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Art + Design


Art Publicity for American Painter, Megan Williamson

During my time at Madron Gallery I dealt works mostly by deceased artists. (My specialty was impressionism and social realism, from 1890-1950 and some modern, post-war). But every so often, I had the privilege of working with a local artist and among my favorite people to work with is Megan Williamson. To describe her as an artist is too easy. She's an advocate, activist, patron, friend and so much more. 

In 2009 she exhibited her show, bed of earth, blanket of blue air at the gallery. We hung the show by neighborhood and she wrote snippets about her experience painting plein aire at each location directly on the walls. We were constantly exchanging ideas via email, engaging conversations (where we discovered her roommate in NYC was my professor and mentor at college) and we always had a blast.

Megan is just about to embark on her twentieth solo show at Cliff Dwellers in Chicago. And I'm proud and happy to be working with her again.  I'll be handling Megan's press releases, marketing, artist branding and social networking. 

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

New Orleans

I adore much of Megan's work because I can see her sensibility and spontaneity in each precious canvas but they also remind me of the nooks that we used to walk by in our old 'hood. Now, Megan is moving on to still lifes and figurative works that employ her Fauve, expressionist brushstrokes into spatial studies of modern allegory. 

Icarus (revisited) 30x24.jpg

We just launched her Facebook page but won't you please take a moment to Like her and follow the incredible work she does? 

For information on publicizing, branding and marketing your art work, please contact us here

Artist press release with logo brand and inventory list for exhibition

Artist press release with logo brand and inventory list for exhibition



Art Around Town: A New Social Enterprise Changing the Face of Art Education in Local Schools

Nick and I have been working on something exciting with The B. Side, a program within the Office of Academic Service-Learning at Eastern Michigan University for a few months and the news was announced in local media today. Art Around Town is a new social enterprise that provides supplies for students to create art products.

We help them learn the consigning and art retail process, exhibit the work, sell it—raising funds to buy more art supplies and give them choices on how to spend the money whether it be field trips, guest speakers...anything is possible. Nick's been capturing the art pieces for their auction catalog and website and I've been consulting and working on marketing, brand and publicity.

The full article can be found here in Ypsilanti Courier and we've included a few photos of student work below. In May, a series of events will celebrate the launch of student work being sold in a retail setting at Riverside Arts Center as well as online. 

May 2nd is First Fridays in downtown Ypsilanti and an opening to the public will coincide. 

May 3rd is the Auction and some of the best pieces will be available for bidding. 


We already have our eyes on some incredible paintings and drawings and we urge everyone, whether you're an avid collector or have never bought a piece, to come out and support this incredible program. See you in May!

If you're an artist looking for creative publicity, we handle all aspects of art marketing, branding and press releases. Email Yen here

Press + media: There is a private event on Thursday, May 1st with photo opportunities where we will highlight student artists. For more information or images, please contact us




Cold? Make art.

I've had the pleasure of working with Tim Péwé (and his son Gus) multiple times now. Tim is a sculptor, welder, wood-worker, illustrator, inventor... I could keep going... Most recently I worked with Tim on one of the coldest nights of the year, in his amazing barn-turned-workspace.  Although he had his wearable wood burning stove fired up, the temp inside peaked around 45˚ (note the jackets in the pics, which were taken by Gus).

Getting approval from Tim.

Getting approval from Tim.

I've photographed many works for Tim, ranging from a larger than life skeleton to a puppet named Neandro. The objective this time: a wearable candelabra.

The shots below showcase some of the details.

Because Tim is more prolific than most artists I know, there's always something else that can be photographed. A punching bag...

Or a demon dragging a man down to hell.

I'm excited to see what's next!



TEDxUofM: Against the Grain

This past Saturday was the University of Michigan's TEDx event at the Power Center. An offshoot of a TED conference, the event included speakers in the areas of medicine, arts, and technology. I was approached by the student group Ask Big Questions to listen to lunch room conversations and illustrate their connection to one another.

