Each year we publish a list of “21 Amazing Artists to Watch” in an effort to recognize some of the best up and coming artists online, as well as some who are already highly successful in their field. Now obviously we continue to keep a close eye on all of the artists we have featured in previous years, so they are not eligible to be included again on this year’s list. However if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet some of these amazing artists, I would really encourage you to get to know them.
Now as we settle into 2013, I wanted to take a moment and share with you 21 more amazing artists who I have had the pleasure to get to know better over this past year. These are not just talented visual artists, writers, and photographers — but they are also extraordinary people. These are the artists who are out there every day creating their art and offering encouragement to the rest of us through their blogs, Facebook updates, and Flickr photostreams. They understand the value of sharing their creative process and supporting the larger arts community around them, which in the end makes us all better artists.
I also wanted to give a special Skinny shoutout to Patrick @pgpfineart for allowing us to use his “Mass” painting as the featured image for this year’s post. Patrick is not only an incredibly talented artist but it turns out that he’s a pretty cool guy as well, which is why he happens to be one of the artists featured on this year’s list.
[ Hey featured artists! Now you can show off your creative awesomeness by displaying your very own “21 Artists to Watch” website badge! If you currently are (or have been) one of the artists featured on this list, be sure to grab yourself an official website badge here, put it on your site, and soak up the love ]
Now obviously these are not the only creative artists online who are worthy of being included on this year’s list. I will apologize in advance if I happened to overlook you or someone else you admire this year. There are so many deserving artists out there, but unfortunately it’s just not possible to include them all on a single post like this. As always if there is someone special you would like to recognize, please feel free to add their name in the comment section below.
Every once in awhile you will run across one of those artists online that seem to be everywhere. Sian is an artist that I have been following for several years and I am still discovering new websites and blogs that she has created across the cyber-universe. In fact, at last count she has a hand in over 17 different blogs on Blogger alone and that doesn’t even include her other websites or her constant presence on Facebook and Twitter — So trying to nail down what (and where) exactly Sian is at any given moment can be a bit difficult. One thing that you can be certain of, however is that wherever she is online or off, she is probably busy helping other artists get their artwork out there.
There is no way in the limited space we have available here to list everything Sian has accomplished in over 30 years as an artist, a gallery manager, and a passionate advocate for the arts, however I can think of very few people who have had as a profound effect helping other artists launch their careers and get their artwork the attention that it deserves. As an artist, Sian has created works in many different mediums, however, her current focus is on creative photographic works. Her beautiful sunflower series seamlessly blends the organic with the mystical.
Sian is one of those rare creative souls who knows what it takes to succeed in the art world because she has worked both sides of the business. She understands that individual artists are going to thrive in the 21st century because they no longer have to depend on an antiquated system that relies on the whims of gallery gatekeepers. You couldn’t ask for a better friend to have in your corner, which is exactly why Sian is an artist that we will be watching and depending on in 2013.
You may have seen Mike hanging out on Twitter, but what really stands out for me besides his giant blue eyeball and his obvious fondness for carrots, is his unique creative talent. Let’s face it, there so many painters and visual artists online these days that it can sometimes be a little difficult to tell them apart. However, Mike has managed to carve (or at least twist) out his own little unique niche in the art world.
I’ll admit that I’m not even completely sure what you would call his twisted wire creations — other than extraordinary. Whether it is his carrot surfing rockers, his illuminated punk head, his magnificent twisted wire 38th Street tapestry, or of course his signature “Carrotelier” — you know that you are witnessing something unique. I think one of the commenters on his site summed it up pretty well when he said, “very rarely do you come across art where you think damn … wish i created that.”
Besides being an amazing artist, Mike also turns out to be a really nice guy. When he’s not busy online chatting it up with other artists and sharing their work on Twitter, Mike can occasionally be found hypnotizing his cat. With his unique artistic perspective and loads of talent, I have a feeling that Mike will not be flying under the radar for long, which is why he will certainly be an artist to watch in 2013.
As an artist, Roger specializes what he calls contemplative photographic art. He creates photographs and videos (more on this in a moment) that spark the imagination and help reconnect the viewer with that small quiet voice lies inside each of us. Not surprisingly then, most of Roger’s photographic portfolio focuses on the natural world around us. One example that I particularly enjoyed is his Forest Wood Art collection, because it proved to me that Roger is able to see the world in a way that so many of us overlook in our frantic day-to-day lives. He is able to pull us back, take a deep breath, and whisper in our ear — look at the world around you.
