Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Was the Best Advice Given to You as an Artist? #5

"What was the best advice given to you as an artist?"

All of the responses are taken from the 100+ interviews archived on

"What was the best advice given to you as an artist?"

My mentor Frank Agar advised me to exhibit as much as possible. Keep a passion for sharing and communicating your art to the public. Even if they are not ready for it, and reject it.
Margaret Gamache

“There are 24 hours in a day. Make it work.”
J.M. Culver

To follow my heart and do what I feel most passionate about, even if it’s unconventional. To not worry about what others might think. To feel confident in anything I create.
Mia Malone Jennings

Taking a chance and having it end in disaster is always better than playing it safe…which is fairly easy advice to follow especially since not taking chances with your work can also end in disaster.
Alison Hiltner

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Artist's Toolbox: Copyright, Creative Commons and Trademarks

Tips and Tools: The Artist's Toolbox
(Image Source:

Copyright, Creative Commons, Trademark, Oh My!

Last week, after I finished participating in a panel discussion at SooVAC called the After School Specials, I had an artist come up to me and ask about copyright. She wanted to know how I protected my work and if she should watermark her images. Copyrights, trademarks, and other ways to protect intellectual property can get pretty confusing. Much like Dorothy trying to make her way back to Kansas, it is easy to get lost along the way! So here is a breakdown on ways to protect your work, with a few bits of advice and tips about how I do it.

©: Copyright

Keyboard shortcut: Copyright
For Mac: Option + G
Non-Mac: Alt+0169

Copyright protects works of authorship; this includes literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works: poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, architecture and your art. Copyright is great because gives you exclusive rights as the creator. It’s the government providing official documentation that you have created and own the artwork. If you take a peek into my blog’s archives you will find my post about copyright called, Using Protection: Five Steps to Copyrighting Your Art . I did a step by step breakdown on how I learned and successfully registered my artwork. Now, do I recommend copyrighting all of your works of art? No.

There are certain situations where you need to copyright your work but more often than not there are ways to protect yourself without needing to register every work which on average costs $35 if you register online. If you are working with other people who wish to use your image for printing, publishing or other uses its best to copyright. You still allow them access to use your copyright image but only for certain printed or published materials (which should be previously decided upon). I once dealt with this situation where the creator wanted to take my image and print posters, postcards, fliers and more with my image which I did not initially agree to. If you have a hunch someone will take your work and run, either back out or protect yourself with a copyright. Learn to write contracts to make sure the project and terms are agreed upon. Make sure you have registration number to the copyright of your work in the contract too.

While there are definitely grey areas where you will have to make the decision yourself whether or not to copyright, consider the consequences that could occur if you don’t copyright your art and images in these situations. Many photographers will watermark their work either across the entire image or small in the corner. For the most part, this is distracting when done on art (As shown on my work, “Ok, Who Invited the Bomb Pop?”). 

(c) Kate Renee 2011

Instead of plastering you name and a copyright symbol on every image you have, consider adjusting the image to help prevent online image theft. Resize the image to 72 pixels per inch. This means that if someone steals your image and tried to print or publish it, the size of the image will create a poor copy. Basically it’s hard to reproduce this image in a high enough quality to make some money off of it.

But did you know, you already own the copyright to your work whether or not you register it with the government. So go ahead and stick that © on if that makes you feel better. If you want to start the registration process or learn more about copyrights head on over to

The creative commons right allows people to use your images as long as they have your permission. Creative Commons license allows your artwork to be shared; people are allowed to use your images for free and without threat of copyright infringement. How does this benefit you? You get free publicity and promotion when people use your images but you are in control. If they fail to ask you permission, they are incorrectly using your work. However creative commons allows you to determine the size, quality and amount of your work to be available for others to use. It is also free to protect your work this way. When I took a workshop with Creative Capital back in 2010 we talked about these same issues. Creative Commons licenses can determine various modes of attribution, derivatives and distribution that you allow.

