Saturday, 28 September 2013

What am I doing?

Well, I’m getting a bit of work as a window cleaner...

Not exactly where I saw my career heading, but the tone of my blogs would suggest I haven’t exactly had buyers knocking my door down to purchase the metal art. The past two months have been particularly frantic and left little opportunity to develop the artwork, or do any blogging for that matter.

Seeking employment and a new place to live has been the priority. I have no funds to invest further in aspirations – so the priority now is long-term survival. Thanks to Telstra’s lousy service, I’ve spent weeks without access to Internet and email. Adding to despair, my mobile went on the blink too, so I lashed out and bought a $38 Samsung replacement. “iPhone”, you say? More like “iWish”…

We have found somewhere else to live. It’s comfortable, very kitschy, and a long way from where I saw myself being. The grand plan (in my mind anyway) was to be working and living in a purpose-built studio by now, engaging in a blend of activities – predominantly artwork, some tutoring, the odd graphics job, a bit of exercise, a bit of socialising, family, getaways – achieving an imagined potential.

I can see it, I can feel it, and I can dream it. If it is happening, it’s very slow and not all that apparent.

That’s where the vision board comes in. I have mine on my desktop. I see it every time I’m at the computer. I like looking at it. According to many successful people, the imprinting and positive reinforcement of goals into your subconscious mind is key to attaining what we would like. As such, we should stop consciously stressing about everything and let the subconscious mind take over.

So why window cleaning? I did do a spell of kitchen design, but since then this is all I’ve been able to get. So much for the vision board and my subconscious… The picture of the window cleaner is interesting I think because it looks good from a design perspective, but also because it takes pride of place in the master bedroom of our new address! This is also the same image my wife Arlene had in her bedroom when I met her almost eight years ago to this date, and the same image I had above my work desk at my previous address. Amazingly, the window-cleaner owner made the connection when he visited just before the move, and up until then I hadn’t noticed the coincidence, or even that the silhouetted image bears an uncanny resemblance to me.  

To counter this, and for aesthetic reasons also, I have put one of my artworks entitled ‘Tin Green Bottles™’ up on a wall in the new dining-room. My concern now is I will develop a taste for Heineken and end up an alcoholic. 

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Wherefore art thou, art?

Art, typically, is subject to interpretation. This question can also be. If Wherefore can mean Where is, then the question becomes Where is art? The colloquial answer is everywhere. However if Wherefore means Why – regarded by language xsperts as such – the question asked of art is Why are you art? Why is that art?

According to Wikipedia, “Commercial art is an outdated term for art created for commercial purposes, primarily advertising. Today, ‘graphic design’ and ‘advertising art’ are considered more contemporary terms.”

The picture above is that of Roy Jacobsen, the proprietor of The South Melbourne Market Grocer. If you note the signs bear a resemblance to the Tin Can-vas Series, that’s because Roy and partner Lynette liked the Tin Can-vas artworks and approached me to produce something similar as part of their plan to revitalize the stall and it’s promotions. The fact that the artwork has been designed for a commercial purpose can diminish what some would consider as true art, but tell that to the likes of Duchamp, Warhol, Koons & Co. who in their day have all had a hand in redefining what constitutes art.

To my thinking, producing something that can be appreciated beyond its intended function goes some way to define what art can be – a self-expression, an aesthetic, a form, a statement, a design that can be appreciated and considered on several levels.

The feedback for the market signs has been good. Roy and Lynette love them, and I’m pleased with the result. As the designer, I would have preferred the signs were the authentic tin and nails I use in my metal artworks, but practical and budgetary considerations of this brief necessitated prints onto Dibond (a coated aluminium material used in the signage industry). Nevertheless, perhaps years from now and after being soiled by grime and flyspecks, these signs may take on added character and have a life beyond their commercial purpose displayed in a boardroom or incorporated into an interior design, for no greater reason than it looks good in that space. And at the end of the day, that’s all the appreciation that is needed.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Is that you, Tin?

Here’s an opportunity to obtain a metal portrait by yours truly.

The ‘Tin Man’ series represents an extension of the ‘Tin Can-vas’ series, exploring similar themes utilising recycled tin cans and associated imagery.
Tin Man is a scaled-down production resulting in an artwork affordable to a broad market. The artworks are offered unframed at 382 x 382 mm priced from AUD $390 +GST or mounted within a 400 x 400 mm steel frame from AUD $450 +GST.

