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  • February Book of the Month

    February’s Book of the Month is a renowned title by the name of Art & Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking. It is written by David Bayles and Ted Orland, both experienced photographers and writers. This book will change the way you view artmaking and pull you out of creators' block by the seat of your pants. The authors of Art & Fear dive explore the way art gets made by extensively addressing the ways it doesn’t get made. I like to think of it as a “what not to do” guide. Not to spoil the book, but every artist faces similar obstacles when it comes to creating work. Art & Fear argues that anyone can imagine a concept, create an idea, that’s not profound at all. What makes an artist an artist is actually sitting down (or getting up) and doing the work. Easier said than done. So what are the top issues this text tackles? Art & Fear This section addresses the issues involving the artmaking process itself. How does one bridge the gap between vision and execution? How do you get your materials to work the way you want them to? How do you cope with the never-ending uncertainty of manifesting something from your imagination? Fears About Yourself and Others The following chapters dive into art and ego. The much debated talent vs. willpower phenomenon is picked apart and reconstructed into lessons that you can apply to any area of life. Perfectionists should tread carefully because these chapters will read YOU. If you’re looking for advice that is stern and straightforward, look no further. This book has not a drop of condescending tone or cushy sentiments. Just realness. The World Around You The second half of the book covers the external factors that impact artmaking, for better or worse. The academic world, the high art world, and beyond that. What’s the difference between art and craft? Where does science fit into art? How do you know when you’ve done your best work? What purpose does art have in the grand scheme of things? The title of this book indicates the inherent nature of the text, as any good title should. The authors present their observations on all of the aforementioned topics. So spoiler alert: there aren’t many definitive “answers” to these questions. Not because the authors don’t know how to answer them, but because they understand the answers will vary greatly from one person to the next. When discussing art and more specifically artmaking, the experience is entirely individual. Your art is informed by your life and experiences, your perspective and values, it’s unique. Which is why it’s so hard to write good books on artmaking and creativity. That being said, this one does an excellent job of hitting on the universal dilemmas, while being vague enough to be applicable to any discipline, but also specific enough to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions about their process and practice. Art & Fear is available in the Atithi Library in the Artmaking and Creativity Collection. If you’re curious about the book, visit us during gallery hours to check it out, but trust me, you’ll want your own copy to reference later. Email hello@atithistudios.com to recommend materials or inquire about our current collection.