You can find out more information about having a creative commons license here: There is a great interactive way to decide which creative commons symbols to stick on your website and printed materials. It also gives you’re the html code to stick into your website! You can also download their logos here: I also included the variety of Creative Common licenses you can choose from to allow or discourage specific uses of your artwork. Pretty awesome for being free!

™: Trademark

Keyboard shortcut: Trademark Symbol 
For Mac: Option + 2
Non-Mac: Alt+0153

According to (USPTO) United States Patent and Trademark Office, a trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. This does not protect your artwork. Trademarks are a bit more business or logo orientated. It protects brand names and logos for sold goods and services. Interested in trademarking something? Most people have to hire an attorney to assist them through the application process. Lot more complicated than getting a creative commons or copyright.

If you are watermarking or adding © or creative commons symbols to your artwork, avoid using the registration symbol ®. The registration symbol is related to trademarks. The registration symbol ® may only be used once you have completed registration for your trademark.

Still confused? Here is an example: If you invented a new type of kiln, a patent protects the invention of the kiln. The trademark would protect the brand name of your kiln. You would apply then for a copyright for the commercial you produce to market your new kiln. As an artist, if you made a new drawing, you could decide to protect it either on your own with changing the file size to a low DPI or watermarking it. You could also register it through the government for a copyright or use the creative commons license to allow people to properly use your images.

Kate Renee lives and works in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Kate graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in fine arts, art history, and a minor in design, and has worked with various galleries and museums in the Twin Cities including the Katherine E. Nash Gallery, Larson Art Gallery, American Swedish Institute and the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. She designed currently manages the Solo Exhibition Program at Altered Esthetics.

Kate is building a national and international reputation with exhibitions throughout the United States. In 2011, Kate began a six week residency at Prairie Center for the Arts in Peoria, IL, where she focused on building a new body of work. Currently, she is a workshop teacher at Bloomington Theatre and Art Center where she teaches arts business workshops. She also is a marketing assistant for Local Artist Interviews.

You can see Kate’s work on her website or follow her artist development blog

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Brian David Downs - Painting/Drawing

B and C Symmetry Unite, Ink/Graphite/Acrylic on Archival Paper, 27inX80in, 2011
Brian David Downs

Brian David Downs
Everywhere, Minnesota
Website: profile:

Bio~ I am an artist who resides in Minnesota. I work between paintings and making show fliers for bands I know or enjoy.

Tiny Little Hands for Tiny Shrunken Heads #2 Ink/Graphite on Archival Paper
26inX20in, 2011

Tell me about your work. What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
My body of work spans mainly from painting and drawing, but dabbles in video, photography, sculpture, music, and performance.

I just finished up a series of paintings of shrunken heads, titled "Tiny Little Hands for Tiny Shrunken Heads." The series tries to re-establish the living human of the shrunken heads from being simply soulless keepsakes. The paintings are done in a classical straight on portrait style, with source images ranging between pictures of shrunken heads and pictures of friends. The tiny old men braiding the hair in each painting....well...I'll leave that to the viewer.

I'm currently working on a series of self portraits, a new series of paintings based off of dreams I've had this year, a few portraits of friends, two comic series, Voytek's first 7' album art work, and constantly pumping out show fliers.

Collaboratively, I'm slowly putting together a zine with my friend Adam Slaybaugh, auditioning a few people to play music with, and recording music.

I wouldn't necessarily say that what I'm doing now is all that different from past projects, but as I change day to day, complete more pieces; I learn new techniques, define my pallet more, and have new ideas. Each piece is a new adventure and experience all together for me.

Tiny Little Hands for Tiny Shrunken Heads #1, Ink/Graphite on Archival Paper 26inX20in, 2011

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
I would hope my art sticks in the viewers' heads....that it does its job of grabbing some attention, and not being overlooked like a painting at a commercial diner or eatery/ or an 80's cool jazz tune softly playing while grocery shopping. It would be nice to think that my work has allowed someone to gain a new perspective of the world or come closer to understanding mine, but more so, I simply hope they love it or hate it, luke warm reactions are boring.

