#60. Create a scaled-up version of some simple object—say, a six-foot lollipop

IDEA #60. Create a scaled-up version of some simple object—say, a six-foot lollipop. Find a place to display your giant something. Keep a blog or journal of the creation and the experience of people’s response.

In the 1960s outscale representations of everyday objects became a particularly entertaining sub-genre of the Pop Art movement; Claes Oldenburg’s giant sculpture, “Lipstick on a Caterpillar Track,” was part of the vista from the author’s college dormitory room. More recently a student at the school where I work constructed a giant pencil, realistically broken, that occupied the margin of our baseball field; we don’t know what our opponents thought of it, but the combination of whimsical imagination and solid craftsmanship always pleased us.

The design challenge is of course the scaling-up, a fine mathematical exercise involving accurate measurement and an understanding of proportion. Any object will do, of course, the more unexpected the better.

Masonite or other relatively workable building materials can be formed around wooden frames to produce most non-curvilinear forms, and fiberglass and other plastics are almost infinitely shape-able. The greatest challenge in the end might be to find a suitable, and secure, place to display the work. Municipal public spaces or schoolyards might do, or perhaps a local arts organization has a spot available. Although we hesitate even to mention it, there is a fine and lively tradition of “guerrilla” public art, with pieces suddenly turning up in the most unexpected and amusing places—if a work is neither offensive nor dangerous, perhaps the young artist could quietly arrange for an unveiling in a place calculated to surprise—and to entertain, safely. However, there may be unforeseen consequences, so proceed with extreme caution and circumspection. It would probably be best to start by asking permission of those in charge of likely display venues.

The response is the thing. A large and unexpected object will raise a smile on most people’s faces, and the young artist should take pride and pleasure in observing how viewers react. If there is indeed an art teacher somewhere in the young artist’s life, that person will very much enjoy hearing all the details—food for further discussion about the creative process and the nature of art, as well.

#58. Try selling a work of art or literature that you have created

IDEA #58. Try selling a work of art or literature that you have created. The internet or your public library will have resources on how to sell your writing and illustrations, or perhaps a local art store will be willing to give you advice about marketing a painting or a piece of sculpture.

This activity combines the challenges of creativity with the sometimes greater challenge of finding a market for one’s art. There are vast numbers of low-circulation poetry and literary magazines that will accept work submitted by amateur or unknown authors (usually, alas, without payment, but look hard), and there are probably at least as many magazines, books, and websites dedicated to publicizing ways for authors to get work published. The chances are good that your public library will have at least one of these “how to sell your work” books, which may also have information on selling illustrations and fine art work to the same kinds of literary magazines.

There may be other markets closer to home. Some small-town or community newspapers will happily accept fiction, poetry, and even art work from local creators. There may even be local or regional literary magazines whose existence is unexpected; the library might be a good source of information here.

As far as the marketing of visual art goes, many communities have summer arts fairs where local artists can show and sell their work. Some of these are juried—that is, artists are selected by a committee to participate—but some are open. There is likely to be at least one art dealer nearby who might be persuaded to handle good-quality work by a rising young local talent, or there is always the equivalent of the lemonade stand: put up a booth on the curb.

If the youngster has a few friends with creative urges and a pile of poetry or paintings, why not suggest that they pool resources and publish their own literary magazine or start their own gallery? A few advertisements from local merchants or friends would pay to photocopy a few dozen copies, which could also be sold. Or perhaps a local business has a small spare room that could become gallery space. And there’s always a website: many blogsites are free and could be used to post poetry, short stories, or paintings or photographs, although it’s hard to make money on a blog.

It is easy to find people who will maintain that art does not pay, and often they are correct. But an ambitious artist (and friends) might be able to raise at least a few dollars in the art market, and along the way there will be opportunities to learn about both the creative self and the art market.

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