This was easier said than done with ten different conversations going on simultaneously. I spent a few minutes at each table listening to attendee opinions on such themes as Conformity, Identity, Sustainability and Collegiate Expectations. There were so many ideas and questions tossed out but I tried to capture the most important ones. 

Here are a few snapshots of the 8 x 4 foot whiteboard illustration in the lobby of the Power Center. 

During snack break, the crowd of 800 attendees gathered around and I got to hear some feedback from the viewers. My youngest admirer was a ten year old kid who wanted to join in and draw too—so cool! I love hearing people's thoughts on what they find entertaining because after all, that's what graphic recording is all about—bringing information in a fun and memorable way. 

Graphic recording for TEDxUM at the Power Center in Ann Arbor

Graphic recording for TEDxUM at the Power Center in Ann Arbor

And for those that are curious, because I get this question pretty often, I do everything freehand. I practice font types that I think will fit the occasion prior to the event and reference the sheet when I'm short on technique. 

Thanks to everyone that supported and attended TEDx and a special thanks to Masha and JoHanna at Ask Big Questions. See you next time!



Bright Lights, Big City: Tips for the Artist Making the Move

Moving to the City has been a popular topic around here lately. I just met with a student a couple days ago pondering whether to move to NYC, Chicago or stay put. And our friend and artist Bernadette Witzak* just moved to Chicago last week. We're really excited for our friends in this position because after finishing a degree, moving to the City seems like the next logical step for any creative person. Nick and I did it ten years ago.

We landed in Chicago with no jobs, a couple personal connections and separate studio apartments in the same building overlooking the Lake. Fast forward seven years and we both had successful careers in the fields we went to school for, we were married, and living in a mid-rise apartment in Wicker Park. It wasn't always a direct route, but our path to finding the jobs we did were ultimately a lot of luck and even more elbow grease. Here are a few basic things to keep in mind as an artist/designer/photographer/curator/creative hopeful when you're making the jump from school and/or smaller town to career and/or big city.


*Bernadette, being the catch that she is, started in Exhibitions at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Congrats! 



Graphic Recording: Illustrating Verbal Thoughts

Last week I was approached by a medical start up group at the University of Michigan for my illustration skills. They had a work retreat and wanted it to be recorded real-time on a whiteboard. I had seen some really spectacular examples of graphic recording on youtube but never thought I would get to do it myself. I got my first taste of it yesterday and now I'm hooked! 

Much like mural work I've done in the past, it's challenging and physical. Unlike a mural where I get to take my time to measure, sketch and take my time, illustrating a talk or presentation is very different in that I have to synthesize the information immediately and make it consumable in a visually interesting way. 

Graphic recording and mind mapping for a medical conference at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

Graphic recording and mind mapping for a medical conference at University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

It took me a little time to get started but the ideas were flying and I got some great illustrative ideas down. See for yourself. 

If you have a work, group or corporate retreat you need graphic recording for, shoot me an email




Our Favorite Art Books [for Babies]

Diapers and clothing definitely came in handy but some of the most rousing gifts we received when we had the baby were books. And now that he's old enough to flip through the pages, (and not just munch on the corner although he still does that), his favorite by far is the Pantone: Colors book. It introduces just a few of the color swatches that this company researches, forecasts and produces products in. 

He'll sit and stare at all the shapes and colors for  minutes -  quite a feat for a 10 month old.

He'll sit and stare at all the shapes and colors for minutes - quite a feat for a 10 month old.

Art for Baby board book is filled with black and white images from contemporary artists. From shapes to faces to representative art, each page is full of contrast to keep babies curious. There's also a wonderful set of friezes in the back of the book, twelve panels to put up around the nursery of the same renderings of works by Takashi Murakami, Josef Albers, Bridget Riley and more. 

Recently when we were at the library, we discovered that they've made a second version of this book full of faces for baby to stare at and learn - so important for their development.

Based on the studies and invention of the motion picture machine called a zoopraxiscope, Eadweard Muybridge is given credit in the children's book Gallop, an engaging collection of animals that trot, swing and hop across the page as you turn it. I just saw that there's a Santa one too - a great gift for the holidays. 

What are your favorite children's books?