I don't believe I have any grandiose statement to make with my art, but more so just hope to snap people out of the everyday life experience here and attempt to wake people out of the constant slumber of American life: helping them open their eyes and notice how bizarre and messed up the world we live in is and the rare fleeting moments of beauty.

Tiny Little Hands for Tiny Shrunken Heads #6 Ink/Graphite on Archival Paper
26inX20in, 2011

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Never stop drawing. - Gerald Smith (

Tell me about your work space and your creative process?
My works space is where ever my body or soul is residing at the moment. My creative process is using some sort of physical/manual dexterity to release what is rambling through my brain at any given moment.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Jesse Peterson (,
Jenny Peterson,
Bruce Tapola,
Gerald Smith (,
Justin Quinn,
Ben Henkelman,
Andrew Broder,
Skoal Kodiak (,
Caitlin Wignall,
Nashana Redding Tuomi,
Fatima Elfilali,
Robert Heid,
Chris Hill,

....I could go on forever, I really dig our great state's amount of quality artists.

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
All over the Twin Cities, from places like Triple Rock Social Club, Turf Club, Club Gleb Bacon (aka Club Mxxxxxx), MIA, Walker, anywhere Art of This is putting a show on, First Avenue, Hymmie's Basement, Cheapo,...the list is endless for the cities. Franconia Sculpture Park I try to visit as often as possible, and The Gallery Vault in St. Cloud is a pretty awesome student run gallery.

Concert Fliers from first three months of 2011, Ink on Archival Paper, Assorted Sizes, 2011

Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? (the messageboard/community there is beyond amazing and essential to kicking it in the twin cities)

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Soo Visual Arts Center Presents:

In Soo Local:
Don’t Make Me Care
Featuring work by: Brian David Downs and Jason and Jesse Pearson
Opening Reception Saturday September 15th, 2012 6-9PM
SooVac Gallery:

Prior info:
Exhibition Runs: September 15 – October 20, 2012I'm most recently working on two fliers for April 23rd, 2011, one show at 7th St. Entry featuring Red Pens and The Cloak Ox, and one show at Turf Club featuring Skoal Kodiak. I'm will be going between both shows, sure to be enjoying my head being shredded. Voytek's 7in will be coming out soon with a record release show most likely at The Hexagon, so that will be something no one should miss. There are a few painting shows in the works, but details are still being worked out.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Holly Grimsrud - Painter

Athletes (detail) / Acrylic on wood / Life size
Holly Grimsrud

Name: Holly Grimsrud
City/State: Minneapolis, MN
Facebook page:

I was born in Zumbrota, MN, a small town located southeast of the Twin Cites. I studied drawing and painting at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where I graduated cum laude in 2007 with a BA in Studio Art and Art Education.  I began working as a an art teacher in the Shakopee School District right out of school, and have been teaching there ever since.  I began graduate school in the summer low-residency program at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009.  After two summer semesters, I took one school year off from teaching to move to San Francisco and finish my MFA in Painting.  I recently moved back to Minnesota, and now I reside in Minneapolis.

Sports are a big part of who I am.  I was a pretty big gym rat growing up, in Zumbrota, and played four years for the varsity basketball team at St. Olaf.   Now, I run.  I’ve completed seven marathons including Boston in 2010.  Next up is New York City in November. 

Athletes / Acrylic on board / Life size

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
Playing sports has impacted the way I think about acting in a public setting, and has influenced the way I want viewers to experience relevant contemporary issues through video, photography, painting, cut out sculptures, mixed media drawings.  

