Friday, July 27, 2012

My new book is now on Blurb!

The cover of Post-Consumerism: Paintings, 2007 - 2010 by Tiffany Gholar

I just published my first book about my art!  Okay, so technically this is not my first art book.  The very first one I created dates back to 1986, Tiffany's Art Catalog.

scan of a notebook of my drawings when I was 7 or 8 years old

As you can see from the cover, my preferred medium at the time was fine point felt-tip markers.  Since then, I have written mostly fiction.  I even went to grad school to study fiction writing, though I dropped out after succumbing to a severe case of writer's block.

But my new book, Post-Consumerism, is not a work of fiction.  Nor is it just a catalog of art.  In addition to featuring large color photos of my work, my book also tells the story of how I decided to become an artist and what inspired me.  Drawing from my thesis paper, my blog posts, and old journal entries, it offers an autobiographical account of my life as an artist from 2007 until 2010.  It is 58 pages long.

I wanted to produce an art book because I thought it would be something that people who like my art would like to purchase. It costs less than all my original paintings except for the minis, and features all the paintings I made from 2007-2010 that were included in my solo show, as well as a few that weren't.  I tried to price it in a range that is pretty close to what museum shops and bookstores charge for their art books, while still making a profit. of $5 per copy.
I decided to self-publish this book because I already know from past experiece how hard it is to find a literary agent, get a publisher, and wait for the book to be published. It takes too long and there are too many gatekeepers in the way, and I've had enough of that. So this book, like my art career, was a DIY project.  Over the past few years, I wrote it, took all the pictures, and did the layout myself.  I did have it professionally edited by a good friend who majored in English and used to work for an encyclopedia company.  In exchange for my friend's expertise, I created a custom painting for her.

I plan to put out a series of art books every few years and have already started on the next one.  I also plan to write a book about The Doll Project when it's complete.  Hopefully this venture will be a success and all the time and effort I've put into this book will be worth it.

Here is a preview of the book:

Post-Consumerism is available in softcover, hardcover, and iPad ebook formats.  The ebook is $6.99, the softcover edition is $34, and the hardcover edition is $43. I will have a few copies for sale at my next open studio(/book signing) but if you can't wait or can't make it, order yours today. Save 20% when you purchase a copy before August 5th and enter the following coupon code at checkout: RMN20OFF.

When you get your hard copy, bring it to an open studio and I will sign it for you. :)

Photographers Welcome!

If you visit my open studio and want to take pictures, please do! Shoot to your heart's content. All I ask is that if you post your pictures of my art online that you will link back to me so that other people can find my work. I welcome the free publicity. So if you like my art, feel free to Pin it, Tweet about it, put it on Instagram, Flickr, or Facebook... just be sure to put somewhere in the caption! 

By the way, this also applies to art that I post on my blog.  I don't mind if you display it elsewhere on the internet, as long as you link back to me and give credit where it's due.  No more ominous sounding warnings in Latin. ;)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Anne Taintor and the Taintorettes

If you like to browse bookstores, art supply stores, or gift shops, you've probably encountered the work of collage artist Anne Taintor. I've always admired her wit and her knack for finding unusual vintage ads to pair with her captions. Back when I worked at Nordstrom, I bought two of her notepads there, as well as a funny little book called I Can't Be Good All The Time.  I think that her work may even have influenced The Doll Project in some some small way.

I recently went to check out her website since I hadn't looked at it in several years, and was delighted to discover bios of the "Taintorettes," the women who appear in the ads she has used in her collages. Many of them didn't even know their photos were being used in collages until their children or grandchildren happened to see them in a store.  Stories like this are pretty common:

Years later, her daughter, Connie, was shopping at a Sparta gourmet and gift store called Garlic & Oil, when she spotted her mom smiling at her from a shelf. There was Connie, on Anne Taintor napkins! At the cash register, Connie told the shop owner that the woman on the napkins was her mother. The owner replied that a lot of people thought the photos on Anne Taintor’s products remind them of their mothers, and Connie said, “No that really is my mom!”

Since I've recently started working more with collage, as an artist it's funny to think of that happening with one of my pieces.  So far I haven't put any pictures of people in my collages, but I plan to do that soon. 

But what's really fascinating about these tributes to the women who are in Anne Taintor's collages are the stories behind their pictures. Some used modeling as a way to start an exciting new life in the big city while others modeled to pay their way through school.  Two of them, unbeknownst to the artist, were best friends.  A few of the ladies are still alive, and have shared what they think of Taintor's work. Some are artists themselves.

So if you like Anne Taintor's art, take a look at her website to find out more about the women in her pictures.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My new interior design project

If you read my post a few months ago about all the changes I've made to my art studio, you've seen the time and effort that I have put into making my workspace work for me. My art studio got all of my attention, but I was ignoring my apartment. It's so easy for me to just come home and watch TV or go online and ignore my surroundings.  I suppose I also felt overwhelmed whenever I contemplated redesigning and reorganizing everything.  Last weekend I finally came up with a plan.  It turns out that having a vision of how I want the end result to look was exactly what I needed to get motivated to take action and stop daydreaming and living inside my head.  This is what I have done so far.

entry bench - detail

I took my Squat bench and put some cushions and throw pillows on it. Now I have a nice place to sit while I put on my shoes.

My kitchen is almost done. The groovy green wallpaper is vintage and came with the apartment. Along with my flame colored Le Creuset pots and pans, it sets the citrus color scheme of the kitchen.  The chairs and dining table came from Wal-Mart, believe it or not.

groovy green kitchen- table

I can't remember if I got the shelving unit from Wal-Mart or The Container Store, but I know the Container Store still sells them.  Because it is so compact, it's ideal for a small space, and as an added bonus, requires no special tools to assemble.

groovy green kitchen- detail

Of course my kitchen wouldn't be complete without a Breakfast at Tiffany's poster.  The bubbles picture frame next to it came from Urban Outfitters a long time ago.  The spherical compartments hold plastic oranges and lemons. I used a green place mat from Crate and Barrel as a background.  The yellow vase is vintage and I bought it on Etsy. It holds dried kangaroo paw and artificial plum blossoms from World Market.  It's such an inviting space now that I enjoy spending time in it.  I just have to make a few more finishing touches (wait til you see what I'm doing to the floor!) and then it will be ready to go in my portfolio.

I still have a lot left to do, but having a few places in my home that look the way I want them to look encourages me to keep working on it.  Check back later for more pictures of my work in progress.

New pod paintings

Lately I feel like I've written so much about other people's art that I haven't made time to write about my own work.  And that's a shame because I've been working on some new pieces.

three pod paintings, studio of Tiffany Gholar, The Fine Arts Building, Chicago Loop

I'm hoping to have this large one done in time for my next open studio in August.

unfinished pod painting, studio of Tiffany Gholar, The Fine Arts Building, Chicago Loop

I'm not going to say what color I plan to paint it. It's a surprise.

Shanda's Sunrise, pod painting by Tiffany Gholar, acrylic on cardboard

This yellow and fuchsia pod painting is a custom piece for a very good friend of mine.  The color scheme was a challenge for me because I tend to use analogous combinations. It was nice to have an assignment that pushed me to do something out of the ordinary and get out of my comfort zone.

detail of Shanda's Sunrise, pod painting by Tiffany Gholar, acrylic on cardboard, yellow and fuchsia

That's a great thing about friends, they keep you from getting stuck in a rut.  I am very happy with the way my friend's painting came out and look forward to sending it to her.

I'm also excited about finishing the other pod paintings. Check back here for pictures of them when they're completed.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Book review: Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic by Daniel Harris

It's funny, but I appreciate books like Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic by Daniel Harris now that I am no longer a stressed-out college undergraduate.  It's a book about aesthetics, particularly "The Aesthetics of Consumerism" as Harris has subtitiled it.  What I like about books like this one is the way they look at the objects with analytical scrutiny.  What does "cute" or "quaint" or "delicious" really mean in the context of our modern world?  This book is an attempt to answer those questions.  I think that what it does for the realm of the visual is similar to what TV Tropes does for creative writing, finding common symbols in our culture, grouping examples of them together, and even giving examples of their opposites. 

As an artist and designer, I feel like it isn't enough to just make pretty things.  It's also important to consider subtle nuances of subtext and symbolism.  I think Cute, Quaint, Hungry and Romantic is a good introduction to the topic, particularly because of the clever definitions Harris gives:

Something becomes cute not because of`a quality it has but because of a quality it lacks, a certain neediness and inability to stand alone, as if it were an indigent starveling, lonely and rejected because of a hideousness we find more touching than unsightly.
Quaintness is an aesthetic not only of clutter but also of imperfections, of scratches, chips, and cracks. It loathes the regularity of modern products so completely that it goes out of its way to create artificial irregularities in brand new things, thus faking the necessary dilapidation of quaintness, as when decorators "distress" exposed beams with motor oil and drill bits to counterfeit smudges of soot and the ravages of woodworm.
Far from reflecting confidence, coolness grows out of a sense of threat, of the strain from living in metropolitan war zones where our equanimity is constantly being challenged, giving rise to a hyper-masculine folk religion that fetishizes poise and impassivity.
Lovers are portrayed as refugees from their own kind, ostracized and oppressed by society at large, which has been eliminated from romantic advertisements, creating eerily unpopulated spaces, the echoing ruins of a civilization that the aesthetic wipes out as effectively as the neutron bomb.
Zaniness allows us to misbehave and yet minimizes our risk of being ostracized as eccentric. It is based not on real individuality but rather on the harmless iconoclasm of the typical prankster...
The futuristic creates its imagery through willful disobedience, an almost bratty, aesthetic misbehavior, rather than through a genuine spirit of inventiveness, of artistic prescience about the appearance of tomorrow.
The misrepresentations of the aesthetic of deliciousness must be understood as a part of a systemic campaign, not only on the part of chain restaurants but of food manufacturers in general, to camouflage the insipidity of packaged foods and neutralize the skepticism of a society still adjusting to its loss of control over all aspects of food production.

The vision of nature presented in magazines is tailored to rival the artists of Madison Avenue, to supply eyes spoiled by the fluorescent tones of consumerism with their chromatic fix, the addictive drug of loud, saturated tints that can only be found it the most exotic reefs and rain forests.

Bad posture and and grooming are key components of contemporary glamor because they exhibit the contempt that this sylph-like slob feels for the dress she is wearing, a blase attitude that sends an unequivocal message to readers that that woman in the snakeskin Versace dress and Medusa curls is above posing, above trying to look good, above conforming to social expectations.

Faced with the unglamorous task of persuading people to buy products whose function is purely negative, namely, to get rid of dirt, companies have devised an imaginary, exhibitionistic type of cleanliness that we can see and smell, a glittering mirage that makes an emphatic impression on our bodies and seduces us with its lustrous sheen and mirror-like polish, thus reassuring us that we have indeed gotten something for our money.

I hope these little tidbits have intrigued you enough to read the book.  If you do, come back and comment on it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

An open letter to the design firms that won't hire me


Something has changed within me 
Something is not the same. 
I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game. 
Too late for second guessing 
Too late to go back to sleep. 
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.

It's time to try defying gravity
I think I'll try defying gravity
And you can't pull me down

I'm through accepting limits
'Cause someone says they're so
Some things I cannot change
But 'til I try, I'll never know
Too long I've been afraid of
Losing love I guess I've lost
Well, if that's love
It comes at much too high a cost...

And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free...

"Defying Gravity," Wicked

I just want to design, but for some reason, you won't let me. I don't know why you won't hire me. It seems as though no amount of computer drafting skills, product knowledge, interest, or enthusiasm is ever enough for you. Somewhere in the void between what I want to do for a living and what I actually do, somewhere in the canyon between what I went to school for and what people will actually hire me to do are the entry level positions you've constantly denied me. They are the bridge you forbid me to cross.

 You don't even consider me worthy of answering your phones as a receptionist. (Funny, the lawyers and investment professionals I've worked for don't see it that way.) I've done my best to try to please you by taking refresher courses, attending NeoCon every year, and reading design magazines, but there is nothing I can do to make you want me.

While I waited for you to give me a design job, I found some terrible substitutes. And I endured horrible bosses, horrible commutes, and horrible customers, all in the hopes that it would matter to you. But noting I have ever done has mattered to you.

The time has come for this unrequited love affair to end.

I'm tired of trying to impress people who don't respect me. This year I attended NeoCon for myself and not for you because I don't want to work for you anymore. I'm working for myself. It's too late. You made me wait too long.

Do not insult my intelligence by suggesting I work as an intern again. Now that I am 33, I am too old to be anyone's free intern. I refuse.

No longer will I make sacrifices to gain your approval. I've paid enough with my own blood, sweat, tears, and debt. And even if you never acknowledge me, I have earned the right to be where you are. I belong in the Merchandise Mart every bit as much as you do, and I will not allow your haughtiness and snobbery to drive me away.

Perhaps the truth is that you are unworthy of me. After the way you've treated me, you do not deserve my contribution, my talent, or my particular skill set.  I will not share them with you. I refuse. I will use my abilities to benefit my own clients.

For so long I've resented you for blocking my career path. Now I realize that I can create a path of my own. I don't need your blessing. You are not the whole of interior design. You're just one part, the part that I despise for its ugly ways. Design itself is beautiful.

I'm the best thing that you never had.  And now you'll never have me.

I'll let the ladies of En Vogue break it down for you just so you understand:

This is my declaration of independence.

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