Author Archives: doncadora

About doncadora

Don Cadora is a Co-Founder of Artlarking, collaborative networking for artists of all kinds. He consults in marketing and social media strategy for creative businesses including Fashion Designers, Design Firms, and Arts Organizations. A Journalist and Producer, Don's passions include Travel, Surfing, and Collaborative Technology.

Keith Smith, Book By Book

Keith Smith, Book By Book is and exhibit at Bruce Sivlerstein Gallery, New York.

Keith Smith has been creating books as works of art since the 1960s, yet he has rarely shown his work to the public over the past twenty-five years.

He designs books that allow the viewer to experience and question the structure and nature of the book itself—his works are often radical departures from traditional books made of string or covered in fabric, they unfold, light-up, do not open, are unbound, or punched full of holes. Each piece is an opportunity for the viewer to expand his or her own expectations for a book and physically engage with the imagery or text.

For Smith, his work is a form of creative articulation whereby the act of making the book—the binding, printing method, page materials and textures that comprise the form, content and structure of the book are chosen to most adequately express the artist’s original inspiration or personal challenge.

While a single book might be guided by one idea or one particular interest, when the viewer examines the artist’s complete body of work—currently over 280 books—images of certain people and places reappear, and Smith’s voice begins to emerge. His works address the recurring themes of love and desire and reveal the artist’s efforts to reckon with his sexual identity.

Keith was educated at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He has taught at the Visual Studies Workshop, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of Illinois. He is a recipient of two Guggenheim Fellowships, and a National Endowment of the Arts grant and a Pollock/Krasner Foundation grant.

His work is in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Center of Creative Photography, University of Arizona; Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University; International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Getty Museum, Los Angeles; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London among others.

He has authored nine books on bookmaking, among them; 200 Books, An Annotated
Bibliography, published by Keith Smith BOOKS, First Edition, May 2000; Books without Paste or Glue, Non-Adhesive Binding Volume I, The Sigma Foundation, Inc., 1991; and Structure of the Visual Book, First Edition, The Sigma Foundation, 198.

Courtesy of Bruce Silverstien Gallery. Exhibit runs till January 7, 2012.

The Beginners Guide to Collecting Art

You love art. But the good stuff can be expensive. Starting your collection now may seem like an irrational move. But in fact, buying art is an excellent investment. Buying today could  bring you a substantial chunk of change a few years down the line.

But where to start? You know what you like, and you think you probably can’t afford it. You may not be able nab an original masterpiece, but there is another way. Buy a limited edition print.

Le Repas Frugal, Pablo Picasso

Le Repas Frugal, Pablo Picasso. Etching, 1904. Available at David Tunick Inc.

I was recenlty at the IFPDA Print Fair in New York, organized by the International Association of Fine Print Dealers.  I found out more about the next-best way to own art. Prints of well known art can be pretty pricey themselves. I admit the above Picasso is probably pretty up there, though I didn’t inquire.

But prints by emerging artists are affordable. And if they’re at a reputable collaborative exhibit, you know the collecting community has its eye on this artist.

IFPDA Print Fair. Collaborative Art Exhibit. New York 2011

Beginners Art Collection Guide, 5 Tips

1. Buy What You Like

Why waste time and space collecting a piece you don’t actually like? Because you think it will be worth something twenty years from now? You’ll be stuck with a monstrosity in your living room while you wait for the day you can finally make a profit from it’s sale.

2. Make a list of your favorites.

To start off, when you’re at an art exhibit, write down the names of the artists and pieces that really turn you on. Research your list later. I like to use my smartphone to snap a photo of the description beside the piece.

Nerd out time: Galleries and exhibits of the future may use QR codes for this like Artlarking did at the Neon Nature show. Just snap a photo or input a number and you’ll be directed to a web page with full information on the piece.

3. Always bargain.

Tell the seller that you’re just starting your collection. They may come down on the price. It’s worth a shot. Go low and they’ll come up a bit from the price you quote.

4. Check out Group Exhibits, Art Trade Shows, and Collaborative Art Projects.

They’re a great  place to get exposed to a lot of art. If it’s a big show, you know galleries are bringing out their best work. You can also bet that the piece your interested in is collectable and will go up in value.

5. Buy prints.

Buying a print is the only way for many of us to get our hands on the work of well known artist. Original prints are signed by the artists themselves.

*Any other advice for the would-be collector? Any tips specifically about buying Prints?

Road Blocks- Amateur Adventures in Letterpress Print

The amateur I refer to is me. I’m an amateur observer of letterpress print. Last night I and my housemate, a talented illustrator and printer herself,  headed over to the Curiosity Shoppe  to check out an art opening. It featured posters and print by artists from all over the country. The shoppe is an art and design focused retailer of beautiful things. They called the exhibit the Sunshine Letterpress Show.

The first thing I noticed about the prints was that they were pleasant to look at. The thick color sucks you in. Lines are definite, as is the use of empty space.