I’ll admit that I knew Roger for quite some time before I ever discovered his extraordinary Chasing Tao YouTube channel. Now I’m really not one of those people who sits around and watches a lot of YouTube videos, but Roger has put together a YouTube channel that does a remarkable job translating and extending his photographic work into an entirely new medium. More artists and photographers are beginning to realize that it’s simply not enough to throw some images up on Flickr and expect the web traffic to start rolling in. You need to constantly find ways to expand and extend your work to reach different audiences online and Roger has done a fantastic job creating these videos.
While we’re on the topic of expanding your audience, Roger is also the co-founder and host of the Nexus Café (along with the lovely & talented poet Natasha Head). The Nexus Cafe is an online creative arts radio program that discusses various topics including art, writing, poetry, and creativity. Every week they feature artists and writers from around the online creative community, which brings me to the subject of why Roger is on this particular list. You see Roger is not on this list simply because he is an amazing photographer or because he knows his way around a video editor. Roger is here because knows how to genuinely connect with other people. Every day, you can find Roger on Twitter or on his Facebook page connecting with other artists. Whether he is recording the latest episode in the Nexus Café or sending a special shoutout to one of his Twitter followers, Roger is always hard at work promoting other people’s creativity. He understands that by working together we strengthen the online arts community and everyone benefits, which is why he is an artist we will be watching closely in 2013.
Some of the most powerful pieces of art are those that are a reflection of ourselves and our collective society. The artwork of Adelaide Damoah reminds me that art is not simply a personal expression, but it is also a cultural mirror held up to us all. For example, her Supermodels series is an unflinching look at impossible ideal we now place on the female form. Just as her domestic violence series highlights all of the voiceless victims who silently suffer around the world behind closed doors.
The creative artist has a long history as a catalyst for social change. This is art that goes far beyond the need for creative personal expression and speaks for those who are hidden or may not have a voice. Artwork such as this is not always comfortable to look at and you might not find it hanging on the wall of your local Starbucks. Artwork like this is intended to disturb. It is intended to incite. It is intended to shock the viewer and force them from their comfortable state of silent complicity.
What it is not, however, is the self-aggrandizing shock tactics that seem to be in fashion these days and are often used by others to gain more personal attention through controversy. After all, this is no pickled shark or senseless butterfly massacre, this is about holding up that cultural mirror and forcing us to take another look at the world we have created around us. This is what Adelaide does best. She forces us to look not at her work, but at ourselves and unfortunately, we may not always like what we find. Whether you admire her work as I do, or are offended by it, you have to admit its power. The work of Adelaide Damoah is a voice for those who cannot speak for themselves, which is exactly why she will be an artist to watch in 2013.
To say that Laura understands this brave new world of online communication as a way to connect with her audience is clearly an understatement. With all of the different projects that she has currently on her plate, Laura is kind of like the Jay-Z of the online poetry world. In addition to being a extraordinarily gifted poet and author of Verses in Motion, Laura is also a spoken word recording artist who has released the revolutionary PoeticBeatz with Tom Cloverfield along with her latest EP Absolute Gravity which is an enchanting blend of poetry and music that has been receiving rave reviews from around the world.
Of course we’ve just scratched the surface because Laura is also a host and producer for the Versus In Motion radio show where along with her talented co-host Cecilia Francisquini they interview poets and artists from around the world. Laura is not afraid of experimenting with new technologies and new approaches for getting poetry out into the world. Far whatever reason, poetry is often seen as this isolated or inapproachable medium. By humanizing poetry and making it more accessible, Laura brings poetry back into the mainstream and reminds us that most types of music from pop, rock, to hip-hop are in the end simply poetry with a beat.
In the midst of all of these other projects, Laura somehow still finds the time the time to encourage and share the work of other artists every day on Twitter and on the Versus in Motion Facebook page. She is not only a gifted poet, but she is also an incredibly generous creative soul, which is why Laura will be an artist we will be watching (and trying to keep up with) in 2013.
There are many visual artists who prefer a limited or muted palette of colors in their artwork… Tiffany is not one of them. Her artwork is this exquisite color explosion of abstract form and shape that slowly wraps itself around your subconscious like Freudian boa constrictor. It’s as if you are a suddenly participant in a spectacularly colorful Rorschach inkblot experiment where things are not always what they may seem at first blush. Then again sometimes a flower is simply a flower.
