Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Building Your Collection: Thumbtack Press

Thumbtack Press is an online community of illustrators and artists.  Based out of Chicago, Thumbtack’s organizers seek out creativity from, literally, all over of the world, and I appreciate that the artists they represent tend to be more experimental than those exhibiting at my hometown galleries.  The scope and diversity of Thumbtack’s collection makes them feel like a gallery, marketplace and art festival all rolled into one.

Like 20x200, Thumbtack Press keeps art affordable by offering giclee prints on archival paper or stretched canvas.  You can customize the size of your print, to a certain extent, and ask Thumbtack to frame it in-house.  Most prints are open edition, but it’s my understanding that they are produced at the time of each order.  Sometimes, an artist will collaborate with Thumbtack on signed, limited edition work, usually between 25 and 100 prints per piece.

Thumbtack’s goal is to support up-and-coming artists and to make art collecting a reality for “the rest of us”.  Artist profiles usually provide biographical information, creative statements and links to artist websites.  Over the years, Thumbtack has introduced me to several artists and motivated me to track their work on Thumbtack and other virtual shops, watch for new illustrations in magazines and books and seek out exhibitions of their art in “real-life”.  Thumbtack actually serves as a gallery and launch pad.

My Thumbtack favorites include Gianluca Foli, Kate Pugsley, Liza Ferneyhough and Marcela Cardenas.  In some ways, these artists have a lot in common.  They continually test new media and bring an element of assemblage or collage to even their smallest pieces.  And yet their work is distinctive and, I believe, highly personal.

Born and bred in Rome, Gianluca Foli is perhaps best known for his drawings and graphics for clients Alfa Romeo, Fendi and Mondadori, but he has also illustrated children’s books like The Bear with the Sword and Il Leone Mangiadisegni.  Gianluca’s ink and watercolor creations are at once delicate and humorous and are obviously influenced by Asian brush painting and calligraphy.
Gianluca Foli's charming Soya and Tofu
Me, Sushiii original watercolor is available as a print from Thumbtack Press.
Gianluca is available for freelance work.  So keep an eye out for his art in your monthly magazines and consider hiring him for your personal project or publication.

Kate Pugsley grew up in Ohio, trained at RISD and now lives in Chicago.  Her prints and paintings capture a familiar everydayness that is just a bit askew.  The relative physical and emotional flatness of each of these scenes is alleviated by pattern, either painted or drawn or applied with paper.  The outcome is quite unique with each image expressing a mood, a feeling… something very close to peace and pensiveness.  I can only liken it to viewing a vintage photograph where you recognize both the subject and his thoughts.
Poppy, Kate Pugsley's original oil painting.
Little gocco print entitled Snorkeler
Kate’s original oil or gouache paintings are incredibly affordable.  But she also creates tiny silkscreen and gocco prints you can own for next to nothing!  And you can commission her to paint a portrait of your beloved pet.

Liza Ferneyhough currently lives in San Francisco but spent her younger days in Asia, England and… maybe not what you were expecting… Texas.  Liza is an illustrator and works in a variety of media: ink, watercolor, pencil, screenprint and acrylic.  I especially enjoy her paintings on tea-stained paper.
This original painting on tea-stained paper celebrates the flora, fauna and food of Malaysia.
It is available in print form at Thumbtack Press.
Gerber Daisy Trike postcards were developed from one of Liza's paintings.
Liza really has a thing for insects and moths, birds and the night sky, and bicycles and flowers.  And her work is fanciful and fun.  Liza also designs custom stationery, logos and signage.

Marcela Cardenas’ creations are absolutely exquisite.  Based in Medellin, Colombia, she takes inspiration from nature in every form, even when it has been reduced to household ephemera.   It is amazing how Marcela juxtaposes the traditional with the trivial and explores our perpetual, if often overlooked, interconnectedness with plants and animals: seemingly antique etchings of elephantine pitchers and teddy bear accessories and, most recently, simple, conventional objects in porcelain… entwined with animal hair.

Marcela’s work is also so very striking because of its fineness and skill, no matter what the medium: pencil and watercolor, oil paint, ceramic or cut and perforated paper.  Her Domestic Landscapes, in sugary palettes of acrylic paint, elevate kitchen tins, collectibles and toys to almost heroic status.  The scenes are both still-lifes and allegorical landscapes, with the figurines and packaging logos populating the story.
Domestic Landscape 2

Domestic Landscape 1
Marcela Cardenas' still-lifes actually remind me of landscapes like
Winslow Homer's Dad's Coming! from the National Gallery of Art.
So check out Thumbtack Press soon.  It might inspire you to start a new collection!

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