In Locker Room Tableau, a collection of performative work, I use the athlete’s body, underwear, a pair of sneakers and the Photo Booth crop to subvert the voyeur’s gaze into that of a Peeping Tom.  In my cutouts, the female athlete is portrayed in a Billboard-like Pop Art fashion; her faceless depiction representing a type of person, not a specific person.  Caught at invasive angles in her underwear and Adidas sneakers, the figure is removed from her surroundings, and placed on a white wall, self-contained.  My portrayal of the figure as a form of objectification, fetishization and vulnerability stems from the questions and fears I have about the shared private moments I see every day.  I use the almost-naked athlete as a metaphor for the exhibitionists I observe online, who provide a tell-all, show-all take on their daily lives. 

Athletes (detail) / Acrylic on wood / Life size

The subjects in my close-ups and dribble print drawings are most closely related to the things I have always done – portraiture and faces.  I keep a catalog of photographs of interesting facial expressions and interactions from my Facebook friends; they’re often caught with open mouths, squeezed faces and tongues out.   While studying in San Francisco, I was Skyping with my sister; she noticed a wall of 2” x 2” cropped photographs behind me of people almost-kissing each other, sticking their tongues into their friends ears, clowning for the camera.  Her deadpan reaction, “I feel like I’m looking into the room of a serial killer.”   The anecdote’s a bit dramatic, but when it comes to my prep work, I need to really be an avid and organized Facebook stalker.

Close-ups / Colored pencil on wood / 12” x 12” (each)

How did you decide to become an artist?
Like a lot of people who get into art, I followed in the footsteps of a parent.  My dad, David got his MFA in Graphic Design from Indiana University in 1974 and his MA in Painting from Mankato State University in 1970.  He worked as an art teacher at John Marshall High School, then moved our family to Zumbrota, where he was the Editor / Owner and Publisher of the News Record newspaper.  He taught me that above all, the work and honesty in art is what matters.  A few quotes from his mentors passed down have been John Maakestad (St. Olaf College, Painting Department), “The only bad artist is the one who quits.” and from Henry Holmes Smith (Indiana University, Photography) “Do work that is truly you.”  Now 71 and retired from the newspaper, he has picked up his brushes again, is designing logos, and still manages to act as a support many artists would die to have.  He manages my website, keeps his studio space available for me to paint and builds the frames for my work.  I am very lucky.
Dribble print – 
Dane & Shayna / Mixed media on paper 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
In winter 2011, I was working with a group of fellow graduate students on an artists’ publication called Cement.  In it, I chose to include an interview I conducted with Ana Teresa Fernandez, a bay-area artist with whom I had worked in my first semester at the San Francisco Art Institute .  I asked Ana if she had any advice to lend to young artists.     

“Work very hard. Be open and listen to yourself. Find what intrigues you and what you are passionate about. Passion is not always found in positive things, they most often are found places of struggle and conflict.... not always. Find ways to bring your passion into your work. You will be spending big chunks of your time with it, so you need to like what you are working on. Find a process that works for you. You will be rejected over and over, be aware of this, don't take each rejection as a sign of God. It is not personal. Just keep working very hard.”

I knew Ana was an incredible artist; however, after working as her TA during my last semester at SFAI and saw the potential to be great at something and to inspire that greatness in others.  In that time, I observed the work she pulled from students as varied, technically sound and conceptually rich, all of which are telltale signs of a remarkable teacher.

Britta / Mixed media on paper / 20” x 30”

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

One of the most challenging questions for artists!  I think it depends entirely on a case-by-case basis, and I think that’s what makes it tricky.  What’s the value of your time, materials, execution, your ideas?  I’m not sure.  Some of my peers create light or sound pieces that cost nothing to make, but these people face a different set of questions, which are no less relevant than mine.  I’m happy that I know I have objects to sell.  Networking is key.  I hope to attend more events and meet more artists in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area.

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

David Grimsrud
Samantha French
Jennie Lennick is from MN - now works in San Francisco, CA

Henri Doner-Hedrick (Midwest artist) but she taught me at St. Olaf and SFAI and she teaches all over the world.  Inspiring!

