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Friday, February 27, 2009

You Create The Meaning Of Vinyl Art

Jerry Garcia - (i) inspired by photo by Herb GreeneAbout a year ago now, I ran a contest on this blog. The best story about how music affected you would win a piece of Vinyl Art of the musician of your choice. Patrick submitted a link to an amazing story about his 1st Grateful Dead show. It was really the only entry, but he definitely deserved it. When he got the piece, he posted a pic on his blog. Now the piece hangs above his record collection.

Patrick is the perfect person to have a piece of Vinyl Art. He has and continues to be a huge music fan, it having played a major role throughout his life. His long-term focus on the Dead made Jerry the obvious choice, but his love of music made the art meaningful.

Yesterday I posted about considering my art a mashup of the music and the painting, but the owner has a part too. A big part. Whether a contest prize, a gift, a commission, or gallery purchase, you become a part of the art and what it means when you own it. You own it just as you own your connection to your music. It means what it does because of you and your love of your music.

Yes, you give meaning to what I do. So, thank you!


Thursday, February 26, 2009

EMIN3M X Vinyl Art

Eminem"X" means more than just putting things together. Multiplying creates more than adding. Em knows how to create something more than just the sum of its parts. "Sing For The Moment" off of The Eminem Show contains elements of Aerosmith's "Dream On" creating a brilliant mashup that makes my toes tingle.

Maybe we can call my Vinyl Art a visual remix or an artistic crossover. Whatever. Just don't use a "+".


EMIN3M 02/26/09

Original Copy (Or Don't Spoil The Broth)


Can you tell which is which?

I received the artist's proofs for this project along with the originals. Upon opening the box, as I wasn't sure what they'd sent, when I grabbed the clear plastic sleeve with the proofs in it and it flopped around I was confused. I thought the proofs were the originals! Holy crap! The scan even captured a bit of the shadow cast by the record onto the sleeve and the grooves are visible at the right angle.

I don't know how I feel! Man, I'm blown away at the quality, so I'm really hopeful the Hard Rock likes the result. At the same time, though... I'm just glad this is a very limited edition in scope. Not because I'm unhappy I did it, but because I feel like I let a little control go over my art.

I know I didn't really because of the stringent contract, but I'm used to doing everything, making every decision and controlling every step. I'm the kinda guy who doesn't ask for help. So this is probably good for me, learning to trust others to do what they do. I mean, I don't try to take control of how a meal at a restaurant is prepared beyond making sure my order is taken accurately.

Fortunately, for this first meal at The Repro Diner, the restaurant manager, the waitress, the cook, and the ingredients were all top notch. And the menu description was appealing and accurate.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

What's The One Album?

New York Dolls
Paul up in Canada bought this early last year. His feedback is also on my testimonial page. He recently bought a Billie Holiday as well. Billie's music and the man who introduced him to her helped Paul see his way out of his "hopelessly mixed up" teen years. I'll share more of that story when he sends me a photo of the Holiday displayed in his home.

It was, though, the New York Dolls and this album in particular that opened him up to the vast array of "new" music, including jazz. In fact, this album on which I painted was his actual album, played so much that it wouldn't play anymore. What a cool way to remember his music, with a piece of art created with that music! And here it is, on his mantle.

For me, that one album was "Revolver" by The Beatles which really opened my eyes to the possibilities in music.

What's your one album?


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What's Your Favorite Instrument?

Booker T. Jones - (i) inspired by photo by Baron Wolman
Mine's the Hammond organ. Both organic and electronic sounding, the growl of this electric organ just sends me. From CSN&Y to the Allman Bros., from Yes to ELP, from Jimmy Smith to Larry Goldings, from Ray Manzarek to John Medeski, from Reese Wynans to Rick Wright, and from Isaac Hayes to Booker T. & the MGs, I love the sounds different players coax and force out of this instrument.

