Every year I like to ask creative people about the best gifts they’ve ever exchanged, meaning the gifts that have sparked an idea or a project, a series or a new medium. Or maybe a tool that made everything easier or faster. This year I checked in with my friends on Facebook, asking them about the most creatively-inspiring gift they’ve ever given or received. Here’s what they shared:
Ellen said, “My sister Lori Louise and I both like art journaling, so I used a small wall calendar from the previous year, lightly painted out the date grids, and added some backgrounds. The idea was that she’d have a “starter” art journal, and she did creative things with the art pictures from the calendar.” I love this because it’s not only creative, but it’s thoughtful (something Ellen knows her sister will like) and green (saving something from the landfill, which is always fabulous).
Sometimes the best gifts, the ones that still mean something huge years after they were given, are the most inspired. Maureen’s story gives me chill bumps: “Years and years ago, my brother didn’t have any extra money for gifts, so he composed his own poems for each member of our family. He wrote them out in longhand on crisp white paper, rolled them into scrolls, tied them with red ribbon, and hung them on the tree like ornaments. 40 years later and I still have mine, safely tucked away. For me, that represented the most creative, most personal gift I’ve ever received and I treasure it to this day.”
Nancy says, “My husband Brian bought me a gift certificate to take a welding class at The Steel Yard in Providence, RI….because I was always saying how I wanted to learn how to weld (this from a man who has seen me work through just about every medium there is, and I have the supplies to prove it!). I can’t wait to sign up for classes in the spring!”
Judah says the most inspiring gift ever was, “Quite simply, an easel. It allowed me to move from doing only smaller paintings to larger-sized ones, and freed up a lot of space in my studio!”
Jen tells about a gift from a son who was really paying attention to what interested his mom: “When my oldest son was in Uni, and I was still doing Assemblage, he collected all his detritus over the year … broken stuff, used containers, pieces of collected paper, street finds, and packaged them all up for me. Best. Present. Ever.”
Tanya says, “My step-grandmother, an extremely warm and kind woman, would give me books on different media each Christmas: knitting, making jewelry, embellishing blue jeans. She was the only one who realized that I had a creative drive and who tried to nourish it. Her gifts gave me much to think about and to do in what was otherwise a parched environment.”
Jeannie says, “One year my boyfriend at the time filled my Easter basket with DMC pearl cotton instead of colored eggs. My sis and I make creative boxes for each other for Christmas. All through the year I gather things for paper crafts for her and add in new on the market supplies. She does the same for me with textile art supplies. Christmas lasts all year as we try out all the new supplies.” I love gifts that last all year, reminding you of your favorite people every time you take out the markers or pick up the knitting needles.
As you might expect, we have even MORE great stories about inspired gifts, so check back on Wednesday for Part 2!
For more stories and thoughts from artists, check Seth Apter’s new book, The Mixed-Media Artist.
MORE RESOURCES FOR MIXED MEDIA ARTISTS