I quickly became a fan of Tiffany’s artwork after seeing several of her abstract pieces such as Energetic Warrior and Elemental Goddess making the rounds on Facebook. Her color combinations are often as unusual as they are beautiful. The bold saturated colors shine with an energy and vibrance that is perhaps only surpassed by the artist’s own radiant personality. If you’re not already following Tiffany on Twitter, I can tell you that you are missing out because all of that incredible energy that is captured in her artwork, is just a small portion of the positive energy that Tiffany has to share. I’ve been around Twitter long enough to know that there are very few artists out there who are as kind and generous with their time encouraging other artists online.
If I do have one complaint, however, it’s the fact that Tiffany is now combining poetry with her beautiful artwork, which clearly violates the bylaws of the ancient writers guild. As much as I admire her words, as a writer I may be forced into filing a grievance with my guild-ian union rep ;) All petty grievances aside, however, Tiffany is clearly a extraordinarily gifted artist whose work enchants the eye as much as it captivates the mind, which is why she will certainly be an artist to watch in 2013.
For reasons that I have never fully understood, illustrators and graphic artists seem to be the overlooked step-children of the artistic world. I first encountered Stephen’s work on his extraordinary Doodle Alley site, which is kind of like this really cool graphic novel version of a lot of the same topics that we often talk about here on Skinny Artist. Things like dealing with creative failure, not getting overly discouraged, and the importance of separating your personal identity from your creative work. Perhaps it’s from years of doing comic strips that Stephen has learned how to beautifully distill these topics down in to their essential essence. I think this type of visual thinking, much like graphic novels themselves, are clearly the future of the publishing world.
In addition to his work on Doodle Alley, Stephen is also the creator of the comic strip Mal and Chad and the third book in this series “Belly Flop!” has just been released. Personally being a life-long fan of Calvin & Hobbes, I think Mal and Chad has a bright future ahead of it. Apparently I’m not the only one either, because “Belly Flop!” was recently named one of the best children’s books of 2012 by Kirkus Reviews.
In a marketing stroke of genius, last year Stephen organized a virtual Skype classroom tour and signed up over 70 teachers from across the country. Using the Skype screen share feature, he got to do live sketches and show kids how to draw comics all without having to leave his desk. For those of us who missed out on his classroom tour, Stephen also posted a free 40-page preview of Belly Flop! for us to enjoy. When we talk about changing the way we think about marketing our creative work online, this is exactly the type of thing we are talking about, which is why Stephen will be an artist we will be watching very closely in 2013.
There are generally two types of creative artists — those who put up a wall and carefully cultivate their public persona and those who don’t. Laura is one of those artists who in her own words believes in “blatant, unapologetic honesty”. She believes that part of the role of an artist is to show a certain degree of emotional vulnerability. She mentions in a recent interview that, “All of my art comes from the most vulnerable part of myself, and I don’t censor it. Maybe I should; a lot of times it’s not exactly stuff people want to put on their walls…and sometimes it gets people worried about me.” This potent combination of self-awareness and her willingness to risk this type of vulnerability is far too rare in today’s art world. Two of her pieces “Dissolve” and “Hollow” I think perfectly illustrate her willingness to allow us to see what’s hiding behind the creative mask.
I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in what other people think, that we slow down. We begin to censor ourselves. We become afraid of what might slip out when we’re not looking. Laura isn’t one of those artists who only shows you her favorites. She puts her work out there because she recognizes that every piece she creates serves a purpose on her creative journey. Laura describes herself as an “idea collector” and one that seems to find inspiration almost anywhere. The real trick is to capture them quickly before they change or are often cannibalized by another idea. In one of her blog posts entitled “Begin” she talks about how “Ideas are volatile. Paint dries too slowly to catch them at the right time…I try to learn to paint quickly, but it is never quick enough. New ideas creep in overtop of the old ones, and eat them.” Because of this, a lot of her best artwork is done quickly before the initial idea transforms into something else. Her extraordinary “Organic Forms” series is another example of how the best art springs from the imagination completely uncensored and often unnamed.
She also understands that it’s not enough to simply create art. You also need to be willing to put yourself and your work out there even if it scares the crap out of you. In the end, your art doesn’t necessarily have to be groundbreaking, it just has to come from your own creative soul. Laura perhaps summed up this type of philosophy best when she said, “I don’t think my art will save the world . . . though it might just keep me out of trouble.” It’s exactly this the of blatant, unapologetic honesty that makes Laura Converse an artist we will certainly be watching in 2013.
