Notes by Christen: Choosing a Theme

Choosing a Theme

As I sit here typing this week’s post, I keep looking to the tables outside of my office. Covering those tables are all of the incoming submissions for an issue I’m particularly excited to put together—the Halloween issue of Somerset Studio. Sure, I’ve put together a Halloween issue before, but this year it’s different.

Instead of issuing our usual challenge—Vintage Halloween—this year, we turned to The Master of Suspense for inspiration. That’s right. This year the movies of Alfred Hitchcock served as the muse. I assure you, the submissions did not disappoint! From modern to vintage to edgy, you’ll see art of all styles in the September/October issue of Somerset Studio.

Picking a theme for an issue can be very tricky. We want to pick something broad enough that it inspires a variety of artists, but we also want it to be specific enough that the theme is evident throughout the artwork shown. For this Halloween issue, we could have picked one of Hitchcock’s movies and built the theme around that, but that would have stifled the artists somewhat, especially if they didn’t particularly like that film.

Each issue of Somerset Studio has a specific theme that artists create artwork around. It’s easy to find what we’re looking for on the Stampington & Company website, but I’d like to share the different upcoming themes with you here in case anything ignites your creative mind!

A Color-Filled Holiday
You are invited to join in our annual tradition of showcasing your most special holiday projects. We’re looking for greeting cards, giftwraps, stocking stuffers, and assorted handmade gifts and artwork that celebrate the season. Please use colors, words, and images that are most inspiration and meaningful for you during the holidays. We look forward to projects made with paper, art stamps, calligraphy, and mixed-media that will add sparkle to our traditions of giving thanks, rekindling our faith, and reconnecting with our family and friends.
Deadline for artwork to be received: June 15, 2011.

Cheerful Chartreuse
There is something about this shade of green that makes people smile. It is a bold, vivid, and friendly color. It’s found just about everywhere—from wall colors and couture dresses to yarn and cardstock—making it a fun color to work with. This new color challenge asks that you put down your pastels and throw caution to the wind. Accent your tintype collection with chartreuse; adopt an entirely new color palette—the choice is yours. Just send your color experiments in for possible publication in the January/February 2012 issue.
Deadline for artwork to be received: August 15, 2011.

The Power of Words
Quotations—we all have our favorites that we turn to time and time again to gain some perspective and inspiration. For me, it’s a line from the great poet Mary Oliver: “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” Whenever I read this, I get chills. These simple words always fill me with the urge to grab my art journal and document my astonishment with the world around me.

What about you? What are some of your favorite quotations? Knowing the power of words, especially when combined with art, we at Somerset Studio challenge you to make artwork inspired by famous inspirational lines in history. Journal pages, cards, canvases, assemblage … we want to see it all for our March/April 2012 issue.
Deadline for artwork to be received: October 15, 2011.

Now here’s your chance to join in the fun … What themes would you like to see in Somerset Studio? Is it one we’ve ran before, or is it something brand new? I want to hear all of your ideas, honestly! Send an email to with your suggestion. If we select it, we’ll credit you with the theme idea in the magazine and we’ll send you a complimentary copy of our brand new May/June issue.

Christen Olivarez is Director of Publishing for Stampington & Company and Editor-in-Chief of Somerset Studio, the top-ranked magazine for mixed-media and paper artists. Her blog posts appear on every other Tuesday.

Get more inside scoop into the world of Stampington submissions in this blog post by Ricë Freeman-Zachery.


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