  • 3 Reasons to Start a Sketchbook

    2023 is still fresh, though it’s never too late to start a new habit. If you’re looking for a positive change that will bring you a long lasting impact, look no further! There is one simple thing you can do starting TODAY to help you reach your art goals this year. You might already be doing it, if that’s the case, this will just affirm your choice. But if not, this is your call to start a sketchbook! There are endless benefits to building a routine and sticking to it, but today I’ll highlight 3 of the top reasons why you should commit to filling a sketchbook. Some are obvious, while others might not occur to you until later down the road. The first and arguably most important reason to start a sketchbook is that it allows you to create without consequences. What I mean by this is that you can treat it as a testing ground for undeveloped ideas, the worst thing that can come from a failure is that you turn the page and leave it behind. (One word of advice, do not rip pages out! You may find the solution to a failed concept later, and decide to revisit it. More on that later.) You don’t have to show your sketchbook pages to anyone, in fact no one even has to know about it. You can do whatever you want in there without being judged or critiqued. This point may seem obvious, but in the age of digital identity and online social presence, it can sometimes feel like things aren’t worth doing unless they’re instagrammable. Break free from this notion by making a mess, or organizing your thoughts, in your sketchbook! I can’t stress enough how important it is to play. Your creative instinct is fueled by fun, and you need a playground. Let your imagination run wild, it doesn't have to make sense, it just has to feel good. It doesn’t have to turn into a full fledged project, it just needs to fill the page. There’s a constant pressure to be making something. But it’s likely that you’ll only be truly satisfied with a limited portion of the artwork you put out in your life. We don’t have to get into why, but filling a sketchbook ups those chances, because the more you make, the more chances at satisfaction you have. This brings us directly to the next reason. Your technical skills will improve. Most people prefer quality over quantity, but with your sketchbook the opposite could yield your desired results. Practice makes progress, and your sketchbook can serve as the training ground for your skills. Have you ever come up with an idea, but struggled to execute it? Maybe you’re understanding of anatomy could use some work, or maybe perspective is the bane of your practice. Use your sketchbook as a tool to tackle these technical shortcomings. The more you draw, or write, or paint, the more you’ll learn about your materials. You can count on some things to become ingrained in your muscle memory. The less you have to think about your skills, the more you can focus on manifesting your concepts. It can help you build the confidence to take on more ambitious projects later on. Speaking of projects, you should get into the habit of recording your ideas. Using your sketchbook to flesh out concepts will grant Future You with a comprehensive encyclopedia of designs. A great exercise Future You can partake in ever so often is taking a trip down memory lane. You can learn a lot from these pages, after all hindsight is 20/20. Some of your best work may be derived from revisiting an old idea you didn’t previously have the resources to follow through with. It can also help give you direction, and explain what your style is, what themes show up throughout your work, and what areas can use improvement. The sketchbook will tell you things about yourself that might not be obvious to others. It can give you the full picture of your identity as an artist. At this point, it might feel like there’s a lot of pressure to create a body of work that is meaningful, a relic, a compilation of amazing ideas, drawings, schematics, poems, etc. Before you begin, it’s essential that you abandon this notion completely. There is no such thing as perfection when it comes to your sketchbook. Just you and your materials. Use it to play. Use it to grow. Whatever you do, don’t take it too seriously! After all, you’re doing it for you. That being said, don’t fuss too much over what kind of sketchbook you get. Lest you get caught up in researching products, and never get to the actual sketching. Find one with thick paper that can handle the demand of your materials, and decide what size you need; don’t overthink it. The final piece of advice is to embrace the unknown. If you can’t think of anything to create, check out our post about prompts. Maybe you’ve tried this before, maybe you have a stack of abandoned books with 4 pages filled in. Just know that if you really believe in the benefits of this routine, it will reward you! Good luck!

