Rachel Rushing

I’ve been thinking a lot about value lately- in the artistic and intrinsic senses.

On the drive to work (and as much as possible while at work) I really like listening to NPR. I finally found a news outlet that’s enjoyable to listen to! Anyhow, I really enjoyed this interview on the Diane Rehm Show with Eduardo Porter about his book “The Price of Everything” (listen here). He talks about different types of value and a little about the psychology of our relationship to what we buy.

I have really fallen for Public School based in Austin, TX. They’re a top 5 in my Google Reader and I love this video they shared of Massimo Vignelli. Beauty doesn’t necessarily equate to value, especially not in relation to people (beauty is subjective anyway). However I would go so far as to say that beauty in design and art does correlate somehow. Finding where the two come together is the real challenge.

Amazon’s Universal Wish List has become a new favorite tool of mine. Right now I have about 40 books in the queue, including The Elements of Photography: Understanding and Creating Sophisticated Images. I love what the review says about ‘visual literacy’.

The idea of visual literacy–photographers needing both technical and conceptual skills, being informed about their subject matter through interdisciplinary research, and using all of the tools available to make work–that is a distinctive driving concern for all of us engaged in this education.
–Dennie Eagleson Associate Professor of Photography, Antioch College.

An artist’s ability to utilize beauty greatly influences, at the very least, the patron’s perceived value of any work. This gets into sticky territory deliberating between decorative art and intellectual/conceptual art, but either way, beauty is a tool every artist should be aware of.

Sunday morning I watched Art & Copy, a documentary on the advertising industry. I took two main points from the film, and I think they’re worth sharing. Firstly, I love what Liz Dolan, former head of marketing at NIKE, had to say about quality:  “I understand why people trash advertising, because a lot of advertising is trashy. People aren’t really aspiring to do something creative or illuminating or inspiring. They’re aiming low.” If I apply this thought process to art, I understand why fine art is intimidating and why almost any creative endeavor is usually met with at least doubt, if not contempt or ,even worse, apathy.  There is a lot of bad art out there. Of course ‘bad’ is a subjective term, but speaking generically, art that is insulting or intimidating to the average member of society is so because it is presented poorly.  Artists MUST police themselves; they must be able to take criticism and be able to criticize themselves to keep bad ideas off the streets.

Advertising (and I would argue art, as well) is an industry built on negativity and censorship. Hopefully, in any firm, it’s censorship of bad ideas. As a creative person, you have to edit yourself- no one can guarantee to have only good ideas. Being a creative professional is risky because of the lack of formulaic manufacturing of good ideas- we come up with bad ideas just as often.  We have to work through them and figure out which ones we need to trash and which ones we need to nurture. And creative people need a nurturing environment to instill the courage it takes to come up with bad ideas before they can get to the good ones.

That sort of nurturing comes in different forms, but I love the giant wall piece in Wieden/Kennedy.

Fail Harder is a beautiful statement about what kind of attitude it takes to have big ideas. As David Kennedy put it “It’s like Babe Ruth swinging for a home-run. If you miss, you miss, but at least you swung the bat as hard as you could.” Art & Copy connects this to the 1999 Air Jordan campaign that ends in Michael saying, “I have failed over and over again in my career. And that is why I succeed.”

For a while now photography has been a mystifying entity for me. Images of things that don’t belong, a woodland creature with a log cabin or little girls on adventures in unexpected places, keep me intrigued. I relish the stories that blend and whip together such unexpected ingredients. Part of that blending comes from craft. Images that blend ideas only conceptually don’t pull me in enough as a viewer to stay engaged (at least not right now). I mean, this is visual art, and the visual needs to be as thought out and interesting as the concept. Blending printing techniques and combining different crafts is a part of that visual stimulus that keeps a viewer engaged.

Alternative printing processes have been intriguing to me for a few years now. The way I see it, there are, basically, two types of photography. Either your image is meant to be a record or a print. ‘Recorded’ images stand alone and don’t rely on physical characteristics or printing techniques. Printed images, or ‘applied’ images are meant to be objects that utilize the physical photograph and apply new contexts to it. Relics, treasures, artifacts of human intellect and craftsmanship.

I guess for the next however-many years I get to start finding my own way of creating artifacts to communicate stories that engage people. I get to figure out my own way of combining photographic techniques with printmaking techniques, and who knows where I’ll stop!

Included in this post: Sebastiaan BremerShaun Kardinal, Joli Livaudais, Luis Dourado, Eduardo Recife, and Caitlin Parker

It’s Wednesday and what better time to share links and info about fellow craftisans that will make your heart go all a flutter?

The Sweet Hubs and I have been here for about a month now and the longer we’re here the more awesome things I find to love about our new home. (I’ll say now that our former place of residence was a smaller town with a fairly minimal creative community, so I get very excited about finding so many like-minded individuals living close by.)

The first major discovery came last week when, through a fun string of events, I walked through the doors of Oil and Cotton.  All you need to do is take a look at their project board to get your heart skipping a beat.

They’ve only been open about a week, but already have a full fall schedule of classes including Polish Paper Chandeliers (this Thursday), Felting and Fiber Arts, Bookbinding, and weekly classes for all ages. Oil and Cotton is a self-defined “creative commons for meeting, learning and sharing ideas” and if you have any inkling of love for craft or just creativity, then you NEED to stop by and say hello!

The magic of the internet is that you can discover a beautiful forum for creativity and never know how you got there, which is how I found this sweet & precious blog, . I’m sure I randomly clicked on a twitter link somewhere to find them, and much to my delight, they are yet ANOTHER Dallas-based design blog! With a by-line of ‘live what you love’, I’m sure this is just one more group of lovelies that will be encouraging and inspiring while we’re living in the big D.

Upon perusal of By & By I found a most intriguing poster

Of course with such classy design I had to read it, and what do I see, but Dallas, TX listed in the address! The goal of Red’s Pop Shop is to “provide an accessible platform for individuals to view an array of homegrown talent while supporting the Lower Greenville area.”  Better believe I know what I’m doing this weekend!

Two of the vendors included in this fantastic affair are Bee Things and Lilco Letterpress.

I know Bee Things is a shop I’ll love when their About page quotes Jim Henson.

Thus far, my favorite bit of work from them has to be Puffin.

This little guy needs a home in my apartment! aside from simply great prints, I love their series of sack lunch bags. Way to teach an old dog new tricks!

Ok, ok, this is the last one. I promise!

Lilco Letterpress: a little letterpress co.

Maybe it’s just part of my dream or a longing somewhere on the inside combined with my deeply rooted love for old, hand-processed techniques, but I would LOVE  to work in a letterpress shop. Everytime I find a new printshop online, I just start dreaming.

Lilco has the same effect! They’re online gallery shows a fine bit of print work while their etsy shop has all their lovely work right at your fingertips!

One day I’ll have to sit down and figure out how to describe all these styles of work/printing. Until then, walk tall, make beautiful work, and dress like a pirate.