A History of the Mixed Media Community, Part II

On Wednesday I told my version (because, as I said, I know there are other versions out there–other people were involved, of course, in addition to those I knew of personally) of the beginnings of our fabulously vital and diverse mixed media community.


After Teesha Moore started Artfest and The Studio ‘Zine, there were other large art retreats around the country and other ‘zines and other major publications. Stampington started publishing Somerset Studio and then Belle Armoire, Art Doll Quarterly, Belle Armoire Jewelry–and then dozens more mixed media publications. Today you can find magazines focusing on fiber work or jewelry or dolls of various kinds, journals and art journals, and–well, the list goes on for a long, long while.


Along in there somewhere (and although I’ve asked many people, nobody I’ve talked to is sure of the exact dates for these things) scrapbooking took hold, and then there was the internet, and suddenly it was a whole new world.


At the center of all this, no matter from which perspective you’re looking at it, were Teesha and Tracy Moore. I firmly believe it is impossible to overestimate the importance of Teesha’s roll in the creation of what we know of today as the mixed media community. Even people who have never heard of her are surely influenced in some way by what she introduced, whether it’s a retreat they attended or a magazine they read or a hand-bound journal they created and turned into an art journal. Before Teesha began The Studio ‘Zine, no one was using the term “art journal.” People were working in journals with art in them, but they hadn’t given them a name and made theirs public, and when Teesha began showing pages from hers, a whole nother world opened up.


Some people have groused about “wings and pointy hats” and muttered that images with these embellishments are everywhere, but if you were around the when Teesha showed those first images, you remember what an eye-opening, mind-expanding thing it was, seeing the collaged figures she’d been creating in her journals. The whole concept–from the way she sewed her books together to the backgrounds on the pages to the images with hats and wings–it caught on like wildfire, and to those of us who were there, it’s completely understandable that people embraced what she was doing. A new world really did come into being, and it was amazing.


Yes, I know I keep saying “a whole new world,” but that really is the only way to describe it.


Eventually, people like Tim Holtz began to help blur the lines between the world of funky and grungy and the world of scrapbooking, and that further expanded the galaxy. New techniques, new materials, new ideas.


Periodically I’ll have a conversation with one or another of my editors in which we’ll muse about What’s Next: what’s on the horizon for our community? What’s The Next Big Thing? We look around at online retreats and eBooks, tutorials and YouTube videos and workshops and a whole slew of things that weren’t even on the radar back when I started writing for RSM, and we try to imagine what might be next. Michael deMeng has his own iPhone app. Laurie Mika had one of the first iPads and set it up to play a slideshow of her work in her booth at Art Unraveled–stuff we never could have imagined before it actually became possible.


In short, it’s impossible to predict what’s next. At the speed the world moves and with the amazing leaps in technology, who knows what could be around the next corner? There’s a lot to look forward to for sure, but every once in a while it’s nice to take a minute to look back and see where we came from. Sometimes, I have to admit, I’d love to see something really retro: a simple handmade book stamped with handcarved images and text stamped out by hand, one single letter at a time. I know that, somewhere out there, someone is doing exactly that.

Pulse of Mixed MediaTo find out more about the current trends in mixed-media art, check out Seth Apter’s book, The Pulse of Mixed Media: Secrets and Passions of 100 Artists Revealed.




Ricë is the author of Living the Creative Life, Creative Time and Space, and Destination Creativity. She also blogs at The Voodoo Cafe.


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