April 26, 2008

gapingvoid: a new direction?

[Tablet PC sketch of what I have in mind. Click on image to enlarge etc.]

One of the things I like about Twitter is that it allows you to have instant feedback from lots of people while you're thinking out-loud.

Case in point: If you have been following my Twitter feed recently you'll have noticed me bandying this idea around, about doing large pieces. Namely, large, abstract paintings on canvas.

Basically, the idea is to create six-by-six foot canvas, covered with a field of my obsessive "squiggly" style. The image above, which I made digitally on a Tablet PC, should give you a pretty good idea what I mean.

So far the feedback has been tremendous. I've got dozens of comments, both public and private. Thanks for that.

I think being out here in Alpine, Texas, covered under a blanket of desert air and "Big Sky" brought about a wee change in me, at least in what I find interesting artistically. The "cartoons on the back of business cards" format came about in New York City, when living conditions, shall we say, were far more intense, crowded and cramped. Not to mention, I was ten years younger. Things change.

Acquiring blank business cards and a few pens is a LOT simpler and easier than making big paintings. With the latter, suddenly you have to start thinking about renting studio space and buying materials, which are not cheap. Then you have to find a buyer for the pieces, to offset the cost of making them. Then you have you have to figure out how to ship them to their new owners without them getting damaged. Plus a myriad of other pain-in-the-ass factors to consider.

Whatever. It's all exciting stuff. I'm looking forward to finding studio space in the very near future. Though to be honest, I have no intention of ever becoming a permanent, full-time artist. Too much else going on. Too much else out there worth getting interested in. I like to juggle things around. Keeps things new and interesting. We shall see what happens.

Posted by hugh macleod at April 26, 2008 4:58 PM | TrackBack

Holy shit, did you draw the blogosphere?

Posted by: Jeremiah Owyang at April 26, 2008 8:11 PM

The gapingvoid style in large format sounds great. A walk-in room installation would be awesome.

I've been doing abstract black and white Sharpie drawings on 3x5 cards lately. They're inspired by the constraints of your business card drawings and the HipsterPDA lifestyle.

Finally, years spent compulsively doodling during meetings pays off! :-)

Posted by: Nathan Bowers at April 26, 2008 8:16 PM


I think the large format is completely fitting in your new surroundings.

In addition, I saw your tweet discussing bypassing the traditional art scenes and thought, "Brilliant!" I know little about the art world but I would think as a marketer, your absence from the "scene" could increase your cache and give the impression of exclusivity.

Whatever your path, all the best,


Posted by: Jay Gilmore (smashingred) at April 26, 2008 9:17 PM

it's funny you say that now. i was thinking exactly that when i saw untitled 450 yesterday.

it's art. no escaping that. might as well capitalize on it. i can just see every wannabe cool agency paying through the nose for it. including mine ;-)

Posted by: vinny warren at April 26, 2008 10:12 PM

HI! How about just selling them on unstretched canvas? It's very easy to ship and then they can choose to either do a stretched museum wrap, a gallery wrap, or have it framed however they wanted?

If you want to see what this particular image would look like on printed canvas, I can have it printed for you on a museum wrap canvas from your high res digital file. It'd be worthwhile to see it on canvas just once to see how it translates from PC screen to the medium of choice.

Also, have you ever considered of just selling the small prints? I know people like me would appreciate it for my cubical. I've been checking out your cartoons for about two years and I love them. I actually stumbled upon it one day (I don't remember how), and I'm glad I did.

Your artwork is very on point. You should consider doing a line of stationary or a calendary (day by day one) if you feel you have a big enough following.

Anyway, just thought I'd finally stop by and comment since this is a great idea and is something I wish I could have.

Thanks for doing what you do best!

BTW, I moved from New York to Houston, TX. It really changes your prespective on things.

Posted by: Christine at April 26, 2008 10:32 PM

Hugh... I hope that new "creative vision" of yours takes wings. Things do change over time- for sure- so embracing those changes and breathing in the clean air sounds like a grand idea.

Looking forward to seeing what comes about.

Posted by: Tim Jackson at April 26, 2008 11:46 PM

Very interesting idea... go where the art takes you.

Posted by: Dan Blank at April 27, 2008 8:00 AM

I love your work and like the new direction... it reminds me of Cy Twombly.

Posted by: Josh at April 27, 2008 8:43 AM

Intrigued by the new direction, Hugh. Run with it. Like others here, can't wait to see the end result.

Posted by: Lionel Menchaca at April 27, 2008 8:46 AM

completely, totally go for it, don't even stop to think, don't ask anybody anything, just freaking go for it.

you will sell EVERYTHING you make.

your natural style is evocative of the texture of the astral space, which anyway is where all this tech stuff is coming from / going to

start today! you will be rich and famous

faith and trust ! get out of here, go paint!!

