Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Spineless Flip FLop Jig

When I am faced with my own inconsistencies I tend to want to run screaming for cover. They make me quake in my boots. You could say it is akin to having multiple muses playing tug of war with one's creative integrity. It is as though the gods are kicking my sanity around for their amusement and I'm on the sidelines begging for a moment of peace. So I try to make rules for myself. As an artist who paints on clothing, I have said countless times these words. "No, I am sorry, I do not paint on clothing which is provided by my customers. You see, there is too much opportunity to destroy or maim a perfectly good piece of clothing. I paint on clothing which I purchase wholesale so that if I destroy it then there is no problem. " Perhaps you are surprised to find that the question "Will you paint on my clothing?" is that common. I'm certain that I have had to answer that query at least 200 times in the last 19 years. It is actually quite common. Many, many customers appreciate my paintings but I don't have a garment which fits them or is their style. Their face lights up as they hit on the idea. "Hey...what if I bring you a piece of clothing? Would you paint it?" And I have to shatter their hopes and explain that the odds of their clothing surviving my studio are low. Much less, it is unthinkable that I would paint on a precious piece of clothing like formal wear or a wedding dress! Horrors!
The other rule which has served me well all these years of practicing my trade has been this: I do not paint on white clothing. Well, at least, the clothing that I paint on does not remain white. In fact, the very reason that I embarked upon dyeing clothing was because of the curse of white cloth. It is a soil and spot and paint magnet. I discovered in college that I could gain years of use out of clothing which I had spilled and stained within moments of it being in my vicinity, by dyeing it. After college this habit gravitated into a craft and a source of income. But after the first year of selling t-shirts and clothing in open air venues I swore that I would not sell white clothing as a finished product.
Lo! Along came a customer who has transformed himself into a friend over these years and offered me a project which has made me question my integrity. I broke all my rules. He sent me a white tuxedo, a precious, white, garment of his own and asked me to embellish this item for Burning Man. Yikes! What was I thinking? My work table is riddled with the evidence of paint misdirected. I have spilled as much paint and as many quarts and full jars across half finished garments as I have said no to customers asking for custom work. It is trying to be a clumsy artist.
I felt so much triumph that I was able to take on this project and get away with only 2 smudges that I have recorded my efforts for you here. The owner of this tuxedo took it off to the desert of Nevada for Burning Man and promptly spilled coffee on it.