Literary Arts Conference in Florida

writing conferenceEven though I am more of a visual artist myself, I personally have a great respect for the literary arts as well, so every year when I get a chance to go the literary arts coalition in Florida, I jump at the opportunity.

As I said, I am more of a visual artist. I am a painter by trade and from there have branched out into other art forms that I currently work on, but I have always had tremendous respect for the literary artist. Perhaps it is a bit of envy on my part; I have always wanted to write my own novel, but there is also a great deal of overlap between visual artists and literary artists.

Just like the visual artist seeks to tell a story or communicate a message with his art, the literary artist seeks to do the same thing with the written word. This idea of telling a story and communicating a message in your work is multiplied exponentially with the literary artist. There is only so much of a message that can be communicated through a piece of artwork, but words know no limits. Not only can you create dynamic scenarios by laying down words to paper, you can also paint figurative pictures inside the minds of your readers. In this way, the novelist has a tremendous hand over his visual counterpart because he has the advantage or painting an image and the exactness of using words.

But enough about my love for writing, let’s focus on the conference. Every year in Florida at Flagler College there is a conference hosted by the Florida Literary Arts Coalition. I truly enjoy going to this event each year as it helps me reignite some of my passion for writing and it gives me an excuse to enjoy the weather in Florida! :]

Not only do some of the top writers and literary critics from around the country come to discuss their new work and evaluate others’, there is also some great workshops to attend.

The workshops range from general ones about word usage and diction to advanced ones like character development and charting out plotlines for novels. Last year there was a great workshop all about homonyms and tips to remember their differences. One of the tips for the difference between where and were has stuck with me ever since.

Another great workshop that was featured was right up my ally as it asked the question, “In What Ways Can Literature Influence Art?” I had never taken such a deep look at this question and the lecture really illuminated my mind on the subject. The speaker talked about how all art is generally done with a certain literary scope in mind and is typically a reflection of a time period of deeper work.

So if you ever find yourself down near Flagler College, check out the Florida Literary Arts Coalition. It has helped my produce a number of my best selling art pieces and settled a number of grammatical questions that have plagued me for years. It was only after last year’s conference that I was finally able to put to rest my confusion between was vs were.

Plus Flagler College has a great campus with a bunch of great restaurants to try. And if none of this at all interests you, you’re in Florida for Pete’s sake! Have a good time!

Backpacking to Survive an Art Exhibition

bail out bag essentialsAs most of you know, summer is my favorite time of year. Summer is great because just about everywhere in the country the season is wonderful. With a few exceptions here and there, southern Texas and Arizona being some, you can’t go wrong where you’re headed. And for someone who travels the country going to different art shows and exhibits, this is great news for me!

Well, this year I stumbled across something entirely new to me and it was one of the most creative studio exhibits/art showcases I have ever seen. The showcase was called “The Wilderness Wonderland” and it was in a small art community in Oregon, roughly 50 miles outside of downtown Portland.

It was an outdoor exhibit and apparently attracts thousands of attendees each year. Who knew? I just heard about it this year.

Anyway, the basic idea behind the show is that the people going to see the exhibits also camp out overnight out in the woods. They arrange the art throughout a long nature hike in a national forest where you can go for hours not only appreciating the natural beauty of the landscape, but also the pieces of art along your way. There are tours that are lead by guides or you can do a self-guided tour throughout the trail with a map that is given out to each attendee. The map has three different stopping points where it is advised that you stop and camp, depending on how far you want to go each day. It’s next to impossible to finish the whole thing in one day but I suppose it could be done.

As I said above, I had never even heard of this art show until I was in Portland and people started talking to me about it and even then it was only going on for another two days! Thankfully I always carry a bag with a top rated tactical bag review manual in my van full of everything that I need to survive for at least 72 hours. It worked perfectly for this trip.

I had everything that I need to camp out, to eat, and to drink, so I didn’t even need to buy anything new, although I will need to replenish the supplies in my bag now that I have used some of them up. This is probably a good thing though because I always supply the best bug-out-bag packing checklist and was getting a little bit old. It’s probably better that I used them up this weekend otherwise they may have gone bad.

After doing this trip, I took a leisurely three days because the Oregon scenery is just so beautiful, I highly advise anyone to take this trip. It’s a great way to enjoy the great outdoors with some outdoor and survival camping, no electricity, no water, just you and the great outdoors. Well, that and some of the best art that you can possible dream of. How much better can it get? I know if I can make it back out to Portland next summer that I’ll be doing it again. I even bought a few pieces to add to my collection. Support local artist, am I right?

