Join 3,553 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mailbag Art Museum
November 27, 2010 3:31 PM   Subscribe

Artist Sarah Musi sent little pieces of art to forty-five artists, along with a tiny blank canvas for them to create something and return it. So far she has received six back.
posted by gman (22 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
AFRICAN SWALLOW CARRYING COCONUT.

Er, that is, I mean, yay, awesome, thanks.
posted by Gator at 3:56 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


this lady seems nice.
posted by ServSci at 4:17 PM on November 27, 2010


Resounding meh.
posted by fire&wings at 4:20 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Glad I'm seeing this now, so I can follow it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 4:31 PM on November 27, 2010


Artists or illustrators?
posted by R. Mutt at 5:10 PM on November 27, 2010


Artists or illustrators?

OH NO YOU DIDNT
posted by hermitosis at 5:24 PM on November 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


She sent 45 pieces of crappy art to, 45 "good" artists. If they are really good artists, then the trade is grossly uneven.
posted by Oyéah at 5:39 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like the idea of this so much. I think some of the art she's getting back is fabulous. Of the art she sent, I like this one a lot.

If they are really good artists, then the trade is grossly uneven.

When a fan of a published author writes to that author in the hopes that the author will write back, we do not insist that fan write their letter as well as the author writes their books. (Whether they do or not is irrelevent - that is not the basis on which the exchange is made.) I think this is a creative an imaginative way to correspond with an artist - I have drawn you the start of a very short story, please draw me the end.

So I'm a fan of this endeavour.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:52 PM on November 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I like this one The back ground is bleakish rain and the reds are brilliant. The Raccoon. Grace.

as always
posted by clavdivs at 6:36 PM on November 27, 2010


I'd be pretty annoyed if I were an illustrator and got one of these pieces from her in the mail. It's worse than your average chain letter because :

1. there's the feeling like you now owe her something, even though you did not solicit something from her in the first place

2. there's the passive-aggressive message of "I did this nice thing because I'm a nice person/fan of your work. If you are also a nice person/fan of my work you'll make me something nice in return."

3. a gift is not a gift if it comes with strings attached

4. a gift is definitely not a gift if your name/work is being used drive eyeballs to the gifter's site/their own work

5. there's no good way to win this game, since not replying has now resulted in public shaming and pressure to return the favor

6. half-hearted attempts at producing a quick sketch will bite you in the ass when she posts your results and critiques them on her blog, in essence creating a competition you never wanted to enter in the first place.

So yeah, meh.
posted by stagewhisper at 6:46 PM on November 27, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'd be pretty annoyed if I were an illustrator and got one of these pieces from her in the mail.

You may be surprised to learn how many otherwise respectable artists artists are highly susceptible to the giddy allure of a little fun.
posted by Mike Mongo at 7:21 PM on November 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


About 6 out of 45, Mike Mongo.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:12 PM on November 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is the same business model the hand and foot artists charity uses when they sends you a pack of christmas tags with an invitation to buy it, with the additional fun of having your response posted all over the internet.
posted by Pigpen at 8:25 PM on November 27, 2010


You know I meant foot and mouth.
posted by Pigpen at 8:26 PM on November 27, 2010


I like the project. Her note is nice enough about recognizing that not everyone has the time or interest to respond. It doesn't sound passive-aggressive to me at all. I think it's a little hyperbolic to call it "public shaming."

I'm not overly impressed with her artwork, but that's not really the point of the whole thing, to me.
posted by bardophile at 11:18 PM on November 27, 2010


If I were this girl, I'd have low hopes that anyone would respond -- her artist wishlist is a who's-who of middlebrow painters, an absolute dream exhibit -- so it's kind of amazing that Mark Ryden was the first to respond.
posted by jennanemone at 12:44 AM on November 28, 2010


I'm all for fun, Mike Mongo, and I'm a long-time proponent of the joy in giving away or trading artwork, but publicly posting all of the names of the illustrators she's sent work to and keeping a tally of the results kind of sucks the joy out of it. I'm curious as to whether or not she notified the people she'd solicited work from that their contributions would be posted on her site. I'm assuming they weren't, primarily based on the level of craftsmanship/development in a couple of the things she got back. For people who make their living in commercial illustration, their livelihood depends on the perceived quality of their work, and they're prone to maintaining high standards for what gets put out in the public sphere under their name.
posted by stagewhisper at 8:34 AM on November 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm curious as to whether or not she notified the people she'd solicited work from that their contributions would be posted on her site.

If you look at the little comic strip of explanation that she sent to each of the artists, it says quite clearly "In which case I'll post it on a blog along with a photo of what I originally sent."
posted by bardophile at 10:28 AM on November 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


thanks bardophile, I missed that!
posted by stagewhisper at 2:50 PM on November 28, 2010


I think it's a cute idea, and I find her work charming. I wouldn't mind receiving something like that in the mail-- but maybe I'm just middlebrow.
posted by suburbanbeatnik at 7:07 PM on November 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, for context: Artist trading cards (ACEO). She didn't make this up; it's a thing. (I buy them on Etsy!)
posted by DarlingBri at 1:22 PM on November 29, 2010


Wow. So much controversy over such a fun and innocent thing. @stagewhisper: I don't know anyone that uppity and full of themselves, do you? If you spend your time thinking it's worth so much more than someone with less Google results, you'll miss out on all the wonderful opportunities life has to offer. I hate to point out the obvious but famous people are still just people.

My goal for this project was to get a return rate of one in five and it turned out to be one in four so I feel that it has been overwhelmingly successful. Just so you know how it works, I first email the artist with a short explanation and ask for their address. Naturally some people don't reply but most do and are very gracious and complimentary. I don't expect to get anything back when I send the cards and I am well aware that they aren't masterpieces. That is actually intentional because (1) I don't want the artists to feel bad about not sending anything back and (2) I am spending between 1 and 3 unpaid hours on original art only to drop it in a mailbox, uncertain of it's fate. As an illustrator, this is somewhat foreign since I don't typically part with original works, which are usually for print or digital end use.

I would like to point out that there is no critiquing in the blog posts; these are people that I respect. Also, the responses have run the gamut in regards to level of detail so to compare them would be not only unreasonable but very rude and disrespectful.

FYI, I am a professional illustrator and, yes, I think there is a difference between artists, who make art as highly stylized personal expression (Mark Ryden, Audrey Kawasaki), and illustrators, who make art, often in varying styles, for a specific customer or purpose (Sheilah Beckett, Shaun Tan). Not to say that they can't cross over but fine artists generally make money from gallery showings and illustrators make money from books, magazines, posters, web, etc. I am happier doing the latter. However, both are represented in this project.
posted by MailbagArt at 2:52 AM on December 24, 2010


« Older The problem of beer....  |  Our wisdom teeth need to be pu... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments