Fantasy Art

Friday, June 17, 2016

Play Your Strength

Sign painting was a fun job.  I got to be my own boss and use my artistic skills while learning to run my own business.
 It wasn't exactly the dream job, but it was a lot closer to it than working in a factory had been so I was satisfied for a long while.  Possibly too long, who knows?
But eventually the well just seemed to run dry and I had to find a new way to make a living.
 I had the skills and materials for sign painting, but no customers.
 I had the desire to be a fantasy illustrator, but lacked the skills.
What to do?
 Well it took longer to figure out than it should have, but the answer came to me in a flash when I gave myself permission to let the sign painter in me take over the studio and paint anything he wanted.
A couple hundred of these paintings poured out of me in rapid succession.  In fact I did seventeen paintings in the first seven days, was immediately accepted into a little art show which I'd never done before and by the end of that evening was accepted in my first gallery which led to other galleries and a one man show where I sold nearly everything.

This art uses Bright colors, bold outlines, pinstripes, stamps, borders, abstract shapes, high contrast, lettering and masking.  All the stock in trade for sign painters.
None of this is great art, but you can see how images like this would incorporate easily into a sign for a hair salon, tanning salon, or boutique.
These ones were all about three to four feet long.

You can see Cracks and knotholes in the boards.  You could try to fix it or you could just roll with it.  People really loved these.  When they realized that it was recycled material they loved it even more.
About three feet tall.

There were no rules and no wrong subjects.  It was a liberating time, I did a lot of experimenting with materials and ideas.  Most of this set were the front panel of a drawer with the hardware removed and the holes filled in.
The flying eyeball is an essential sign painter thing going back to the late great Von Dutch.

The two goldfish panels were a pair of closet doors, you know the type that fold up as they open?  They'e about seven feet tall.
The octopus was about three feet tall and people reacted so strongly to it that I decided to do a couple more.  Those sold so well that I did some more...about a hundred in all.
 I became known as "The Octopus Guy".

Like sign painting this never was the plan.  It was a stepping stone, a bridge from one career to another.  Doing all this art  made a much better painter out of me in a fairly short time.  
It was fun and extremely rewarding, even if it wasn't the destination it was vital to reaching my destination.   Since this series was instrumental in making the transition from sign painting to fantasy art  I consider it one of the most important phases of my life.
And I never would have made that transition if I'd done things right.  If I'd followed the rules and used sign stuff for signs and art stuff for art I'd have played my weakness and gotten nowhere.  But I played my strength, the only strength I had, and got farther than I'd ever expected.

Don't do things the way they're supposed to be done, do them in whatever way you are most likely to succeed at them.

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