Booker T. of course recorded his group's song, "Green Onions", which is one of my favorite instrumentals, along with the Allman Bros. "In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed". The recordings on Blue Note during the early '60s, including Lou Donaldson and Grant Green's, have some of the funkiest Hammond ever. All seriously funkin' good music.

I loved it so much that I took a break from playing piano, which I'd played as a hobby since my mom put me in Yamaha classes, to learn the Hammond and specifically the solo from "Green Onions". Never got very good at it, but it felt good playing it, the way the organ vibrates.

What's your favorite instrument to hear? To play?


Booker T. Jones 02/24/09

Monday, February 23, 2009

Connections: Stories From Vinyl Art Owners

Flaming Lips

First seen in this post last April, here's how Michael has his painting displayed. Given to him by his girlfriend, Melanie, the piece looks cool in their music corner. Melanie says he likes looking at it while he plays his guitar. This is my first post of what I hope is many showing how owners of my work have their pieces displayed.

This one has three stories associated with it. I love how they interrelate.

1) Melanie, who lives in Florida, was referred to me by her friend Dee. My wife and I had met Dee and her husband, Tanner, on line at the House of Blues in New Orleans for the Kings of Leon. Obviously big music fans too, as they'd driven from Florida to New Orleans, Dee ended up buying one of my paintings of Miles Davis as a surprise birthday gift for Tanner. Dee's feedback is the 3rd one on my testimonial page.

2) Michael's feedback about the Flaming Lips is on that page too. Melanie gave it to him as an anniversary present. It was supposed to have been a surprise birthday gift, but I got it to her so fast, she couldn't stand it and gave it to him a month early. I say to give me a month to turnaround a commission, but I really try to get it done before that, especially for surprise gifts.

3) Melanie was named after Melanie Safka. She has several LPs of the folk singer that she hopes to have me paint on someday. It was around the same time I was painting the Flaming Lips that I also painted Melanie for a guy trying to get her inducted into the Hall of Fame. I love it when my art connects with people so passionate about their music that they take a public stand on something related.

That is really why I do this, the individual stories of love for music and humanity. I've received a couple other photos of my work in place either on shelves leaning against a wall or hung. I'll be posting about them soon, and I hope to get more responses from other owners!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Manifest(o) Choice (Or Change Your World, Yourself)

Matt Johnson of The The"If you can't change the world. Change yourself. And if you can't change yourself then... change the world." Matt Johnson of The The

This past week I've been following breadcrumbs online, discovering new ideas and people. New to me, at least. And that's one of the beauties of the web, for while we do have to pay webhosts and service providers for storage and access to our information, it's always there. Somewhat removed from space and time, people around the world can happen upon what you've put out there at any time. Like I wrote about last time, everything is new for somebody. And truthfully, every action is new for everybody, every time. Every time is a choice. It's a matter of waking up, taking control of that choice. Own it.

Hugh MacLeod, aka @gapingvoid, comes up with some brilliant distillations of thought and reality. Currently, he's working on uniting his tribe using the description of "crazy, deranged fools" or CDF. These are people who take control of their lives, not necessarily changing them, just recognizing that they have control, have the ability to be creative with intent in whatever they are doing. It's about intent.

Hugh's developing take on creativity is going to probably produce a manifesto of some sort. Manifestos are meant to help manifest a desired reality. Usually political, like the Communist Manifesto or the US Declaration of Independence, a manifesto is developed by an individual or small group who wants to change the world, really change it. They then publicly put forth their document and sign it, allowing anybody else to join in the cause by signing as well. Hugh has created an email subscription-based newsletter.

His ideas are in good company. By different routes, I came upon @KathySierra's Clueless Manifesto. This again goes to the beauty of the Internet, as she wrote it on her blog back in February of 2006. Also, an extremely smart and forward-thinking person in the ways of the economy, Umair Haque, wrote his Smart Growth Manifesto this just past January. Both of these, in their own contexts, discuss how this world needs creative people, people who don't see limitations and status quo, who take things as they are and decide if they think they can be better, and then do it. Anybody can be creative in any setting, it's just that it's the people, the connections between, and the authentic creative contribution to humanity that matter. Individually, or en masse, we can wake up.

