Artistic Inspiration

𝐎𝐝𝐞 𝐭𝐨 𝐎𝐛𝐬𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐢𝐨𝐧: 𝐀 𝐂𝐚𝐩𝐭𝐚𝐢𝐧 𝐀𝐡𝐚𝐛 𝐏𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐫𝐚𝐢𝐭 | 𝐌𝐨𝐛𝐲 𝐃𝐢𝐜𝐤 𝐀𝐫𝐭 𝐃𝐨𝐥𝐥

I’ve had a fair number of sketches similar to the image I created for my Captain Ahab piece, “Ode to Obsession”, for years. I’ve been intending to make a Captain Ahab portrait and actually read Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” for years. Recently I’ve finally read the book and crafted a Moby Dick inspired art doll, but it’s telling that I was able to make an image that gets the theme of Moby Dick and Ahab’s disastrous pursuit of the white whale across without ever having read the book- most of us know this story without having ever read it! That’s the power of Melville’s Captain Ahab: he is THE archetype of when passion and drive crosses-over into self-destructive obsession and ruin. He’s transcended the pages of the novel and become the cliche, the shorthand of the thing he represents.


Watch the Captain Ahab Art Doll Being Crafted



Designing a Moby Dick Art Doll

When creating the Moby Dick art doll, Melville describes Capt. Ahab, aside from his iconic whalebone peg leg, as having a scorched face, grey hair, and a scar that runs the length of his face and body, which I wanted to capture in my interpretation. I’ve seen other interpretations of Ahab that make him look hardy and vigorous, but when I imagine him, I always see him as this hard-angled, hollowed-out sinewy character. I really liked this idea of Ahab solemnly looking out and being tangled-up in his harpoon line and though it’s kind of subtle, he has a noose cast about his neck, foretelling the doom that he seeks and the prophesy of hempen rope being his end.

Captain Ahab art doll sketch


St. Ahab: Patron Saint of Creatives

I find myself thinking of Ahab as a patron saint of creatives or anyone that has a passion, a drive for what they do but the path is unclear and even perilous. Many artists find themselves making emotional, relationship, and financial sacrifices to chase that white whale of earning a livelihood doing the things that they love. And since we don’t only have an effect on our own life, we impact the live’s of those around us, the pull of our creative pursuits could also take a toll on our loved-ones as surely as it did Ahab’s crew. The ups and downs of a creative life can be harrowing and it’s often trying to even know if you’re heading toward your white whale or if the risks and the inner turmoil will pan-out and be worth it in the end. The only thing you know for certain’s as scary as all of this has been, is, and will be, looking back and regretting not even attempting the pursuit would’ve been infinitely worse.



I do want to pull this back from the bleakness a bit and say that we right now live in the best times to try to be a creative! The fact that you can attempt to put your art in front of thousands of people across social media and various websites, the only thing it costs you is time, and find-out if anyone cares- that’s such an opportunity that all of us creators shouldn’t take for granted. This opportunity simply wasn’t there for creators that were trying to put themselves on their career path and previously only a few people at publishing companies were the ones to decide whether your art was “good enough”. Now if you figure-out how to market your work and amass only a few thousand dedicated fans that you work’s for them, you can have a sustainable career and life, just getting there is full of headwinds and crashing waves. And for that I think it’s worth risking the venture!

Prints of “Ode to Obsession” are available through my store here:

  • Limited Edition: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/thedreamsyndstore/ode-to-obsession-captain-ahab-portrait

  • Open Edition: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/thedreamsyndstore/ode-to-obsession-captain-ahab-portrait-cwas5

Here is the finished Capt. Ahab illustration! If you would like a print, it is available as a  Limited Edition  and for a limited time, as an  Open Edition Print .

Here is the finished Capt. Ahab illustration! If you would like a print, it is available as a Limited Edition and for a limited time, as an Open Edition Print.


Thanks for joining me so far and here’s to the adventures we have in future! To be the first to know when I launch new polymer clay art videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell icon. Catch all of my videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/thedreamsyndicatearts. You can also find many of the supplies I use in crafting here: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/supplies-gear/. And sign-up for my newsletter (in the sidebar) to get the latest studio goings-on! Thanks so much for joining me on this journey and until next time: Make. Believe!

Having a Growth Mindset as an Artist

For some reason we give ourselves the permission to try new things and grow in our capabilities in them as a child that we don't as we grow older, even if we're trying to acquire a wholly new skill set. It's madness to think that simply by virtue of your age you're entitled to some virtuoso talent at a novel, new experience. There are two mindsets, one that's fixed and believes that your abilities are innate and then there's a growth mindset. I'm convinced that having a growth mindset for artists is the only way to be. Times and artistic tastes are going to change. Your work and how to best distribute it are going to change. To reject these truisms is to be at war with reality.

 

 

I certainly believe that people have predispositions to being skilled at a given task, what we would call talent, but it's routinely born-out in athletics and the arts, that those that are naturally gifted and strive to be the top of their craft frequently are. Innate talent can only take you so far and such individuals are likely to plateau without the disciplined work that's prerequisite to become a true master of one's craft.

 

If there's skill that you think would enrich your life for being adept at it, I'd urge you to take that child-like approach of the enjoyment of the activity regardless of the outcome and to work through it to the best of your present skills. Think back to most things you may have tried in your childhood and you'll likely have produced nowhere remotely near professional results, whether that was drawing, coloring, or whatever creative expression you attempted early on, but you likely enjoyed making the art making process and maybe you were lucky enough to have some kind adults lie and praise what you were making. When attempting new art forms as an adult, after a multitude of tries, fifty, one-hundred, then you would have some grounds to honestly determine the effectiveness of your efforts because while your critical eye may be honed as an adult, your muscle memory for a new task is often just developing.

