Inspired by Hand Job: A Catalog of Type

hands-lettersThe other night I got a little crazy with the scissors and whipped up some hand-made letters for the header for the blog. I don’t know if it looks good, but it was fun.

I had been was looking through the book Hand Job: A Catalog of Type to find inspiration for a project I was working on and found much more than I expected.


It’s a great book showing the work of graphic designers and artists who prefer using hand-drawn letters instead of digital fonts — packed with sketches and journal entries along side finished drawings, posters and illustrations by 50 talented artists.

“Graphic designer and hand typographer Michael Perry has selected work that represents the full spectrum of design methods and styles. Whether you are looking to invigorate your design work or are just in need of a little offbeat inspiration, Hand Job will have you reaching for your favorite pen.” –Brunswick Street Bookstore

Then I stared seeing hands everywhere I looked…in my studio, in the warehouse, everywhere….


P.S. I forgot to say that another reason I really enjoyed this book as because in school as a kid, instead of paying attention in class, I used to spend a lot of time drawing signs and messages in letters that were little cartoons of snakes – each letter had a little head with eyes, vogue, and a mouth.

Creative Space and Time: Podcast with Ricë Freeman-Zachery

To write Creative Time and Space: Making Room for Making Art, Ricë Freeman-Zachery worked all last year getting a ton of information and tips out of twelve artists (including me). She also got great photos of artwork, drawings, quilts, sculptures, collages, sketchbooks, and studio space from everyone.

CreativeTimeSpace-cover2For my contribution to the book, I think I wrote about 20 pages of answers to her many questions and submitted upteen photos of drawings, quilts, sketchbooks and my studio. The finished book is densely layered with the photos, tips, challenges, and personal stories from all of the artists and organized into ten chapters with intriguing titles such as:

  • Exploring Time – What exactly does “Time” mean to you?
  • Stuck in Time – When you need a tow truck to get out of a rut
  • Mental Space – What goes on up there in your head?
  • Soul Space – Where you receive permission to play
  • Creative Habits – Music, candles and companionable cats

This fall Ricë is doing a series of podcasts with the twelve artists she wrote about in the book. In yesterday’s podcast with me, Rice asked more challenging questions. Then towards the end of the podcast, in her usual articulate fashion, she was able to sum up my rambling answers into a concise and helpful set of tips (read her post about the interview on her blog Voodoo Cafe: Notes on Art, Writing, & the Creative Life.) Here are some topics we discussed, but to tell you the truth, the 45 minutes flew by!

  • Finding the best places to do creative work
  • Using the whole brain
  • Developing resource bank of ideas to avoid the “blank page” syndrome once you get back to studio

The other artists who contributed to the book:
Tracy Bautista, Theo Ellsworth, Lisa Lichtenfels, Chris Malone, Thomas Mann, Teesha Moore, Judy Coates Perez, Kelly Rae Roberts, Lori Marsh Sandstedt, Carter Seibels, Susan Sorrell, Roz Stendahl, and Judy Wise.


Did I say that? (less is more)

qn_backcover.jpg When I first got into some art shows and was asked for an artist statement, I often spent a lot of time at the word processor — refining and tweaking and trying to cram as many power-packed poetic words into the space allowed. Type…..check the word count…..retype……check the word count.

Now after a year of using Twitter (only 140 characters, not words allowed!), or maybe because I’ve decided I’d like to leave some mystery for the viewer, my statements are getting much shorter than the space allowed.

In fact, my statement for Quilt National 2009 was only one sentence long. I’d actually forgotten I’d said it because it’s so core to what I believe that it seems apparent, but was pleased to see it in print. And it also ended up on the back cover of the book. Sometimes I guess, less is more.

In case you can’t read my quote in the photo, it says, “I believe the true power of art is the ability to transport us to new or unexpected places.”

A visit from Spike and Warren on their book interview tour


Over the weekend author Spike Gillespie and her boyfriend “Warren” the photographer visited our studio to do an interview and photos for Spike’s new book Quilting Art that will be published next year.

kman_fireworks.jpgIt was kind of a whirlwind weekend tour of our life around here, starting with fabulous fireworks behind one of Russ’s sculptures The Kinetic Man on Friday, spending Saturday at the studio looking at quilts and sculptures, then ending up at the lake for swimming, water skiing, and a mad dash through a torrential downpour to get back to shelter. With lots of yummy food and snacks interspersed throughout!

Overall it was a great weekend and a lot of fun to get to know them both, and I was happy to hear Warren say, “Quilting Changed my Life!”

Above is Spike, surrounded by one of Russ’s interactive neon sculptures at the studio after our interview — one of the only photos I remembered to take. I guess when there’s another photographer around, I’m timid about pulling out my own camera!

Drawing from Life

drawing-from-life.jpgThis is a terrific book that I picked up in Seattle and since have been slowly relishing each page. Unlike many survey books that devote little more than a superficial paragraph and single photo for each subject, there are many photos from each journal featured, along with Jennifer New’s in-depth profile of each journal-keeper’s motivation, inspiration, and how keeping art journals over many years has impacted their work and life.

Not just artists are featured — in the mix of 31 journals, there are those of scientists, a psychologist, a film-maker, musicians, an architect, a quilt-maker, and more. New divides the journals up into categories of methodology: observation, reflection, exploration, and creation, with an introductory essay for each section. There is also an introduction siting journal-keepers through history, and the soft-binding, rounded corners, and ghostly grid background on all the interior the pages gave me the pleasant feeling that I was actually reading from a journal.

This book has given me new insight into what I could achieve from keeping a more regular journal and has inspired me to draw every day. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to opportunities to get stuck in odd places or at parties without anyone to talk to, so I can whip out my journal and start gathering visual information. (click on a thumbnail for larger view)