Recent Project: Chalkboard Drawing at Sweetwaters

What was a digital idea, turned into a reality this past week at one of our favorite hang outs, Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea. They have multiple locations and this is their Ypsilanti one right across from Eastern University's campus.

After measuring everything out, I created each font type by hand. It was a lot of work but the five or so hours flew by. Check it out when you're in the 'hood. It should be up through the new year!



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Why the Selling of Pieces From the DIA's Collection Might Not Be the Worst Thing After All

The threat of pieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts being sold off popped up in the news again today. I've been stewing over my professional response for a few months. (I used to curate exhibitions and deal American works of art — artists like Alexander Calder, William Merritt Chase, Mary Cassatt with "mid level" price points, $30,000-500,000. One of my previous clients is a well-known collector and avid supporter and lender to the DIA).

When asked, I gave my personal response. Personally, I was adamantly against it. It seemed like a cop out to commodify our regional treasures. Like many in the art community, and particularly those of us that have visited the DIA and relish memories and works from the collection, I was vehemently against this ghastly idea. At first. 

Now don't get me wrong. I still think it's terribly sad and agree with the Museum that it may have a detrimental effect on Detroit's daily and longterm economy but there are a few silver linings, at least from an art world standpoint. Here are a few reasons why.

WE DON'T GET TO SEE MOST OF IT ANYWAY. Museums are fancy storage facilities with exact humidity and temperature control. Some things they show, the majority they do not. They simply can't. During conversations with colleagues in the industry, I've heard estimates that the Art Institute of Chicago shows less than a quarter of its collection. The DIA has 66,000 of which 35,000 are said to be owned by the city and being evaluated for condition and appraised by Christie's. I don't know exactly how much of their collection but we are indeed missing the bulk of it when we visit. 

THESE ART WORKS WILL GET THEIR DUE SPOTLIGHT. Auctions are the barometer of the art industry accounting for about 25% of the market. Even though only a minute percentage will ever dabble in multi-million dollar bidding wars, when auctions do well, the trickle down effect for the art industry is a good one. It's estimated that in 2012, the art industry did $64 billion

If and when the DIA's paintings, sculptures, drawings and objects go to auction they're going to be waltzed across a global stage. Every collector that will potentially ever want that piece is going to be watching and that's just what those pieces deserve.

AND, WAR PUMPS UP SALES FOR ARTISTS. EVEN FOR US LITTLE GUYS DOWN HERE. Let's look at an example. Maybe twenty people in the world that collect art want this triptych:

Francis Bacon,  Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 (Christie'

Francis Bacon, Three Studies of Lucian Freud 1969 (Christie'

But only seven* of them can afford it. Five of them have capped themselves. That leaves two bidders (on the phone, have a dealer bidding for them on the phone, are sitting on the internet or waving their paddle wildly in the crowd) to fight over it. That's how much a painting is ever worth - how ever high two people with an agenda are willing to go. 

When people start to read about art being used as a commodity, our ears can't help but perk up and we start to take more interest. People start to notice their blank walls, think about acquiring art at the next fair, see themselves joining the exclusive club. Being a "collector" is a status symbol and we all want to be a part of it. With the sale of DIA works, we're going to think twice about taking our public collections for granted. Or so the recent media attention says.

*There were indeed seven battling bidders that pushed the Francis Bacon to break the record for any piece ever sold, ending at $142.4 million at Christie's earlier this month (this includes the 12% buyer's fee).

YOU (OR YOUR GRANDKIDS) WILL SEE THE WORKS AGAIN. AT ANOTHER MUSEUM. Museum-goers (aka common folk like me) sometimes complain that when things are bought privately, we never get to see prized works ever again. Recently, certain tax laws have made it less savory to donors to bequeath their paintings, but there are and will always be collectors that want to leave a legacy. And because art is cyclical in nature (i.e. genres come in and out of vogue, estates unearth works of art to be auctioned off or bequeathed to museums, children sell their parents' collections, curators thrust exhibits into the limelight requiring loans of works from private collections) it's likely your favorite DIA piece will one day see the light of day, at a museum, again.

