One of the first things I noticed about Astoria is that the downtown area seemed quite large for a population of only 10,000 people. A hundred years ago, it was the second largest city in Oregon. Astoria’s past sometimes overshadows the present; the Lewis and Clark expedition spent time there and it was the first permanent U.S. settlement west of the Rockies. Certain parts of the city feel frozen in time; buildings look like they haven’t been touched in at least 50 years and original signage is everywhere. Beautiful Victorian houses line the steep hills behind the downtown streets.
From the edge of downtown, you can see the waterfront. Old warehouses, new restaurants, and tiny shops line the pier. Straight out of a storybook…
Last year, I was watching an interview with Minimalist painter Brice Marden and the one thing that has stuck with me ever since is the way he described the importance of the back of a canvas. He said that he learned early on in his career from another artist in the New York art world that the back reflected on the overall quality of the artwork.
Keeping a piece of artwork neat on all sides and surfaces can be time-consuming and difficult, especially when working with liquids. I pour epoxy resin over most of my finished work and drip marks are inevitable. My early work had drips down the sides and gobs of dried resin on the back. Brice inspired me to take more pride in the overall presentation. Now, after pouring the resin, I sometimes spend up to 30 minutes carefully smoothing the edges of the work with a small brush and dragging a gloved finger underneath to eliminate as many drips as possible.
I’ve always felt that signatures on the front of work were distracting and took away from the graphic nature of what I was producing (though I’m sure I’m in the minority!), so I sign small labels on the back instead. I also affix a business card with my contact information on the back of every piece. I feel that it’s important to have a connection with those who buy my work. The information provided on the back lets them know that there’s an open line of communication.
In an era of mass-produced goods, take pride in your work. Stand proud and make the choice to only produce work that you love and feel a connection to, even if it takes way longer to get the finishing touches right. The passion shows.