Financial Accounting Seminar


Most of us artists focus on our artwork. Finding inspiration, learning how to work with new media, and find tuning our techniques are all important parts of being a successful artist in this modern day and age.

Being an amazing artist is only part of running an art business. I’m sure most of you have realized by now that there is a business side to the art industry as well. Without a basic sense of business, it’s difficult to maintain your personal finances and sometimes you can even find yourself struggling to survive. I can completely relate to this feeling.

A few years ago I felt the same exact way. I didn’t under basic accounting principles and couldn’t even balance my own checkbook. I decided that it was time to learn how to properly run my business. I attended a financial conference about basic business and it helped tremendously.

That is why I am happy to support a financial accounting workshop for artists coming this fall. The workshop will cover all types of financial topics that artists need to know in order to successfully run small or even large businesses. All basic business topics will be covered in common language, so us artists can understand it. For example, ratios like the accounts receivable turnover measures how many times we can receive money from our art customers.

I don’t want this to sound like a sales pitch, but a simple understanding of how the business world works has really helped me. I strongly encourage any and all artists looking to be more successful selling their artwork to go to this conference.

Another important concept that will be covered is the topic of the accounts payable turnover ratio calculator. This calculation will help you understand when to pay your art suppliers and other business owners by showing how many times it can be paid off during the course of a year. After you run this calculator, you should be able to see if your accounts payable are stagnant and need to be paid off sooner. Since I have been keeping track of this, I have found that my art suppliers are willing to give me better deals on my supplies because I am able to pay them off sooner. Pretty sweet, right?

As an added bonus, everyone who comes to the studio for this conference will get a workbook and basic selling strategy on how to find new art enthusiasts to sell your paintings, sculptures, and prints to.

If you are free on Friday, I highly encourage you to attend.

Traveling Guitar Lessons

training me and my Guitar Music has always been one of my biggest passions. After all, it is just another art form, isn’t it? I was drawn to the piano at the young age of five-years-old. After taking years of lessons, I decided that the piano wasn’t the main instrument that I wanted to pursue, mainly because I was a teenager and want something that would attract more girls. Ha ha.

The next logical instrument seemed to be the drums. I always liked the rhythm section and felt connected to it. I started playing drum line in high school and later decided to buy a kit and start playing in a band.

It wasn’t long after I joined a band that the guitar started looking really attractive to me. I started taking free Online guitar lessons and saw some progress in my playing. After a few years, I stopped playing the drums and focused all of my creative energy on developing my guitar and song writing skills.

It has been a great journey. Much like my paintings, my songs are an expression of whom I am and what I want to do with my time and the rest of my life. It’s an extension of me. I often find that if I don’t have at least a half hour a day to sit down and play my guitar, I start to get depressed. That is my muse and my outlet for when I can’t take out a canvas.

That is why I have decided to start giving guitar-training sessions at each one of my traveling studio dates. You can sign up for any session at any time during the week before the date. I’ll be talking about music theory, chords, setups, and of course how to actually play the instrument.

Don’t feel bad if you are a beginner. I have taught to all age groups as well as all skill levels. The courses that I have put together will work for those who are just picking up a Gibson and those who have been playing it for years. There’s something in it for everyone.

I will also be talking a little about guitar history and the evolution of the instrument. You’ll learn about who made the first instruments and what kind of construction techniques they used as well as how to date your Telecaster. For instance, I will explain how to read your Stratocaster SERIAL number. That way you will be able to tell if you have a pricey vintage or just a stock American Standard Tele.

I’d love to see you, so please come out and enjoys some music and some art. You can sign up anytime before the date. Feel free to email me if you need more info!

Dental Museum at Street Art Fair

Dental Museum at Street Art Fair


Dental Implant Tools Turned into Art Exhibit

Remember our post on the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair? Well, do you remember I told you a few great places to check out while you are in Ann Arbor milling about the town?

Well, during this year’s Art Fair the University of Michigan will have a wonderful art/museum display showcased at their school of dentistry. The exhibit will be called “The Dental Practice: 1860-1940” and will feature thousand of objects focusing on the history of the dental practice.

I may sound like a bit of a nerd, but, aside from meeting new artists and students, visiting local museums is one of my favorite things to do when I am traveling to all of these different cities, especially when the museums unique or about local history. Learning the history behind America’s small-town communities is simply fascinating.

