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Blue Things

Yeah, I know, people have gotten pretty used to me making with the fantastical steampunk stuff – but there are a lot of times when the things in my head aren’t exactly in the genres I’m known for, often times these things aren’t exactly things people would want hanging on their walls, or even like.

That, is perfectly okay.

I took a 6-month break from showing anything new here – not that I stopped creating, but I was building big things, painting big murals upon them, working large scale in everything from the art itself to the undertaking as a whole… I managed 7 new paintings – each 3 foot by 7 foot, and can’t show them right now as I have no budget for imaging them.

I’d like to say I am working on something even bigger than that, but I am working smaller for a bit – less over the top, less fantastical, less with the huge.

… Some of this, is because the project, and all that time, really tapped me out emotionally, physically, and otherwise – I may have shot my life completely down the tube, I don’t know – I’ve lost my faith in humanity save for a small handful of people I met and worked with during the process, and have lost all hold on any illusion that there is any hope for a real arts scene or art happenings in the town I am currently living in and my thoughts in general on art as a living: expletive filled and feeling rather final.

Until I find a job, hopefully something good and hands-on, blood and sweat and not having to deal with people variety… landscaping, construction, etc…

I guess I still have to do whatever I can do, manage whatever I can manage, every day, regardless – so I do what I can do, which is painting, on what I have available to paint on.

I’m finding bits of board and unused canvas around the house big enough to do paintings on, and painting away for no one and no reason in particular.

I think some might call this “freedom”.

If you liked the sorts of things I spent the last few years painting – well, there were ways to express that – Just downloading images, wasn’t it.

But, for those who missed all the oddness and ugliness… well, it seems that I am back in that regard, and will paint new things, whenever I feel like it, whenever I have stuff to paint on.

I’m not done being an artist – I was born that way, I’ll die that way – I am just feeling rather done with *this*.

I am going to go back to breaking my back for a living, because I’d enjoy that a lot more than watching the internet for a non-living. I am going to wrap all my works up as I make them, store them up, list a few here now and then, and show them if and when a chance to show them someplace good comes up.

Anyway…

My latest two pieces are painted on 8×10 inch scraps of birch. They are filled with tiny details. They are the product of free-painting, with no particular image, story, or anything in mind short of the current element leading into the next and tying in with the previous. I suppose this is leading a lot more toward the style of my older, more surreal works, and I am exploring that for a while… contemplating how I will break that formula on the next, reflecting on missed chances in the previous…. building toward something, though I have no idea what, nor do I care.

I’d say more, but I still feel that people who like to talk a lot about their work, should be spending that time working.

Good night.

Same Deep Water as You
Same Deep Water as You
Deeper
Deeper
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Infernal Teardown and Commissions Available Again

Infernal Device at Night
The Infernal Device at night time

So, this last week we wrapped up the Infernal Device show at the Gerald R Ford Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Tear-down went pretty smoothly, considering that we had to break down nearly two tons of complicated mechanical machinery in less than two days. From standing atop our 17-foot tall wind and solar power sculpture and rotating mural to disassemble Todd’s wind collector, to getting the solar panels and reserve batteries loaded up, to breaking down the 7-foot tall, 7-foot in diameter, 7-sided rotating mural, to breaking down the massive surrounding structure – and all of its pistons and gears and chains, to scooping up nearly 3 cubic yards of decorative stone – all went fairly well – much thanks to help such as Glen Swanson, and Steampig artists/team members: Alicia Vanheulen and Thomas Birks.

There was a *lot* to talk and blog about during this huge 6 month project, and I missed out on that from being too busy each and every day of it – but if you would like a recap, progress pics, and more pictures of the device itself, you can find them all at http://facebook.com/infernaldevice

The project, is not over. We are re-grouping. We’ve all spent a lot of the last six months, and a lot of expense on making  this project happen, and now comes the time when we recover, rest up, catch up on all those other things that have been screaming to be done these last few months… things like blog updates, new art, and standing obligations.

