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making wishes – the origins of our superstitions

superstitious kitsch print

I did another little print design to go along with my bad and good luck prints I debuted in this post.

This one, based on the superstitions behind wishing, took me longer to develop. There aren’t as many obvious symbols to illustrate a wish so I did have to take to google to find, or remind myself, of some. I can’t believe I didn’t remember wishing wells or fountains on my own! The wishing fountains I remember the most, were in the mall…which is kinda disappointing. I don’t recall there being any signage expressing where the accumulated pennies may go, but I could be wrong. I mostly remember the sparkle of copper against blue tile through the water. I remember wanting to reach into it and touch the pennies but never doing it because they weren’t mine. They belonged to the wishers. Little bribes to some unknown power.

As for the other symbols, I actually had never thought about the act of blowing out candles to ‘make a wish’. Maybe because I’m no longer a child? When was the last time I blew out candles? I have no idea. But I liked remembering this and realizing how it was another example of childhood rituals. I tried to find out how the tradition started. This article does a good job of summing the possibilities up. If you know of any other theories please leave me a comment!

I haven’t wished on many stars. So many of them are hidden by light pollution. Which is a funny idea. Something hidden by light rather than revealed. Light can blind or expose. Living in the city again, I do miss the dark mountain skies outside of Asheville, NC.

The ’11:11′ one reminds me of being a teenager. I remember late nights and being told to make a wish when a digital clock reached it. I imagine this superstition probably didn’t come around until we had digital clocks, since it seems to be about the symmetry of the numbers. — Wait! I’m wrong! Here’s a wikipedia page about it. We have numerology to thank for it.

If you remember any other ways to wish please explain them to me. I’d love to hear about them. Take a moment and think about it. You might realize you have a ritual you do automatically, out of habit or tradition. Or maybe you have one you made up rather than inherited.

Also, I have put this work for sale in both my Redbubble and Society6 shops.

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ectoplasm skull collab with negamidas!

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It’s never too late or early for Halloween flair, so please check out my Ectoplasm Skull pins I collaborated on with enamel pin makers, Negamidas.com!

They are in my site’s shop, meaning you can purchase them directly from me! I hope you like them. It was a lot of fun seeing an illustration translate into something new.

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Illustrations on RedBubble

I’m giving this e-commerce and illustration thing a try again. I opened a RedBubble store and am selling my designs on cards. I’ll be updating the shop regularly with new illustrations. Let me know what you think and what products and designs you’d like to see me start selling.



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The Pursuit of the Original.

It’s a weird feeling to see that the work you like to produce fits into a movement or oeuvre or genre or whatever. It’s a weird feeling to have to question yourself why that it is.

It’s not that I want to create things that are not a response to the long history of art and human experience but I still wince at the idea that I could be seen as aping other artists or too easily influenced.

In fact I am embarrassed to admit that for a fleeting moment I felt very special and original with my ouija board based paintings. Truly, anytime you feel original it just means you are less informed than you think you are. Not being original though doesn’t mean that you are mimicking someone else, it just means your brain isn’t a magical portal to unmined imagery and ideas. You haven’t thought of the unthinkable.

After reading a post on Wurzeltod by the unfailingly honest Suzanne(and why I cherish her presence on the internets) about a current trend in contemporary art I realized my work could easily fit into the fault she finds in it.

I guess that’s okay but it left me confused. Why is this imagery so popular right now? I have some theories, and the only ones I can come up with are why I’m attracted to them. Perhaps we all got into our parents dusty attic boxes and found their seventies magazines and hippy mystical books balanced with others spreading fear of satanism and the new orders attempts at creating new witchy peons through saturday morning kids programing.

Maybe.

Though my parents never seemed afraid of me being corrupted or led away from a god they had chosen. In fact they raised me with no religion, more out of not having time for the effort than any lack of belief. Our house used to be owned by a Jewish family. There was a hebrew letter built into the backyard stone grill and a jewish good luck symbol screwed into the door frame of the front door. I remember feeling upset when I wasn’t allowed to remove it and take it with me when I moved out.

Outside of my home was a big scary Catholic world. Those were the kids who told me spooky stories about the smurfs and taught me to play bloody mary games in the bathroom. Those were the kids who grew alarmed when I pulled out a ouija board. I adopted their superstitions for play. I found books in my elementary school library about poltergeists. In middle school every girl had a ghost that haunted them. I think some of them believed in it. I didn’t want their faith but I loved their superstitions. Being fun scared made me feel full of adventure. I was truly scared of many real things. It was better to be pretend scared of things I was sure didn’t exist.

My family didn’t really have neo-pagan books in the attic, but they did have Dianetics and guides on how to hypnotize all on a shelf in the basement. My father also collected books about local ghost lore and treasure hunting in abandoned towns. He sat up with me and watched Histories Mysteries narrated by Leonard Nimoy. I snuck back even later and watched Unsolved Mysteries by myself in the dark.

I’m not sure why other artists paint the things they do, but I do know mine are more about my lack of belief in the supernatural and my wish that I could find control and comfort in ritual and superstition.