I complete one commissioned art piece about once every three years. While I was away from this blog, I was working on one of these pieces.
I love doing these paper-cut pieces. But while working on this commission, that love was tinged with a certain fear. I have sold one of these pieces before, but I’ve never made a custom work. Every day of work made me more and more afraid that the owners wouldn’t like it.
Dealing in nostalgia is a high stakes game. Barristers was an old bar that was dear to the hearts of the people who commissioned this piece. From what I could gather, it was the place to be in the early 90’s grunge/alt music scene in Memphis Tennessee. It closed well before the advent of smartphones, so there were only two photos that I could find to use for reference.
I felt like the people who asked for this commission really got what it is that I’m trying to communicate with the paper-cuts I make. You never know when you’re going to see a place for the last time. Nobody ever tells you when the best is behind you. Places can hold so many happy memories, but when those places are taken away, it’s hard not to feel a real sense of loss. I try to make miniatures that help me hold onto certain feelings. I wanted to give them my very best, so they could hold onto this place and the memories it contained.
Zobrodome and Shmelby were two bands that one of the owners were a part of back in the day.
The closer I got to the end of this piece, the slower I went. Every placement of trash and graffiti meant at least ten minutes of sitting and staring at the piece, making sure everything still fit together. There are tons of personal details in the final product.
My fears were laid to rest, the piece arrived safely at its new home and is well loved. This is the best experience I’ve had making a commission yet. You would be surprised to find out how many times people have contacted me and asked for what are essentially forgeries. (One summer I made some good cash making bad copies of a Modigliani painting). This was one of the precious few times someone contacted me because they liked what I’m already making and it meant so much to me.