The Craft Factor - Marketing in Cyberspace

Vol 20, No 2 Summer/Fall 1995

In the mid 90s, Karen Schoonover addressed issues around artists using the Internet - still a very new thing in most households, workplaces and schools at the time - to market them self. The internet was - and still is - a low-cost option for artists to use for self promotion, and as an inherently visual medium, offered much potential to boost awareness about an artist and their work.

Excerpt from "Marketing in Cyberspace"
If you need to be reminded: What radio did was bring music into people's homes for free, giving them a sample of what the musician had to offer, and encouraging album sales. The hope was that artists could offer sample images of their work online, and this exposure would lead to sales.

Unlike the music industry however, sales in art and craft aren't charted via tools like Billboards Top 20 (which is based on hard figures from album sales). So the direct connection between online exposure and eventual sales can't be measured.

But if you consider how often a potential customer or gallery owner asks you if they can view images of your work online, then you can begin to understand just how close to the mark Karen was almost 20 years ago.

Read the complete article ...

Artist Profile: Kate MacDowell, United States

 Submitted by: Maia Stark, Gallery Assistant

Kate MacDowell did not initially plan her life around being a craftsperson and artist. MacDowell began a career teaching in urban high schools, then created websites in a high tech corporate environment, and then, somewhat contrarily, went to India and volunteered at a rural meditation retreat— it was only when she returned to the United States in 2004 that she began to study ceramics, and only then as something to occupy herself until her “next step.” However, MacDowell quickly became engaged with the medium of clay (Wolfe, Interview with Kate MacDowell) and is now a recognized and established ceramicist and artist.

Canary, hand built porcelain, compact fluorescent lights, wiring, 2008

MacDowell has always had a fascination with nature and the human relationship to the natural world. She often draws and sculpts from scientific illustrations and photographs, always hand-sculpting her porcelain sculptures and only recently using molds to make a collection of similar works meant to be shown together. Her process is labor intensive: she often strays from her original design, changing the sculpture half way through and pushing her technique further with more detail and increasingly delicate parts (Wolfe, Interview with Kate MacDowell). 

The Craft Factor - Mel Bolen

Vol 26 No 2 Winter 2002

Currently at Affinity Gallery is Two Perspectives, an exhibition of work by ceramic artist Mel Bolen and painter Karen Holden. The exhibition is unique juxtaposition of sculpture and painting and an exploration of surface and texture in nature.

These are concepts Mel Bolen has been exploring for most of his craft career, which spans over 40 years. In 2002, artist Grant McConnell reviewed an exhibition by Bolen, "Salt of the Earth" at Darrell Bell Gallery. The review was accompanied by a first hand account of Bolen's process in creating his sculptural masterpieces.

Read the complete articles ...

Artist Profile - Laura Steadman

Submitted by: Sydney Luther, Gallery Assistant

Laura Steadman has been creating art for as long as she can remember. She says when she was young, she used to design and sew teddy bears. For now, she has decided to focus on jewellery making as her main artistic outlet. Laura’s jewellery company is called EllJay Design, and she designs and creates all of her jewellery pieces by hand.
Works in progress in Laura's studio
Laura, who was born and raised in Regina, works out of her home studio. She hand creates metal earrings, rings, and pendants, with which she often incorporates her handmade lampwork glass beads. She calls silver her first love, but also works with copper and titanium and hopes to move onto using gold in her jewelery soon. Although she focuses on jewellery, Laura also does crochet, Hardanger embroidery, cross stitch, petit point, and origami, to name a few. 

Getting Things Done

Submitted by: Amanda Bosiak, Member Services

I'm a huge Joss Whedon fan: he's the creative genius behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog and more recently, The Avengers movie. He also works on comic books, writes musicals and oh yeah, he scripted the first Toy Story movie. Joss Whedon is one busy guy and has been for a very long time. One of the reasons I admire him is because he seems to get so much high quality stuff done! I am always in awe of that type of person; How? How do they do it?

Recently, Whedon was asked that very question in an article for Co.Create and he admitted that it isn't easy (and that he's burnt himself out a time or two). One of the things he found useful, both for time management and remaining relatively stress-free, was a book by David Allen called "Getting Things Done". Well, if it was good enough for Joss Whedon, I figured it was worth the read.

Confession: It took me over a month to get the book done. This isn't because it's a difficult read, nor is it particularly long. I just happen to have an incredible aptitude for procrastination. I definitely needed this book.