Posted by: gregory at April 27, 2008 8:51 AM

You go, Hugh!

My only regret is you for some weird reasson
chose to settle in WEST Texas, when the smart
money knows East Texas and the Piney Woods
is God's Country.

The idea of shipping rolled canvas sounds practical.

be well

Posted by: Ron K Jeffries at April 27, 2008 10:07 AM

I should be interested to hear your summation of how the art world... By that I mean principally galleries, curators, and critics, controls and steers the general market for the artist's work: as in whether you think it functions in the same way as other business practice?

Posted by: P O N O R at April 27, 2008 10:07 AM

I am quite possibly your only, but largest, Northern Ireland fan (NI doesn't do blogosphere generally, though I'm on the conversion crusade). We're a small part of a small island in the Atlantic!

And, I need a B&W large canvas piece of art for my living room.

Do you ship to Northern Ireland?

Posted by: Dawn at April 27, 2008 7:20 PM

I agree with Nathan Bowers. It sounds great...in large format. Something new, by the way.

Posted by: alexey_og at April 28, 2008 1:05 AM

Change of scale akin to Donald Judd's.

But Hugh, why stop there? Don't just "go big or go home." Go for "Smithson!"


Posted by: TriExpert at April 28, 2008 8:25 AM

The rolled canvas is how I buy art
while traveling overseas.

I prefer to take it with me,
rather than ship it,
and I tend to like to frame it
(if needed)

You could then build up
a network of framing/canvas stretching places
you could partner with and reco.
It could turn out to be a source of extra income.

Posted by: Kimber Chin at April 28, 2008 11:43 AM

Of course you continue to rock Hugh! We actually did a three part series on re-inventing yourself - http://thresholdblogazine.com/journal-old/2008/3/3/new-adventures-for-the-old-you.html - and dude you ARE the epitome of this, AND you do it so seamlessly! Congrats on your new direction (along with all of your other projects as well). I continue to look forward to seeing how your work evolves.

Posted by: Rasul Sha'ir at April 28, 2008 11:46 AM

This isn't the first time you've considered this aloud to the blogosphere. What's different this time, besides being in west Texas? I suggest getting out of there. The end of that road is a wardrobe comprised entirely of tie-die and a website background pattern to match.

Posted by: Daniel Miller at April 28, 2008 12:07 PM

Hmmm...that brings up an interesting question. Re: your licensing terms, etc., is it kosher for us readers to, for example, blow up Untitled 450, print it out onto canvas and hang it on the wall?

I'm never sure just where the line is on No Derivatives (does it mean I can't make a digital cartoon into something meatspacy, or does it just mean I can't color it in with fairy sparkles when I do so?).

Posted by: Soni at April 28, 2008 5:53 PM

Texas, Inspires you to think big !?

Posted by: Prasanna at April 28, 2008 10:48 PM

That sounds awesome! I love hearing about the thought process that goes into artistic creations - thanks for sharing!

Sure have missed you, been so darned busy. Best wishes for a wonderful day!

Posted by: Marti at April 29, 2008 8:10 AM

Really interesting idea Hugh. Hey, this is social media, maybe you should ask people to participate in its creation and let everyone add a doodle here and there?

Posted by: Kris Fuehr at April 29, 2008 11:21 AM

Hey but you know, one must move on in life - do bigger, newer things, that excite, that scare you!

I'm all for you taking this new plunge!! Go capture the art world like you have the blog world!

Posted by: Melody at April 30, 2008 11:17 AM

you can do smaller medium items that are the same size as those motivational photographs, but with your drawings. perfect for the home office. then we can afford them.

Posted by: Colin Lowenberg at April 30, 2008 12:09 PM

Sad to see you Twittering again. With all this great work you do, that is such a waste of your time. Micro Blogging is for the bored, lonely, and weak. Sever the micro link, hook up with one of the babes in Austin/Alpine, and go creative with your mind and body...

Set yourself free Dude.

Best Wishes,

Posted by: Dave Armstrong at May 1, 2008 2:30 PM

Awesome. Can't wait to see the new stuff!

Posted by: Steve Hall at May 2, 2008 9:36 AM

Stretch out of your comfort zone and dip your toes into the dark space of unknown. Your brillance illuminates.

Posted by: adnohryak at May 3, 2008 2:40 PM

i think you should make puzzles at that detail of between 500 and 1000 pieces, hugh. people could put them together at parties and then hang them on the wall. that would be badass. i'll figure out how to make one and send you pics.

Posted by: Kynthia at May 6, 2008 2:38 PM