Writers can sometimes be difficult to get to know. Unlike musicians and visual artists, figuring out if you like a particular writer is often a commitment. You can’t simply listen to their music in the car or browse through a gallery of their work. You have to actually spend the time and read. I think this is part of the reason that formulaic and series authors are so popular — you know exactly what you are going to get book after book. We don’t have to commit ourselves to reading 200 pages only to find out that the plot really wasn’t going anywhere or it just wasn’t our cup of literary tea. For every great undiscovered author out there, there are unfortunately just as many who probably aren’t worth your time. That’s always been part of the problem with book publishing. Editors and publishers were understandably a little reluctant to devote a lot of money and resources to unknown authors.
So why do I bring all this up? Because Michael is not only a great writer, but it turns out that he is a pretty savvy marketer as well. For over a decade, Michael has been scaring the pants off of his audience by sharing his stories in local bookstores and coffee shops whenever he had the opportunity. As he mentions, these readings were primarily an attempt to get his work published, however since Michael is a writer of scary tales, he admits to enjoying witnessing his audience’s reaction firsthand. Although the big publishing contract may not have arrived yet, Michael certainly was not going to let that stop him. So with the rising popularity of ebooks, Michael has begun to publish many of his stories himself and now has over 12 books available on Amazon. Those of you who own a Kindle already know the other built-in advantage, which is the fact that you can download a free sample of any of his books (or any other Kindle title) in order to see if you like it before you purchase it.
Michael didn’t just publish his books and wait for the cash to roll in, however, he actively promotes them. For example, he recently gave away free copies of his latest collection Permanent Damage for a week in order to get it to the top of Amazon’s “100 Free Books List”. Again, he didn’t just cut the price to $0 and walk away, he talked about it on his blog, he posted it on his Facebook page, and mentioned it to his massive fan base on Twitter. Also notice that he wasn’t asking them to buy anything, in fact he was offering to give them something for free! Trust me, there is a huge difference between giving your fans and visitors something of value and simply sending them off to your Etsy shop to buy something.
But wait, if he’s giving them away — what’s the point? Well thanks to his recent promotion Permanent Damage was recently ranked #1 in the Kindle store and #2 in the Books horror anthology category. Now that is just smart marketing. Please don’t let all of this talk about Michael’s marketing in any way take away from his talent as a writer. After all, you can have the best marketing in the world but it won’t mean a thing unless you have a quality product to back it up. Fortunately, Michael is a fantastic writer. Don’t just take my word for it, however, read some of his glowing reviews or better yet, download a copy of one of his books yourself and see why we think Michael is going to be a writer to watch in 2013.
Every once in awhile you’ll stumble across a piece of artwork online and be compelled to track down the artist who created it. In fact this is the way that I first encountered the extraordinary artwork of Carmen Renieri. Whether it’s the flawless skintones in one of her signature portrait series, the mandala like quality of one of her Oriental pieces, the flowing pastoral settings of her landscapes, or the mind bending effects of her more surrealistic pieces — there is something truly remarkable about Carmen’s technique.
Carmen, like so many other artists on this list, isn’t simply a great artist, however, she is also an amazing person who cares deeply about the world around her and helping those less fortunate than herself. Thanks in part to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, more and more artists from around the world are getting involved in causes close to their heart and realizing that they can make a difference. On her website, Carmen states, “As an artist I have the ability to generate income for worthwhile causes and feel it is my privilege and obligation to cooperate with organizations whose sole mission is to help those in need.”
Artists contributing to social causes of course is nothing new. What is new, however, is this ability of individual artists from around the world to band together into something much more powerful. Carmen understands the power of this and uses both her art and her voice on Twitter to bring these issues to light. Throughout history, this has always been one of the primary roles of the artist, the musician, and the poet. So yes Carmen is a truly gifted artist with skills that transcend any one genre, but it is ultimately her caring heart that makes her an artist to watch in 2013.
Even though Simon is primarily a visual artist, it was actually his insightful writing that first introduced me to his work. Simon writes on his art blog not as someone with all the answers, but as an artist who has struggled with many of the same issues that we all seem to encounter on our creative journey. Issues such as dealing with creative competition and jealousy or the importance of having faith and confidence in your creative abilities. These are issues that affect so many of us and I think there is a real value to having this type of honest conversation so none of us has to feel like we’re going through something like this on our own.
