Spreading Creativity: The Art of Sharing Your Art

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For the past few years, our family has been one of the many to contribute to the large “free drawing” spaces at a local street art event. There are plenty of opportunities for artists of all ages to share their creations with others. Image: Rick Tate

Early September is a somewhat quiet time for me.

My biggest work deadline of the year has passed, my kids are back at school, vacation and summer activities have wound down, and I’m at a brief gap between thinking of my summer artist projects and all the activities and DIYs that come with fall and winter holidays and events.

This makes it a good time to restate something that I often talk about (one of my “causes,” if I can call it that), as well as one of the things that made me want to be a part of the wonderful GeekMom and GeekDad community: the love of and need for sharing creativity.

I recently completed my summer Be the Artist series with a look at how many convention artists take advantage of small-scale sketches, and I talked about the upcoming World Art Drop Day coming on the first Tuesday in September. Since these ideas are still fresh on my mind, I’m going to briefly share—or re-share—some of my favorite ways I have seen artists get people of all ages and art levels to share their work.

Here are some favorites:

Art Trading Cards. While comic conventions and collector sketch cards are popular today, one Swiss artist named M. Vanci Stirnemann began making mini Art Trading Cards (ATCs) to pass out to random people he encountered throughout the day as far back as 1997. This idea has grown into several trading card events and sessions worldwide, open to artists of all ages, styles, and mediums. However, one of his main goals is that the work is free. Artists aren’t opening a pop-up market to sell their works, but rather gather in a space to share what inspires them with others.

Street Art Festivals. Each October, our city has a Chalk the Block festival, celebrating chalk artists, street and performance art, and other fun works, most of which are free to enjoy. Among the works by professional and student artists are plenty of open spaces where anyone can bring their own chalk and create their own chalk images. We try to do this each year, even if we only leave something simple. It makes us feel more a part of things, like we’re leaving our own “thank you” for the opportunity to enjoy the works of others.

Art Swap Tables. I first saw one of these when my daughter and I went to a small Anime Convention at a local college. The concept was simple. Take a piece of art, leave a piece of art. A large table was set up in the middle of the convention with a generous supply of paper, pencils, and black felt tip markers that invited guests to sit down and draw a picture. If they leave their artwork on the table, they can take a piece of art from another guest. Some of these were pretty impressive. I picked up a Captain America image by an “anonymous” source, which really made me think about how much talent is out there hiding inside people.

An event organizer sets up an art sharing table at an anime convention. Some of the work contributed by guests is pretty impressive. Image: Lisa Tate.

Art Share Boards. I’m not sure what these are actually called, but I’ve seen them in used bookstores, museums, coffee houses, and similar places. This is sort of an artists’ takeover of the community bulletin board where people can leave their business cards or event flyers. Artists will leave little booklets or prints of examples of their work, usually with a social media info attached for those interested in seeing more. I don’t know any of the artists who do this, but we have picked up some cool little drawings. I hope it is a successful venture for them, possibly one that may lead to a commission or sale.

Bookmark Bombs. This is another fun surprise I discovered at a bookstore. Artists leave a hand-drawn or painted bookmark between the pages of a random book, usually one of a topic or genre that fits the art. This is such a cool concept, and I would love to see people do this with Little Free Libraries or during book drop events such as All Hallows’ Read. What a neat way to combine a love of visual arts with literary arts.

Soon my (and many other people’s) brief downtime will come to an end, and the opportunities to create something for work, school, and family will be upon us. I hope these art-sharing ideas will give you a little inspiration for the busy months ahead.

While we have the chance, take some time to get into the mindset of not only staying creative but also not being selfish with our talents. Share a little something you drew, wrote, or built.

Once the creative process takes hold, it won’t let go, and it can affect everyone we know and meet.

Yes, that’s a good thing.

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