ART BY TECHNIQUE: digital collage

BUYING ART. A SIMPLE GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED

Buying art a simple guide for the perplexed liza cowan how to buy art

 

Cross posted from my blog at smallequal.com

I love when people say “I don’t know much about art, but I know what I like.” That’s all you need to know. Sure, the more you know about art history, art theory etc. the deeper your appreciation will be, but when you are buying art for your own home, your number one priority is to buy something that you like, something that makes you happy, something that pleases you. 

 

I ran an art gallery for five years, and the worst customer was the art snob. The best customer was the one who stopped in front of a piece of art, caught their breath, and said, “I love this!”  If your heart leaps when you see something, that’s your cue.

 

Other than that…here are some things to consider.

 

Size

You can approach this as finding a piece of work to fit into a particular space. Empty wall above the couch? You can fill it with one large statement piece, or lots of smaller pieces grouped together. Your choice. It’s usually not a good idea to have just one or two small pieces randomly placed in a large space. Each piece should be placed with purpose. This is true of everything you put into your house.

 

Color

Don’t know where to start? You can buy art to match your curtains or fabric on your chair, as long as you love those colors.  I think this is a great idea, but don’t tell art snobs you did this unless you are prepared for a look of condescension. If you don’t love the colors, don’t buy anything else that uses them. Please.

 

I remember decades ago I had a bedspread that I adored. It made me so happy to look at it. When i decided to paint the walls of my bedroom, I matched the predominant color in the spread. It was a deep, deep blue. I never would have thought to color my walls such a deep color but I was ready to experiment and it was wonderful. The people who make fabrics are generally very knowledgeable, and it’s fine to follow their lead.

 

You probably know which colors resonate for you. If not, spend some time looking a the colors in nature, in photos, on fabric, on pinterest, on your clothing, in magazines, and take note of how you are responding. If you feel happy when you look at those colors, those are the ones to go for. If you want to go the extra mile, make a color board. I like to use pinterest, but you could tear out photos in magazines and keep them in a file. See if you keep liking them.

 

Subject matter

Some people love horses. Others love rusty old boats. Some people love to look at pictures of children, or of grandpas. You might love seascapes, or you might love old portraits. Maybe you love old woodcuts, or brand new shiny abstracts. When you are starting an art collection, you might think about collecting based on themes. You probably won’t stick to one theme, but it’s a place to start. You could have several vintage nursery rhyme prints all framed the same and hung in a group for a wonderful and inspiring wall.

Think of collecting art as a treasure hunt, and always be on the lookout for images of poodles, or boats, or rocket ships. You’ll have fun, and probably end up with a fantastic collection that not only resonates for you, but is also engaging for others to look at.

 

Artist

There may be one or two artists whose work you love. Even very famous and pricey artists usually are reproduced on posters, or open edition prints. Newer artists work is often affordable. If you love an artist, think about collecting their work. Go to local art fairs and craft shows. Go to open studios and art walks. Talk to the artists. You could think about buying one piece a year, for instance. There was one local artist whose work I liked a lot. She made very small paintings of chickens. I thought they were charming. I visited her studio every year during a regional art tour and bought one or two paintings per year. They were only about $25 apiece, but after four years, I had a nice little collection.

 

Genre

I had an obsession for paint-by-number paintings for a while. Yes, it was for an exhibition at my gallery, and I bought about 75 paintings over a five  month period on ebay. That was so much fun. And it was the most popular show I ever ran. It practically sold out. But if you love a particular type of work, go for it with gusto. You don’t have to by 75 paintings. You probably shouldn’t unless you plan to sell them. But if you love black and white photos from the 1940’s, go for it. Or you love engravings of flowers. Or children’s book illustrations. Or you love collage, or manhole cover rubbings. Maybe you think kids art is amazing - I know I do! Or paintings on velvet, if that’s your thing. You like pencil drawings, or, well, you get the picture. Think genre.

 

Price

You know your own price range. Generally art is not cheap, but it doesn’t have to be super expensive to be good. Original, unique pieces will probably be more expensive. Hand made prints, like silkscreens, lithographs, woodcut prints, monoprints, etc can be more expensive, but not necessarily. Some artists like making their work very accessible, which often means affordable. Others do not. It takes a lot of time, practice, and labor to make art. Artists often spend decades learning their craft, and should be paid well, but it’s up to you, the buyer, to be mindful of your own budget.

 

That’s it.

LOVE. Buy what you love! If your heart leaps, that’s the cue.

And keep these things in mind:

  1. SIZE
  2. COLOR
  3. SUBJECT
  4. ARTIST
  5. GENRE
  6. PRICE

 

Let me know what you think.

 

PS: Be sure to check out all the art I have for sale at smallequls.com  my shop. 

 

PPS: sign up for my mailing list. You may get a fun email someday.


NEW PRODUCT - CUPS FROM SMALLEQUALS.COM

In the ten years I've been doing this blog, you've seen me introduce a host of new products. Some sold well. Others didn't. Running a business is always a process. Or, as the trendies say now, a "journey."

Now I'm introducing mugs. I found a wonderful printer in the US that manufactures and drop ships. That's great for me, because the last thing I want is shelves full of inventory and trips to the post office. That was fine when I was younger, but now...no thanks. But with all the advances in print technologies and online servicing, it's now relatively easy to do make a great product AND have it delivered to the customer's home in a pretty package, safe and sound. 

Phew! Here's where to shop

 

 

cup, when women rule everyone will be free, 11 oz mug from small equals
When Women rule, everyone will be free. 11 oz mug from Small Equals


 

When Women rule, everyone will be free. This is a variation on a print I designed, first as a silkscreen and then as a digital collage. Now available in mug form. The girls are a highly altered version of a mid 20th century matchbox label. I just adore them, and use them over and over.