I've been long interested in how people or small groups of people get so passionate about something that they want to take over the world with it. @chrisguillebeau is very inspirational with his Brief Guide To World Domination. The interesting thing about manifestos is that they usually are more about the individual than the world. Our world as we each see it, is a matter of perception. What we do in that world is a matter of intent. Manifestos publicly declare that intent.

What would be your manifesto? The act of writing it is powerful. So do it!


Matt Johnson 02/22/09

Friday, February 20, 2009

(W)rote Learning, Think About It

Noel and Liam Gallagher In answering a follow-up question from that UK graphic arts student, I realized I kind of take my process for granted. I don't talk a lot about it because I don't think about it much. It sort of just happens. Or at least it seems to, to me.

Think about what you do regularly "without thinking".

But it is pretty cool what I do. Every step of work on the actual piece is done by hand, and without stencil. So the value of what I do is both in the painting and the process. The same goes for you, I'm guessing.

Think about when you try to explain what you do to someone else. If they're going to do it too, they have to take notes or something, or learn it by rote.

This brings me back in my head to the realization that what I do is special, all of it. The inspiration for the idea came from a high school art project, but I came up with the process, the technique and the tools to use.

Think about what you've come up with, creating a new method or a new tool to get something done. Let's take a moment to give ourselves a pat on the back.

We're all here for a reason, to do something, to contribute to humanity in some way. Usually that something involves repetition. I'm liking the saying currently that "persistence expresses passion". People who make a difference for people are those that do, that create, that generate, that add to the world, and who do it a lot.

Just don't forget that even though you're doing the same thing over and over, it's new for somebody. It is special, each time.


SOLD - Oasis 02/20/09

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Nature Vs. Nurture

Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie - (i) inspired by photo by Ryan Russell
I'm loving getting these questions from artists and students! I hadn't thought I'd get to give back by teaching about what I do. It's an ego boost too, for sure. Also it inspires my inner dialog about being an artist. Oh goody, here comes more rambling.

I got an email yesterday from a graphic arts student in the UK wondering how I can do what I do so accurately. Going back to this post, this brings up the innate talent versus learned skill issue. I've long claimed, I guess largely due to my insecurities discussed in that previous post, that it's not something one is born with, this ability to do what I do. I say my accuracy comes from having simply done it for so long, a well-honed skill and facility with tools. People usually respond with something like, "Well, I know I couldn't ever do that."

I don't know. What do you think? Do people react to what you do the best like that? Do you feel like you're as good as you are because of who you are or what you've learned?

Or do you think this is a pointless question, that I should quit my rambling and just get on with painting?


SOLD - Ben Gibbard 02/19/09

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

We're Gonna Give It Back (Or It's About You)

Peter Garrett of Midnight Oil - (i) inspired by photo by Reuters
You know that feeling that flows down your spine, washes outward until your fingers and toes tingle when you listen to music that moves you? That what Vinyl Art is about, what I want to connect you with, who I want to paint for you.

I've been asked by a couple of students via email what, if any, meaning or message my art is meant to convey. I've responded saying that I'm not very good at talking about the specific pieces, that any meaning is to be found by each observer. I've never been good at talking about my art's motivation other than the general reason I create it. I hate artist statements. They usually come off so pompous, like "look at me and the big words I can use to completely destroy the meaning of my work." I like my art to speak for itself. In that sense, it is the medium and message.

But I've realized that my art does have a message, that it is meant to communicate something. It is meant to be the physical record of a story, your story. Each unique piece is meant to connect you to your music, your memory, your culture. I want you to be able to look at my painting and hear that music in your head, be transported back to when you listened to it over and over and over, and maybe, just maybe even give you that physical rush.