Now, this dental museum isn’t an exhibit uniquely about the Ann Arbor history, but it is a unique concept for an exhibit. In all my travels to cities, colleges, and art conferences, I don’t ever recall seeing a museum on the American dental industry, an industry that America uniquely pioneered and revolutionized all across the globe. And I must say, for as obscure of a museum topic that I consider this to be, it is actually a quite large public display.

As for the museum’s contents, it really is quite remarkable the setup they have. They have different dental stations set up spanning the entire time period from 1860 through 1940 with a time-period office set up from four different eras of dentistry. They have the exact set up that I can remember going to when I was just a small child, with the same chair, the same sink and everything! It really was a trip down memory lane.

They have thousands of original tools that dentists used to use in the practice. For instance, they have original screws that used to be used in doing dental implants in Hartford Connecticut around the turn of the 19th century. And most of the adhesive for applying dental implants was developed in the South at the time and they had some original canisters from dental implants performed in Simsbury are in CT during the early 1800s.

Admission to the exhibit is free and it is located in the school’s dentistry building on central campus, so it won’t even be that much far away from where you will already be for the street art fair. The museum’s name is the Sindecuse Museum of Dentistry, and it isn’t situated like your typical museum exhibit. The exhibits are integrated around the building, where students go for classes to learn. There is one area with the primary exhibit, but as for the rest, they are loosely scattered across the building, making for quite a fun adventure for local dentists and oral surgeons!

You should also keep in mind that it is located in a working building. There will be classes going on, faculty walking about the building, and they might even be setting up for certain events. I don’t say this to scare you off! You’re perfectly allowed to go into the building and visit the museum on school days, during school hours, and even during event preparation. It’s just important to remember that there are other things going on, so be sure to be respectful of others around you with your voices and the groups that you bring into the museum.

Art Prize

Art Prize


Unlike some of the other shows that I have written about on this blog where I try to go every year, I have actually only been to ArtPrize once. But just since I’ve only been to the show once doesn’t mean that it didn’t leave me with a spectacular impression! Also, 2014 will only be ArtPrize’s sixth year, so it’s still a relatively new show.

First, to give an outlay of the ArtPrize show. ArtPrize is an international art competition that spreads itself all across the entire city of Grand Rapids, Michigan. It is 19 days long and during that time frame, three square miles of Grand Rapids’ downtown are completely and utterly transformed. Every foot of the downtown is covered in beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Artists from all over the state, all over the country, and all over the world come to compete in the competition and participate in the conversation about art in popular culture. The competition is extremely vibrant and showcases every genre, painting, sculpting, murals, modern, contemporary, classical, etc.  And Grand Rapids isn’t exactly a small city; it’s the second largest city in Michigan, which makes for a multicultural event filled with a diversity of art choices.

Now if this doesn’t sound intriguing enough, factor this in to the mix: anyone can participate. That’s right—anyone! ArtPrize really is an art competition for the people. Whether you are a full-time professional artist being placed in studio after studio, an indie artist who only does local and regional exhibitions, or someone who does art for fun, you can compete with the rest of them. As long as you are over the age of 18 you can submit your artwork for free and enter the competition for a chance to win $200,000!

And just when you thought that it couldn’t get any cooler, it does! Like I said, ArtPrize is a competition of, for, and by the people. The judges for the $200,000 cash prize aren’t a small group of jurors with biases who play politics with what they do and don’t like.

No, at ArtPrize, the public is the judge! That’s right. For 19 days, all of the spectators who fill the downtown city day and night vote on what pieces of art they think should receive the prize. It’s a purely democratic art contest.

That said, there are other juried awards with more structure that operate much the way other exhibitions would, but the primary event the public awards.

Now, like I said, I have only been to ArtPrize one time. Last year in 2013 was my first year, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and I wasn’t ready for the time commitment of competing, so I didn’t submit any of my art. However, just meeting with a number of spectators about my drive by gallery, I was able to sell a few pieces, so I still actually made a few bucks, but that wasn’t my intention.

Maybe in the next year or so, I’ll submit a piece and see how many votes I can get!

Southern Graphics Art Conference

Southern Graphics Art Conference


I have been to the Southern Graphics International Art Conference (SGC) four years in a row now, and, let me tell you, it is a must attend show for any printmaker. Whether you are a student, a professor, a full-time artist, or just someone who passively enjoys printmaking, the SGC conference will fit you.