I’ve spent 6 months without posting new artwork, without making sales, without shipping most of the few sales I had made, and needing to catch up on the last rewards shipments from our kickstarter – and I’ve found myself in a spot where I *need* to sell things, but cannot afford to sell things if I have to pay to have them made or shipped to me. My at-home stock is all but depleted, and I have nothing on hand but a lot of paint and wood to paint on.

I have seven new paintings from the device itself, each 3 foot by 7 foot monsters making one continuous repeating 21-foot by 7-foot mural… but not the money to have them imaged.. as well as doubts as to whether I can sell 3 foot by 7 foot prints at the price I would need to sell them at.

So, I’ve put a few commissions for sale – to get me back into the swing on doing artwork, to get some new artwork on this site, and I figure since they are such favorites: I might as well add some new pieces to the “Airships and Tentacles” art collection since I have yet to get it published.

If you are interested in getting an artwork commissioned, and incredibly cheaply – there are several options available – a 24×24 inch painting (already added), an 18×12 inch painting (already added), and more engravings (I’ll have that offer up soon if it is not up already).

You can find all of those offers here: http://www.mykeamend.com/new/products-page/?ptag=commission

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For Lovers of Rare Books

I made this book a while back, out of hardwood, and spent a lot of time sanding, carving, and polishing it. I also put a lot of love into making the securing system – two fat-ended brass pins to give me lots of room to fill it.

If someone grabs it, through our Kickstarter:

– I will fill it with every print from the Airships and Tentacles series
– each printed on a fine rough-edged rag paper
– each page annotated as the coffee table book would be, but in my own handwriting
– each page signed discreetly and numbered “1 of 1”
– each of these prints will be an entirely unique size from any editions made
– The front page will have “to [Your Name]” and my signature.
– To make it even more rare, I will make one unique work or original art to complete the piece. Yes, one page will be an original work of art to complete the series.

The Book size is roughly 13 inches by 15 inches, and will be a hefty and beautiful tome for your tabletop or shelf. You can also remove each print if you wish, to hang them, and secure the book cover away someplace safe.

It isn’t cheap… It’ll cost me about 20 bucks to print each imaged page  – which means you’re getting this at no actual profit…maybe even a loss – but I am hoping that this sale would push us over that tipping edge of 50% funding. And I’ll do anything to ensure the success of our project… including this.

Yes, it will be well worth it if it sells – so don’t feel bad about grabbing this great offer and helping us to make something even bigger.

So, if you would like to have this book, it is available for a donation of $1350, as are many other great things, at our Kickstarter: HERE

ALSO:

$20 through our kickstarter gets you a signed and personalized print of any of the below (you’ll need to go to my gallery page to get full views… it was hell just putting this compilation of thumbnails together):

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Cooties and a story by G.D. Falksen!

Well, it looks like I am devoting myself this year to finally finishing up my children’s book – but for now, I am working really hard at making our kickstarter successful.

We are beyond dedicated to making this happen… so much so that I stayed up all day and night putting this special drawing together (image below), which will be available in printable PDF format exclusively to everyone who donates $1 or more though our Kickstarter.

A $2 purchase of a good piece of fine art paper from your local craft store, plus this download, and you’ll have this silly piece of my steampunk storybook for your wall… $3 total investment, and no shipping.

We’ve also received an unpublished text by G.D. Falksen to add to our kickstarter offers: An Original Never-before Published Exclusive Short Story by award winning author G.D Falksen; You get a hard copy of the short story in a binder, decorated with exclusive print by Myke Amend (an illustration of the story within) – each illustrated cover HAND EMBELLISHED, numbered, and signed… making for a *very unique* work of literature and art combined.

