Tag Archives: call for art

Call for Art Going into Production

This is it! Assiduous readers will recall that I promised a special announcement today. Here it is. The call for art has been awarded to not one, but two lucky artists!–MR from Thornapple Productions who will be the man behind the camera lens and SB who will paint the watercolour masterpiece from an assemblage of photos. We met at my place earlier to finalize things and I took the opportunity to snap a photo for all the assiduous readers:



In case you.re wondering, the little stand on the left isn.t some weird torture device but rather a bicycle repair stand. Just to the left of it is the couch (not pictured) and whenever people sit next to the bike repair stand they always get nervous like it was going to snap up and claw them in or something. It.s actually rather safe and no, it.s not spring loaded like a mousetrap!

So, how was the call for art awarded, you ask? Good question! Believe it or not, MR was one of the very first people–if not the first–that I ran into distributing the call for art. Funny how things work out sometimes, no? He was just on his way out to lunch, so I asked if I could leave the call for art with him and come back in the afternoon. By the time I came back, he had texted SB and set up a time to meet later that evening at the Cenote Lounge. We chatted about the concept, and they gave me their websites with portfolio images. At this stage, the call for art was really in a rudimentary stage and the contract hadn.t been cobbled together yet. From their input, I eventually laid out the draft contract. From the initial meeting, I came to understand the that call for art was a little bit more involved than, ‘Can you paint the dead man’s hand?’. A real setting had to be involved. We needed live models. The scene would be need to be staged. This was all new to me, but I was glad they were asking the questions to get the wheels turning in my head! One thing I really came to appreciate more after thinking about the staging the dead man’s hand is the art of the cinema. There, everything is staged and now it occurs to me that to make a movie it must be a lot of work! Good communication and a good team must be so important when putting together even the shortest of movies.

The thing that caught my eye looking at SB.s website is that she does figurative art, or, in other words, draws people. That.s actually not that common in Victoria. Most artists here seem to specialize in wildlife or abstract art. The wildlife and landscapes I can understand just because there.s so much of that here in ‘Beautiful BC’, but the popularity of abstract art is harder to figure out. Maybe it.s an expression of individuality?–with figurative art you.re getting inside someone else.s head and with abstract art you.re getting inside your own head. Whatever it is, I am glad SB draws figurative art and does so with emotion. To me, the ’emotion’ of capturing the look of surprise is the one thing that would make the dead man’s hand come alive. The thing that caught my eye looking at MR.s website is the way he captures the light and shadows with the camera. ‘Inspired by Nosferatu’, he said at Cenote that evening. Nosferatu is a silent black and white 1922 movie where everything that is conveyed by speech and colour today must be conveyed by other means; part of speech.s capacity and the aesthetic capacity of colour is sublimated into a wonderful play between light and darkness. There is a theatrical aspect to his photography that would come in handy in staging the dead man’s hand.

It wasn.t skill alone–though they certainly have plenty–that led to the award to SB and MR. I got a good vibe from them. And what is more, it seemed to me that they had worked together in the past and enjoyed working with one another. To me, that goes a long way. Finally, I got the impression that they were genuinely interested in working on this project. That.s a big plus. If they were interested in it, then I would be interested in working with them.

That.s the interesting thing with commissions. I get this feeling that some artists don.t especially enjoy doing commissions. The commission ‘stifles their creativity’. Or the commission ‘doesn.t allow them to express their inner individuality’. The commission turns them off. But to me, wouldn.t the commission be in many ways easier and more fulfilling than having to come up with something original of the abyss of a google of ideas? I think back on grade school. Do you remember having to write a paper for the teacher? Now, wasn.t it easier when the teacher gave you a specific topic? I remember the ones where the teacher said, ‘Write anything you want’ were the hardest papers. There was just too much choice in the ‘write anything you want’ papers. It would be hard to get started because the amount of choice would just be too overwhelming. This would be like the artist that is to create something from scratch. Where to begin? Which way is up? Which way is down? The paper where the teacher assigns a topic is more like the art commission. Here there are certain parameters, guidelines, and concepts. The parameters, guidelines, and concepts make it easy to start. Nor do the parameters, guidelines, and concepts stifle the artist.s creativity. They merely provide a fixed framework within which the artist can draw out expression. Think on counterpoint and the fugue. These are the most regulated forms of music. They have the most rules and procedures: augmentation, diminution, augmented canons, and so on. But listening to the fugue, you can hear creativity in play because the rules give it a framework and form. That.s sort of like the art commission: it.s a form within which one can express their individuality and skill. Going back to commissions and music, Bach.s Goldberg Variations were commissioned and so were the Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations and Mozart.s Requiem. Are any of these masterworks lacking in creativity?