Rad Poster From F-2 Designs

Type is so familiar. It conjures memories of Sesame Street, or reading your first book with mom, before you knew what any of it meant. Augmented, expanded, and hyper-colored type becomes a new language. The letter A is its own character, like a Chinese pictograph. A phrase, printed in this way, transmits  much more emotion than the words alone.

Because the printing press affects the paper, creating creases and indents, it often looks three-dimensional. A glass of wine altered my perception just enough to perceive the subtlety, sans  3-D glasses.

By Studio On Fire, Courtesy of The Curiousity Shoppe

Outside the shop, a great white van with an open door invited us in. The Type-Truck is part of a project called Movable Type, started by Kyle Durrie, a letterpress printer from Portland, Oregon and the proprietor of Power and Light Press.

The Type-Truck

Inside the van, a clean cut workshop sported wood drawers full of every possible kind of type block. There were printing presses of old. “They stopped making this kind in the 60’s”, Durrie said. And another one she demoed was made in the 1800’s.

"They stopped making these in the 60's"

The nostalgia was tangible as volunteers took their time to apply paint and roll the old press by hand. The result was satisfying- a thick yellow sun along with the words “Let It In”. Despite the usual SF fog, the image reminded me that it was indeed summer.

Images courtesy of the Curiosity Shoppe

Draw On This!

An Interview with Shantell Martin

Shantell Martin is an artist who crosses boundaries. She’s an illustrator who made her mark drawing live projected images, often on people, in Tokyo megaclubs. She then moved on to lecture worldwide on the creative process and perform in galleries like the MoMA, and many others. She exhibits her hand-drawn illustrations as well, with upcoming solo shows in New York and Florida.

Martin’s work, web presence, and ability to tell her personal story are impressive. So check out her site and hear what she has to say in answer to a few of Artlarking’s inquiries. She’s a definite case study for wide-eyed emerging artists to learn from.

What motivates you, makes you get up in the morning, and keeps you creating despite outer influences telling you what to do and how to do it?

For some reason, could take a long time to explain, I’ve never really felt that strongly pressured by what other people think or suggest I should do. I go with my own flow. On the most part I wake up and I naturally want to make, create and share my works, but every now and then I don’t and I have to just ride it out and find other things to do with my time.

What gives you sustenance and allows you to relate to your environment as if  it were home despite alien surroundings, new places, and new faces?

Growing up in the London I always felt like a bit of an outsider. An alien. Perhaps that has something to do with being mixed race and never really being accepted as “English” (like the English side of my family). We are given the title of “British”, which kinda makes you feel like a 2nd class citizen. So, at least when I am in foreign countries and environments, feeling like a foreigner seems normal and enjoyable.

How do you create opportunity for yourself within the community of art and business, doing all the awesome projects you do? A lot of artists want advice on how to represent themselves, and how to engage the world as an artist and a business.

Since leaving school I am yet to have an agent, manager, publicist, gallery etc. I have not been opposed to the idea of any of these, quite the opposite, but as I’m a bit of a hybrid (illustrator, visual artist, performer) people don’t really know what to do with me.

As most of my work, especially the live projection work is in public and on a large scale I create, fans, and opportunities to meet with people at every show. If people like what they see, they will talk about it and come and talk with me….

It is still hard to show people my real passion though – my illustrations on paper.  They are very small and take time to sit down n view. I’m working on showing more people in the future though, by releasing a series of books.

If I were to give any advice, I would just say – get out there!

See more at

Neon Nature and the New Currency

Please come check out our next show including work by Hailey Gaiser, Richard Lee Parker of 450 Architects, Shantell Martin, Kristin Farr, and more.

This is what the next Artlarking event theme conjures up in my mind. These are my thoughts, not the official statement for the show.

From Wikipedia:

Neon – Greek: νέον (neon) meaning “New One”

  • Neon is actually abundant on a universal scale; it is the fifth most abundant chemical element in the universe by mass, after hydrogen, helium, oxygen, and carbon. But it is rare on Earth. A balloon filled with neon will rise in air, albeit more slowly than a helium balloon.[21]

Collage Series by Hailey Gaiser

In our last brainstorming session, Alison told the Artlarking Creative Directors that Neon is the tenth element in the periodic table. The same day, I was talking about the Hindenburg with some friends over a beer in Dolores Park. It was filled with Hydrogen and burst into flames. The Hindenburg, not my beer. I concluded Neon Glass Zeppelins would be safer, more visually pleasing, and a great cover band name.

Neon represents what?

The Neon concept goes beyond the chemical element. Neon colors, which are actually florescent colors, have extraordinary glowing properties. They evoke brightness, newness, and expanded powers of perception. Modern living amplified by technology and visible radiation.

Neon Nature

Neon is Nature. It’s the elemental energy behind the lines drawn by our muddy perception of the everyday world. Neon, or newness, lies in each moment. In each static object, waiting to erupt and flow. Our job as creators is to facilitate a usable, storable, and transferable medium for this process. The New Currency.

Collage Series by Hailey Gaiser

Neon Nature is the New Currency.

