building new castles every day

Make Bad Art and get unstuck

In Feelings, Thinkings on June 19, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Bad Books

The ArtStar Props studio in Burnaby is a creative oasis. The first time I stepped inside for a Make Bad Art evening, the rush of traffic disappeared and the rainbow of art supplies enveloped me like my mother’s hug.

The studio’s typical white walls are hung with untypical installations of collage and photography, framed on one side by a small kitchen (complete with espresso machine and platters of cheese and fruit) and on the other side with a lush, bright red sofa (dotted with children’s toys).

Turn towards the south-facing patio and you’ll see (in addition to Mount Baker on a clear day) long tables covered in heaps of supplies, from pipecleaners to lace, door knobs to wood scraps, drill guns to glitter. The wall of ‘inspiration’ beckons you like a kid in a mud pit:

You can’t help but get stuck in.

Dolls Gone Wild

Maybe it’s because I’m blessed to have a mother who maintained an ‘arts and crafts’ space in my childhood basement. Maybe it’s because the 25 strangers who showed up at the studio responded in the same way.

What I’m certain about is that after I transformed an instructional dance book into a schmushed, illustration-gutted Wicked Witch of the Glitter, I felt challenged, reconnected and pleasantly surprised.

Who knew making something so awful could make me feel so unstuck?

Josh and Amber knew.

That’s why I’m so excited to have them facilitate a Make Bad Art workshop at the next Community Catalysts retreat this July.

keller boorman family

The Keller Boorman clan taking a break from making ugly Christmas sweaters at the December 2012 Make Bad Art evening.

Josh and Amber met at the Seattle Art Car Festival. His Mazda was covered in Moorish tile designs. Her 1970′s monster was augmented with 3D googley-eyed flames and giant fins. Their cars (and their lives) were meant to be together.

Since that festival ten years ago, Josh and Amber have relocated to Vancouver where Amber leads ArtStar Props, creating custom art for film and events, and Josh teaches English. Together they host Make Bad Art Nights for their community and raise two boys.

They are my friends. They are my creative guides. They are my Community Catalysts. And I can’t wait to make more bad art in just three weeks!

To make some bad art with Josh and Amber, join all the Community Catalysts for the Living Wellness summer weekend retreat on Gambier Island, July 12–14. More info here:

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