Now, SGC is a little more formal than most of the shows and conferences I attend. Unlike many of the art fairs and street art shows I go to, it is usually held in a nice hotel with exhibition halls and presentations of the like.

It was formed in 1972 by a professor from the University of South Carolina. He set out to form a printmaking organization because, at the time, most of the printmaking programs in colleges and universities were small and tucked away, not prominently featured. He gathered a small group of his close printmaking friends in New Orleans and the created the Southeastern Graphics Art Council.

Over the years, the organizations changed names and grew exponentially in size to what is now known and the SGC International Art Conference, the biggest gathering of printmakers in the world. SGC happens annually and its location varies. Over the years, it has been all over the place, New Orleans, Milwaukee, Kansas City, and San Francisco.

As I said above, the SGC show is somewhat formal in that they have a dedicated exhibition hall and workshops to attend, but don’t get the idea that it is a stuffy conference. It is laid back with a cool crowd who all share a passion for printmaking. They even have an art contest where you can submit your work to be considered as best of SGC. Although I have never won this, I am proud to say that I did place a linocut of mine two years ago.

Not only do I generally do quite well with selling my products at the SGC product fair, I usually learn some new techniques on the printmaking process during the conference.

Being started by a group of university and professional printmakers, SGC conferences are usually located near college campuses where they can have workshops made available to the attendees. I make it a point to attend some of the workshops they host, as they are usually quite instructional and beneficial for when I go to other shows around the country. The workshops vary on their topics and style. Some are talks by artists discussing a selection of their work on display, while others are hands-on demonstrations where you can watch and learn from artists as they pull their prints. They are a blast. Perhaps this is the reason why a lot of students are now going to SGC conferences. That or it is part of an assignment. Either way, the student crowd seems to be getting bigger every year and it is a joy to see the younger generation embracing printmaking.

All in all, the SGC show is well worth the trip, especially if it happens to be in a unique location like San Francisco. But if you do plan on going, be sure to register and book your hotel well in advance. Unlike an outdoor art fair, this is inside with limited space. Each year I go, the shows get larger and larger, and they are selling out space.

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair

Ann Arbor Street Art Fair

Traveling Art Fairs

Every year in July, one of the biggest street fairs in the country happens in the small, but vibrant town of Ann Arbor. Surely, you’ve heard of Ann Arbor before, but if not, it is a small college town about 40 minutes west from Detroit. It’s a wonderful little city with a great downtown and also houses the beautiful campus of the University of Michigan. And while the art fair is not officially put on the university at all, it is located downtown, right at the heart of central campus.

The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair is always one of my favorite stops of the year, and 2014 marks 55 years of the Street Art Fair. Rarely have I seen a full city downtown so fully embrace such artistic expression as they do for this art fair. They block off city after city block, which then become filled with printmakers, painters, sculptors, impressionists, and even performers! Thousands of attendees come from all across the country for the event. With such a high attendance from the public, the street art fair is actually one of my better selling events of the year, so if you are, as an artist, looking to go to just a few art shows a year where you can get a decent return on  your trip and travel expenses and still be exposed to a large audience, this is the show to do it at.

Another thing that makes the art fair such a great experience is that it takes place on the University of Michigan campus, with a number of great buildings and libraries to go see. If you ever yourself, be sure to take a walk through of the campus. Being in July, it really is beautiful. Usually pretty hot, but still beautiful! Some of the must see buildings are the Burton Memorial Bell tower. This one is hard to miss, as you will probably see it towering over most of the other buildings. This is a bell tower commemorating former university President Marion LeRoy Burton.

Another must see building is the Hatcher Graduate Library. The reading room is a great cathedral style room with artwork on the ceiling.

And of course, you cannot forget a trip to the law quad. The law quad has some of the oldest buildings on campus and is a great walk through. It has some nice 18th century gothic building and, as with the Hatcher graduate library, the law library has a splendidly beautiful reading room. But be sure to be quiet! The law library has must stricter rules than the other ones on campus.

And last but not least, while you are in Ann Arbor for the Street Art Fair, you have to make sure you make at least one trip to Zingerman’s. Zingerman’s is a great gourmet restaurant that was founded in Ann Arbor and which the entire community takes a lot of pride in. They have since expanded their original deli in Kerrytown to a number of different locations including a Roadhouse and bakery. Trust me, a trip to the Street Art Fair will not be worth it without a dinner at Zingerman’s.