I want to make your toes tingle.

"Beds Are Burning" by Midnight Oil does it for me. How about you?


Available - Peter Garrett 02/17/09

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hard Rock Update

Kanye West
The gallery just let me know that this project is coming along nicely. The prints are done and being framed, with one set already on its way to Florida. I'll be getting my artist's proof, the original paintings and the second half of my royalty payment in a couple of weeks!

Once they get hung, who knows, maybe Kanye will see my work. He might stay at the Hollywood Hard Rock Hotel, right? Anyway, we'll see! I'll certainly post a photo of the artist's proof when I get it, good or bad.

Happy Valentine's Day and President's Day!


Kanye West 02/13/09

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Now, I Know I'm Not Warhol

John Lennon - (i) inspired by photo by Iain Macmillan
Yeah, I'm still trying to find photo credits for those that have inspired my pieces. I finally found the original photo with credit for this iconic John Lennon image.

On the left is my painting of John Lennon on a copy of his "Rock 'n' Roll". On the right is Warhol's album cover for Lennon's "Menlove_Ave.". It's pretty obvious we used the same photo.

But did Warhol take the original photo? The Wikipedia entry linked to above uses the word "effected" to describe how Warhol created the image. It, and no other link I could find related to the album cover image, said anything about the original photo.

So who did take the original? I really had to dig online to find this poster. And I could really only make out "Macmillan" there in the upper left corner. It's Iain Macmillan. He also took a companion photo of Yoko. He also took the photo for the cover of "Abbey Road"!

Halleluiah! Why was that so hard to find? Here's an image that everybody knows, that's used on commemorative coins and t-shirts. Now, Yoko took the cover photo for "Imagine" and certainly owns the copyright on this image as well, but man! Well, I guess I could be overestimating my online searching abilities. I dunno.

Anyway, I did find a bunch more today along with this one, so that's good. But, I'm planning on painting Kanye West tomorrow, inspired by a photo that, yet again, I could only find one online copy and it was on a blog that gave no source or credit. *Sigh*


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I Can't See Clearly Enough To Paint

Nico Blue Coonhound
This, or she rather, is why (sheesh, even the camera forgot how to focus). Meet Nico, our 4th dog. Bailey, Cocoa, and Lucy, who can be seen in the first pictures here (taken by my wife by the way), are the other 3. Nico is a bluetick coonhound, named after Shannon Hoon's child (I'd love to paint Shannon on a Blind Melon album if anybody knows if any were ever pressed). So freakin' adorable. We're stopping at 4, figuring 2 big dogs per person is enough.

So we're on fragmented and less than optimal sleep. And we normally sleep a lot.

Another reason my vision's a little compromised is this deal with Shepard Fairey. If you know me, you know I'm not judgemental or pissed off very often. When I do get riled up, it's usually because I'm reacting to something about myself that the universe is reflecting back to me. In this case, it's my somewhat unresolved wonderings about the legality of what I do. Layered on top of my insecurity about cheating is the worry that I'm stealing. I don't like feeling like I'm doing something wrong. I go pale, get lightheaded and my feet feel like lead.

When I first started selling my Vinyl Art pieces, we consulted this book. It seemed reasonable that my work was transformative enough and didn't clash with the photographer's market, so the "fair use" claim would be valid. Fairey is pre-emptively suing the AP to get a judge to declare his use of the Obama photo to be "fair use". Suing.

Now I know, like I said in that first post about this issue, that I would be hard hard pressed to go an adversarial route in the courts, but it could come down to a third party's determination on a case-by-case basis whether my work constitutes "fair use". I decided to ask Tad Crawford, the author of that book and owner of the publishing company, what he thought, off the record. He responded, suggesting that I be as careful as I can and be prepared to pay permission fees.