Simon’s extraordinary artwork ranges from unique abstract visual landscapes, to the whimsical, to richly textured mixed-media pieces that may incorporate anything from sticks and grass to Australian gum nuts. Part of Simon’s ability comes from having the courage to follow his creative muse wherever it may lead him. His artwork, like his life, is an exploration of the creative soul. His paintings ultimately echo his words as tools as he constantly expands beyond the world of form and instead explores the essence of what it means to be a fellow human traveler forever grasping for meaning and purpose. This combination of fearlessness and creative compassion is why Simon will definitely be an artist worth watching in 2013.
We’ve often talk about how a lot of creative artists get detoured along the way. Their childhoods are often filled with art, color, and music but later when they become an adult — job and family responsibilities often put their creative life on hold. That’s not unusual. What is unusual is for one of these creative kids to go out and earn themselves a medical degree and practice medicine for over a decade before returning to their art. As you’ll soon discover, however, Pia De Girolamo is far from your typical creative artist.
Pia is not just an extremely talented abstract artist, but the sheer variety of her work is stunning. You see just beneath all of those abstract shapes, squiggly lines, and swirls there often lies a hidden form whispering to your subconscious mind to pay attention, that things are much more than the seem. Kind of like visiting your doctor’s office only to discover that all of those incredible paintings hanging on the wall were done by the good doctor herself. The continual movement of lines and shapes mesmerizes the conscious mind while the subconscious quietly absorbs the simple forms beneath, which evoke an almost spiritual and meditative quality. Her work “Horses in the Vineyard” I think is a perfect example of this remarkable interplay between motion and form.
As the complexity of her artwork suggests, Pia’s prodigious talents go far beyond her talents with a paintbrush or a stethoscope. She is also a extraordinary writer whose art blog dives deep into topics such as creative blocks and the vital role of freedom and its importance as an artist. As you might suspect, this isn’t your typical art blog but it is always written from the viewpoint of a friend. Speaking of which, for as long as I’ve known Pia both on Twitter and on her Facebook page, she has always been a wonderfully supportive friend and active member of the online creative community. Pia can almost always be found sharing the work of other artists with her friends and followers and encouraging them to live the creative life they had always imagined, which that alone makes her an artist worth watching in 2013.
Even though Michelle is probably best known for her sexy figurative paintings, it wasn’t always like that. In fact in an interview, Michelle swore that she would not only never paint, but if she ever did, she certainly wouldn’t be painting people. Having said that, things seemed to have worked out just fine. The thing that first drew me to her artwork however (besides the bodies) was the remarkable way she uses lighting and shadows to create this extraordinary illustrated modular effect.
Michelle is doing far more than bring the sexy back, however. Like many artists, Michelle has several different creative lives and she refuses to be limited to just one. In addition to her sexy art portfolio and her primitive figurative work, Michelle also sells her photography on Etsy and an adorable line of children’s paintings under her alter ego Billie K.
Let me also add that Michelle’s blog is everything an art blog should be — it’s fun, it’s informative, and it humanizes the artist. So many blogs I run across these days seem to be little more than thinly-disguised sales pages or redirect links to their Etsy storefront. Michelle only posts occasionally, but that’s okay because it’s not really about how much you post, but what you post. Sometimes I think too many artists feel like they need to post something to their blog on a fixed schedule even when they might not have anything to say. Michelle is not only an amazing artist, but someone who really understands the importance of making a genuine connection with her audience, which is why she will be an artist to watch closely in 2013.
Matt LeBlanc is not your typical starving artist. He knows from being around the advertising world, that in order to stand out you have to be willing to do something different. So instead of simply hosting yet another boring wine and cheese gallery show, Matt created an entire evening of arts and live entertainment called Fusion that draws an audience far beyond your usual gallery crowd. It includes local musicians, dancers, fashion, and even live painting. Matt understands that in order to get a wider audience for his art, he needs to cast a wider net and pull in those people who normally wouldn’t even consider going to a typical gallery show.
