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Exploring new creative methods - learning patience matters.

While I'm not planning on becoming the next new stop-motion animator, I did get the opportunity to experience the process this past weekend at the second annual Design Family Reunion in Santa Fe, New Mexico. What I learned had less to do about creativity, but more about patience, planning and perseverance. 

It's only a seven second film, but it took at least one hour to conceive and plan and shoot then render this "draft" of a movie. My guess to make this clip "perfect," it would take me a full day…which I would gladly sign up for.

I was able to work under the tutelage of the amazing illustrator Chis Sickles of Rednose Studio. His process is not traditionally stop motion, rather no motion at all. However, his style is captured using photography of meticulously manufactured characters, very much like those stop motion film models. Think the forthcoming movie, The Box Trolls, or Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox. 

With such gorgeously modeled characters in our palette to work with, all of the focus was on the process of creating the stop motion clip. Planning a concept was the easy part. Executing the concept was the tedious learning lesson of what ultimately is lost in the creative process today – patience. 

In our highly digitally influenced communications world of today, the idea of patience is lost. On both ends of the client/agency relationship. What should be embraced from both sides is the idea that a little patience can be the ingredient to more effective communications. I understand that "first to market" is a key ingredient to winning in the said marketplace, but "last to communication strategy and execution" deflates a would-be winning campaign.

What we all can do to add a little patience and planning to our jobs to make our creative output stronger and more effective. 

Here is the clip - that could have used a little more patience:

#socialques: A series of social media influenced works of art.

#socialques is a new typographic series that I am working on that mixes image with hand-pressed, letterpress typography and handwritten words. The words come from my interaction with friends online via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Each work becomes an artifact of that interaction.

The work begins with a found image from a moment in my daily life. I take a quick photo with my iPhone. I use the Tiltshift Generator app to alter the digital capture into a higher contrast, zero saturation (black and white) photo. Using my Instagram account, I share the image, including Facebook and Twitter with my caption, "Looking for one word comments on this image. #art." Then the poetry begins. 

So far, comments have ranged from 20-60 words per image. During this first round of requests, eleven in all, they began to drop in quantity of responses. Maybe because my friends were getting tired of my weekend long posts, only asking for comments. Some comments were poignant and deep, some were literal, some were humorous and snarky. Regardless of what they were, I used them all in the end. Who doesn't want a piece of art with the words beer, streetlightzilla or vagina imbedded? It's all part of the social experience…at least in my circles.

What does this all mean? That's up to you. Leave a comment below, and tell me what #socialques means. You can use more than one word this time.

Steve Hartman Turns His Favorite Memories Into Works of Art

This article is re-posted with permission from The Prairie Land Buzz Magazine.

Written by Nicole Plegge.

Steve Hartman Turns His Favorite Memories Into Works of Art

The most incredible memories can be created in the most ordinary of moments. For those of us who grew up in small-town Illinois, a bite of frozen custard or a night out at the drive-in can tug at our heart strings and take us back to a special moment in our lives.

It’s this feeling that Edwardsville artist Steve Hartman has been able to bring to life through his art. Hartman has captured on canvas the local places and experiences that resonate with his family and strike a chord with his fans.

The simple joys in life have inspired Hartman’s work, both in his photography and his paintings, and gained him accolades in the art world. “My work is truly about the moment. Each thing I paint has to move me somehow and be meaningful to capture as far as the experience. It’s typically a scene I’ve taken a photo of. From a visual standpoint, if there’s a dynamic angle or color, that visual interest paired with a special moment is something I would want to paint and what moves me the most.”

The story behind an artist

Growing up in Edwardsville, Hartman always loved painting and was inspired by his teacher and mentor at Edwardsville High School, Dennis DeToye. While attending Eastern Illinois University, Hartman put his love of painting on the back burner as he concentrated on his BA in Graphic Design.

Since entering the communications field in 1992, Hartman has become revered in the graphic design and advertising industries for his award-winning work, having been featured in design publications nationwide and serving on the national board of the AIGA, the professional association for design. Today, Hartman is creative director for Falk Harrison, a brand communication agency in St. Louis.

While his work life has focused on graphic design, in January 2013, Hartman decided to give painting a shot once again. Hartman had long encouraged others to find time in their busy schedules to let their inner painters break free and finally decided to take his own advice. Already an avid photographer, Hartman began transforming his favorite photos into oil paintings, celebrating his love of food, his love of family and his love of the community.

 “Most of the pictures I’ve taken just happen to be food-related or experiences I’ve had with my kids and family. I took a picture of two of my boys at Northside Dairy Haven as they waited for ice cream and immediately thought – wouldn’t that be a great picture? Other paintings show businesses with a strong history in Edwardsville – like Eaker’s Barbershop where my family gets their hair cut or the butcher shop across the street, which touches on my love of food.”

Other muses for Hartman have included the Litchfield Drive-In Theater, Stagger Inn and the Chain of Rocks water intake tower. In addition, his food-themed pieces, such as Slabs of Bacon and Trinity, have made an impression with both art fans and foodies alike.

Almost immediately after picking back up his paintbrush, Hartman began showing his paintings at galleries and art shows across the community. Since January, Hartman’s work has been featured in juried shows at both Jacoby Arts Center in Alton and the Edwardsville Art Center (EAC), while his professional graphic design work has continued to flourish.

Said Hartman, “I’m pretty blessed with my career in graphic design, and happy that my career can afford me the time and ability to paint.”

A supporter of art, an advocate for the community

As recognized as Hartman is for his talents, he’s equally renowned for his support of the Edwardsville community, both in terms of promoting the arts and elevating local businesses.

For the past 10 years, Hartman has served on the board of the EAC, joining other artists and creatives in an effort to bring local and international art to residents, foster Metro East artists, and advance arts education in the region.

“In the future, I see EAC become known more for its involvement in schools. Our goal is to have more traction in the community to get people to understand how creativity and art play a role in learning and business and to build a positive cultural atmosphere. Without that, we don’t have a fully robust community. Our hope is that the community continues to embrace us and understand the importance of art in our everyday lives.”

In addition, Hartman was instrumental in the 2013 Once Upon a Town social media drive to help save Once Upon a Toy, the beloved locally-owned toy store, from closing its doors. By immortalizing the store sign on canvas with his piece, Once Upon a Town, Hartman not only commemorated the legacy of thousands of people who came together to raise $75,000 for a community landmark, but also created a remarkable piece for art lovers who love paintings with an incredible backstory.

Once Upon a Town, along with other pieces from Hartman, are currently on display now through November 29 at Sacred Grounds Café in Edwardsville as part of Gogh-Getters, the restaurant’s display of local and national artwork. Hartman’s show at Gogh-Getters also coincides with the 16th annual ARTEAST, a self-guided tour of galleries, studios and exhibits across Madison County, showcasing the incredible work of the region’s talented artists.

Talented artists like Steve Hartman.