New creature

A Decade. Yep. I'm feeling decadenous.

Happy Belated New Year, everyone. This month marks the 10-year anniversary of Stupid Creatures™. And I have to tell you, I’m pretty amazed. I have learned a lot in the past decade about the world because of the creatures. I’ve learned a lot about myself and the way other’s tick. It’s been really crazy and full of experiences I never thought I’d have. I’ve had huge expectations, some of which have been met, others have not and likely won’t be. But whatever.

Let’s see. When I started making the creatures, I really, really wanted to be famous and popular and approved of and accepted by a particular, edgy, cultural, hipster elite. It didn’t happen. I fell in with moms and crafters and quilters. Nothing wrong with that. That crowd is humble, realistic, sincere and more loving than anyone whose attention I might have wanted while I was chasing fame. I mean, my publishers have primarily moms, grandmas and crafters for an audience and they’ve been really welcoming and supportive to me.

My sick pursuit of hipster affirmation gave me unrealistic expectations of the art world. Art is just a business at the end of the day. Willing buyers, willing sellers; a business. Nothing more. I’m glad to have been spared the hipster BS that I so badly desired back then. Most of them don’t have any money to buy one of my pieces anyway.

Let’s see. In my decade with the Stupid Creatures, learned that money doesn’t fall out of the sky. You’ve got to work your whole entire life for it, be born with it, or borrow it and painstakingly pay it back over the course of your entire life. If you want to do anything in the toy world you’ve got to have TONS of money up front, and manufacture scads of content overseas in a sweatshop so Americans can buy it cheaply. Americans will tell you they want your work fair trade, handmade and recycled, but when it comes time to pay for it, they scream and run to wal-mart.

So I’ve been very lucky to have the publishing, the press and the toy contracts that I’ve enjoyed. I’m also very lucky to be a counselor. I’m good at it, I love it. I’m doing something my community needs. Granted, the community needs art more than it realizes, but artists need to eat. Sadly, the vast majority of anyone anywhere do not believe in feeding or paying artists, so many of us wind up in other careers.

My problem, I’ve come to realize, is that at the end of the day, despite my love for monsters and my skills for sculpting and creating, I’m really a character designer. This means my best work isn’t the physical items that I sew and stuff, but their back story, their universe, their history, their relationship to other characters.. To this end, I will be pursuing cartoons and comics in the near future more than more plush sculptures. In fact, I’m helping a friend pitch a cartoon series as we speak. I’m working on the visuals primarily but I’m also helping him flesh out the universe that he created.

In addition to counseling children, I’m designing actual toys and other children’s items for The Land of Nod and I’m learning how the social work and mental health industries function. My whole life is research and I’m grateful for it.

This isn’t a swan song. Stupid Creatures is sticking around. But moving forward things will get a lot more serious. No more expending myself to force the art world and the consumer world to regard soft sculpture as legitimate art. No more starving at craft shows while the dowdy judgmental throngs peek and glare at price tags, or make the excuse that they don’t have any kids to shop for. I’m going to make what I want to make, how I want to make it. And I’ll work my hardest for those who support me the most. I’ll put my energy where the support is, and I’ll stop wasting myself on stuff that drains me unnecessarily.

Watch for me on various cartoon channels. That’s where I want to be next.



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The D'Zturbanites

Enter the D’ZTURBANITES

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Hi everybody..

Be the first to own a piece of my new line. The first four D’Zturbanites are available in my Etsy shop right now (one was donated to a local function). In keeping with the prevalent graffiti in my neck of the River Arts District, I’ve decided to take a basic sock creature construction method and embellish it a bit. I’m using cutouts from elaborate printed cottons and solid T-shirts. The results are really striking. More D’Zturbanites (pronounced Dis-turb-an-ites) will come soon. I couldn’t wait to make a ton before I started posting. This should tide you all over till more Zombabies and Glumys appear.

“Urban” art and fashion is very popular in our culture, even in places that are largely rural like Asheville. It seems few people, especially youngsters, want to cultivate or glorify (or even develop) aesthetic motifs that represent a more rural surrounding. So, with the D’Zturbanites, I’m kind of poking a little bit of tongue in cheek at this unacceptance of situation I see around me. Some of the local proponents of “urban” ism probably couldn’t even define what “urban” ism means without resorting to tons of buzz words delivered with imitated ethnic inflections. Still, it’s a great aesthetic and I’m glad people are actively developing and propagating it. Maybe I’ll learn something the more attention I pay, and wind up changing my opinion about these locals and their motivations. I’m always open to that.

Ultimately, I’m very fortunate that my studio overlooks a vacant lot full of constantly changing graffiti murals. The work is incredible and I hope it stays there always. There’s a good chance it may since the lot is privately owned, and I believe the owner allows all of the painters to come and contribute. The murals change perhaps weekly. I’ve taken advantage of the exceptional work as backgrounds for my photo shoots. Gosh I love this area.

Thanks everyone!

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Gallery Update

My goodness gracious.. I’m about brain dead after finagling the inner workings of the gallery pages. If you hover on the Galleries menu tab, a list of its sub menu items pops up. Similarly, if those sub menu items have sub menu items of their own, they’ll pop up if you hover over the sub menu item in question. And so on, and so on, and so on.

I like that feature reasonably well, but suppose I want to save my viewers the confusion of so many sub menu tabs popping into existence? I’ll check the forum and see if there’s a way I can turn all that off, at least for some of the sub menu items.

Anyway, I’ve started adding groups of creatures into sub menus based on the story lines I’ve been developing. Each time I make a run of creatures, often I’m using the same techniques over and over again, and thus the individual creatures in the run look very similar. They become a family, or a unified group of characters. So that’s how I’m posting all of the new creatures. If any of that makes sense to you, I’d be pleased. At the moment I’m kind of bleary from doing all this messing around with the website.

I await your critique on functionality and simplicity.. if there is any left.

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So, speaking of new postings, even though he was on the website before (you’ll notice that the previous “new creatures” page has changed drastically), I’ve got Dr. Morticius Drathmave with me here. He’s listed on Etsy as Drath. In fact, you can see him still in the sidebar as he’s quite unsold. He’s the last of a particular series I have left. Anyway, Buy him. He’s cheaper now and he’s a great fellow, having recently turned over a new leaf.

Take care, everyone!
John
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