Other offers include everything from exclusive prints from me, the Airships and Tentacles Coloring Book, the Airships and Tentacles Scrapbooking kit, Original Paintings, and other incredible offers as *much* less than regular price…

We’ve had some good fortune this week, blogged by Warren Ellis, tweeted by Neil Gaiman and Kyle Cassidy, you may have seen us mentioned by Vernian Process, Abney Park, Nancy Overbury, and other greats… who we will be sure to mention more in depth when we compile our big list of People Last Against the Wall…

Please help us to keep this momentum going. 7 days remain, and we are nearly 30% there. Your donation of $1, retweeting, reblogging, or otherwise spreading the word of this project can put us over that hill.

Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter
Cooties - Available only through our kickstarter (click to enlarge)
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Airships and Tentacles Coloring Book

In thinking of something really good, but inexpensive that I could put together as an added incentive to be a part of our kickstarter, and in staying up all night making a new engraving – it came to me…

This coloring book.

When I was a kid, Advanced Dungeons and Dragon’s Monster manual, and their Dieties and Demigods, had some rather awesome illustrations in them: All black and white. I loved those illustrations, but I loved them even more when I caught a Glimpse of my friend Brian’s book… which he had taken colored pencils to for each and every illustration. I thought it pretty amazing how with some simple color over the black and white of the pages, those illustrations really came to life. They were simple to color, because the shading was already there – which made for a basic coloring level, with lots of room for improvisation, and advanced looking results.

I thought to myself this AM, “Hey… all these engravings I’ve been doing would be perfect for this”,and so I set to gathering up pages for a coloring book… and with all the engraving that I do, I have a *lot* of them.

Here are the images that will be in this coloring book… which will for the time being, only be available through our kickstarter for an $11 donation (which includes Shipping and Handling). The coloring book is over 30 pages, and ready to color.

You’ll notice that some of the images below are colored, because I copied really quick from my gallery. These images will be uncolored in the coloring book version (see above).

If you would like to see a PDF of the actual book, CLICK HERE

If you would like to buy a copy of the book for $12, CLICK HERE

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Hello!

I am talking to you… through the internet!

I forgot to mention the rewards such as limited etchings on brass, paintings, and the like – but, if you’d like to know more, we’ve got a writeup about the project here:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/infernaldevice/the-infernal-device-an-enormous-mechanical-and-pai

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My first Video ever: It’s terrible! You’re welcome!

Because we needed video up for The Infernal Device‘s kickstarter page, and didn’t have one, I decided to do a workshop video to talk about progress on the model. Problem being that I did not have any camera person to move the camera to key points like… I don’t know… my head, the model, the table of gears.

Still, I am proud of it – if not simply because I managed to not wear a helmet with blue spandex, nor am I waving a frisbee about.

If you would like to know just what the hell I am going on about in this video, you can see images of the parts we’ll be using, the part of the model already built, progress pics of building this drum, pictures of us and our works, and actual things about the Device and why we’re building it, details about our ArtPrize bid, all at InfernalDevice.net.

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Approved!

Our Kickstarter was approved and launched yesterday, and you can find it here: Our KickStarter Page

If you aren’t familiar with Kickstarter, it is a perfect addition to our community project feel, in that it allows fellow art lovers to become a part of our project, while receiving rewards for their participation.

Gifts offered for donations starting as low as $1 begin at our sincere thanks, and go as high as being painted into the artwork itself – with many, many levels in between at $5, $10, etc…

If you do not have a dollar to pitch in at the moment, we completely understand, and would appreciate your help in simply forwarding on the link to others. All those little donations matter greatly, especially when friends and friends of friends are chipping in.

On a sidenote: If you would like to hep out in other ways, from donating junk from your garage, to being there for the hands-on work such as the build, we’d love to hear from you. You can reach us through our contact form, linked at the top of this page.

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Work with me here

I am seeking two people who live in Grand Rapids, or are willing to travel to Grand Rapids for the Artprize competition/event.

