Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Blast from the past

I started my first line of functional art for the home in 1997. I worked for a retail cigar shop ( when cigars were all the rage here in Cali ) and saw this cigar ashtray that had cigar bands decoupaged in the center. The background was painted black. Very simple design, nothing extraordinary and the price tag was $200
( gasp! ). I told my boss that although people loved the concept, it was too expensive.

Knowing I could do a better job and make it affordable, I invested $20 and proceeded to make 4 ashtrays. My boss loved them and retailed them for $25 each. We sold out immediately. My version was more edgy and colorful ( pics of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro with Cuban cigar art taken right off the original boxes ) which appealed to more than the just the conservative customer. Three months later I was self employed and haven't looked back since. My artwork evolved, I was able to incorporate an epoxy coating for durability ( courtesy of my surfer boyfriend at the time - it was the stuff he used to fix his surfboards ) and my art was so successful that I was featured in IN STYLE ( Feb. 2001 ), IN TOUCH WEEKLY ( July 2003 ), and EXTRA ( Aug. 2003 ).

After seven years of great success, I was forced to take the last few years off ( burned out - a few horrible experiences - par for the course for the self employed - it can't be roses forever ). It was good for me because I became incorporated ( a must ), I learned about binding arbitration ( great way to cover your ass for the psychos out there ), and I turned the new version of my line into eco friendly functional art. Above are a couple of pics from INSTYLE and IN TOUCH, below are my original pics in Art Conoisseur Magazine in 1999.

Recently, I found a gal knocking off my belt buckles. As it turns out, she is the sister of a former client ( no surprise - she loved my belts and saw how fast they sold in her sister's store ). No competition in my opinion, and most certainly not Fred Segal worthy. There is more to my art than just slapping on any image and adding a little paint. I have reasons for every one of my designs ( as most REAL designers do ), and as much as I love "Breakfast At Tiffany's" or a cute Jack Russell terrier -they do not belong on my art.

My first pieces were made only with cigar art.


Mrs.French said...

I love finding out that my new blogging friend is an incredibly talented artist! Yay! Your work is amazing...I can totally see myself sporting one of your fabulous belt buckles (not the knock-off...the nerve!). Oh and an added bonus is that your famous! And so grounded... *)

Miss Fruitfly said...

I totally agree with you when it comes to seeing your designs being copied by others. They can make it similar but people buying your art are really buying your vision. That can't be copied.

BTW: I love that you added music to your blog. I've been thinking about doing that too...wait..is that me copying you? LOL.

Mélanie said...

I love your creativity and art ! it looks great !

Teal Chic said...

Your artwork is amazing. That's awful that she is trying to knock off your stuff. Keep up the great work. I love checking out your blog!!!!!!


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