So, dear reader, I wanted to share the good news with you today that the call for art is going out to production. In the following weeks we will have a photo shoot and from the photo shoot maybe a month for the finished masterpiece. SB showed a sneak preview of a watercolour sketch of the dead man’s hand (in my hand nonetheless–I have held the dead man’s hand and lived to tell the tale!) and I.m looking forward to the results. For aspiring artists looking for words of wisdom commissioning cover art, I.d suggest you go out there to talk with the artists (rather than email) and to find like minded folks who you feel comfortable chatting with. The funny thing that I learned was that it.s not really necessary to come to a decision on whether the artist has the right set of skills because the artist will make this decision for you. How does this work, you ask? Well, if the artist has the right set of skills, they will know and they will be interested. If it.s not the sort of art they do, they simply won.t be interested!

Call for art going into production! Onwards and upwards! Until next time, I.m Edwin Wong and I am Doing Melpomene’s Work.

Tales of the Unexpected (the Happy Side of Risk)

Do you find most often people—or yourself—try to avoid the unexpected? People say: ‘become better educated’, ‘contain the risk’, ‘watch out for the downside’, ‘better to go with the devil you know’, and so on. There is in the unknown something of a bogeyman. Well that.s true. Especially from my perspective, since I write on tragedy and, well, in that art form, whenever the hero runs across the unknown or the unexpected, the distribution of outcomes is asymmetrically skewed to the downside: i.e. death and destruction! Well, sometimes the unexpected can be very good as well!

Assiduous readers will be sitting on the edge of their seats wondering how the Call for Art is progressing. Today I biked out to Sidney to distribute the flyers at the Island Blue Print and the galleries out there. By the say, Sidney is the best place in the world. People in Sidney just love to be in Sidney. They love to chat with other relaxed and smiley folks. So dropped off the flyer at the two galleries along the main strip. Got an art lesson on some of the new watercolours and oils that they were coming in. Some of these watercolour artists work on their pieces for months! They do three or four pieces a year that they.re absolutely happy with. Interesting work being a gallery buyer as well. Lots of artists coming in: so many works, so little room! Also found an art school by the water. The instructor had a lesson going on but had a prize pupil who she thought would be a perfect fit. There were samples on display and lots of these students are very talented! The only dangerous place in Sidney is the Safeway or I guess Save-on-Foods parking lot. That place has its own laws of driving which I haven.t figured out yet. I don.t think the drivers there have figured out either. But I was wondering if I.d bump into my old colleague Erik at the Starbucks there. He gets his afternoon coffee fix there and it was just about the right time. Lo and behold, he is there! We chat and I stop by the old office to see the boys. One thing I notice: nothing ever changes. The office is exactly the same. Collected 20 bucks on a bet I won from my old boss (we had placed a bet on what the stock price of Lucara diamonds would be New Years Day; he said above $3 and I said under). Also placed a new bet: New Years Day 2016 price of a barrel of oil, which is sitting at $58 today. I say $50 and he says $70. We.ll see! I guess as a patriotic Canadian hopefully he wins! Canada.s frighteningly resource dependent. But hey, maybe it will take a prolonged slump in oil prices to kickstart nascent industries.