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?

We’d visit Groveland Gallery to see work of local artists I admire:

We’d visit the Soap Factory Haunted Basement on Halloween:

We’d visit Crossings Gallery in Zumbrota, for a hometown treat!

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

Facebook is a great resource – by Liking a page, I am able to hear about calls for art, residencies, and stay in touch with my school chums in San Francisco.  Feel free to Like Holly Grimsrud Art to keep up with what I’m doing!

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
One of my pieces will be featured at the Minnesota State Fair Fine Arts Building as part of the annual competition.  Look for “One Sock” among others selected in the drawing / pastel section.
I’ll be attending the preview party on Tuesday, August 21st, so I hope artists who see this and will be there will introduce themselves.
Holly Grimsrud

Friday, August 17, 2012

Adam Hoppus

"Pokemmon Battle Royale" Charizard
Adam Hoppus

Name: Adam Hoppus
City/State: MinneapolisMN
Twitter: @adam8ch
Born in “middle of nowhere” Texas and raised in “middle of nowhere” Iowa left a lot of room for imagination to run rampant. Amazed by all things artistic, Adam fell in love most with animation. Adam first received recognition by being accepted to the Connie Belin Center for Gifted Children at the age of 12. He began his professional career at age16 when he got a job at a small screen printing company in the art department. Adam attended Iowa State University majoring in Drawing/Painting, but left after 2 years to attend Minneapolis College of Art and Design as an Animation Major with a Minor in Illustration/Graphic Design.
After graduation he pursued animation, providing work for the film “Death Becomes Them” directed by Dan Lund (2003) shortly before the American 2D animation industry fell apart. Adam switched gears to pursue an internship at Target Corporation as a product designer. Eight years later, Adam is now a Senior Designer having worked in multiple areas of the company including Sporting Goods, Luggage, Toys, Stationery, Bedding and Accessories, Storage and Org., and Apparel. Adam has won multiple internal design awards, currently has 6 design/utility patents, and has helped establish many internal brands including Circo, Play Wonder, and Spritz. Adam also recently taught his first class at MCAD.
Adam has not actively pursued gallery work, but has been shown in “One Inch One Night Stand” (Aug. 2011), “Pokemon Battle Royal” (April 2012), “Night of the Exquisite Corpse” (Curator – August 2012), and the upcoming “Expletive Show” (Sept. 2012).

"Super Awesome Art Challenge" Teeth
Tell me about your work. What are you currently working on? How is it different from past projects?
Working in product design keeps me pumping out a steady stream of mom friendly, kid approved creations that don’t always allow for a lot of time for personal work. When I do sit down to do my own thing it’s usually more of a stream of consciousness than a “piece”. I just try to get out all of the completely bizarre things I can’t do at work. I sketch a lot, try new things with programs, pens, paints, and generally just try to keep my skills fresh. I usually work digital, but having recently taught a traditional medias class at MCAD I really reminded myself how much fun, and how important it is to work with my hands. 

I am notorious for starting massive personal projects and floundering halfway through. I think my brain gets tired and wants a new project before I finish the old one. Currently I have a personal project on my blog called “Weekend Monster”. I hate drawing cars, but I love drawing monsters. I gave myself the challenge of drawing a car and its monster owner every weekend for a year. Sadly I got to monster/car number 8 and stopped. I will pick it up again someday.

