Saturday, August 30, 2008

FOR SALE: the Product Project

Due to the recent economic downturn in my life, I have decided to resurrect some mass-produceable artwork from my past. I have the raw materials to start manufacturing these immediately, and will be taking orders from anybody interested. Both items are available for $60 each, or together for $100. These are handmade, limited addition art objects, signed and dated by me.

read on to learn the background behind these rare commodities

PRODUCT ONE: The Barbantula
the original:1999

In 1999, I created a spider sculpture using found objects and Barbie doll legs. During the next year, I made 4 or five as commissions for interested people. Each was original and unique, and sold for $75. Little did I suspect, this project would follow me for years.

second series:2004

In the summer of 2004, having just earned my Masters degree and trying to plot my next move, I found myself at a dollar store buying 2 dozen "Made in China" Barbie knockoffs. This 24 dollar investment was to become my ticket to the life of a traveling salesman. I tinkered around for a day or two until I had developed the quickest, cleanest solution possible. I figured that for $40 apiece, I would multiply my initial investment tenfold. I put up a link on my website, and wandered the streets of Manhattan with a suitcase full. Eventually I met some other artists who were also interested in selling art on the street, and I set up near Union Square.

What followed was one of the slowest and most boring afternoons of my life. People passing by would turn their heads, but nobody stopped. I was told to try the East Village, which I did, and there people would stop and talk, but I was scared away when another artist showed me a ticket he'd just been given. The last place I tried was Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, where plenty of people thought they were awesome, but where people barely have enough money to afford deodorant, and everyone makes their own art anyway.

I scrapped the idea and dropped off the entire stock at a store on 1st Ave. called ModWorld, where I managed to sell one on consignment for $80 before the place went out of business and disappeared without ever contacting me or returning the remaining pieces. By this point I was deep into many other things and not too concerned.
third series: 2006

Two years later, something unexpected occurred. My mom has a friend who liked going to thrift stores with a friend. It was her hobby, however, she didn't particularly want to buy anything for herself. She knew that in the past I had made art from dolls, and she started buying a few Barbies each time, for less than a buck apiece. As time went by, a few dozen became hundreds, and I began receiving them in the mail.

These were real Barbies, with the patented bendy leg. They were much nicer than the fakes I had used for the second series. I decided to revisit the project for a third time, and developed one more prototype in 2006. This time I considered it to be more of an art project about consumerism than a way to make money. I was frustrated by the New York artworld and the emphasis on making artwork simply to sell. I made one dozen, and developed a cardboard "package" with stenciled lettering, which was designed to hang on the wall like a painting. I called the project "Don't Tell Mattel", alluding to the potential corporate lawsuit I might face if someone blew the whistle.
This is the kind of tongue-in-cheek humor that I've always enjoyed perpetrating, and the final design is quite elegant. I've given all but one of the 12 away as gifts, but now stand poised to create more. These are the collector's items of the future, guaranteed.

PRODUCT TWO: Corrugated Omelette
readable sculpture

In 1997, at the age of 21, I created quite a stir in my area by being featured on the front page of the entertainment section of the local newspaper. The story title was "Ted's Different Slant" and stemmed from a package I had mailed to the editor containing a copy of a hand-made book entitled "Corrugated Omelette." He was so surprised by my ambition that he read the book and wrote a favorable review. When the story aired, I received over 100 orders and went to work mass producing dozens at a time. I lived off these things for months, and everyone who bought a copy loved it.

The book is 80 pages long and the cover is made from cardboard, hence the title. The content is fiction, seven short stories I wrote in college while earning a degree in art with a creative writing minor. The project itself overlapped departments and I received independent study credits in sculpture and literature. I self-published using my first initial and middle name, T. Thomas Stanke, because it's a cool pen name.

The end result is a fun read, combining text with collage elements cut from Time-Life books I got at the Salvation Army as illustrations. The rest of this post is the first story, a funny bit of social commentary that sets the tone for the rest of the tales. The final story, not included here, purports to be a missing section of the Bible, written by "doubting Thomas", which paints a picture of Jesus as a lover of colored eggs and bunnies. Hilarious.

Read on as if this blog was the book:

Both of these products are available directly through me, for $100 each, handmade, signed, limited additions.
If you'd like a Barbantula or Corrugated Omelette of your own, please contact me directly:


And Remained said...

I really dig your work. Reminds me of Hans Bellmer (might mis-spell). Keep making great work and keep maintaining your very creative blog!!

No Police State Girl said...

Your artwork is really cool.

Adel said...

Can I read the rest of your book ?