I am starting a new category on my blog now called, Advice & Secrets, which will be like little tips and tricks of mine passed along to you. You can take them or leave them, but if they happen to work for you, GREAT! <— That’s what I’m hoping for!
Why am I saving you all the research and homework that I have done over years and years of trial and error, grief and bumbling? Because I’m nice. Is that so hard to believe? Of course it isn’t! I must have some kind of ulterior motive.
Well, I do. But it’s a little one.
First of all, I want you to trust me. Feeding you this information might show you that I know some things. It might make you see that I have experience, and that I am worthy.
Now why would I want that?
Well, because I would like to teach privately. Maybe I haven’t announced that before, so that’s why no one knows that about me, but I would like to take in a couple, or a few students that are interested in the kind of things I have to offer. (So if that pertains to you, contact me.)
Anyway, back to what I was going on about.
I figured I’d start us out with the most boring subject of all! Shipping Your Art, only because I have been asked about it a LOT. You should probably ask a few artists what they do because the more info and consensus you get, the better. Some people swear by their shippers, their cardboard or box source, and I’m not here to tell you that those sources suck. I’m here to tell you about my happiness. So there is my disclaimer.
Okay, for the most part, I ship domestic, because when shipping internationally, I become highly dysfunctional. I’m serious. I become overwhelmed with the custom rules and knowing the difference between the “insurance” value, and the “sales” value (because, of course, the person on the receiving end would prefer you to lie to escape having to pay all the extra fees at Customs). So I choke. I prefer to avoid it, honestly. I prefer it to be handled correctly when possible.
I use UPS. Now, a lot of people are afraid of UPS. I don’t know why. I’ve just heard of some people being scared, either because they have had their own nightmare experience, or they have heard of someone’s brother’s mother’s cousin’s nightmare experience. Yes, every shipping company might lose you stuff, might break your stuff, might damage it, and might damage it until it is unrecognizable or until it disintegrates into itty bity microplasma. It has been know to happen! Even by the trusted, governmental USPS. This is why you must always insure it. And, you want to insure it with the place that is easiest to file a claim with, and that’s UPS.
A lot of people swear by FedEx, but last I checked, FedEx won’t allow you to insure art over some certain amount, and I think that amount was really low, like $500, where UPS will allow up to $50K (Domestic) and $5000 (Internationally), otherwise, you have to get a third party to insure it for more, in which case you will need a third party insurance carrier. UPS uses UPS Capital for that thar, but I have never had the need, so I don’t know what that whole rigamaroll is like…
Obviously, I have not yet shipped artwork (internationally) that I had to insure over $5000. That doesn’t mean I haven’t shipped $20,000+ worth of art before. I just haven’t shipped ONE piece of art that retailed for more than $10k. You can ship in a few different boxes to avoid insurance discrepancies. Not that you couldn’t think that up on your own.
The worst and hardest to file a claim with is the United States Postal Service, and then, next in line I think it’s FedEx. I’ve heard they can take up to 90 days before they will pay you on the claim. Personally, I have been using UPS for 20+ years (and I ship a LOT) and I have had only one damaged item, which had a glass frame (and now I only use plexi). The breakage completely destroyed that very, very, very cool and desirable piece of art forever! They paid on the claim within three weeks in full.
As for boxes and supplies, I make my own boxes. It’s the cheapest possible way to go. I’ve been doing it so long, it’s not as big of a pain in the ass as it sounds, but it is kinda a pain in the ass. Sometimes I get lazy and buy the Mirror Packs from Box Bros. or Box City in Pasadena (when I’m in a rush or lazy), otherwise, I get everything I need from Paper Mart, who deliver the NEXT DAY! If you buy from there in larger quantity, you will save more than half than if you bought your stuff from a Box Bros., or a place like that.
I buy their large cardboard sheets at 36 x 72 and make custom, double boxes. I realize this is not for everyone. It is very time consuming and sweat inducing. Lotta bending, even if you have a great, big cutting table like I do! Why I wind up on the floor a lot, I do not know!
I also use plastic wrap, then foam wrap, THEN bubble wrap. I’m pretty thorough like that. If you wrap your paintings directly in bubble wrap – like the small bubbles – it might leave little bubble marks on your painting – just sayin’.
So that’s the cheap way to go.
If I don’t want to do any of this, and I have a bit more money to spare, and a lot LESS time to deal with, say an exhibit I need to ship out of state (a solo show or a group show), I will use my good friends at Craters & Freighters. They will come to your house and take the work, package it and ship it for you. You don’t even need to wrap it! They specialize in art and they are affordable (compared to other art shippers, that is – like LA Packing, which many artists swear by). LA Packing is highly reputable. It is certainly the “go-to” company for all fine art handling of any sort. I will tell you that, and I will tell you that they are definitely trustworthy. If I had the extra money, I would use them myself, but they are expensive and you are paying for their longtime, highfalutin reputation (albeit well-earned). <–More disclaimer.
I have never had any problems with Craters & Freighters. I have kept their crates and reused them. They are made well. They also use UPS. I don’t know who LA Packing uses. You might want to check their website.
Another option, but this is only if you’re shipping times are very flexible…
There is a guy that does delivery back and forth from the east and west coasts, and it would be especially easy if you live in or around Southern and/or Northern California – and especially easy if your delivery goes to NY or vise versa.
His name is Shlomo and he is the nicest guy you’ll ever deal with. His company is Artisan Shipping, and it is the absolute, most economical way to do any sort of shipping. It’s one of my very valuable, and secret resources that I am passing on. (Note 3/7: His site might be down. I suggest calling him.)
I have used him/his services a few times and it has worked for me and my pocketbook, specifically working for me once because one of my shows that was in NYC was scheduled with plenty of notice so I could schedule Shlomo’s pick up from my studio since he does the route only once a month – to the west and back to the east. He does this every month, except for one (or two?) out of the year and I forgot which month that was, so you’d have to check. Call him and find out: 917-613-0338.
So that’s it. That’s all I know on this subject, so if you happen to ask me about shipping, or boxes, or bubble wrap… of, I get the LARGE bubble bubble wrap btw, now I can refer you to this page and I will actually save time… maybe.
Okay, remember that I love you!
It’s all about the project. It’s not like I’m just now realizing that, I’m just telling you. That’s what it’s always about.
I think before I was guilty about it, and now I am more accepting of it. It’s like, now it’s all okay with me. I don’t know why I used to feel guilty, for always being on a project, for always being busy, for always doing, for being ambitious. I mean, that’s who I am, and why should I apologize for it? I think it’s been because I’ve always had a couple people in my life that I know have/had been judging me about it. They wanted me to feel ashamed about it – for whatever reason, I do not know, but fuck ‘em.
Today I spent the day with one of my besties, artist, Rochelle Botello. She and I can talk about art, process, and art projects until the cows come home. What does that saying mean, anyway? Why were the cows away from home, and why is it that the time it takes them to come home is supposedly really lengthy? I understand, “until the sun comes up.” That means a lot of hours, but what’s up with those cows?
Anyhow, she and I had a good day. It feels good to be able to talk to someone else that understands all the ins and outs of the life of an artist; things like naming an exhibition, or expressing narrative in the artwork both while in you’re in the process of it, and while you’re driving down the street – kinda like texting while driving! Or even talking about where you are on your current projects. I use this blog for that a lot (obviously).
Speaking of Rochelle, and projects, we were just at a book symposium on Sunday at Otis, which was super interesting. I was also finally able to see my show there. I was blown away with how my book was displayed in the same display box with Nikki de Saint Phalle, Laura Owens, Paul McCarthy, Dieter Roth, Anat Shalev, and Carolee Schneemann! The box next to me had an amazing Kara Walker book too. Crazy. Plus, there was a beautiful Nikki de Saint Phalle accordion book out and displayed on top of one of the boxes.
The symposium had a few good speakers and a poet. Most interesting was book artist, Sarah Bryant. She had a number of books in the show and spoke a lot about her process and her different projects past, present, and future, and even did a book demonstration on how to do an accordion type folio. She made me feel so much better about being a book artist in general. Everything from how much trash I made, how fussy I am, to self imposed deadlines. I’m not the only one! I felt like I was probably in a whole audience of people just like me, and the key speaker was making us all feel like we weren’t all freaks.
Her books are all very “graphic design” looking, to me anyway, but there were a few that had such lovely elements that reminded me of old-skool typography mixed with modern, abstract minimalism. It was very aesthetic and clean, but not antiseptic or anything like that. Go to her website and check out her books. They are cool. I especially love the cut-outs in this abstract book the most.