Matt’s abstract artwork is powerful and the finished piece is often a surprise even to Matt himself. “I never know what I’m going to paint until I actually paint it. I usually have a good idea of the primary colours I will use in the piece, but the rest is usually unknown. It’s purely done in the moment … I let the brush lead the way.” Over the years, I’ve heard similar accounts from visual artists, musicians, and even writers. The artist becomes a direct channel for the subconscious imagination rather than following the well-designed plans of the conscious mind. In any creative work, there is a time for planning and a time for letting go. A time when you will need to relinquish control and simply have faith in the creative process.
Not only is he a gifted artist, but it turns out that Matt is a great guy as well. Late last year, he established the Mado’s Gift foundation in honor of his sister Madeleine who had died of leukemia. Matt started this foundation as a way to help other kids who are facing life-threatening illnesses. He does this by going to local schools teaching the students about abstract art and gets them involved by having them each paint their own piece of abstract art and then those paintings were sold and the funds donated to the charity. Matt notes that not only were the kids enjoy creating the art, “but what made this so special was that the kids were so excited to be helping other kids in need.” This to me is what art is all about — bringing beauty and hope into the lives of others, which is why Matt will be an artist to watch in 2013.
The first thing that you typically notice about Heidi’s beautiful artwork is her incredible use of color. She has this astonishing ability to transform everyday scenes from cityscapes, cemeteries, train yards, to the I-70 highway out of Colorado into these magnificent color explosions. Her work reminds me once again that art and beauty can be found anywhere if you have the ability to see it.
As I began to wonder where all of these free flowing colors and forms originated from, I was struck by Heidi’s amazingly honest artist statement where she admits that she was only able to find her artistic groove once she was willing to let go of her need to control. She says, “I was caught up in the excruciating details. I insisted on perfection; I obsessed over the unrealistic notion of how I was convinced things should be. I found that over time, this caused a loss of creativity. Art became hard.” I don’t know how many artists (and unfortunately former artists) I have met who have told me that they stopped creating art because it just wasn’t fun anymore. Not like the I-have-to-be-happy-all-of-the-time kind of fun, but more like the I-painted-myself-into-a-box-and-now-I-can’t-escape-my-niche kind of thing.
So many creative artists, especially those who have had some commercial success begin to feel trapped. They find themselves spiraling deeper and deeper into their little niche until eventually they are smothered beneath its weight. Heidi, however, was one of the lucky ones. She was able to let go of her perfectionism and had a creative renaissance. From a maketing perspective, Heidi successfully completed her own Kickstarter funding campaign in order to fund her recent European Painting Project. I really think that this is something that we will be seeing a lot more of in the years to come. People/fans/clients increasingly want to feel personally connected to the artist they support. If you take a moment to watch her excellent video and read through the personalized gifts she has created for her backers, I have a feeling that you might begin to see how visual artists, illustrators, musicians, and even writers could use something like this to not only to raise funds, but to better connect with their audience. And that’s exactly what Heidi does — she brings her personality into her work as well as her social media interactions. You can find her almost every day on Twitter and Facebook taking the time to encourage other creative artists and share their work. If you are lucky enough to have the opportunity to connect with Heidi online, you will quickly discover what a talented and extraordinarily nice person she is and why she’s definitely an artist we will be watching in 2013.
One of the reasons that I love doing artist features like this is not only because there are so many deserving artists, but the fact that it gives me the opportunity to immerse myself in so many different artistic styles from painting, to writing, to photography, and illustration. Sometimes I think it’s far too easy to get ourselves wrapped up in our little creative corner and miss out on the sheer variety of talent that is out there beyond our own niche. So what does any of this have to do with Patrick?
Well I could start off by saying that Patrick is this amazing visual artist and painter and you might assume that his work may be similar to many of the other painters we have already talked about in this series — you would be wrong and that’s the pure beauty of art. From the angelic stained glass of Omeon, to the line subtlety of his Doe series, to the stark powerful King Baby one can’t help but feel as if Patrick is only beginning to scratch the surface of his immense creative talent. As different as many of these works may appear to be on the surface, there is still that subtle divine thread that connects his artwork together into something that is far greater than the sum of its parts.
On his art blog, Patrick opens up about his creative thought process what it means to him to be an artist. In one of my favorite posts “A New Chapter” he talks about some of the privileges and responsibilities that comes with being an artist…
“I am an artist, a master investor of my life’s energy my time my caring of which there is only a finite amount a blip in the sea of all there is… To hope and see things in all of their beauty with all of their potential realized. I am a seer of sorts, concise coordinator, an instinctively precise planner – for the placement of each single stroke whether seen or unseen and in its order there is a much greater piece to which it is a part and without it, it is incomplete. I am an awareness gifted by holy, a raging welling dissatisfied passion to be reckoned with for without that soul fire my eyes are dimmed and my hands sluggish, my heart grows numb and the tools of my work dull. .. I am an artist, and I was born this way.”
