Monthly Archives: December 2017
Four years ago on December 17th, I received a message while I was out with some friends, from someone who had found this “Welcome to Cheektavegas” design on CafePress, where I had some designs up on glasses or water bottles or something. She asked if it was available as an art print and although it wasn’t at the time—I hadn’t had a chance to really get my Society6 page going—I asked her to give me an hour, at which point I raced home and worked on uploading the design.
I’d used Society6 for some other work I’d done, but only had my personal stuff up on CafePress and I hated (and still hate) the process there to upload designs on new products. Society6 was so much easier to use, even if there was a lot of resizing involved to meet each items pixel requirements and dimensions.
My shop wasn’t set up because I’d been dragging my feet a little on it; some of the designs weren’t ready or needed to be updated, cleaned up a little, or just weren’t good enough. I was figuring things out with Photoshop as I went, I’m amazed some of those early designs o came up with looked as good as they did. And I didn’t really think they looked that great, but it was the best I could do.
I was able to upload the design and message her back that it should show up shortly; I opened a beer, sat back and waited then for my first sale with Society6, the first $1.46 I earned on my own.
That would be the only money I made until the following September, but it was still pretty cool. That first year, I sold only three items. A few years and the Christmas season makes a big difference, since I sold three items today alone. And while I’m not selling massive amounts of stuff, usually enough a month to cover a tank of gas, I’m always going to be proud of what does sell, what people out there decide to buy, to bring into their homes or offer as gifts to the people in their lives. And I’ll always be grateful to that first customer who messaged me and got me moving.
And also a little terrified that my stuff is garbage. That’ll never change.
I recently went to a party in a trendy studio apartment, and for a moment was horrified by the bookshelf I glimpsed from the corner of my eye along a darkened wall of the living room. I say for a moment because once my eyes adjusted I realized my hosts had simply removed the dust jackets from their predominantly hardcover collection of books; and although the bookshelves were scattered with other decorative items and the books seemed to arranged with some measure of restraint and foresight that has never accompanied me to a bookstore, rather than jammed into every available space as mine tend to become, the shelves weren’t overwhelmed with the need to be a curated, controlled display. While there were some minor shortcomings to the these bookshelves (they needed to be at least 35 times their size) it certainly wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
I have to agree with Cathy over at Kittling:Books in that too many interior decorators and the HGTV-fueled need for staging our living space push the trend of messing around with the heart and soul of any house. To many of them, bookshelves are bland and boring, and they’re constantly trying show off how original they are by forcing out ideas intended to spice them up.
The books will be displayed spine-in or covered in plain white covers, or the books are shelves by color, fading down the rainbow along their floor to ceiling shelves dotted with Pop figures and other decoration meant to show how trendy and tied into pop culture the owner is, or they shove furniture right up against the shelves, blocking the books that would be within easiest reach to one sitting or lounging on the floor as the spend an afternoon digging for the perfect read, or hang framed prints from the shelves and supports, blocking the books as the frame jobs insist on a matte that thinks it can transform a 4×6 snapshot into a 32×48 art exhibit.
It’s become clear that many interior designers are not readers and know little about the proper way to showcase books. For any reader or librarian, bookseller or human with a functional brain, there’s one way to showcase books. It’s called shelving them, and doing so in the way god intended: alphabetically by the author’s last name. That’s it.
There’s no reason to try and reinvent the wheel or overcharge your client to prove just how creative and unique you are by hiding or arranging your books as if they’re some modern art exhibit. The books are the art, not the shelf they’re on. The titles are important, not the decorations you pile on the shelves around them. Let those titles speak for themselves and speak for you, for your interests and insecurities and guilty pleasures.
Your books should chart your interests and life, and there should be a story behind every book you own and why you’ve hung onto it. The books can speak for themselves, in alphabetical order. They don’t need anyone’s help to tell their story or yours.
Reading the description for Sam Shepard’s posthumous short novel, “Spy of the First Person”, I’m immediately reminded of Paul Harding’s ‘Tinkers’, and C.S. Richardson’s ‘The End of the Alphabet’. Both novels feature main characters faced with their impending death, and forced to search their pasts and consider their limited futures for meaning and validation. Each goes about it in completely different yet equally beautiful ways and if you’ve read and enjoyed Shepard’s final book, I’d recommend checking both of those novels out.
How do you share the experience of dying? Of slowly losing control, not simply of your life, but of your body itself, and carry on knowing the end is bearing down on you? How does that change a person?
From the Publisher:
“The final work from the Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, actor, and musician, drawn from his transformative last days
In searing, beautiful prose, Sam Shepard’s extraordinary narrative leaps off the page with its immediacy and power. It tells in a brilliant braid of voices the story of an unnamed narrator who traces, before our rapt eyes, his memories of work, adventure, and travel as he undergoes medical tests and treatments for a condition that is rendering him more and more dependent on the loved ones who are caring for him. The narrator’s memories and preoccupations often echo those of our current moment—for here are stories of immigration and community, inclusion and exclusion, suspicion and trust. But at the book’s core, and his, is family—his relationships with those he loved, and with the natural world around him. Vivid, haunting, and deeply moving, Spy of the First Person takes us from the sculpted gardens of a renowned clinic in Arizona to the blue waters surrounding Alcatraz, from a New Mexico border town to a condemned building on New York City’s Avenue C. It is an unflinching expression of the vulnerabilities that make us human—and an unbound celebration of family and life.”