And so speaking of books, I’m still fussing with the Monographie book. Always little “problems” I run into, and things to fix, plus shit I change my mind about. Now I’m going to bore you with some of it, because, well, why not? If you get sleepy, have some cocaine.
I decided to have one color page in the front, but not full color, just spot color. It’s such a small detail to make a large change over, but I was already making some other changes at the time, like the fact that I had spelled “foreword” wrong in a couple places (I spelled it “foreward”). I had to fix that typo anyway, and a few drawings needed changing as far as what kinds of files they needed to be.
Remember I had to learn Adobe Illustrator and InDesign “real quick” before finishing this book? Well, I realized that not every file looked “good” once they were a vector image. Drawings with lots and lots of small scribbles in them don’t work as vectors. They only work as super, high resolution jpgs, like 600 DPI, otherwise, as vectors, those scribbles lose detail and wind up looking like ink splatters.
So I had to change a few of those drawings. I also had to reformat some of the text that is in there, albeit, there isn’t much. Michael‘s foreword is barely three pages, and I only wrote a few paragraphs in the back, otherwise the whole book is just drawings – more than 60 now. The entire book is 154 pages total.
And that’s the final count. It’s done. The PDF is finished, formatted and ready for the printer, and the front and back cover plates (for letterpress) are being ordered tomorrow. And I’ll be dammed if I lift another finger, other than signing and numbering them!
I used to do all my own letterpressing, but Bill will take it from here. I just need to put together a few bucks.
And speaking of a few bucks, that brings me to my Kickstarter project…
Okay, I’m tired. To be continued! Oh, I’m not done yet. I’m never done.
(All these photos were taken by Rochelle Botello.)
I’m back. That only took a few days, But what cha gonna do?
So where was I? Oh yes. C, D, and E, right? That was like, what? Two weeks ago?
Seeing my good friends, Dennis and Jean, was SO nice, I can’t even tell you. That might sound boring to you, but it’s not for me. I don’t carve time like that out for myself hardly ever. It was SO nice. They have a house in Palm Springs, and I didn’t stay there last time. I don’t usually stay at anyone’s house, unless they are like family or something, but they insisted. I took them up on it and I am so glad I did. Dennis is like, well, Dad to me in many, many ways. He is too young to be my dad, but I consider him like a father to me anyway. He’s helped me more than my own father has, mentally/emotionally that is. It was good to spend quality time with him. And Jean is probably the nicest person on the Earth. I really don’t say that flippantly either. She truly is! This woman knitted little slipper-socks for me while I was there.
Dennis is an important character in my book that I’m not supposed to talk about, which I’m not. I just want him to know, if he happens to be reading this, that if it weren’t for him, I don’t know where my head would be right now if he didn’t help me through those first couple years after I broke out of the penitentiary, so thanks. See? Read my book when it comes out and you’ll find out all about how I was on Death Row for a murder I didn’t commit!
I also drove out to Joshua Tree while I was there in Palm Springs, for the purpose of getting some footage for my big Kickstarter campaign – which I am going to launch very, very soon! However, when I got out to JTree (It’s about 40-45 minutes from Palm Springs), and after scouting for a location off the road that would be good enough for sound and aesthetic purposes, a bunch of problems arose.
First, I realized that I forgot the mount for my cam that goes onto the tripod. I had to do a kind of odd balancing act with the cam – and it was windy mind you (it’s the high desert after all!), and in case it fell off the base, I tied the strap to the top of the frame so it would not actually fall into the dirt. Luckily it never fell to even test my contraption.
After the first take after I did a little test to see my distance from the camera, but I got it a bit wrong. The top of my head was slightly cut off, otherwise, it was fine. A little wind noise, but, it worked anyway. I needed to do it again and back up a little. So I did, and it just felt better. I checked it for a sec and everything was good, visually. but, the more I played it, the more I listened and heard that the mic was all fucked up. It was clipping in and out, and it wasn’t because of the wind. It was because the mic was fucked up! It was broken and needed to be taken apart and fixed, and not by me. By a professional. So I was screwed. I drove out there for nothing. But it was half the reason I went out to the desert in the first place! I was so upset, I started to cry. Waaaa Waaaa waaaa.
So that was that.
The next day I was interviewed by this woman who has her own YouTube channel dedicated to art and artists. It’s kinda cool! I don’t know when she is putting it up, but you’ll be the first to know.
Okay, now we’re kinda caught up. Sorta.
I’ve been busy.