But that was a big digression. Are you still with me? I was telling the story of how sometimes the unexpected is skewed towards the positive side. So, biking home (Sidney to downtown Victoria), I take the Galloping Goose. Wonderful. Avoid the highway with all the noise and hubcaps and body parts from all the cyclists who have been struck down on the highway.s shoulder (well, okay, that last part was an exaggeration. But this is what my imagination tells me if i take the highway route). The Galloping Goose takes me by Matticks Farm. Usually I proceed straight through. Actually, every other time I.ve done the ride I.ve gone straight through. But today I was thirsty. And feeling not in a rush. So I stop by and pick up a chocolate milk. Mmmmmm. Finding a place to sit down, I notice there.s a gallery right there! Well, looking at their display, it.s mostly abstract works and landscapes. But i thought, ‘Why not?’. Going in, i.m greeted by Sharon. I tell her about the project and she looks at the flyer. She thinks for a moment…the artists she knows don.t usually do this type of work. But she has a great suggestion: try Moss Street market on the weekend. It.s a little society of artists that would do this sort of thing. And then another great idea. This one I was hitting myself for not having thought of it myself. On the causeway by the Inner Harbour in downtown Victoria, there.s all sorts of activity once tourist season starts going (which is right around now). The patios fill up. There.s clowns, magic shows, musicians, and food stands. And also artists. They do quick portrait sketches. So they.re skilled at meeting someone and capturing the person.s psychology with a few quick strokes. And they work fast. So it wouldn.t cost a fortune. While she was saying this, I was thinking, ‘Good point!’. Okay, so I don.t have a budget (art.s one of those things it.s hard to set a price to and I.d prefer the artist to set a price for the commission they.re happy with), but at one of the galleries I was at, the artist they were suggesting is accustomed to charging in the vicinity of 10k for commissions! I like quality and this project means a lot to me, but 10k can buy a lot of things! So let.s see what happens! I know where to go this weekend on the trail of the Call for Art!–Moss street and the causeway. It.ll be fun to be part of the hubbub too. Writers tend to be in their own company for long periods. Good to go out.

So how does this tie into the unexpected and the upside? Well, i wasn.t planning on stopping at Matticks Farm. It just so happened that I was thirsty while riding by. You know, on the bell curve, they call the left and right ends the ‘tails’ of the curve. Those are the places where very unlikely things happen. And when people talk about them, they usually talk about catastrophes: the hundred year storm, the ‘big one’ (earthquake), and so on. Well, the tail on the right end gets less attention. That.s like the day you meet your future wife or the day the lottery goes with your numbers. These things happen too. To me, what happened today was a bit of good fortune. Not on the extreme right of the bell curve, but good enough to make me happy. Her recommendation was very good. So to me, it.s a reminder to expose yourself to all the things out there. Live life to the fullest or some other wooly expression like that. Deal with the bad when it happens. Because only by exposing yourself to risk can you get the ‘good’ side of risk.

Have a few leads now on the Call for Art. Meeting some more artists, hopefully soon someone can start working on ‘The Dead Man.s Hand’!

Looking for a Cover Illustration

Today.s the day! After sitting on it for way too long (over a month) I hit the street to find an artist to paint a cover illustration for the book. In preparation for the big moment, I revised the Call for Art last night and printed some copies. Believe it or not, my laser printer.s going on thirteen years and has travelled in moves across North America and back again. It smudges and each page has to be loaded separately. I thought about getting professional copies done up at the printer.s–maybe a splash of colour in the heading as well–but then, would that really be necessary? If an artist is into it, the information.s the same both ways. Here.s what the revised Call for Art looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 17.15.34

Also started drafting a sample contract so that the artist.s can have an idea on how to quote the project. There.s quite a few sample contracts online. I took one that I liked and modified it so that the patron has right to use the painting as a cover illustration. That.s one thing that I learned from reading: typically, even if you physically own a work of art, the artist retains the right to reproduce the work or art, not the owner. Still working on the form of the contract, but here.s how the draft looks:


The Agreement is made the __________ day of __________ (month) __________ (year) between:

Name (Patron):


Phone:                                                                        Email:


Name (Artist):


Phone:                                                                        Email:

The parties agree as follows:

  1. The Work: the Patron is commissioning a painting ‘The Dead Man’s Hand’ from the Artist as specified in the Call for Art (attached) at the purchase price of $_______ (x dollars). The purchase price includes all direct and indirect costs in creating the painting and delivering it to the Patron, including but not limited to purchase of the canvas, oils consumables, shop expenses, labour, shipping, and taxes.
  2. Right of Refusal: should the Patron be unable to purchase the Work from the Artist when the Work is completed, the Artist will retain the Work and the payments made prior to completion. In that case, the Artist will retain the Work free from any claims or interests of the Patron and the Patron will be free of any further payments.
  3. Copyright: the Artist grants the Patron (or any agent retained by the Patron) the right to reproduce the Work for the purposes of promoting or distributing a book that the Patron is writing. Notwithstanding the right granted the Patron, the Artist retains reproduction and copyright rights.
  4. Project Schedule: delivery of the painting will take place within six months from the date the contract is signed. Should the Artist be unable to complete the work within this period…
  5. Payment Schedule: payments will take place according to the following schedule:
    1. one-quarter when the preliminary sketch is approved
    2. one-quarter when the preliminary sketch is transferred onto canvas
    3. remainder upon delivery

I have to think about the payment schedule some more and how many sketches should be incorporated into the process. The thing about this work is the look of surprise in each of the figures. Should I approve each of the looks of surprise in each of the subjects in the painting? Looking in my Durer art book, I see that often he would draw up sketches–and sometimes surprisingly detailed sketches–of figures, gestures, faces, and so on before incorporating them into his masterpieces.

At the art supply stores in Victoria, there.s a very handy corkboard. So the Call for Art was posted at Island Blue, Opus Art Supply, and Artworld Art Supplies. Also went by some of the galleries downtown (of which there are quite a few!). I was happy with the positive responses. Actually meeting some assiduous artists tonight to discuss the concept over a beer. People are generally quite inquisitive when you say you.re writing a book. And there.s a genuine desire for them to match you up with a good artist. So got quite a few leads. I get the impression that the art world is tightly knit. It.s a face to face community. I also learned there.s Community Arts Councils. One for Victoria, one for Saanich Peninsula, and so on. They might be able to send out Calls for Art to their members. So I.ll check this out soon as well. It was also fun just going into the galleries to see all the fantastic works of art! The one thing I noticed is that there.s a lot more landscape and still life artists than artists who do portraits and human figures.

Everything was positive except for this one gallery. But ugh did the lady there ever take the wind out of my sails. She was unpacking some pieces of art when I got in, so I though to take a look around the gallery to catch an opportune moment to introduce myself. After a few minutes, I tried to start off the conversation with a, ‘It must be exciting to be getting some new piece!’. She didn.t look up. So I thought it.s now or never and introduced myself, saying I was looking for help finding an artist to do a cover illustration. She simply said no. To which I asked her if I could leave her a flyer in case she knew any artists who would be interested. At this point, she looked up and said it was impossible: her gallery only works directly with artists. When she looked up. I noticed her glasses right away. They were these purple shaded glasses made of what appeared to be some high end ceramic material. Very very very fancy, I thought they must have cost a fortune (I had been glasses shopping a little while ago). And in that second, I also noticed her whole attire and bearing. In a way, she was dressed like the fancy gallery shop owner. She was playing the role of the ‘power player’ in the art world. And I was to her–I imagined–a nothing, something beneath nothing. And I had dared to disturb her. And such beady cold eyes, like looking into a shark, not even human. I said thanks and walked out. How could someone be so close to art and so unhappy?

But onwards and upwards! Can.t let a little negativity slow me down. But the whole episode does fill me with a sense of wonder at how some people are. Have you had run ins like that on your journey? How do you react?