The Craft Factor - Winning and Losing

Vol 20, No 2 Summer/Fall 1995

Paula Gustafson tackled an issue artists of many mediums (not just craft) face over the course of their career: Am I an artist, or a producer? Does it have to be one or the other? Can I be both? Gustafson explores this issue with thoughtfulness and some very good examples of life on both sides of the craft (and art) career spectrum. Much of the article takes direction from the experiences of potter Robin Hopper, and glass artist Robert Held. Both agreed that to some extent, their experiences with production work led to a better understanding of their craft, and contributed to their skill building process.

So maybe it doesn't have to be one or the other, if the artist allows each aspect of their practice to enhance the other.

Read the full article

Pilgrimage to Auvers

Submitted by: Cindy Hoppe, Fibre Artist

Last spring a group of women, mostly from central Saskatchewan, took a trip down the Impressionist Art Trail in France, courtesy of Corinne Thompson and Natasha Radchenko of VM Travel Adventures, and Liza Gareau Tosh of Routes Gallery in Harris. I was on the Routes Gallery email list, and had idly considered this trip when they were advertising it in the fall of 2011, but had too much on my plate. When the itinerary came out in February last year, I knew this was the trip I had been saving money for and convinced my sister she needed to go too.

We spent our first couple of days in Nice touring Cezanne’s studio and Renoir’s haunts, then six days in a country house in Provence, from which we traveled to every mental hospital Van Gogh had spent time in, Monet’s garden at Giverny, medieval towns on the top of limestone hills and the red cliffs of Roussillon, a trip to the sea shore, two market days and the ancient city of Avignon. After being immersed in the Impressionists’ milieu for 10 days, we ended in Paris and saw the paintings inspired by the country. The Church at Auvers by Van Gogh in the Musee d’ Orsay made a huge impression on me. 

The Church in Auvers-sur-Oise, View from the Chevet, Vincent Vah Gogh, 1890
Fun Fact: The Musee d'Orsay acquired the painting in 1951 with the participation of Paul Gachet (son of Van Gogh's doctor) and the aid from an anonymous Canadian donation

Book Review - bespoke by E. Ashley Rooney

Submitted by: Vivian Orr, Communications and Publications

bespoke” Furniture From 101 International Artist by E. Ashley Rooney

Merriam-Webster definition of BESPOKE

1 a : custom-made <a bespoke suit>

2 b : dealing in or producing custom-made articles

Such a simple word for a complex relationship built on trust between client and artist/designer/maker, which can result in stunning and deeply satisfying pieces.

This large format, 200 page book features artists from across the United States and a chapter on international artists including two Canadians.

I freely admit I love Asian furniture. Asian furniture with a contemporary twist makes me even happier.

I want to meet Yoko Zeltserman-Miyaji. Born in Osaka, with an MA from Kyoto City University of Art, she moved to America in 2004. Her whimsical and elegant “Butsudan I ro ha” is part of a series melding Butsudan, roadside shrines, and anime! The words I would use to describe the piece are graceful, playful, colourful and elegant.

American furniture maker John Reed Fox mentions a quote from Soetsu Yanagi which has been his guide for over three decades of making:

Beyond all question of old or new, the human hand is ever-present tool of human feeling … Young people nowadays judge according to whether a piece is new or old, but more important is whether it is true or false.

I adore his “Tall Tansu Dresser”. I feel it represents his melding of East and West, his striving for truth in his art and his passion for his work.

The “Brushstrokes Table” by Ken and Julie Girardini is a one-of-a-kind console table with a steel base consisting of “brushstrokes” of steel grasses rising from a “lake”. It interprets the simplicity of a Chinese ink brush painting, capturing the movement of grasses in metal.

I don’t want to mislead you, this book has much more to offer beyond Asian influenced furniture.

Peter Handler has two pieces that will make you smile. His “Caruso Chair” and “Casablanca Chaise” look like they will start frolicking around the room on their cute tapered legs. They have this feeling of “animation” rather like the yellow taxi cab in Who Killed Roger Rabbit. The pieces look that lively.

Then there is the beautifully graphic “Artichoke Table” a collaboration between maker David Rasmussen and artist Scott Harris. You feel like taking a giant spoon to the centre of it.

Jane Hall and Peter Wehrspann are both from Toronto. Jane’s forte is colour, texture and pattern. Peter’s time in Japan, Switzerland and Denmark give his aesthetic a light, spare, linear feel.

Lots of colour photographs, short but in-depth statements from each artist, and a wide range of styles and mediums make “bespoke” a fun read and a great piece of eye candy.

Available through the Saskatoon Public Library, Fine Arts Collection.

Published by Schiffer Publishing Ltd. in 2012.

ISBN: 978-0-7643-4226-4