Sunday, April 26, 2009

Artists! Who likes free stuff? Tips for package reuse.

I haven't posted much about art in a while, but this was a post that's been bouncing around in my head now (as most things do...) for a while. Since yesterday was the Mechanicsburg Earth Day festival, I'm still feeling a green streak, so it's time to formulate this post.

A lot of people have heard the term "Starving Artist." I'm not too crazy about that term, probably because it brings back all-too-vivid memories of college and having ONE art store in town that could (and did) charge an arm and a leg for everything, and with Flagler College's art students 2 miles away, it was like shooting fish in a barrel. Art supplies cost WAY more than food, and at the time, seemed much more necessary. (But you could still always find beer money... Ramen noodles + Art supplies + Cheap beer = unofficial art school budget.)

I digress. Since everyone's looking to save money, especially artists in college or just starting out, here are some simple ways you can reuse things for your art/art business.

1. Vinyl tablecloth with fuzzy flannely backing.
This bad boy was 2.99. Pretty cheap. These tablecloths are practical if you're throwing a party, but the bad thing about them is they tend to rip. Once it has a rip in it, what do you usually do with it? Toss it? I have another idea- use it to protect a painting in transport. After you wrap your painting with whatever you use (preferably something reusable like foam), wrap one of these around it. If there is humidity or rain wherever you're taking it, the vinyl is waterproof and will protect the painting. The fuzz on the back won't hurt your frame, either. I plan to experiment with attaching velco to it and making a pocket that will stay in place around my artwork and can be resized for various paintings.

2. Envelopes
This one is simple, but you can keep some old envelopes around for receipts. You can easily organize them by month, or by art show. For a while I was using folders but I was going through them quickly and always running out. Now I can use envelopes from cards to organize receipts by month or show and then have a folder for each year. A very simple tip, so simple many may not have thought of it!

3. Empty tubs
These have about a million uses! Transporting dry kibble for your pets during travels. Offering leftovers to family or friends after dinner to take home (no worries about getting them back). And of course, holding your paintbrush rinse water while you paint! You can keep a few in different sizes and use them all at once, with separate bowls for each color you're working with, etc.

4. Miscellaneous plastic packaging
I know ideally it's best to just avoid this altogether. But sometimes when you're limited to what your grocery store has to offer, it's hard to get around it (hello... do you like berries?). These containers have a lot of uses, too. The smaller packages you can use to store small things like business cards, price tags, ACEOs, framing hardware, small tools. If they have ventilation holes and you want to keep the water out, you can store the plastic container in a heavy plastic bag from your cereal or potato chips. Wash all of these out as best you can to avoid oils or food residue. Wrap it in a rubber band to keep it tight.

5. Medicine/prescription bottles
If you tend to work with smaller quantities of paint at a time like me, you don't need a giant storage container for custom colors. I'm not sure how reliable most of these bottles are for long term color storage... The bottle on the right was left over from a prescription for my cat. I mixed some paint in it more than a year ago and planned to use it up within a day or two. I didn't use all of it, but surprisingly the paint in there is still wet and seems usable. Not sure I'd want to use it after a year, but it's nice to know that I could count on it to hold a color for at least a week or two.

6. Vegetable containers
Again, I know, avoid these- but if you're a big fan of mushrooms and the loose ones are all sold out, you might end up taking one of these containers home once in a while. These make GREAT palettes, as you can see from the used one! The paint will build up in them after a while, so they do have a finite life span (as far as I can tell). I like that there are many different kinds, and the green one has nice little pockets that are about 1/4" deep, so they'd hold a decent amount of paint and would be good for mixing it, too.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share in things that you reuse (art related, or not)? If so, please leave a comment! :)

Have a great week, everyone! I'm out of town for a few days and might not be posting while I'm gone.


robin baratta said...

hi Samantha, you and I are both featured on Tony Moffats 10 best list, and I was delighted to find a kindred environmentalist soul! Check me out, we seem to be very much on the same wave length, wanna trade links?? Robin b

SG said...

Thanks Robin! I'll definitely be following your blog! I love your pollinator project! :)

Doris Sturm said...

Great tips, Samantha!

Thanks for sharing.

Lisa Reese said...

Great tips, Sam! I love the prescription bottles one- and storing paint in it!