Most importantly, those people would be able to be here during Artprize, Late September through early October, or at least be able to transport their part of the project before the event begins. Preferably, they would live in the region and be able to work on the project right here – that work period being from May through September.

This would be a collaborative project, with winnings split evenly between collaborators, should we win. Expenses would be covered by whatever sponsors we can find, and I’ll be seeking space to work in, in addition to the perfect venue for our work – hopefully one that will yield the most visitors.

The types of artists/artisans I need are as follows:

A plumber, or preferably someone who has experience and tools to weld brass, and feels they can do so imaginatively. Bonus points if you have some experience with functional structure and moving parts.

An Architectural design/engineering student (or preferably certified structural engineer), because venues and insurers are very happy when there is paperwork ensuring them our work won’t fall down and go “Boom! Squish! Aaaagh!”

Someone who works with electronics and electrical might also be nice to have, as we probably won’t be able to use coal power our device.

A co-painter might also be desired… preferably one who works in the pop-surrealism vein and does not mind putting down paint with other people’s paint.

Someone who works in alternative energy would be a plus. Electrical is the fall-back, but I would *like* to see this thing powered by green or alternative energy sources – anything from solar power, to sterling engines, to just a bio-diesel powered generator… or otherwise.

Persons experienced in grant writing and/or press releases. I’d be happy to count you as a collaborator as well – as long as you are willing to pitch in on driving, organizing, and/or some physical work in the process.

Of course the fewer people we have, the bigger the share, so people skilled in multiple areas outline above would be preferable – but I feel our team should not be so slim that it presents difficulty. That perfect balance is what I am looking for.

Creative Freedom:

I’ll put in ideas, thoughts, and designs where/if *wanted*, but want you to have as much creative freedom as you desire. I want this to be a collaborative project, not an artist as an overseer project. You can put in equal input on what I am bringing to the table, wood working, painting, promotional ability, web site skills, programming skills, graphic design skills, and a broad knowledge of most everything practical, to make a huge and impressive piece that is *ours* collectively and equally.

What is to gain?

Aside from participating in the nations largest open-entry art competition, which spans an entire downtown area:

$250,000 is the first prize,  $10,000 is the second prize, $50,000 is the third, and fourth through tenth prize are $7,000.

I am confident that if we do not win, we should be able to find a home for the finished work pretty easily, because we are that awesome. Interested parties can contact me through my contact form (hit the little envelope on the pipe at the top of the page).

Sponsors needed:

Right now, I would love to hear from suppliers of fabric and canvas, art paper, lumber, brass tubing/piping/hardware, tool companies, transportation/logistics companies, hobby shops (gears, cogs, shafts, servos), salvage yards (much of the same), art supply companies (paint, gesso, acrylic medium, pencils, markers, brushes, etc..), and anyone who has a hangar, industrial space, or large garage for us to build in.

Progress to date:

I’ve already grabbed a domain and hosting for the project, in trying to be more pro-active than last year. I will be using my “spare* time to build the site for this project over the next month or so. Details will be on that will be posted here once the site is up. Everything from there will be rather “hush hush” and done via groups, phone, email, or in-person, aside from press releases, until the ArtPrize bidding process begins.

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The Artist’s life: Myths and Misconceptions

This post is for those who are aspiring artists, those who are living the artists’ life/fighting the good fight, those want to know what the typical artist’s life is really like, those who erroneously assume we are on some pedestal above the working class, and especially those who see us as something lesser than the hard-working masses.

I really enjoy what I do, and I enjoy every person I interact with online, and every person I meet at shows and conventions along the way, when we are able to make conventions anyway.

Often times, I find myself being labeled or referred to as a “successful artist” – and I suppose that, if artists were paid in web hits, kind comments, web features, magazine features, book features, television news spots, peer/colleague recognition, and used bandwidth, that just may be… And, really, there could be nothing better, save for that ever-distracting rumbling from within…

– Some people mistakenly think that being an artist means not having to work – joyfully stroking away at a canvas with a very long brush so we can still recline in a golden hammock, while dining on peeled grapes and supervising our apprentices to urinate more passionately upon a silk-screened soup-can.