Ideally, the portrait will suit a subject who has part of their first name, middle name, surname or nickname that sounds like: ‘TIN’ e.g. Tim, Lin, Kim, Min, Timothy, Tindall, Kindal, Kimberley, Lynette, Wotton, Cotton, Curtin, Whitten etc. A non-tin-sounding name can also have tin portraits produced ‘by association’, incorporated under titles such as: Julie (Lover of Tin); James (Sibling of Tin); Next of Tin (Sally); Bob Jones – the tin bowler.

As a portrait, Tin Man makes a unique and personal lifetime gift, or produced as a set of different ages and compositions, an eye-catching feature in a lounge room, study, office and smaller spaces.

The aim is to one day exhibit a hundred or more of these in a single space – perhaps even in a tin shed.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Creative block

Creative Block essentially refers to being stumped for an idea. Often it relates to a person involved in a particular creative endeavour, like an artist, an advertising person, or a student in an art class for instance. So ensues the struggle with what to do: What will I paint, what will I say, how will I make a start? Time restrictions can exacerbate this situation, as does the pressure to perform and the self-doubt that grows with each passing moment. There are a variety of techniques and tips that can be useful in getting the creative process underway.

Part of the issue stems from creating for someone else, rather than one’s self — the need to produce something that can appreciated by another person. If it was just about satisfying ourselves, the process of ‘creating’ may not be so daunting. Self-confidence and belief are powerful motivators through which works can be created that allow us, and also others to benefit from.   

At times I’ve struggled with blocks, even Lego occasionally. I remember sitting at home as a youngster struggling to develop ideas for my first comic strip — it was called Supa Dropout. There were no monetary considerations here — it was purely for fun. Still, the angst to come up with quality ideas and drawings was often torturous. Over the years, the drawings and the ideas became more consistent as confidence in my own ability grew. To my lingering disappointment, my dream of becoming a cartoonist was never attained. To this day, I believe I could have been a successful daily cartoonist.

Similarly, as I evolved through a career in advertising I maintained a firm self-belief that I could consistently deliver strong, well-executed ideas on a par, if not better, than a lot of my ‘higher-profile’ counterparts.

Yes, an idea might take me a while sometimes, but I can’t recall ever thinking I couldn’t do this or that. Today, inspiration appears quickly in the form of not just one but many directions. Ironically, it is turning off the ideas-tap that can be a problem. I find concepts and inspiration occur without much effort at all and in such volume that I need to archive them as a future resource.

In this context, Creative Block isn’t really a problem for me. The block I suffer from concerns the ‘creative potential’ that is blocked. This has been an all-too-common occurrence in my personal, creative life, and a nemesis I long to leave far behind. From cartooning that eluded me as a career; from designing ads and graphics for agencies and clients that stifled creativity and satisfaction; to inventions and projects shelved for yet another day. From here derives the yearning to realise an outlet where both financial and creative fulfillment can be attained, and a future full of ambition and potential can be utilised to the max.

It is this type of creative block that afflicts my work not just in the regard to development and resource restrictions, but the ability to 'get it out there' and in front of the people that matter. It’s not what you know, but who you know; not what you can do, but what someone says you can do, that blocks progress, ambition and opportunity.

The path and direction can appear clear at some points, but at other times obstacles materialise in an instant as if to deliberately block progress and prevent the chosen path from being travelled. There’s no guide here to refer to. Interestingly, the path behind seems darks and irretrievable, so I can’t go back. There’s not much benefit standing still, so at this point I suppose it’s a case of just getting over the block and pushing forward.

Friday, 12 April 2013

What’s in a tin can?

Tinplate (tin-coated steel) basically, but sometimes they’re lined with a plastic coating. When they’re opened they can contain plenty of things… baked beans, spaghetti, coconut milk, fruit, infant formula and so on. When they’re disposed of they can contain decomposing food, mould, rotting pet food, stench.

In my time of collecting these things, I seen just about everything, but can you see me? (Look at the picture). Accumulating these things, cleaning them, remove the lids, flattening them, and then storing them for the next project requires quite some effort. In the Tin Can-vas Series up to 60 cans at a time are secured by 300 fasteners to a substrate, taking around five hours to apply. Depending on the finish desired they can be treated with acids and coatings, cured in an oven and then printed, framed and overworked with other elements.

To maintain supply I’ve tried sourcing cans from can manufacturers, recycling depots, even via letterbox drops on a cash-for-cans basis, but without any real success. Far better has been to accumulate them through personal shopping at good ol’ Coles and Chemist Warehouse. The most effective means however has been to scavenge through recycling bins in the wee hours. Probably not legal… did I say it was me? Now I remember… some strange guy called Col Lector got them for me, I think.  