Most recently I’ve been doing more show work. I was in the “Pokemon Battle Royale” show in April, and am participating in and co-curating the “Night of the Exquisite Corpse” show August 17th 2012. It is a 50+ artist collaborative exquisite corpse style paper toy exhibit with the theme of the undead. I really enjoy paper craft/paper toys and also interacting with some of my favorite artists has made this show a blast to work on. However, after assembling 50+ paper toys, I may take a break from them for a while.
"Night of the Exquisite Corpse" Paper Toy print

Why did you become an artist?
I have been drawing, creating, imagining and playing for as long as I can remember. It’s an odd question that I think I can only answer by saying “It’s all I know how to be”. I, like most artists, don’t see the world the same way everyone else does. So the only way I could figure out how to communicate that vision was to become an artist. Drawing only the things I can imagine, telling the stories that came only from my head. I was definitely fueled by stuff like comics, cartoons, toys, and things like that, but on a much deeper level as a child I was amazed by the “magic”, the emotional experience that artists can create.

People like Jim Henson who created so much imagination and wonder. It was all so colorful, wild, fantastical and beautiful. Animation masters like Chuck Jones, who invented motion blur and draws the best facial expressions on any character ever. That split second before Wile E. Coyote get smashed with a rock you can tell exactly what he’s thinking by just looking at his face. Frank and Ollie of the Nine Old Men of Disney can’t be matched for the amount of personification they could bring to a drawing. Basically I grew up being mesmerized by these magicians and all I wanted to be able to do was to have a fragment of that ability to create that kind of magic, that emotional connection, myself someday. Plus, I am awful at math, geography and history…so I didn’t have much of a choice.

"Night of the Exquisite Corpse" Paper Toy assembled

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
Although it’s very superficial, my high school art teacher Mrs. Howe would often scold me and forced me to stop using black in my work. I didn’t realize how truly rich and deep you can make color with removing all black from the palette.
Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art. How do you sell your work? How do you market yourself?
This is a slightly tricky one to answer since I am actually employed for my art. Still, I have to sell my work on a daily basis to my internal clients. My advice is simply, you have to understand your customer. You have to connect with them on an emotional level. Often it’s not about the art, but how the art makes them feel. Also there’s the importance of strategy. For example if I’m designing t-shirts for boys 5-10, I have to understand not only what the boys that age will think is cool conceptually, but also what their mom who’s making the purchase for them will deem “acceptable” for them to wear. 

Once I understand that it comes down to knowing more surface things like what colors are “boy friendly”, won’t get dirty as quick, mix well with the other clothing items and other things like that.
This advice is of course for the sole purpose of “selling” art. If you’re just creating to create, there’s no guarantee you’ll sell anything because the art is just meant to exist, not sell. When I create for myself I don’t often think about many of those things except if I’m really trying to sell the work. Recently in the “Pokemon Battle Royale” show I selected the character Charizard. I knew he was a fan favorite, I knew I had to really have a great emotional energy with the characters pose and image, and I also wanted it to be a little edgier since the people who might want to purchase the art were mostly older and nostalgic. I guess I got it right as it sold very well.

"Weekend Monster #4"
Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
Most of them are my friends!
Chris Hajny:
Francesca Buchko:
I’m probably missing a ton! Sorry guys.
If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
As clichĂ© as it may sound, just open your eyes while we walk. Billboards, street art, some guy’s cool shoes, that girl’s t-shirt, the flier in the cafĂ©, that menu, that flower, the pattern of dirt on the side of that car. I don’t really go anywhere in particular to see art. Everything has its own cool colors, patterns, compositions. Or, we could just go to Barnes and Noble or the library and look at all the cool art books!
"Super Awesome Art Challenge" Buttonface

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?
Hmm, I am an avid blog-hopper. Find a cool artist, check out all his or her friends sites, repeat. There are so, so many amazing people out there who just freely post up all their work. However when I really want to beat myself up I go to It’s an incredible concept art site where people who are too good to be true post all the most amazing things. I also check a lot of art mags like High Fructose, Juxtapose, Clutter and stuff like that.
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
Cool kids t-shirts in Target! Aside from that I’m in the “Night of the Exquisite Corpse” paper toy exhibition August 17th (2012) at Light Grey Art Lab and the “Expletive Show” also at Light Grey Art Lab on September 14th.

Adam Hoppus

Light Grey Art Lab