He understands that the creative process is not always something we can hope to comprehend or even control — It is simply who we are and if we make the choice to become an artist, we must be willing to follow its path wherever it may lead us. It is that type of creative courage and commitment that makes Patrick an artist worth watching in 2013.
I’ll just say upfront that if my kids had to pick one artist on this list as their absolute favorite, it would be Kim Niles. Having said that, anyone who has seen Kim’s illustration artwork knows that she has a completely unfair advantage. Kim draws adorable dogs, cats, rabbits, and even ferrets that can make even the crustiest cynical heart go “Awwwww!” Now I have a bit of a problem with this because I can’t help but think that my kids wish I was a little more like Kim and a little less like…..me.
Kim is not only this amazing illustrator who has her adorable animals printed on everything from original artwork prints, to greeting cards, to t-shirts, to personal checks — but she is also now an author of a children’s book “Muggles’ New Home” as well. In fact, the only thing Kim doesn’t seem to have going on, is my sporadic work ethic.
Even though Kim has obviously been very busy, she’s never too busy to stop by Twitter or Facebook in order to catch up with all of her online friends and fans. In addition to being extremely talented, Kim is an incredibly nice person as well and I am proud to say that she has been a supporter and active member of the Skinny Artist community since almost the beginning. Kim is an extraordinary person and artist and someone I am proud to call my friend. I’m quite certain Kim has a fantastic year ahead of her, and unlike myself, will probably manage to keep both of her New Year’s resolutions along the way: 1.) To not get blood clots and 2.) To dwell in happiness. If anyone can do it, I’m pretty sure Kim will find a way, which is why she will be an artist we will be watching (and probably feeling jealous of) in 2013.
I’ll admit that I’ve been a fan of Ethan’s work ever since I first met him on Twitter several years ago. He’s just one of those people who makes you feel like you are talking with a friend. For Ethan Twitter is not some type of marketing strategy or having the most followers, it’s about connecting with other people and building real relationships with other artists. He understands that it’s not about the number of tweets, retweets, or follows — it’s about how much you actually care about the people you are connected with. I think Ethan’s avatar picture says it all, he’s someone who is reaching out and offering his hand to you in friendship.
One of the things that I really like about Ethan’s artwork is how he often explores a particular scene from several different perspectives. Whether it’s his magnificent “Fire Man” series, one of his sweeping pastoral paintings, or one of his beautiful figure studies — you can tell that Ethan is constantly exploring different ways of approaching a particular piece. He understands that the moment a line is drawn or a word is written, we have already committed ourselves to following a particular path. Simply by beginning a piece we have limited ourselves. Just as there are two sides to every story, Ethan suspects that the most interesting story may turn out to be the one yet unexplored. It’s this rare combination of artistic talent, intellectual curiosity, and genuine friendliness that makes Ethan an artist we will be watching and probably chatting with often in 2013.
The first thing that I usually notice when I’m admiring one of Greta’s paintings is the presence of all these amazing little tendrils that often appear throughout her work. They are always running, connecting, or rising up unexpectantly from the surface. In other pieces the colors swirl like miniature galaxies. It’s not just her extraordinary artwork that lands her on this list, however, it’s the story of Greta’s creative journey that inspired me just as much.
Greta’s story may seem familiar. Her childhood was filled with art, music, and dancing (both of her parents were ballet dancers) but then, like happens to so many of us, life got in the way and art got pushed aside. Luckily for us this break was only temporary and after her kids were grown, she returned to her art and hasn’t looked back since. Even though she has all of the same excuses that the rest of us regularly use (little formal training, day job, family responsibilities, etc..) she wasn’t about to let any of these that stop her. But she still remembers what it’s like. In a terrific recent blog post “So you want to be an artist, now what…” Greta talks about the importance of taking those first few steps. She talks about the fear, the uncertainty, and the importance of connecting with other artists. If you happen to know someone who is trying to recapture their art, it would be an excellent resource to share.
