Sunday, September 6, 2015

I can haz three shops?

Yes, yes I can. I now have three shops. 
So now you can PETRI ALL THE THINGS. 
Click the pic to take you there.

For original artwork, scarves and petri dish ornaments, go to my etsy shop

For coffee mugs, phone cases, leggings 
and other accessories, there's my Redbubble shop

And for fabric and wrapping paper, 
I now have a Spoonflower shop


Sunday, August 30, 2015

News and Upcoming Events - UPDATED

New scarf designs for Art of Neuroscience

Important updates! Because of predicted heavy rain and high winds, both of this weekend's shows have been postponed. 

Art on the Avenue in Alexandria will take place on Saturday, October 10.

MPA Artfest in McLean will be held on Monday, October 12 (Columbus Day) 

Other than Artscape, it's been a pretty quiet summer, but that's about to change. Lots of events are coming up:

September 12
Washington, DC

September 26
Washington, DC

October 3
Alexandria, VA

October 4
McLean, VA

October 17-21
Chicago, IL

October 22
Personal Patterns, Group Show

Cafritz Gallery, Montgomery College

In addition, I was recently interviewed by Dr. Vincent Racaniello for This Week in Virology. Dr. Racaniello is a great supporter of science art and science communication. You can see the interview here

In other news, I created a shop on Redbubble with mugs, notebooks, leggings and other cool things printed with my artwork. You can find it here

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Banks' Theorem of Stupid Rules

Not a stupid rule at all

Long before I started selling my art online, I sold it at festivals, art markets and gallery shows. Early on, I was seriously puzzled, and often annoyed, by the ridiculous rules of many art shows and festivals. No paintings that are still wet? No getting juried into a show and then subletting your space to someone who didn’t? Who would do that? Why would anyone have to even mention these things?

Then, after a few years of selling, I began to get involved with organizing some shows, and I found out. The very first festival I organized, an artist told me weeks before the show that she couldn’t make it, but that she had arranged for a friend to use her booth space. My jaw hit the floor. Absolutely not! She seemed amazed that I wouldn’t allow it, although I can’t imagine any half-decently run art show that would.

Another fairly common trick was to have a friend help in the booth, in exchange for which the “official” artist showed some of their work in the space. That’s why you see that rule everywhere that all the work has to be made by the artist who applied. Maybe you think that’s not a big deal, but to all the artists who applied and were rejected, it is!

Later, I coordinated a show of about 30 artists at a gallery space. I kept the written rules to a minimum – and a guy showed up with gigantic pieces with very recently applied globs of still-wet acrylic paint. When we hung the work, the paint came off all over my hands and clothing. 

One very basic rule for gallery shows is that artwork must be ready to hang. Ever wonder why some shows are so freaking fussy about pieces having “a single wire across the back, no nails, screw eyes, or sawtooth hangers”? Number one, because while some of those things work OK for hanging, they tend to scratch up gallery walls, which will have to be repaired. But number two, and far more to the point, is that every single time, someone will bring in work that has absolutely no hanging hardware, and expect someone else to deal with it. Every. Single. Time.

Two years after wet-paint guy, a woman at the same show presented us with paintings in mats, no frames. When we said we couldn’t accept them because there was no way to hang them, she went away and came back with the work still in mats, with pieces of string taped across the back.

All of these examples, and many more, led me to develop Banks’ theorem, which is:


Broadly extrapolated, Banks’ theorem explains why we can’t have nice things. It applies in many other contexts than art shows, of course. Why do you have to go to such lengths to prove to banks or government agencies that you are who you say you are? Because assholes are out there stealing people’s identities. Why are there so very many silly rules on what you can claim as business expenses? Because jerks keep trying to claim their vacations and shoes and haircuts. Why do we have to take off our shoes at the airport? Because that one idiot that one time tried to ignite a bomb in his shoe. 

All of this is deeply unfair to the vast majority of people who would never dream of doing any of this stuff.

