I’m sorry to keep posting these shots of ice, I’m sure you must be bored with them by now, but I just love the shapes and colors these frozen landscapes form over time. It’s like an icy cold playground up there and I just can’t keep from looking at it. It’s mesmerizing. I just keep thinking about how I want to draw it. (I believe that icebergs and ice like this would make for some great drawings and, I swear, at some point, I will do these in pastels to see if I can one day paint them as well.)
Today’s topic brings me to something I both love and dread: the holiday greeting.
Now, I don’t know about you, but, this year anyway, I have been inundated with holiday greetings. At least, my email box has been overflowing with them from sometime, starting in like maybe November. And, I know they mean well, they *all* mean well, each and every one of them. Many of them are from businesses I know and even trust. Dick Blick’s sent me a nice holiday greeting card, as did the folks I traveled with up in Iceland (it was really a treat to see an Icelandic Santa, let me tell you. Did you know there are 13 of them and each is kind of skinny and wears cool-looking pointy boots? Wow! Neither did I.) But, holiday greetings from places like Office Depot and Best Buy? Really? Like I’m supposed to “Jingle Bell” my way through a new stapler for my desk or a new DVD player that I don’t really need? Oh please, save me from this holiday madness!
As artists, we need to think about this too. I mean, we send out holiday greetings, we all send out holiday greetings, right? But, there are so many of them, and so many people get lost in all of the holiday greetings. So, let me be the first one (maybe?) to come right out and say it. If you’re going to do a holiday greeting at all, as an artist, you owe it to yourself to either make the best darn holiday greeting you can make or maybe consider not making one at all.
I know this might be a bit controversial. I’m sure many of you will say, “but I like to send out holiday greetings!” not to mention it’s a great way to “get my brand out!” (whatever that means.) The problem is, with all of the greetings going around, yours is going to get lost in the mix. Many of them don’t look special, don’t offer anything, and are from people I don’t really know. (I hardly shop at Staple’s for example, yet I have gotten no less than 3 holiday greetings from them this year.) Trust me when I say this, a holiday greeting is going to do more harm them good if you send it to somebody you hardly know, it doesn’t look all that great, or it’s completely impersonal.
As artists, we make handmade items. Even photographers, yes you too, make things by hand. Art is personal. That’s a large factor in the equation. If you start churning out holiday greetings that aren’t personal (Staple’s anyone?) and you start sending them en mass to everyone you might happen to have met this year, well, I hate to break the news to you, but you’re really not helping out your art career. Besides, wouldn’t your time be better spent in the studio painting more? Or helping out in your local community where needs are more immediate? (Even cooking up some home cheer this holiday season would be a better use of your time, don’t you think? Have you had a snowball fight with the kids yet? Wouldn’t that be more fun as well?)
So, this year, as the holiday season rolls into full force, I would offer up some suggestions. Rather than spending hours twiddling with Photoshop to craft just the right holiday “virtual tree” to email to 500 people you don’t really know, why not go down to your local homeless shelter and volunteer? Visit a home for the elderly in your area or help out at a local school. Share you artwork on a more personal basis instead. It will do you, your community, and the world a lot more good.
I love getting holiday greetings from artists that I know, I really do. And I’m not trying to get all scrooge on you here, I really love the holiday season too. But there are just too many artists and photographers out there who think they can just sort of “slack off” in the social department and then go overboard around the holiday season to make up for it. Not to mention there are a lot of artists and photographers who see all of these holiday greetings and think to themselves, “Man! This looks great. *I* really want to send out a holiday greeting and have it be the BEST one ever…” only to go overboard trying to “outdo” the artist next door. Is that really keeping in the holiday spirit? Is that really furthering your artistic career? (Did you even both to stop and ask that question before you jumped headfirst into a giant pile of red and green construction paper and silver glue glitter? Mmm. Didn’t think so.)
So, before you send out your 12th holiday greeting this year, before you post your best over Photoshopped shots of your fabulous Christmas tree or show me your happy children in fake poses baking cookies (what kids bake coolies these days? Come on, get real!) I’d encourage you to stop and ask yourself, “is this really keeping within the holiday tradition? Is this celebrating the holiday season the way it was intended?” If you’re really just trying to showoff, perhaps you can do that another time, like say in March, and leave us to our already stuffed email inboxes this holiday season.
On the other hand, if you’re somebody I know (*waves*) and are genuinely sending me best wishes this holiday season, I more than welcome your crooked hand-held photo of your Christmas tree or your non-Photoshopped image of your son making a funny face wearing a holiday hat because, to me anyway, that’s what the holidays are really all about and those images? Yeah, those images are truly beautiful to me, each and every one of them.
So there you have it. Carol Scrooge on the subject of holiday greetings. Bah Humbug! Pass the eggnog, please.
Until next time…