I could go on and talk about Greta’s beautiful photography, her graphic design projects, or more of her insightful posts on her art blog but actually all you really need to do in order to become a fan of Greta, is to simply meet her. Just stop by and say hello to her sometime on Twitter or her Facebook page and you’ll discover like I did long ago that you couldn’t ask for a nicer or more supportive friend in the art community, which is why she will definitely be an artist to watch in 2013.
Sometimes I think that photographers don’t always get the credit they deserve. Similar to graphic artists, we sometimes confuse the power of the technology with the creative soul of the artist using it. I understand that it can be hard to know where exactly the technology stops and the creative vision begins, but then again does it really matter. After all, I own a camera and I’ve taken more than my fair share of pictures over the years, but I can tell you that I’ve never even come close to matching the incredible things that Renee Hubbard can do with her camera.
Whether it’s one of her breathtaking flowers, magnificent animals, or one of her other beautiful images that she shares on her Facebook gallery page — Renee’s ability to capture this type of beauty goes far beyond the realm of any simple technology. It’s like the visual artist who first visualizes a painting in her imagination or the sculptor who can perfectly envision the final result before he lifts his chisel, the photographer must be able to visualize and compose the perfect shot before even thinking about picking up the camera.
In addition to being an amazing photographer, Renee is an extraordinary person as well. If you follow Renee on Twitter (as you should) you’ll immediately notice that instead of simply using Twitter to promote her latest work, Renee uses her voice on Twitter to bring awareness to several children’s charitable causes as well as the work of other photographers online. There’s something subtle that separates the good photographer from the great photographer and it’s not the price of the camera — it’s the spirit that lies within the artist and it’s also the reason that Renee is an artist we will be watching closely in 2013.
Chad is a bit of a rebel artist. He doesn’t have the obligatory artist’s blog, he doesn’t have a Facebook fan page (at least that I could find), and he makes it practically impossible to navigate his website. In fact, it took a good bit of online sleuthing just to track down his last name. For years he even refused to sign his paintings for fear of being seen as egocentric. It wasn’t until he was about to lose a sale, that a particularly adamant customer finally convinced him to sign one of his painting. So he did…. but he signed it upside down.
So what exactly do we do with an artist who refuses to play by the rules? Well if that artist happens to be as talented as Chad “maybe-his-last-name” Swanson, you might make an exception. Fortunately it turns out that Chad happens to be a really nice guy. I met Chad on Twitter awhile ago and I have been a big fan of his work ever since. One thing you have to understand is that with Chad it’s always more about the work than the artist behind the work. He refuses to conform to either the image of being an “artist” or to the expectations of his audience. He recognizes the fact that “good marketing is giving the customer what they want,” but also admits that “giving customers what they want can be boring”. He refuses to be boxed in by anyone including himself.
If you visit Chad’s website “Lonely Colours” you might understandably think that Chad is an artist who specializes in these magnificent rock paintings. The unique symbolism and construction of these stone art pieces is extraordinary, but what you don’t realize is that there is another side to Chad the “rock” artist that he is not showing you (due to the fact there are no links on his website). This is Chad the surrealist with a few touches of cubism, public sculpture, and abstract work thrown in for good measure. Why he has decided to bury all of this amazing artwork behind the byzantine-like structure of his website, I have no idea. Maybe I wasn’t supposed to find them, I don’t know — but I do know that it would have been a shame to not have discovered them.
Again, with all of his creative rebelliousness, you might think that Chad was some type of artistic recluse or a cranky curmudgeon that people would generally avoid — but as I said before, it turns out that Chad is a heck of a nice guy and incredibly supportive of other artists. If you stop by to visit him on Twitter, he is one of those rare artists who is actually willing to have a conversation with you. He’s not just shilling his latest artwork or trying to get you to read his latest blog post, he’s genuinely interested in the art world and the worldwide creative community. He reads your tweets, he stops by your blog and he leaves a comment or two. Instead of asking for something, he is always the first one giving back. So even though he may sometimes refuse to play by the rules, Chad is not only a very talented artist, but he is an exceptional human being as well which is why he is an artist we will definitely be watching (and continuing to search for) in 2013.
I really hope that you’ve enjoyed getting to know these 21 talented artists a little better. Even though every year I regret having to leave out so many deserving artists, it is an honor and a privilege to be able to share these extraordinary individuals with you. Thank you again for being a part of our Skinny Artist community :)
Writer, teacher, and head custodian of the Skinny Artist community. His book “Getting Creative: Developing Creative Habits that Work” is all about finding the time (and energy) to live a more creative life.