I have friends that are amazing artists. I mean, amazing. They sing, perform, write. They’re all just amazing. I’ve become a stitch in that thread called artist and together with my amazing friends we’re sewing a pattern across a blank canvas, maybe a piece of standard muslin. Either way, that pattern will one day mark our place on the map of life. Maybe years down the road, the next generation will come across this pattern, learn more and think, “wow, they were on to something,” or “wow, this is some really cool stuff they did.” What I do know now is that this pattern is taking shape and it’s lovely. However, until the real shape presents itself, we as artists have to help each other out and so I’ve committed to doing that.
I haven’t written a post in a couple of days because I’ve been thinking about what to share, but I realized that what I want to share is a muse of mine. A lot of my creations come about from the history of people. Better yet, they come about because of what I know about a person. I can meet someone and gauge how I should approach them and that is something that I take with me to the design process. As a matter of fact, I take it with me even during the preliminary stages such as when shopping for paper. I always visualize the person I’m working with , what we’ve discussed and how I want to present it. Because of this, every process is a bit slow, but the feedback I’ve gotten has been great. I’ve had quite a few happy clients and that, at the end of the day is what matters.
When I’m not working on a specific client piece, I am working on projects that I can sell regularly, individually, wholesale. They’re a bit more representational of me as an artist-reflecting my mood, my thoughts, my unique creativeness, but they also represent a person, a friend, an artist that has inspired me. One of my first and continued muse is the band These United States. They are a great band. It helps that I can call the lead singer a friend, too. Mostly because I can email him directly and ask for permissions and rights without having to jump through legal hoops, but also because they, as artists, are aware of the process and therefore do not restrict me or my art.
The band, These United States, came to my attention from a wonderful friend in DC. She was dating the lead singer and as their band took off, I started going to concerts here in NY to support them-usually, it was when my friend also accompanied the band, so that I could see both of them. As time went on and my friend stopped accompanying them to the shows, I started going on my own. With each show, I listened and learned and loved their songs. Mr. Jesse Elliott, the lead singer and the lyricist has got a talent rare in these days of over processed pop music. The band has a style that I’m horrible at describing, but incorporates a mashing of bluegrass, pop, rock, blues, folk and some country. In the end, I love them, their sound, their song, their rhythm and most importantly their passion.
Through all of that, they’ve become one of my greatest influences in my work. It started last year in 2009. I trained to run the Rome marathon and fundraised through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Societies (wonderful, really)Team in Training program. As is customary, I decided to make my own marathon thank you notes. I was unknowingly at the beginning of what I would discover was life purpose. I had gone to several stationery stores looking for something inexpensive, but representative of what I was doing – training to run another marathon, in a gorgeous country, and asking people to help raise money for cancer. It had to capture the right feel and so I got to designing. Using a card stock that had a rougher texture to it and printing and rubber stamping to create an embossed texture, I created a simple designed card with one of my favorite quotes by the band, “If the thing that drives you onward is your heart, you must not let that engine die.” You can see a picture of the piece on my Etsy page. (Although I just realized, I need to take better pictures!)
I, naturally, asked permission of Jesse and the band and they gave it immediately. It was for charity and I’m pretty sure that it got them some good exposure, which they graciously accepted as payment.
Then earlier this year, I decided to do another marathon and I went back to Mr. Elliott for permission to use the title of a song that had just been released, “Everything Touches Everything.” He gave me permission, but requested that I quote the real originator of the quote, Mr. Jorge Borges. So I did. The card was a simple postcard with a stamped and glittered Eiffel Tower. Here it is on my Etsy page.
It was really after this album, “Everything Touches Everything” and a few concerts that I contacted Jesse and asked if I could take a couple of song lyrics and develop them into cards. He gave permission, again, because he’s so swell, and an agreement. I can use his lyrics on my cards as I see fit. I send him pdfs as I go along and then a few copies for his archives and that’s that. Our fee agreement is quite fair, too. And so we’ve got a good thing going. A collection of the cards designed are for sale on Etsy and a new batch are in the process of being designed.
My point in writing this whole long post is that when we are inspired, we should share the wealth. We should give recognition and respect to those that bring out the best of us. I can not thank those that I use as muses enough for their constant support, encouragement and inspiration. What I’ve learned from working with Jesse and the great band is that when two people respect each other as artists and collaborators great things happen. I encourage you to find your inspiration and muse and thank them as many times as you can, maybe even give them some monetary support because we all need a bit of cash to help us get through life, but never forget to credit and thank them. That simple act will help you in ways you may not have imagined possible.
Now go check out These United States. They’re so freaking good! They may even inspire you.