– Others assume that being an artist means not wanting to work, as if we spent all of our days on play and recreational drugs, and only picked up a brush to avoid “real work”, or maybe just to have something to offer for money… like that guy on the corner offering to sell you a handful of dumpster findings from his pockets, because he knows you’d rather just give him 50 cents.

For an actual artist, one who lives for art, and lives as an artist, *neither* assumption could ever be farther from the truth:

Now, I am talking actual artists here: Not those jet-setters who would gladly have fame rather than create something worthwhile – Not those coke-headed scenesters to whom “art” is rubbing elbows with the wealthy over champagne while conversing about the deep and existential meanings behind sloppy paint on a half-assed doodle ready-made to satisfy the “chic” galleries’ demand that an artist produce 12 pieces a month to be considered – Not the “I’m gonna splatter this paint on a canvas” guy you see making a living off 5 minutes work per $50 painting (or sometimes $4,000,000 painting).

… No, I am talking about those who couldn’t live without being able to create things worth being proud of, and would gladly die of starvation or lack of sleep if it meant finishing that one last work… which in its conception and crafting is nothing short of amazing, but completed, will never, ever be good enough, but always one step closer… while never anything worth patting oneself on the back over.

Even a step backward is a step forward, every failure is a triumph. We learn through experience, improving our art through noting the good and the bad – and for all the works you’ll ever see, are at least three that get crumpled, scrapped, abandoned, burned, or shot and buried ceremoniously.

Artists included – Any of us who struggle to work for ourselves, are the most tyrannical of bosses – We typically spend 16 to 36 hours at a time on our work between 4 to 10 hour naps, grabbing a shower or a bite to eat when there isn’t an important deadline to meet, or paint threatening to dry on the pallet. (I’ve managed over 150 hours of straight-painting in my worst/best days – bathroom breaks and Mountain-Dew refills excluded).

On the very best days, those hours are spent on art alone, though those days rarely come – so the days get longer and longer, bedtime gets that much further away, just so some actual art can be managed before “day’s end”..some 48 hours later.

If we are doing well online, much time goes into ordering tubes and packaging, ordering prints, wrestling with cardboard and glue to make painting-shaped boxes, rolling prints, printing labels, signing things, making certificates, running to and from the post office… it keeps us from our work, but it is happy work. Sending my art to hang in the home or office of another person keeps us going, emotionally and financially.

The rest of our time is spent writing blog entries, redesigning our sites, managing our “social” network pages, creating sales, adding new products to the web, looking for affordable advertising, logging clicks and cost, submitting to boards and sites and magazines, answering our email, waiting for others to answer theirs, looking for new markets or merch like skins and tattoo flash and tee shirts and such, and doing work for others to make ends meet: Web design, ad design, various other things “artistic” which are not “art” and often soul-sucking – especially that every hour spent here, could have been another hour of painting.

Things being what they have been these years, we spend more and more time on the latter, less and less time on the former, and all those extra hours of tearing our hair out and staring into this screen, mean bedtime is that much further away if we are to get any actual painting or drawing done… because an artist who does not create, is not an artist, but a “seller” if they are so lucky as to be making sales in that time.

And when things suddenly go well… due to some freak internet occurrence, some kind soul with a lot of traffic posting our images, or numerous kind souls posting the same to their friends, Tumbling, Stumbling, Tweeting, whathaveyou, or just the purchase of an original work: When we have shipments out of the way, if we have money left over, what we don’t re-invest in replenishing our art supplies – we use to allow ourselves time for our very best days: A worry free day or week of making more art, maybe sleeping and eating more regularly… maybe even putting ourselves on the list for a convention.