 

For all the myriad of ways you can spend your time developing new capabilities, there comes a time when you need to narrow-in and focus on an array of abilities that are the most worthwhile and fulfilling to you. You could learn how to code and make custom websites, but if just creating a website through a templated site such as this Squarespace blog you're currently reading accomplishes the vast majority of what you want it to do, then the choice is fairly obvious. While you can likely learn how to do a great many things, at some point you're going to have to pick and lane, a focus, and prioritize what capacities help reach your goals from that perspective. The number of distractions that you can find are infinite and many creatives find some amount of constraints to be liberating in their ability to focus on the important tasks at hand as opposed to the infinite canvas stretched-out in all directions.

 

To be the first to know when I launch new polymer clay art videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell icon (but because YouTube's wonky, you can also join the newsletter). Catch all of my videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/thedreamsyndicatearts. You can also find many of the supplies I use in crafting here: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/supplies-gear/. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey and until next time: Make. Believe!

Fan Art Illegal?! Things to Consider When You Make Fan Art

There's a range of opinions on whether artists should create fan art and the ethics of doing so. One might make fan art as a genuine expression of their fandom, as an opportunity to gain exposure for their art, to make money, or some mixture of all three motivations. I'm not looking to judge someone's choice in creating fan art, but from a strictly creative business stand-point, if you're making the majority of your sell-able artwork around intellectual properties that you don't own, this seems like tenuous footing for an artist to be in. Selling fan art's illegal and this isn't just some opinion I happen to hold, this is straight from the mouth of contract and intellectual property attorney acquaintance, Seth Polansky.

 

Watch Fan Art Illegal?! | Things to Consider When You Make Fan Art

 

Luckily few intellectual property holders crack-down on fan artists selling their work, but that's precisely the issue: if you make your living selling fan art based merchandise- you're relying on "luck" for your continued livelihood. I lurk an artist alley Facebook page and I've seen the occasional so-and-so animation studio's issuing take-down notices. And a take-down notice or a cease and desist form is a kind way for the copyright holders to go about it- who knows if we'll see an effort to slap-down this form of infringement in the same way that the music industry came down on some of those pirating music in the early to mid 2000's to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

 

EXCERPT ON FAN ART USAGE PER COPYRIGHT ATTORNEY SETH POLANSKY ON ONE FANTASTIC WEEK

 

 

With the risks that are stake, I simply couldn't see putting all of my eggs in the fan art basket. I may occasionally do a fan art piece if the mood strikes me, but I definitely intend to make that the exception rather than the rule. What's your opinion on fan art? Do these considerations make you any less likely to make it?
 

To be the first to know when I launch new polymer clay art videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell icon (but because YouTube's wonky, you can also join the newsletter). Catch all of my videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/thedreamsyndicatearts. You can also find many of the supplies I use in crafting here: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/supplies-gear/. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey and until next time: Make. Believe!

Getting Ready to Show at My First Art Booth! | Art Star Craft Bazaar in Philadelphia, PA

This Saturday I'm taking a leap that I've put off for some time in years past- I'm getting ready to show at my first art booth at the Art Star Craft Bazaar here in sunny, hot, humid Philadelphia! Art Star has been running successful arts and crafts shows for several years in the area and I feel like I'm in pretty good hands. This is a pop-up show, which means it's only one day for a few hours. The first date for it is Saturday, 7/28/18 from 12-5pm.

 

There's a few reasons I've put off boothing at art fairs, but I think one major one was not feeling like I'd ever had a large enough body of solid artworks to show. I don't feel like you can do this sort of a show without 10-12 images you feel strongly about. There's also a fair amount of start-up costs to running a booth- there's the cost of inventory (and the packaging of said inventory) and the display and booth decor items aren't particularly cheap if you don't happen to have what you need on-hand and want to have a certain level of professionalism to your presentation.

 

WATCH MY THOUGHTS ON GETTING READY TO SHOW AT MY FIRST ART BOOTH | ART STAR CRAFT BAZAAR IN PHILADELPHIA

 

 

Speaking of professional presentation, there's a few people I'd like to thank for inspiring me with best practices, either from watching their content or sending them the occasional frantic Facebook message. I've been following the independent genre artist podcast One Fantastic Week's YouTube content for a couple of years and I think there's few better resources for entrepreneurial artists and they've a great community of like-minded people. I also owe Pete Mohrbacher a beer for recommending El-Co Color Labs- they've produced some really fantastic prints of my art. Crystal Sully, creator of "Untamed Beastiary", was also super helpful in helping me track down a couple of vendors for booth supplies. Rather than have you track Crystal down, I'll list the vendors I've used for booth display.

 

Craft Show Vendors

  • Printing: http://www.elcocolor.net/

  • Banner: https://www.nextdaydisplay.com/product/fabric-wrinkle-free/

  • Print Bags, Cardboard Backing, & Shopping Bags: https://www.clearbags.com/

 

I'm doing four of these shows and I'll let you know how they ultimately went- fingers-crossed that it was worth it! To be the first to know when I launch new polymer clay art videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and hit the bell icon (but because YouTube's wonky, you can also join the newsletter). Catch all of my videos here:  https://www.youtube.com/thedreamsyndicatearts. You can also find many of the supplies I use in crafting here: https://www.thedreamsyndarts.com/supplies-gear/. Thanks so much for joining me on this journey and until next time: Make. Believe!