Even though people constantly try to get away with shit, I still think we should strive to avoid making rules based on worst-case scenarios. I struggle with it all the time, though. I do commissioned paintings, for example. People almost always love them and pay happily. Then somebody will come along, commission something, and, after I let them know it’s ready, cut off all contact. Does this mean I always have to get payment in advance? I probably should, but I still don’t. Why punish the majority of nice people for the actions of a few jerks?

A few weeks ago, somebody asked me to use one of my images for a non-commercial project. I said yes and even found and sent her a better-quality image than the one I had online. And she never said a single word. Not even “thx”. I decided that was the last time I was letting someone use one of my images for free. So when someone asked me last week if they could use another image, I hesitated. I talked myself through basically all the points in this post, and then I said yes. And, of course, she said thank you, and we were both happy.

So Banks’ theorem is explanatory, not prescriptive. I understand why rules exist, even very stupid rules. We all, especially those of us who run our own businesses, have to decide on a set of rules we can live by, and with. But maybe if we focus on the 98% percent of people who are honest, and kind, and not pains in the butt, (OK, maybe it’s more like 80%), we could end up with fewer - and fairer - rules altogether. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

If you want to sell on the internet, you have to be on the internet

A neighbor recently opened an etsy shop to sell her paintings. She asked me a bunch of questions about the process, which I was happy to answer. Then she asked me the essential question: "How do you get people to find you on the internet?"

Getting people to find me on the internet is the central struggle of my career. It’s a constant battle that I’ve been fighting every single day, with some success, for the past five years. But of course I didn’t tell my neighbor this, because I didn’t want to scare her off. So I suggested she start by posting her new shop on her Facebook page. “Well, that’s the thing, I don’t do Facebook.” Twitter? Nope. Instagram? What? We didn’t even get to the idea of submitting work to blogs.

I had a sudden flashback to a conversation with another artist a few years earlier, who complained that twitter wasn’t working well for promoting her work. “I tweet a lot,” she explained, “But I don’t actually READ tweets.” Dear fellow artist,

This is not to say that twitter is the only way to go, or that artists have to spend as many hours a day on the internet as I do. They probably shouldn’t!

But really, selling online has a lot in common with selling offline. You need to put in some time. You have to get out there and forge relationships. You need to know who the players are. I’m going to call this Banks’ second theorem:*

If you want to sell on the internet, you have to be on the internet.

If you had a brick-and-mortar shop, you would know the other shopkeepers in your neighborhood, wouldn’t you? Well, if you have an online shop, the internet is your neighborhood. Get out there, take a walk every day, and say hello. Read some blogs. Read some tweets. Make some intelligent comments. Then say, "here, have a look at what I'm working on." Repeat. 

*I’ll get to the first theorem later. My blog, my rules. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ohaiiiii - Upcoming Events

Oh my God, has it really been 6 months since I posted? I apologize to all 5 of you : ) Anyway, I've got some events coming up, so I updated the calendar. You can find me at

July 17-19
Artscape, Baltimore

October 3
Art on the Avenue
Alexandria, VA

October 4
McLean Project for the Arts, Artfest
McLean, VA

I'm also in a group show called "Personal Patterns" opening in October at Montgomery College. I'll post about that when there's something to link to.

In the meantime, there's always new stuff in the shop, including new petri dish and diatom scarves.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Out With the Old, In With the New

I've made a few changes for the new year. Most notably, I just emptied out my old Artmonger etsy shop, where I sold coffee cup collages and other cute stuff. I'm not making those any more, but I did decide to keep my recycled collage line, which I love and which give me something to do with all those practice paintings. So I've set up a new Recycled Collage section in my Artologica shop - you can find it here.

In other news, 12 of my paintings are now on view at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health (aka Building 10) until early March. There's no reception, and I can't really suggest you try to get past all that security to look at my paintings, but if you happen to be there in the next 8 weeks, please take a look. The paintings are in the lobby, near the main doors.