopje building that used to be a Turkish Bathhouse dating to the 15th century.  It’s also the first museum I’ve been in where the attendant tells us he’s locking us in so he can run and get a sandwich.  Ah, Macedonia.

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Aleksander Ivanoski-Karadare – Lottery Ticket Seller 1981

For more photoworks goodness peruse my Etsy shop,  become a patron at Patreon, follow on tumblr and twitter and instagram, and rummage around on my full site

New Ceramic Masks

2013 was a revival of making ceramic masks for me, and in 2014 I’ve been able to get a better workflow of creating around 30-40 masks in a 2 month period and getting them glazed/ fired/ photographed in the 3rd month.  This batch was a pretty even split between Nobodies (weirdos I make up in my head), Pop Culture characters, cultural guys that reference things like Noh Masks and mythology, and animal faces that give alternatives to hanging innocent dead creatures in your house.  I had quite a few requests too, and I can’t make a batch of masks without Futurama or Simpsons guys showing up.  Here’s 18 of the latest characters, most of which are available on my Etsy and Ebay.  2014-07-08 16.25.55 2014-07-07 20.27.57

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live Roundup

2014-05-09 15.03.40Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, a fantasy-themed arts convention, was held in Kansas City last weekend and I was there at my table on Friday and Saturday.  I’d decided pretty late that I wanted to bring sculpture along with photography, and that the only way to do that was to drive from Phoenix… a 22 hour drive through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas into Missouri.  Somewhere in my head I figured the gas would be equivalent to renting a car and hotel rooms in downtown KC.  Silly me!

The highlights:

meeting some of the guys from Sidebar, one of my favorite podcasts

my first “life drawing” experience with nude models (keep in mind I’ve photographed nudes 100 times, yet I’ve never had a life drawing experience)

attending Frank Cho’s live drawing Q+A.  I like Frank as an artist.  He has strong opinions about Modern Art (“it’s all a scam, it’s crap”) that I think are ill-informed but he has his reasons and prejudices I guess.

meeting a lot of artists from other parts of the country, and seeing some truly stunning sculpture done live.

watching the film “Making It” which premiered at SFAL, which I enjoyed for its collection of honest interviews.

As for some general observations:

The filmmakers chronicled a year in the lives of 3 of their artist friends.  After the film, a female audience member questioned the film panel on it’s lack of diversity, and one artist involved claimed it would have cost “twice as much” to include more female creators.  The actual filmmakers backpedaled this and eventually got to the point where they said “these are guys we know and have access to,” but it was a weird moment that female creators at the table next to me were talking about that next morning.

I don’t attend that many shows but I’m aware of the ongoing back-and-forth about the presentation of women in fantasy art and comics, lack of diversity among creators, and between Frank Cho (who says he’s a “real pervert” and draws “pornography” in reference to his high T+A quotient) and the “Making It” kerfuffle, the problems are definitely real.  There are a lot of guys who perceive geek culture as their boys club- maybe they never could relate to women, or were very introverted and scared around them, so their experience is limited to fantasy representations.  People who can’t have positive intimate relationships get weird ideas of how the world works, they develop weird and negative attitudes.

Overall, SFAL was a chance to introduce my work to a crowd very far from home.  With the show in the rear-
view mirror, I’m turning the “show” trip into a “photo” trip in New Mexico and Arizona to justify the cost of gas.

Immortalizing Mr. Burns

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Mr. Burns in ceramic mask form.

Since I didn’t do very well at the January comicon with my pop culture masks, I’ve been doing less interpretations of characters and more of my own original ideas.  To put it in perspective, between September 2013 to January 2014 I made around 35 of 40 masks as characters from movies/ tv shows/ comics, with 5 of those being “Nobodies” or rather people I made up in my head.  From February 2014 to March 2014 I made around 35 Nobodies to 5 pop culture characters.  They both sell in equal amounts on Etsy and at art tables, but there’s no problem with an existing license if I want to have the Nobodies in a magazine or wherever.

However, some fictional characters rattle around in my head and I really enjoy drawing them, being inspired by their personalities.  One such character is Charles Montgomery Burns from the Simpsons.  He’s every evil, republican, stuck in the past, self-centered, yet weak and impotent.  Harry Shearer’s thin, nasally voice- with a hint of snooty east coast education- couldn’t be more perfect.  Drawing Burns always starts with the long nose and enormous nostrils, followed by the perpetual glower and the magnificent Groening overbite.

I recently made a mask of Burns (for sale on Etsy) and use him whenever I need to do a drawing demo for classes.  He’s definitely a fun character to play with and think about.

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Mr. Burns as a charcoal demo.