Going Green for Art Show Season
Yet More Dealing with Art Directors
Your Workspace and Work Habits
Creator and Destroyer
Going Green for Art Show SeasonHealthy Green Artists
by Janet Chui
Summer's here! You may have in fact been to a couple of "skiffy" (science fiction and fantasy) conventions already - and we're soon hitting the crazy peak period for them. If you're an artist who does art shows or craft fairs on any regular basis, this is your busy time. I have no health scares for you this month, but if you'd like to go green for your fair or art show preparations, you may find some money-saving tips in here.
Any artist selling prints is going to run into these when making their own. You may have got failed test prints with green-tinged people (your printer head needed cleaning), prints that would have been OK if not for a small dab of dripped black ink (new ink cartridge?), prints that came out crooked on the paper (stupid paper feeder) and so on. I keep misprints around for con season, because they still can be used or saved to make it to the sales table. That print that might have had some unwanted ink drips? If you were printing on coated paper, some small imperfections may be scratched off carefully with a craft knife, leaving no sign of it having been there. If the drips were on the white border of the print, I scratch off the imperfection as much as I can, then mat the print. Matting also works for (trimmed) crooked prints. I love matting!
Some failed test prints or disastrous prints, I've found, can be trimmed, cut up and reused in packaging for your products, or as business cards, background paper for information about your artwork, and return address labels. Just print on top of the failed print - fire up your word processing program, lay out a full page of your return address, or your business card (just text, no graphics), and print on top of your failed print (though this works better on matte paper than gloss). Cut up into freebie cards, information cards, or mailing labels (just apply glue to the back of the paper). Paper is so versatile, and with your own art on it, it can always find a new useful form!
Depending on your time, equipment and skill, you may find yourself matting your own artwork and prints. For the thrifty, matting your own prints is cheaper than buying - the mat cutter pays for itself just after cutting just several. Matboard can also be purchased at very affordable prices when art supply stores are having sales or getting rid of old stock. Cutting your own matboard really pays off when you plan your cuts carefully to get as much use out of the matboard you start with. As an example, it is possible to get 4 mats of decreasing size out of a 16-by-20-inch piece of matboard by turning each successive piece of fallout into another mat (see diagram). Odd-sized fallouts can be used as the second-layer mat in double mats.
(And thank god for ACEOs, I'd been collecting 5" by 7" fallouts for so long until ACEOs came along as collector's items! Now, in my experience, matted reprints of ACEOs are popular as "mini-prints" that fit nicely into 5" by 7" frames!)
It's possible to now order precut backing boards that come with plastic baggies - it's also possible to just order baggies separately and cut one's own backing boards. If you're an archival quality freak - then acid-free backing boards are a must. The traditional thing to use is foamcore that's acid-free on the outside. Foamcore pretty much can't be bent or folded without dedicated effort, hence its popularity. But, foamcore does contain polystyrene. In this case, it's expanded polystyrene, and it's not-so-good for the planet, or the health of the people who make it. Gaia-loving artists can scoff at foamcore completely, however, by going back to the matboard section of the art supply store, and picking up some extra-thick acid-free matboard (on sale preferably?) to be backing board. The color does not matter - you'll be using the white side of the board as the backing surface for your art or print. It's unconventional and more colorful, but it works!
These may be optional for most artists - they add a lot of bulk to the merchandise at an art show or at a fair, but, it does allow more money to be charged for the framed artwork or print. Framing does not have to be expensive or a very materials-intensive affair depending on the resources in your neighborhood. To lessen your impact on the earth (cheap picture frames often come from China now, and burn a lot of fossil fuel to get where you are), trying finding your frames at local thrift stores, flea markets, and creative reuse centers. Scavenging in this way needs a little luck, perseverance and sometimes a little elbow grease, but is gentler both on the earth and your wallet. And, more often than not, you'll run into more unusual "character" frames this way!
I do not know an artist who can get out of needing clear baggies for their prints, and sometimes cards. I need baggies and get green guilt over it, and reuse clear bags whenever I can, and lessen my use as much as possible. At least, polypropylene is the "least evil" plastic, and clear baggies for prints most commonly sold are those made of polypropylene.
Odds and Ends
Chances are (and those chances are better the more you're a packrat), you're going to have odd fallouts from matboard (or ACEO-sized pieces) and leftovers of backing board and misprints that really can't be used for anything. I like using heavyweight paper and small pieces of matboard as info plaques next to hanging art work, especially at convention art shows. Something like "This image is available on prints and cards at the prints table" cannot possibly hurt! While inevitably some materials from my studio will make it to the "Take to Recycling" pile during preparations, I do like making that pile as small as possible. "Waste not, want not" should be part of the environmentally-minded (and thrifty) artist's creed!
Well, as promised, no health scariness for you this month! Convention time is always an exciting time of the year. I hope you've found some of these tips useful, and if you have more, feel free to share in the EMG-Zine forum!
Now go forth, and conquer!
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