  • 25 Prompts To Boost Your Creativity

    With the continuation of the Art As Therapy Program starting today, we're sharing 25 prompts that artists can work though to improve their relationship with their craft! Before we begin, there are some guidelines to remember before diving into these projects. The first, and most important thing to keep in mind is that you're doing this for YOU! So respond honestly, be kind to yourself, and never feel inclined to share your results unless you really, really want to. That being said, if you're looking for a group of artists to talk about these prompts with, join the Art As Therapy Club at Atithi Studios. Where we discuss each and every one of these prompts in depth along with other arts-related topics. Postcard to a Past Self: If you could talk to yourself back when you first began creating, what would you say? Would you give any advice? Where are you now compared to then? Challenge vs. Triumph: Create a piece that narrates a challenge that you overcame. What lessons did you learn through that experience? How did your feelings while facing the challenge contrast how you felt after figuring it out? Map to Success: What does success look like to you? How are you getting there? Do you have to take detours or alternate routes? From beginning to end, where do you find yourself on your journey right now? Paying Tribute: Do a project paying tribute to someone or something that inspires you. What draws you to this person/place/thing? How do you mirror its qualities in your work? Mandala of Your Inner Artist: A mandala is a geometric symbol made up of layers that represent many layers of a journey, experience, or in this case yourself as an artist. How many layers do you have? How does your core differ from your outermost layers? What makes up the layers in between? Sanctuary: Create your sanctuary. What makes you feel safe and secure? If it were an environment, how would it look, smell, sound and feel? What parts of your sanctuary can be replicated in real life? Indulgent: If you haven’t had time to create something solely for your own enjoyment, this is your opportunity. What do you like to make? What’s something you’ve been wanting to make, but haven’t yet? Make Up Work: Finish a project you previously put on hold. Why did you step away from it originally? Will you approach it differently? Has your vision changed over time? Self Portrait: Who are you as an artist? Without considering an audience, exposure, or outside critique, what does your work mean to you? Facing Your Fears: What’s the biggest or most obvious obstacle to your ideal creative life? Is it an external or internal issue? Explore the nature of this beast by creating a diagram of it. Observation: Choose a mundane object that you find beauty in. What makes it valuable to you? What do you notice about its color, form, and utility? Create a piece of work around this object, specifically your admiration for it. Emotional Exploration: Create a piece that represents an emotion you’re experiencing. Pay attention to where the emotion comes from vs. how you present it. What is the emotion ultimately telling you? What colors and form do you associate with it? Second Chance: Think about a project you consider to be a failure. Maybe it didn’t turn out the way you intended it to. Maybe it did, but then you realized the concept was flawed. Maybe you failed to even start it. Spend some time thinking about which elements don’t sit right with you then try it again with a different approach. Where did the previous attempt go wrong? What have you learned since then? Something New: Create a piece using a technique you’ve never tried before. Abandon perfectionism and focus on getting to know the process. Note what you love about it, and things you need more time to figure out. Maybe it doesn’t work out at all, what did you learn and how would you do it differently next time? Imaginary Friend: Create a character that would serve as the perfect companion to your inner artist. What special abilities does it have? Where would you take it? In what ways could it compensate for the things you lack? Monochrome: Choose a color that you typically avoid working with and create a piece using it exclusively. Extra points if you choose a subject that you typically avoid, too! What about this color rubs you the wrong way? Have you realized any positive qualities about the tints and hues within the color? How do you feel about the color/subject after completing the work? Buried Confessions: Do some journaling exploring your fears and apprehension about creating. What stops you from reaching your full potential as an artist? What are some of the risks of pursuing your wildest dreams? What consequences of failure scare you the most? Now take your page(s) of text and cover it up with illustrations, paintings, paper mache, anything you can think of. Will you choose to cover it completely or leave bits of text visible in the final piece? How does your cover up method represent your approach to addressing these insecurities? Commemoration: Create a piece that memorializes a positive memory. It can be from childhood or a very recent experience. Which parts of the experience will you choose to embellish? How will you capture the abstract elements of the memory? How does art support our memory? Propaganda: What is a message you think everyone should hear? Create a piece that conveys this message loud and clear. What methods do you like to employ to communicate through your work? How do composition, color, line, and form aid you in getting your message across? Call and Response: Think about a piece of work that you feel strongly about. Whether you love it or despise it, make artwork responding to that piece. It can be a ballad of your admiration, a counterargument, a condemnation, a parody, etc. Black and White: Create a piece using only black and white. What role does color play in your typical practice? How does using a limited palette affect your process? How can you get your message across without relying on color? Bare Necessities: Think of something you can’t live without. It can be something you literally require for survival or something that is essential to your routine. Create a piece that explores the functions of this something. If you could give this thing to someone else, would they find it as necessary as you do? What would life without it look like for you? Storytelling: Think of a story you tell often or really like to hear. It can be something iconic, or a personal story. Create a piece that illustrates the story or a key element of it. Which parts of the story do you think carry the most meaning? How does your artistic style mesh with the tone and theme of the story? Memory Lane: Look through an old sketchbook and portfolio. As you examine each piece, take note of the things you like. Which elements or techniques have stuck with you throughout your journey? Do you notice any patterns in your old work? After reviewing your old work, think about how your observations may influence the next project you work on. Research: Who is an artist you admire? How much do you really know about them? Research this person and find out what they were like. (Spoiler alert, they were/are a regular person, just like you) How does their origin and life experiences influence their work?