… and for those days of pure art, still working most of the day, we feel like kings; It boggles my mind to see these people who get huge funding and fame for their art, and could actually bear to spend their days just riding out that fame, when they could be using all that money and attention to make bigger and better art… and not just things that will sell or grab headlines simply because a famous person made them.

Truth be told, if art were not so incredibly important to us, we artists could live far, far better begging on the street, or even working a minimum-wage job. We are in a class below “poor”, and often looked at as much less – though we don’t get government money to sit on our butts, no medical coverage, no paid rent, no food stamps, no $5,000 EIC for making babies we can’t afford … Instead, we *choose* not to be a burden on society, we *choose* to overwork ourselves to death, and do so for much much less, and a lot of nothing in between.

We live on caffeine, adrenaline, will power, and most importantly the hope that all of our hard work will someday mesh with the American dream: That determination and sacrifice will pay off in the end.. knowing that having spent years of your life on this pursuit, that giving up now, or tomorrow, would render all that suffering and struggle pointless.

And this is not for lack of skills or knowledge; The both of us are very adept in crazy things like PHP, HTML, CSS, Javascript, Actionscript/Flash, Photoshop, Illustrator, In-Design, and other things that *could* be making us a decent living; We put all that time invested learning into our web sites, magazines, pre-press on our own artworks. We know how to work power tools, we know how to shape and work with lumber, we know how to work with more materials and how to do more things than most people could imagine, because every thing we don’t yet know, reflects something we may one day want to use for art… and we learn it all on our own time, without grants, without scholarships, with no reward greater than simply knowing … and being able to do whatever we cannot pay others to do.

We are thrilled to be able to justify $8 on drive-thru food we don’t have to cook, being able to spend that time instead on art is like Christmas for us… the same goes for trading blown-out boots for the next 2 years’ “new pair” or getting a pair of glasses that are less scratched-up in order to struggle less with the painting. We drive a car the mechanics gave 6 months to live, and have done so for 3 years waiting to have $350 that does not need to go to bills or art. We pay for our medical expenses out of pocket – and just hope for the best on anything we cannot pay for: Abscesses, unknown pains, troublesome coughs, broken bones if they are not compound fractures.

… Really, If I haven’t just cooked up the last breast of chicken and the last egg in order to make sure the cats are fed, or if I am not stressing over catching us up to “$nothing”, it is a pretty good day… yes, I live on the brink of homelessness – and I work very very hard to live on that brink.

For all of our work, despite the amount of homes that have our art hanging in them (including those where the art was paid for), or how many people know us online, or how many places you can find us, or the appearance of our web sites, these hard-working artists are really lucky to make $1 an hour for their 100+ hours a week.

… And I hope I die never knowing what it is to give up on my dreams. If that is sooner, or later – then I hope the the latter as I am not yet where I want to be with my art. Though I don’t think I will ever be satisfied with what I do, I know that choosing comfort or even life over art is death for me.

Any artist who can survive another day, having lived a day as an artist, is a lucky artist

… and I suppose, *yes*, that does make me “successful”.

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– If you are another artist and maybe looking for some clues on how to survive “the Great Art Depression”, it is pretty simple: The secret to survival is to not give up and die. Those businesses who made it through the 1930’s Depression, came out on top, and remained there for the rest of the century.

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– If you are not an artist, and I have provided some level of understanding, or if you simply agree – Please take the time to add to the success of the creatives you appreciate seeing work from. Buy a CD, buy a book, or an e-book, watch a program and wait through the commercials… And though some of the art you enjoy may be a bit dark or crazy for your walls, do something more than just setting a desktop image. Maybe this means giving them $1 – not as a handout – but in appreciation for the millions of hours of thankless work and study  they invested into just getting to the point where you can enjoy an image – or maybe this means telling a few others about their work.. stumble, tumble, blog, do *something*… become a part of the creative process, a part of history, by tipping the scales in favor of what you like to see, hear, or read.