Thursday, February 14, 2013

Crystal City Storm

There is a place called "Crystal City" in the Metro DC area but this isn't it. I created this imaginary cityscape using forms from real quartz crystals, something that a lot of modern architects do. I also included the John Hancock tower from Chicago, visible at right. My Chicago architectural experience of mid-2000 had a major influence on my art. I added a thunderstorm to further evoke the turbulent weather of the Windy City. I'd love to go there again.

I've got a question for my little handful of viewers, some of whom collect art. This picture was done in 2000 for a specific art show at Philcon, the Philadelphia regional science fiction convention. I took extra time and did a whole series of pieces in traditional and mixed media, all small and experimental. Most of these pieces sold, but for modest prices (under $50). I am currently debating whether to enter an upcoming convention art show at Balticon. But this is 13 years later and a lot has changed with me. I still work with conventional media when the client wants it but I also do a lot of digital work now. But most of all, I have my day job which I didn't have in 2000 and is currently taking up a large amount of my time. My question is, should I again do this time-consuming job of preparing small originals for a convention where I will not sell enough work to pay for my expenses? Would collectors pay for prints of digital work? In my experience, collectors will buy them, but they won't pay as much for a print of a digital work as they would if the piece were done in "artisanal" hand done media. The collectors do not take into account (maybe they don't know) the fact that making a really good digital piece takes just as much time as doing a "conventionally" done piece.

This production of small originals for shows is also more like amateur art than professional work, which I am still seeking. I know that many of my fellow artists are in the same quandary as I am. If it were my decision I would do digital work and attempt to sell prints, even if they were for a lower price, but that would not pay for my expenses staying at the convention. Any thoughts from By-Product readers?

"Crystal City Storm" is mixed media on dark grey paper, 7" x 10", November 2000.


MKS said...

Okay, this maybe my favorite piece that you've posted. I am a fan of your city-scapes anyway (I think I've mentioned) but I am also a physicist who is all about the crystal planes, and I used to live in Chicago, and miss it.

I would certainly buy this and hang it in my house, but I might be willing to pay more for a traditional medium original than for a digital medium print. Not because I think the latter represents less effort for you, but because there's something attractive about scarcity. Having the only copy (or even the *original* copy, to which all other prints are subtlely inferior) is somehow cooler than having one of many copies, just like the ones hanging in many other people's houses... And I know that digital prints are so easily reproduced that there's nothing stopping you from selling a digital print to many other people as well as to me.

However, that would have a small effect on what I am willing to pay. Something that might have a larger effect -- I find I am much more likely to buy already-framed art than to buy something and have to aquire a frame for it myself, especially if it is a non-standard size. Something that's matted to a standard size is in between. I'll buy that, but I'm not willing to really pay any more for a matted piece than for an unmatted piece (it's just that I would be les likely to buy the non-standard sized unmatted piece at all!) I will pay a premium for a frame though. I mean, if I would pay $50 (and that is usually about my upper limit) for a matted piece, I might be willing to pay $100 for a framed piece, even if it's only a $10 frame. Just saying.

(I don't think I've ever spent more than $100 on art, so in spite of what I said above, I don't own any originals really. Just prints of things.)

MKS said...

By the way, how can I buy this piece, or a reproduction of it?

Pyracantha said...

Mary: I'm so glad you're still reading the By-Product! "Crystal City," like any other image on this blog, is available as a custom print. E-mail me at for prices and mailing.
Thanks for your thoughts on showing art. I put them in frames but the glass is hard to transport and I can't always get plastic sheets for the frame. Still debating whether to show art at Balticon.