GOING BACK TO START. I don't like the idea of pieces being sold because they have to be either. I love the feeling of going to the DIA. I don't even have to look at any one work for a long amount of time, I just like to breathe in the atmosphere of the American wing and odors of oil. I just have to remember and keep telling myself, the DIA won't go away and the sale of many pieces would be a PR boon (albeit another sad one) for Detroit. I've decided to look at this like everything else that involves the impending bankruptcy, brazen upstarts and savvy entrepreneurs — this could be an opportunity for the Museum to garner new art, new donors, a fresh start.

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Tiny Expo 2013 at Kerrytown Shops

We're so excited to be a part of Tiny Expo again, what they cleverly call "Ann Arbor's biggest little indie arts & crafts fair!" This year it's moved to the popular Kerrytown Shops and we'll be selling our wares on Saturday, Dec. 14th with a fun preview and set up the night before. 

Nick will be selling a new series of toy-themed photos and I've been working on original watercolors! So mark your calendars, bring your eyes and feast on a bevy of new inventory for a whole new season of gift-giving. 

And don't forget  — the week before, Saturday the 7th, we'll be at Liberty Street Robot Supply & Repair for our first ever pop-up event benefitting all the awesome programming done at 826michigan. Lots of fun and photos and activities will be had by all!




An Education

Nick and I have both rounded out our professional tasks this Fall with the addition of teaching. It wasn't something that we set out to do but we're both big proponents of learning and by teaching we actually learn a lot about our craft and how to improve what we do.  

I've taught art classes since college, mostly K-12 in drawing, painting and ceramics and more recently pre-college courses in Fashion Illustration at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. But over the last few years I've had more interest in guiding people toward their achieving their goals. When I was at the gallery, recent grads would come seeking internships or placements but because the fine art world was and has always been a difficult landscape, I wouldn't be able to get them jobs right out school. There were a few exceptions, of course, but most had to travel a meandering route to get to where they wanted to be. And that's not so different than what I had to do to become Director at my last job. 

Witnessing the triumphs and lackluster job market, it has only driven me more to help students succeed. Next month I'll be lecturing at the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design on breaking into the art world as an artist. From there a series of workshops will be tailored to fit the needs of those students that are most vested in making a profession out of being an artist or designer. Since this is the first program of its kind, this experiment will most certainly be a learning experience for me as well. I'll fill you in as the program grows. 

Over the last four months I've also taught private art lessons in people's homes. Ranging from elementary up to adults, people are seeking out fine art skills but with more personal attention. We get to talk much more in depth about abstraction or why something is a technical versus fine art drawing. It's really engaging both for them and for me.  

Nick is doing something very similar in his line of expertise. This past week he started working with Bright Futures, a program based out of Eastern Michigan University. He gets to work with high schoolers in the Ypsilanti public school system, teaching them digital photography with new Nikon DSLRs. He'll tackle composition, F-stops and exposures, lighting and all the fundamentals that will get them shooting their own professional portraits. There's been talk of an exhibition or publishing a book, or both. This type of initiative gives the students a chance to explore a profession with a professional before they reach college level. We're both really excited about this prospect and Nick loves sharing his knowledge of lighting, which is really what photography is all about. 

We've also had the chance recently to offer our food styling and photography as a day long workshop because people are interested in the tricks of the industry.

Like I said, teaching is not something that we set out to do but education is vitally important to every industry and job you could ever hold. If you have interest in learning about any aspect of what we do, art or photo-related, feel free to send us a note. 




Opening Pairing: Anthropologie + Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design

This past Friday we attended the opening event at Anthropologie in Ann Arbor. As part of the new Arbor Hills Crossing shopping center in the middle of town, Anthro, as I like to call it, is a fashion highlight for young professional women and creatives. The company chose our alma mater, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design to receive percentage proceeds from the evening's sales. 

Nick shot some festive images for Anthropologie and the School. 

The evening was a smashing, shopping success - thanks to Anthropologie and A&D!

For fashion, commercial and event photos, call us at 734-929-2498