I’ve been working on that Artist book. Yes, still. I decided to make more changes, but I won’t bore you with that, because mostly, I’ve been working on my Kickstarter campaign that has to do with my Joshua Tree project that I’ve been squeaking about here and there. You probably don’t even know what I’m talking about, do you?
Well, I’ve been telling you about the path, and I’ve been starting you out on the Kabbalah, and that is where it begins. It begins there with meditations on the Hebrew letters, and the Torah, and the story of Exodus, which leads me to the desert, a lot like Moses. Hence, I wind up in Joshua Tree in a house behind a mountain I’ve been referring to as “my little Mt. Sinai.”
Don’t worry, I will make sure that it will all make sense to you once you wake up. Or was that, once I wake up? Oh, dammit! I forgot now. Where was I?
Something about a path…
Dang IT, dang IT! I have SO MUCH to tell and so little time to tell it in. And I’ve been off of my blog for so long, I don’t even know if I can remember all the little holes I have to fill in since I’ve been away from it all.
Okay, I went to Palm Springs. That was great! I had fun, fun, fun! Why? Because:
a. The Diebenkorn show was beyond phenomenal!
c. I got to see my very close friends, whom I stayed with while I was there: (Dennis and Jean).
d. I went to Joshua Tree to shoot some Kickstarter footage.
e. A surprise interview happened with Colliding Words TV, a YouTube channel for art and artists!
I think if I stick to from A to E, I will be fine. So here we go:
The Diebenkorn Show
I knew I was going to really like this exhibition, which was why I thought of it as a destination in and of itself, but something very significant happened when I got to the museum.
First of, for some reason, I dressed up. I wore a dress! I never wear dresses. It was for practice I suppose, because I was going to a dinner a couple nights afterward, and I wanted to wear a little black dress that night, so I wore a little blue dress just like it to the museum. I didn’t think I was going to run into anyone, but I ran into Mat and Leigh. That was fine because they are my friends. Even if I looked ridiculous, I would have felt half way comfortable with them, so that was good.
But when I turned the corner to see the first paintings of Richard Diebenkorn’s, oh my God! There were three beautiful abstracts hanging straight away. The one in the middle was the largest of the three, with little poles and wires on the ground so you wouldn’t come within three feet of it. The others had tape on the floor I think, for the same idea. These paintings were perfectly painted. You would not be able to know that from just a picture. You’d have to SEE this in real life.
Then, I just kept walking through. I saw more abstracts and it just got better. I thought I’d be done at that point, as far as being impressed. I’m not one for figurative, much less still lifes. But Jesus! It kept getting even better! This guy painted EVERYTHING perfectly! I couldn’t believe how in LOVE I was with his brushstrokes, and how much permission he gave me, FOR ME to paint anything I wanted too! What an inspiration! If you missed that show, you’re just nuts!
Okay, so anyway, The Fair. The Fair was great. I was in this fair last year, as some of you might remember, with not so great results, and I’m not talking about sales here. Fuck sales. That’s not what this is about.
I was afraid to go to Palm Spring this time around, honestly. I didn’t want there to be a repeat of last year. I didn’t want a bunch of disappointments, nor did I want to have any expectations – which I didn’t. I don’t think I really had any major ones last year either to be honest. I only wanted my work in the show. That was all I really “expected,” as that’s what I was told. But bygones, and all that. So, this time, I didn’t even expect that – seriously!
When I got to the Shulamit booth, I was very pleasantly surprised. Shula, Anne, and Lauren were there, (wo)manning the booth, which was curated, might I say, superior to every other booth I walked passed on my way to theirs. It was sparse, and very well thought out, capturing subtle coloring from Jona’s photographs, to the veins of Soraya’s sculptures, my And and Not painting, and David’s interactive light piece. It was beautiful!
I think I have to come back later to do C, D and E. I am just so busy with other crap at the moment. Hey, I tried!
Today I am getting ready to go out to the Palm Springs Fine art Fair. I’m leaving early tomorrow morning. While I’m there, I’m not only going to go to the museum to see the Diebenkorn show, but I am hoping to shoot some footage for my upcoming Kickstarter campaign. I realized that if I don’t land some kind of residency out in Joshua Tree, I am going to have to fund my solo show project in some other capacity. Getting some minimal footage while I’m out that way will be enough to at least make the video teaser for the campaign.
I don’t want to give away the title of my show yet, but I’ll let the cat out of the bag as far as my plans.
I talked before about learning Hebrew and my interest in Kabbalah. I’m going to get more into that, if you don’t mind. Just some basics. It’s interesting, I swear. Okay, maybe only to me.
First off, Kabbalah is often misunderstood, and I first talked about that in my post right before this one. I mentioned the cult of the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles, but it was misunderstood even before that. A lot of people have considered it a kind of “black magic” or even an “occult” side of Judaism, and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Not that there isn’t a kind of magic to it, there is. There can be, and there was at one time, but that’s not the kind of Kabbalah I’m interested in. That is called “Practical Kabbalah,” and I will skip that.
To oversimplify it, there is a fundamental, kabbalistic concept of G-d, as the Ein Sof, the Ten Sefirot, and the kabbalistic tree of life.
Now this part is right up my alley, and that is, that the true essence of G-d is so transcendent that it cannot be described, except with reference to what it is not. I love that! This true essence of G-d is known as Ein Sof, which literally means “without end,” which encompasses the idea of G-d’s lack of boundaries in both time and space.
The Ten Sefirot (Sefirot) are emanations, or qualities, and in this case interactions – how G-d interacts with the universe. G-d has both masculine and feminine qualities, and the Kabbalah pays particular attention to the feminine.
Okay, there’s that much in a very small nutshell.
This is mostly where my meditation interest came from. And as far as the Torah, I’ve been reading that too. It’s taken me a long, long, long time to read Genesis. You’d think that would be fairly easy, but I have been torn between several translations of it and several ways I wanted to understand it, in different perspectives I guess you can say: metaphorically, historically, religiously, and from the viewpoints of many sects of Judaism and Christianity.
And now I am beginning Exodus with a much different perspective than I had when I started Genesis, and so much has happened in my life since then too. So much death, so much growth. And my art, wow! How can I describe how far that has come?
This project means more to me than just putting together a solo show. It is a perfect plan without a plan. I’ve assembled the framework where all I have to do is place my feet along the stones in the path (there I will be grounded) and my head and hands will be free to do whatever comes naturally.
I guess I’ll have to wait until next time before I start describing the stones on that path. Sorry Charlie.
I do know that all I need is 10 days out in Joshua Tree. I can get my preliminary work done in 10 days.
I have been on-again off-again studying Hebrew. I might have mentioned this before. I got interested in Kabbalah years ago, otherwise known as Jewish mysticism. But this tends to get confused with that shit that Madonna and Sandra Bernhard were doing at the Kabbalah Centre in Los Angeles. That was actually nothing more than a cult run by a guy named Phillip Berg, I kid you not. I don’t say stuff like that lightly. I know of what I speak. I actually will go so far to say that I’m rather the expert in the subject of mind control and cults. So there.
But that’s not what I want to talk about. I want to talk about art.
So, I’ve been most interested in the mysticism behind the Hebrew alphabet really. I got really into the aesthetics of their shape and form, and how they developed in history as hieroglyphs, etc. I started to read about their numeric values, their overall meaning in the Talmud because of their form, and all of this lead me to some interesting places in my art, and, quite frankly, in my spiritual growth.
Now, many years ago, I gave up on anything that remotely resembled the “spiritual.” In most ways, I am still a realist. I am not going to get into religion so much here, but just for the sake of relaxing and focus, all of this Hebrew letter shit got me to start meditating. But not like how you think! I wasn’t sitting cross-legged on a pillow chanting, “Om,” or levitating, or some such goofy thing like this, I was just not thinking upon the work I wanted to do.
I’m not sure if that makes any sense.
A few years back I was doing these paintings with garment patterns arranged as Hebrew letters set as the main compositions. This was back when I first got interested in this stuff.
I only did a few of these kinds of pieces before I could really dive into the whole process…
Then life happened. Or death rather. I got sidetracked. I’m not sure what happened, but I lost a lot of focus for a really long, long time. And it’s not like I didn’t paint. I did. I painted a lot. I was just busy, with Dan
(this Dan above is from my new, upcoming book by the way) and busy with gumballs and so forth:
Now, I’ve been feeling totally rejuvenated with the last few dozen paintings I’ve been doing, and I’m really focused – like so incredibly honed in – that I want to apply what I have been doing
into my original plan from yesteryear.
Next, if you’re not asleep yet, I’ll tell you all about how I plan to do that – out in the desert.