I can recall a few stories. I needed some cans in a bit of a hurry so there was little option other than to drive around to the local Coles and pretty much clean out their Coles Brand spaghetti tins – my tin of choice for the job in progress. The assistant was stocking shelves at the time and gave me the WTF look. “Your family hungry?” he quipped. A trolley full of cans does look pretty weird. Once home I then had to get rid of the contents, froze some, tossed the rest, but spag doesn’t freeze too well, so in the end that was tossed too.

Collecting cans at night is a strange experience (so I’m told!!). There is the apprehension of getting sprung at anytime; of being confronted by hostiles; weariness balanced by adrenalin; satisfaction of a good haul; risk and adventure. Contact is rare, thank God. The point is not to rummage through contents of bins, but more skim off the top and move away quickly and quietly, careful not to stand in any doggie-do.

There have been times where a dog starts barking or a mass of bats suddenly takes off from a tree, which has almost converted the food cans into dunny cans.

What has been a surprise, I’ve noticed, is the inappropriate use of the recycling bins. Too many people regard the recycling bin as just another rubbish bin. If I give up producing art, maybe I could find a job as a rubbish bin inspector…

Then there’s my 3-year-old son, Royce, who enquired about the tin-can patchwork I was working on.
“How did you make that?” he asked.
I provided a detailed answer; “First I have a piece of wood, then I flatten some cans and nail them on…”
“How did you make that?” he asked again.
This time I provided a simple answer... “With wood and metal and hammer and nails... Do you like it?”
“Do you want it?”
“What are you going to do with it?”
“Play cars on it!”

Friday, 29 March 2013

From eternity to here.

The publishing of marks the point at which proper promotion of the artworks produced thus far can finally proceed. I can now direct all visitors and enquiries to this site and over time, build interest, sales and realise some long-held goals and aspirations.

Like the ‘best laid plans of mice and men’, often things just don’t work out as one would have hoped. Frustrations, resistance, and no doubt some excuses thrown in, have delayed this moment by many years.

I had tired of graphic design as a full-time occupation and recall thinking over a decade ago I couldn’t see myself doing that beyond 40... It’s been a struggle – an ongoing one – and, at the end of the day your dreams are but yours alone. That said, the struggle has also been that of my wife Arlene of six years, sharing in a life of limbo. “Sorry, Babe, I’ll make it up to you one day!”

The artworks have been produced for some months now, essentially for an exhibition held in November 2012. Beware the gallery owner claiming contacts and databases! The entire exhibition experience was a joke at my expense – bugger-all promotion, attendance and opportunity. More about that one day...

At this point I’d like to thank Shaun Gardener for the Take Notice soundtrack, Scott Creswick for the YouTube video and Tim Turner for the photo reproductions of the artworks. I recommend all as capable and reliable suppliers in their fields. 

I consider myself an ideas person. I have an archive of concepts I now want to turn into reality. The artworks shown represent concepts that I considered the most appropriate entry point in an introductory and commercial sense. Other more complex productions have been held over for now, but over time I would like to think I could pursue these and also venture into other mediums such as furniture and jewellery. To assist in the development of future works and enterprises I am always interested in building contacts be it with suppliers with necessary expertise and of course possible networks for generating sales and so forth. As such, I wish to build a database of my own – of reliable, talented people I can call on and engage in forthcoming projects and ventures. 

The nature of art & design produced by Take Notice Designs will likely comprise a variety of limited-edition projects over time. That said, I aspire to one day produce large-scale public artworks working with substantial budgets. Short to medium term assistance is likely to be sought from specialists in hi-end water-jet and laser cutting, CNC wire & steel bending, coatings, bonding, pressing/rolling, artist representation, art delivery, grant writing, interior design, architecture, creative & comedy writing, photo retouching, photography, flatbed and newspaper/magazine printing, illustration and so forth.

The prospect of engaging family members to assist with the artworks is a remote possibility. For the time being, operations are on a small scale. My daughter Olivia is currently undertaking a course at one of Melbourne’s design schools, but the vibe is she wants to do her own thing – there’d probably be a clash of wills anyway! If all goes well, perhaps Arlene can become the public face (more attractive than mine) of much of what is produced at Take Notice Designs. My 6yo son Clyde says he wants to help with the artwork, so I may have to wait a while before that happens. In the meantime I’d like to focus on producing more artworks, however this ambition is predicated on sales of the artworks that have already been produced. One day at a time. Let’s see how I go.