Your creative energy is the New Currency. You are the New Currency. But only if you express yourself, document it, and release the creative record to the world.

How do we evoke this  new energy?

Any piece of Nature taken out of its known context and put into another is vitalized. Crack the stone to find the hidden crystal. Split the atom to reveal the primordial power hidden in matter.

After the creative change, elements previously unknown to each other are forced to collaborate. The process is disruptive but also spurs evolution.

Neon Nature demands it: Unity, disruption, collaboration, and recombination of disparate elements. Then a new unity that allows the process take place again. Not moving backwards or disassembling. But moving forward with a creative memory embedded in all future movements, in all future cultures, no matter how abstracted from the source material (our Natural Resources).

What’s the point?

The Neon needs Nature like a baby needs a mother to hold it. The Nature needs Neon to enliven it, change it, and allow it to evolve. The New Currency is our record of creative accomplishment. We store it,  use it, exchange it. And we recognize that Natural Resources in addition to the Human Spirit are the source of all we can really have.

Whatever we create with the New Currency springs from past accomplishments, promises to validate them; but also to exceed them. Greater and more satisfying creative leaps are sure to come as a result.

Images provided by Hailey Gaiser. Check out her work in person at Neon Nature and The New Currency, June 4th at the Box Factory. Part of Mission Art and Performance Project (MAPP). Flier and address above.

Art-Life-Mash-Up, Ferris Plock & Kelly Tunstall

Meet Ferris Plock and Kelly Tunstall. Two professional Artists, Animators, and Designers who combine efforts in their art, life, and marketing. I love the way they use the same website to for all of their work. They’ve shown individually in galleries all over San Francisco. And they’ve made art together, working on the same canvas. Oh, and they made a baby together too.

Tunstall’s work depicts women with starry eyes, big heads, and cute outfits. A fashion designer might steal some great concepts from the paintings. According to their website bio, “Tunstall’s studied portraits render stylized female figures, as well as their pets, prey, powers, and dreams.”

They go on to say, “In contrast, Plock’s work centers on the inner animalistic tendencies reflected in humans throughout the context of modern life.” Monstrous figures abound. The energy is definitely male, despite the ornate patterns that mimic ancient Japanese art. Samurai animals don sweet Converse shoes that I wish they actually made.

Family Tree, Kelly Tunstall & Ferris Plock

Their collaborative work is a special treat. Imaginations combine as do the dualities of their style. In their collaborative piece, Family Tree, a diamond eyed female figure stares out into the void as does a baby on her lap. Above looms Plock’s contribution, the smiling eyes of a lion (or some other fanged animal). Dressed in complicated geometric patterns, its kimono and its teeth are sharper and more defined than the soft center it protects, but just might devour!

Check it out-

New Regionalism

California Northern is a new magazine published biannually about this western plot we call home. It avoids cliche depictions of Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, and leftist San Francisco. It asks us to question who we are and where we are.

Articles outline just how diverse California is. We’ve got ex-hippies, rednecks, techies, valley conservatives, farmers, immigrant workers, left-leaning urbanites, and some straight up paradoxes. Like the redneck-hippy hybrid who has dreadlocks, grows weed, and drives a dirty truck with a George Bush sticker on it.

An interview with L.A. Times veteran journalist, Mark Arax, reveals one common California thread. Our willingness to experiment. What happens in the rest of America happens in California first, he says. This includes movements in civil rights, innovations in agriculture, and  of course the creation of world changing technologies. But considering the diversity and the separateness of all these distinct types of people, is a pioneering spirit enough to hold us together? It’s a question that pops up throughout the pages of the magazine.

The editors of California Northern, claim that they want to document what’s happening here, not depict the world the way they wish it to be. But even in the subtitle, A New Regionalism, I can’t help but sense the desire to create a new way of seeing the world, locally, that can serve as container for all the contradictions. That might mean redefining a somewhat unifying Northern California culture.

Californians have a long tradition of creating new cultures. Or at least trying to. Matt Gleeson’s piece, “Hot Mountain”, tells the tale of black Beat poet, Nestor Groome, who strikes out with a group of idealists to live off the land, meditate, and love freely.

The story is a historical fiction hybrid that questions why Groome faded into obscurity though he was an essential part of the San Francisco Renaissance. It also asks why his blackness is a little known part of his documented history. The answer is an indulgent hypothetical account of rural commune life with Groome’s actual intimates, a group of exclusively white friends. Gleeson’s piece ends with a first-person narration by the ghost of Nestor Groome himself, shifting into paranormal journalistic realism.

Hot Mountain and other articles illuminate the fact that California is the furthest west a pioneering soul can go. Polar ideologies abound and perhaps make room for hybrid philosophies, new ideas and ways of living.

How does that manifest in our time? California experimentation and innovation still abound artistically and technologically, tempered by a connection to the land, local food, and art production.

California Northern shines a light on this part of the state’s past, gives comfort to those trying to understand it right now, and hints ever so slightly at what lies beyond the cultural horizon.

-Don Cadora