  • Book of the Month: Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon

    January’s book of the month is a short read called Steal Like An Artist by Austin Kleon. With a lifetime of lessons packed into 140 pages, this easy reader will open your mind up to a new perspective on creativity, specifically where your ideas come from. Austin Kleon is a writer and artist who specializes in poetry, his most well known project was the Newspaper Blackout Poetry Collection. He’s got features from NPR, PBS, and the Wall Street Journal under his belt. Steal Like An Artist is made up of advice that he would offer his younger self. What makes this book different from similar genres is its focus on the digital age and the role that the internet plays in a contemporary artist career. It also has several illustrations and visual examples of his own practice which is great for those who need to see it to believe it. Most importantly, the advice Kleon offers in Steal Like An Artist is very practical. Anyone can follow his tips. While having a conceptual understanding of the artmaking process and its challenges can help, sometimes it feels good to see some easy solutions to these seemingly abstract problems. The inflammatory title of the book is usually what draws readers in. Stealing? What does it mean to steal like an artist? Kleon argues that no idea is truly original, every innovation is an appropriation of already existing elements. Kleon encourages the reader to lean into this notion, and to shamelessly steal bits and pieces from everything you admire, eventually creating something “new”. Make no mistake, there is such a thing as “bad theft”, according to Kleon. But the difference lies in the intention and extension of one’s theft. Still confused? You should read the book. It offers further insight and advice on the creative process, specifically building a healthy and sustainable mindset around creating. There were many times where I would read a piece of advice and think to myself, “Well, duh!” but then again, it wasn’t exactly at the forefront of my mind before reading it. I think that’s how you know when advice is good, it just shines a light on an attainable, almost obvious, solution. Specifically, the book focuses on 10 lessons which are summarized on the back cover. When you first read them, they really don’t resonate. But after finishing the book, they serve as powerful mantras that your brain can revisit in times of uncertainty. Steal like an artist. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. Write the book you want to read. Use your hands. Side projects and hobbies are important. The Secret: Do good work and share it with people. Geography is no longer our master. Be nice. (The world is a small town.) Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.) Creativity is subtraction. Steal Like An Artist can be found in our library in the Artmaking and Creativity Collection. Visit us during gallery hours to peruse our growing collection of educational materials. If you have a suggestion for a book every creative should know about, or would like to donate materials, send an email to hello@atithistudios.com.

  • Art As Therapy Exhibition

    Why do artists create? For some, it’s a job that provides financial stability, for others, it’s a primal urge that cannot be ignored. While certain artists create works that express their ideals, others use it to address gruesome realities. Regardless of what kind of art is made and why, the act of creation is complex and doesn’t always come easily. It’s common to subscribe to the idea that if I am an artist, but I don’t make art, or worse, the art I make is not good, then I am not good. This toxic mindset permeates the community with feelings of inadequacy, competition, and eventually burnout. There is an expansive combination of factors that contribute to this decay of creativity, some of which are out of an individual’s control. The main purpose of the Art As Therapy program was for artists to get back in the driver’s seat of their creativity. To explore what drew them to art in the first place, and embrace the act of creating for creation’s sake. Without considering an audience or end result, these artists intuitively responded to prompts and practiced mindfulness throughout their processes. During monthly meetups, the participants shared their findings with a diverse group of peers. While each artist specialized in their own mediums, it became clear that the obstacles of creativity transcend disciplines. Through conversations surrounding the prompts and each artist’s experience, members walked away from the program with a newfound sense of direction, community, and creativity. It’s no secret that a majority of the artistic experience involves troubleshooting and problem solving, we found that addressing these issues in a non judgmental, intimate group setting helped artists reach their solutions quickly, and without negative spiraling or the worst habit of them all: giving up. The Art as Therapy exhibition celebrates the artists who participated in the 6 month program that took place throughout the second half of 2022. The display showcases the work of a handful of artists who excelled throughout the program. Although the idea of an exhibition may seem counterproductive to the overarching theme of the program, its purpose is to reach other blocked or apprehensive creatives and to represent artwork that was created for noncommercial purposes in a gallery setting. What does art meant for no one but the artist look like? Find out at Atithi Studios from January 13th, 2023 to February 19th, 2023! The opening reception takes place on Friday, January 13th, 2023 from 6PM-9PM. Email hello@atithistudios.com to schedule a tour or learn more about the exhibition.