 

Mug, Lead your own parade, smallequals.com
Lead Your Own Parade. 11 oz mug from Smallequals.com
 

 

Lead Your Own Parade. This little saying popped into my mind a couple of weeks ago, I thought it would be a cheerful idea to ponder with morning coffee or tea. I went on an image hunt,  I found this illustration at a library digital collection, from a 1902 children's book illustrated by Maud Hunt Squire and Ethel Mars. It suited perfectly. 

Children of our town  carolyn wells  illustrations by E. Mars and MH Squire 1902  copy
The Children Of Our Town. Carolyn Wells. Illustrations by E. Mars and MH Squire. 1902

 

I went ahead and cleaned it up in Photoshop, designed the template for the cup manufacturer, and then set about researching the artists. I found Ethel Mars and Maud Hunt Squire.

Lo and behold the Misses Squire and Mars were American artists who met in art school in Ohio in the 1890's, then moved to Paris where they became pals with Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas, and of course they worked and exhibited with many of the artists there. 

During world war one they moved back to the US and lived in Provincetown, MA, then back to France, where they lived in Vence. During Ww2 they hid out in Grenoble, then went back to France until they died in 1955 and 1956. 

The Gertrude Stein's word portrait "Miss Furr and Miss Skeene was based on them. .

And now they've landed on my cup. I'm delighted but no longer shocked by these everyday moments of serendipity. 

 

Mug LOVE YOUR MOTHER EARTH SMALL EQUALS CUP MOCKUP
Love Your Mother Earth. 11 oz mug from smallequals.com

 

Love Your Mother Earth. Yes, I use this phrase often in my art and products. Because it's so important! This design is based on another print I made as a silkscreen. The silkscreen design was based on a photo I took of a package of Easter Jelly Beans. I'm not a Christian, but Easter packaging always makes me happy. The colors!! 

This digital version, quite different from the original, is now gracing a mug. My goal is to give you something happy and positive to absorb with your hot beverage of choice. I think it's so important to start the day with happy thoughts to set the tone for the rest of the day. 

Here's what it looked like as a silkscreen. I made this and all my silkscreens at Iskra Print Collective in Burlington, VT.

 

silkscreen, liza cowan, jelly beans
Jelly Beans silkscreen by Liza Cowan 2017 


 Find the cups here


Pinback buttons by Liza Cowan for Small Equals

A bird in the hand redbird articulated hand wooden hand smallequals.com
Red Bird button. Small Equals. ©Liza Cowan

I have always believed that beautiful things need not be expensive. In fact, I prefer the things I make to be available for not that much money. Sure, sometimes I've put a large price tag on some of my work that is one-of-a-kind like the paintings in my FAKE!™ series. But for the most part, I prefer to make things affordable. 

My new buttons, a series of 12, is pretty cool. I like adornment, a lot, so these buttons are purely decorative. And, following my FAKE!™ aesthetic, some are made to fool the eye. They are not REALLY set into a silver bezel, they just look that way. 

Parrot on crackled green on circle with silver bezel ©Liza Cowan, smallequals.com
Parrot button in silver bezel ,small equals, liza cowan design

 

The watches don't REALLY tell time. They just look like they do. 

WATCH, button,  ritzi SMALLEQUALS.COM
Watch, Ritzi. ©LIza Cowan, small equals

 

I've also remade an old favorite of mine, one I published first in the mid 1980's. American Sign Language, "I love you." 

American Sign Language button pinback button sign "I love You" from Smallequals.com
American Sign Language "I love you" ©Liza Cowan, Small Equals.

You can see the whole series in the sidebar ad right here on the blog. The link takes you to my online store  where you can buy retail OR wholesale. 

But if you prefer shopping at Etsy, I have a shop there, too.  I also sell vintage ephemera from my Etsy shop. 

 


Digital collage, the "Maybe" series of time- traveling ladies.

Liza Cowan digital collage, vintage Kodak ad, greenhouse photo by Liza Cowan at Horsford Nursury Vermont, time travel

I've been busy making digital collages, mostly using a combination of my own photographs and images from vintage Kodak ads, vintage sewing pattern packets, and old ads or images of 19th century ladies in swimming costumes and bicycles. Finding the images is just the first step. 

I separate the people from the background using Photoshop, which can be tedious, but once I have them done, I save them as PNG files and they are ready to go for the next collage. For the Greenhouse picture I  ran my original photo through the Waterlogue app on my iPhone. I do most of my actual design and composing using PicMonkey because it's much easier than Photoshop for this kind of work. For me, anyway. 

how to make digital collage with photoshop, original photos and waterlogue app

Some more examples. 

digital collage by Liza Cowan. Maybe they visited with girl taking photo of cat. vintage kodak ad. Photo by Liza Cowan

Digital collage by Liza cowan. Maybe they liked to play by the shore. 19th century ladies bathing suits, bathing costumes, photo by Liza Cowan at Shelburne Bay, Vermont

Digital composition by Liza Cowan. Alice Austen, Clear Comfort, Staten Island, vintage ladies bathing suits, bathing costumes

Digital collage. Mabye they took pictures in the garden. Liza Cowan photo. Vintage Kodak ads, pug, seagull

Liza Cowandigital collage. garden party. vintage sewing pattern. 1940's ladies slacks.
digital collage by Liza Cowan. Maybe they biked over for a visit. Photo by Liza Cowan, vintage ladies on bicycles, 19th century bicycles