T-shirts, mouse-mats, mugs, calendars, badges, ties, scarves, calendars, notebooks, clocks, keyrings, cards, jewellery, phone covers, posters, prints, clocks, stickers, coasters, magnets, tote bags and even underwear are all commercially available featuring these iconic images!
I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not from a purist's point of view, but for those who wish to make a living from their art rather than live the Romantic dream, surely it's worth investigating?
There is a value (and possibly moral) judgement each individual must make, but for me it is a simple decision - consumerism wins!
No doubt every painter out there has investigated the viability of having prints made of their work. The cost is a massive factor and you don't want to be stuck with 250 prints you can't sell.
My first forays into reproduction came in my art college days when for a printing project I produced t-shirts and album cover for a band I used to play in. Ah those heady days when anything and everything were possible and reality had yet to make inroads into our lives!
When the band New Model Army released their classic "Thunder and Consolation" album in 1989 I, along with just about everyone else, was impressed with the sleeve artwork.
Suddenly celtic art was mainstream - or at least as mainstream as counter-culture can get! This design has become synonymous with the band over the years, with fans often having it tattooed on their bodies - a membership badge for the exclusive 'fanclub'
When I began to explore celtic art further, I found the above design in George Bain's influential book Celtic Art: The Methods of Construction
Apparently it's an ancient pictish stone carving found in Meigle, Perthshire, Scotland (though I have yet to find photographic evidence of the stone)
When Gelert Design was set up late in 2009, it was all about creating reproducible products. My preferred sculpting method is carving plaster. Plaster isn't satisfactorily durable and the time it takes me to produce a piece makes it prohibitively expensive to buy. So Gelert Design is all about making silicone moulds of my carvings and reproducing them in resin. Can you see where this is going? ;)
As soon as I felt myself competent enough, I contacted New Model Army regarding a hole in their merchandise range - fridge magnets! It's all very well selling the latest band t-shirt, hoodle, and silver pendant, but the fans are an obsessive lot (and I should know, I'm one of them!), always after something else - bootlegs, a hat, a mug, socks...
I was asked to send some samples and they were immediately approved! Gelert Design had it's first wholesale order! Of course, the 'Thunder and Consolation' design was one of the most popular designs. The current range of New Model Army fridge magnets are available from their online shop
Now, New Model Army don't own this design - it was created by the pictish people after all. You may be familiar with it as it's the logo of film company Legendary Pictures, makers of 300, The Dark Knight, Where The Wild Things Are, Clash of the Titans etc etc.
While it's all very well having a painting that can be reproduced on aprons, it needs to be a design that people actually want. This will always be the problem when you want your art to work for you. I've yet to come up with my own Hello Kitty! But I have already sculpted something that is fairly popular...
Seeing as how no one owns the design but it is associated with the band, movies, the celts and picts, it seemed a good image to reproduce a la Vincent Van Goch. I have already made the moulds and the versatility of resin means various finishes and fillers can be introduced to create a vast range.
From that one initial mould for a fridge magent, I was able to cast in bonded brass, bronze, copper, aluminium, epoxy, polyester and polyurethene!
Here's a gallery of items I have made using just that one mould - tealight holders, brooches, pendants, and trinket boxes:
Of course, it doesn't end there! Carving the design in different sizes allowed me to produce clocks and belt buckles!
(All the above can be purchased from my Etsy and Folksy shops)
It doesn't end there of course, the design still has legs - I've made engraved glass coasters for instance. Now I just need to think of the next adaptation!
So in conclusion, reproducing art works for me. It's just a question of finding a popular design and then the sky's the limit!
I'd be interested in hearing your views for and against the argument for adapting art, and of course any ideas as to how I can use the design next:-)