So, I've taken this time while on puppy-watch to find the source of as many photos I've used as possible. In my online gallery, I've added appropriate credit to the ones I've dug up so far. I haven't found all, and some, like the John Lennon with the glasses, are so common that Warhol even used it for an album cover. I'm going to keep looking, and I'm going to hopefully go through my blog posts and add appropriate credits in the painting's description text. A lot of work, but I decided I'd feel better.

And that's the point. I want to feel good about what I do. I want to paint.


Friday, February 6, 2009

Trust In Art

Tom Jones

Creatives should respect each other. Tom Jones sings other people's songs. The albums credit the songwriters and publishers. Simple. It's called not stealing. How can someone who truly believes in creativity choose not to willingly give credit where due? If anybody'd follow the ol' golden rule, I'd think it'd be people who supposedly create personal expressions for public presentation.

A very cool cat wrote about Fairey's Obama campaign image and the legal dispute between the AP, who owns the original photograph that Fairey manipulated into the now incredibly famous image, and the artist. Fairey redily admits that he used the image, but won't give credit substantively. Nice. Nice message.

Now, legally, I know I'm ok doing what I do vis-a-vis the photographer and publisher because I'm not infringing on the right or ability of the image copyright owner to sell and reproduce for sale the original image. Fairey took some else's photo and directly and indirectly created and reproduced products for sale and claims it's ok under the guise of political action. True, the AP hadn't used the image themselves, but Fairey did find it online, so it was published. True, the AP is only taking reactionary measures now that the image is part of pop culture, but there's no time restriction to contest a copyright violation.

Is it fair use though? Well, Fairey's done it many times, trying to make money behind a thinly veiled attempt at social commentary, and not giving credit. It's called give and take. He's even copyrighted his own images that blatantly use someone else's with simply his famous "OBEY" logo on it for mass reproduction. Nice. Way to be.

Now it may be that Fairey has not yet financially profitted from the image directly. Then it would fall to those who are, like the publisher who included the poster image in a book about the campaign, to compensate the AP. It's just a mess that wouldn't have been created if he'd been upfront.

Any photographer or publisher who has a problem with my painting a portrait based on their photo, I'll respect to the utmost. I'll credit them, stop painting that specific portrait, license it, whatever within reason. Not because what I'm doing is wrong. Because giving due credit is right.


Tom Jones 02/06/09

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Space And Time

The Verve

Beautiful song from an amazing band. The Verve have joined with a bunch of other largely British bands to fight for more equitable contracts with record companies. The middlemen are becoming commoditized, yet still vital.

I began to think of how amazing it is that I can reach so many so fast with my art all seemingly on my own. In this amazing world at this amazing time, individuals can make a difference much more massively and more quickly than ever before. Distribution of content has definitely changed. It's shifted from tell me to show me.

But it's not true that it's all on my own. I've hired a webhost to store and distribute my website. Yes, this blog is free through Google, but I have to pay my cable company for Internet access to publish it.

They aren't book publishers and libraries, but they are distributors and infrastructure. Without them, this modern world just might disappear.


SOLD - The Verve 02/05/09

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When Stevie Wonder Looks Like "Stevie Wonder"

Stevie Wonder

When you see the painting and can hear his voice in your head.


SOLD - Stevie Wonder 02/04/09

When Vinyl Is Better

Tom Waits - (i) inspired by photo by George Hurrell

When you buy a $6 Tom Waits album because the slight hiss intensifies his voice and the occasional pop makes the music unique to your copy.


SOLD - Tom Waits 02/04/09

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

And You Know That For Sure

John and Yoko

Love is a flower... you got to let it grow.

Yes is surrender... you got to let it go.


SOLD - John and Yoko 02/03/09

And They Were Singing, "Bye Bye, Miss American Pie"

Buddy Holly The Day The Music Died.


Buddy Holly 02/03/09

Monday, February 2, 2009

And There'll Be No More Lies

Thom Yorke - Radiohead

Where I end and you begin.


Thom Yorke 02/02/09