Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Warhol Never Had It This Easy

For a few years I made collages and then mailed them. Once in a while someone would post an image of the collage that I would then save and upload to my various digital identities. They would sit there; I’d do nothing else with them. They were done and living in someone else’s house.

After a while I started to play around with these more, mostly when I was at work and had a few spare minutes of nothing to do. Most of the time, I take the colorful collages and put them in monochrome, which really brings out the overlapping images into strange shapes. It doesn’t look like the same creation to me. Things pop out that I never noticed before. Then I started adding some color from Microsoft Paint, the thing I had available to me at work. The color would go wherever it wanted. The colors were vibrant and lacked any sort of subtlety in them. I liked how the colors often clashed with one another. Doing things this way was definitely an extension of my already trashy aesthetic. Using terrible tools to make things felt right to me since I make my collages out of found pieces of paper, newspaper, and student worked thrown out all over the halls at work, so why not use the image editor that comes with the computer?
Mainly I’d post the colored images online to folks’ profiles. Sometimes I’d print off the images in monochrome either for Add And Passes or for Xeroxed copies of my work. Sometimes I’d add paint to them and put them on a hard surface and mail them. Starting to play around with things in the digital realm really increased my productivity. It was fun to spend ten or fifteen minutes after lunch coming up with some silly picture made of found images, add in a caption, print them off, and send them to folks that would enjoy them. I probably did this sort of thing too many times, but who cares?

On a visit to a friend’s house I paid more attention to the art on the walls. This was the art that had been there for well over a year. Art that I had stood under while eating Flaming Hot Cheetos more than a dozen times while drinking late into the evening. The art was canvas prints of each one of the Star Wars movie posters. My friends run a print shop out of their house, mostly t-shirts but they can also directly print on canvas. It never dawned on me to have them print some things up for me.
I dug through my folder entitled “Colored Images” and found five that I thought would be interesting. Since they weren’t designed to be blown up, three of them were discarded right away because the file size was too small. One that would work was an analogue collage I had done using the outline of North Carolina as the focus. It was in a book of stuff I had done some years ago but had used randomly here and there. The viewer had nothing to think about when looking at the image…nothing to figure out, no real meaning. It was decorative and simple. I thought someone might buy one for their spare bedroom out of sympathy. It felt like a sure thing, something clear and direct on a 16 x 20 inch canvas for $40.00 dollars, done deal. Finally I could get some stamp money out of my bullshit, anything to offset the postage fee I have every week. I had two of the state outlines printed.

The NC collage printed.

I had an all-black collage printed that I called “self-portrait.” It was a bunch of random images tossed into one giant file. One of the collages wasn’t even mine, it was something if found online that contained my face in it. I guess the image came from one of the stickers that I sent out into the world.

The other image was done with the above method. Someone shared an image online of a postcard I had sent to South Carolina earlier in the week. I trimmed the edges; put it in monochrome, colored it multiple images, stacked images onto images, flipped things around to give some movement, and that was it. I did the collage rather quickly while sitting at my desk at work. I posted it online and people seemed to like it. Since the other collages didn’t work out, I went with the one done at work in its place. I had two of these printed.

The "blocks" printed collage.
Thankfully I was able to see the process. The two guys that run the shop, James and Jon, had me over to take a look at things. All five canvases took about forty-five minutes to print. James brought them up on the computers in the front, Jon sprayed things down in the back, and then James taped them off and then laid them on the metal runner the printer slides over. He pressed print and in about five minutes the whole thing had printed.  Warhol would have dreamed to have such a thing back in the 1960’s. Once it was done on the print side, Jon took the image and ran the heater over it a few times and stacked them in the front. It was quick and easy and everything looked great. The yellow on the North Carolina outline really stood out.



A few shots from the process.


It made sense to wait until the next day to post images since it was about 10:30. I figured more people would see the things if I waited for midday on Saturday. Not heeding my own advice I posted an image of the North Carolina canvas to both Instagram and Facebook, making sure to write that these were going to cost some money. Normally I just give my shit away. I waited for ten or twenty minutes before seeing if anyone was interested, nothing. I did this periodically for the rest of the night, and although I got random “likes” here and there, no one said they were interested in buying one. The next day I wrote that they were 40.00 dollars hoping the post would appear in Facebook feeds for a second time. Once again, nothing. I posted an image of the multi-colored collage online midday on Saturday. Just the jpeg elicited some interest so why not a three dimensional thing? Nothing, nothing at all.

So yeah, who the hell knows what people are interested in? I thought these would excite someone just enough to pay for the materials and get me a few books of stamps, wrong! The things I’m proud of never seem to draw any interest, but the things I do quickly that have a definite message behind them without much context at all, sometimes get traction. These were direct and clear and are sitting in my upstairs room. I’ll end up giving them away at some point/. Right now I’ve got an idea to print up a few more things that will rest with the others for an extended period of time.

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