  • Atithi’s Community Library

    People from all walks of life visit Atithi Studios. Whether it’s an opening reception, private event, or just to hang out, people are always drawn to the stack of books on the coffee table lounge. So we thought, why not give them more? That's where the Atithi Community Library project comes in! In an effort to elevate the artists within our community, we’re implementing a miniature library in our lounge section. This singular bookcase will be packed with print media including, but not limited to, poetry, zines, and novels! The three main pillars of this collection go like this: Carefully curated selections relating to art making and creativity to inspire and guide you. Featured works from local living authors to promote them and entertain you. A variety of zines to inform you and provoke conversation. The goal here is simple: we want to build a collection of resources that are relevant to artists, while providing a platform for our local authors to reach a diverse audience. A pleasant side effect of this mission is that we get to talk about what makes it on the shelf. Stay tuned for author highlights, book reports, and more right here! That being said, the shelf is looking quite scarce at the moment. If you know a local author whose work should be included, send them our way! Email onyx@atithistudios.com any time to shine a light on a specific publication you’d like to see. Whether it’s a work of your own, or a book you think everyone should read, we’re always looking for new additions to our growing collection.

  • Coalescence

    The fusion of craft, community, and culture. Atithi Studios invites everyone to meet our family! Each of the Atithi Artists possess their own strengths and styles in a unique way. This exhibition explores the range of our artists, with each participant showcasing work that represents their individual practice. Although they operate separately, this exhibition presents the Atithi Artists as one unit, drawing connections throughout the collective. We’re grateful for the variety this in-house community brings to the table, and hope to share the wealth of artistry with everyone! Our family extends beyond the confines of our building. We’re also celebrating unity with Adda Coffee and Tea house, and Gluten-Free Goat, our sister companies. Though each group follows a different path, our pillars of operation remain the same throughout. Conversation, community, and connection are what drive us in our endeavors. Their framework was the blueprint for the core values of Atithi Studios. Together, we strive to encourage growth and appreciation for local living artists. This celebration doesn’t end with the artists who work directly out of the studios, or the companies we work alongside with. We’re here to say thank you to every visitor, club member, facilitator, performer, caterer, partner, and neighbor that has engaged with us in our first year of operation. This is a celebration of you! And the way that our beautiful community has coalesced into Atithi Studios today. So come mix and mingle with us. Let’s talk about where we came from, and where we’re headed next. Get to know Atithi through the art of conversation, so we can grow together. The exhibition features Atithi resident artists; Bethany Lyn, Claira Heitzenrater, Dodi Dean, Emily McGaughey, Giovanna Ferrari, Jacki Temple, Julia Toal, Michael Fratangelo, and Ravi Kamath. During the opening night celebration, we have curated sounds brought to you by Wade Anthony and DJ Femi, a delicious selection of food by One Classy Cook, and a collaborative live painting project for all visitors to participate in! Atithi Studios is located at 1020 N Canal St, Pittsburgh, PA 15215. The opening reception is on December 16th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.. The exhibition will be available for viewing from December 17th to January 1st from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

  • Behind the Design: A Color Analysis Of Our New Palette

    Today we’re taking a deep dive into the new palette. What was the process? How did we get here? Why did we change it in the first place? All these questions have answers, so let’s get into it! So the original color palette, what was wrong with it? One word: contrast. Or lack thereof. The colors all mushed together when designing graphics and flyers. It became challenging to come up with new ways to present them without muddying up the images. It was quite limiting from a design standpoint. At a first glance, the muted tones of each color really compliment each other, creating unity throughout the palette. But in terms of identity, it suggests dullness and stagnancy. Vibrant. Diverse. Fresh. Fun. Unique. This is what we want to say with our color palette. And our previous one was just too safe. Atithi means “guest” in