Layaway Days: Art collecting on a Budget
I hate coffee.
The closest I have come to a cup of coffee is a Coffee Crisp chocolate bar, as a Canadian youth (and as an adult; they are fucking delicious!). However, I have a new appreciation for the beverage, ever since I discovered Alessandra Maria. Alessandra uses coffee to stain the paper, which she works on. The results produce unique hues, which compliment her use of gold leaf. The end result is a striking juxtaposition of browns, blacks, and gold. Her work conveys a delicateness and elegance, as she revisits “…the historic start of iconography, remaking it from a feminist perspective.”
My wife and I became aware of Alessandra last fall, when she released ’Donum’, as a limited edition print. Sadly, there were only 20 available and we missed out. Alessandra released a video showing her gilding process, which has almost six million views. I reached out to her earlier this week, to inquire on the availability of future print releases. We began a back and forth, which ultimately led to a mini-interview, which I will post below. Alessandra was raised in Seattle, where my wife and I currently reside. It sounds like a print release may be imminent and I will post, once announced.
To view works by Alessandra, please see below:
LD: I read an interview where you mentioned that the Internet has allowed artists to become established, “without having to be approved by ‘the establishment’ first...” Have you found social media has introduced new collectors to your work and art collecting in general?
AM: I've been treated really well by social media in my career. I know that many of my artistic peers and I can account for a sizable proportion of our collectors having learned of us through social media. It's really amazing!
LD: Do you have any advice for new art collectors or individuals who are contemplating entering the hobby?
AM: Buy work because you genuinely love it. Markets change, careers suffer or flourish based on myriad factors, but the one thing that doesn't change is pure appreciation for a piece of artwork. Be discerning and do your research as well, of course.
LD: There are several fine artists that don’t make prints available to their fans. Why is it important to make your art affordable to individuals from all backgrounds?
AM: I don't really have a hardline opinion on this, to be honest. I try to make some work accessible at different ranges, because I feel a personal responsibility to. I was exceptionally broke for a long time, and I would have given anything to have access to the work of my idols in some official form. So, though I am now restricted from making things too accessible, I try to do so at least once a year, "branding" be damned.
But, I think there's also a necessity to protect the value of your work, thus honoring the investment previous collectors have made in you, as well. When the value of your work goes up, not only do you win, but the people who showed faith in your work at an early stage do as well. I love the symbiotic nature of art, in this respect.
So, it's a balance.
LD: One of your recent prints required extensive hand-embellishing and came out beautifully. Can you describe the process of creating 20, unique, gold leaf-embellished prints?
AM: It was very labor intensive! Far too many hours, too much work. But the results were worth it, and it felt really gratifying to be able to make these pieces for the collectors, giving them something really special.
LD: As a Seattle resident, I’m curious as to what you miss most about living in the area?
AM: Seattle is one of the most breathtaking places in the world. It seems like this unknown treasure, so few people understand how gorgeous the whole Pacific Northwest is. I remember going to Hurricane Ridge when I was about 17, and just being so astonished that all this beauty was only a 3 hour drive away. And I grew up going to Crystal Mountain most weekends during the winter to ski, and didn't understand how rare and beautiful a treasure the Cascades are. It just seemed normal to me.
I miss it a lot, of course. And I've been blessed to live in some pretty cool places since I left; New York for a little under 10 years, now I'm living in Maui. New York feels like the closest thing to home to me right now, because my family moved away from Seattle when I was a sophomore in college, and I haven't been able to go back to Washington since. New York's energy and insanity totally drew me in, and living there from ages 18-27 was enormously influential (you really learn a good work ethic). And don't even get me started on the food. But it was time for some nature, so Maui was the right place to go next, and that's where I am now.
But to bring it back to Seattle.... Well, the mountains, lakes, hiking, bike riding, skiing, kayaking, etc, on the east coast, and even here on Maui, cannot compare with the nature in Seattle. I loved seeing Rainier while driving to school, this massive behemoth taking up half the skyline. The library system is the best in the country (or it was when I was there), the food is fantastic, the people are great, the music scene is unparalleled... I think I'll make it back there someday, in some capacity (though I'm a little scared about earthquakes, in particular "the big one", I have to admit!)
LD: What can we expect from Alessandra Maria, in the future?
AM: More work!! I'm going to work until I die, and I'm pretty young so save something terrible happens, hopefully lots of work. I try to improve with every single piece as well - so maybe: more work, better work