Making Holiday Art Gifts: 3 Pieces of Advice for Procrastinators / by Vanessa Longacre-Wilcox

Figure 1: Work in progress photo from art gift in 2014.

Figure 1: Work in progress photo from art gift in 2014.

I can’t tell you what I’m working on.  Nor can I confirm or deny that I am indeed working on something for a relative this holiday season.  But for the purpose of this post, let’s assume that I am.  And if you are a relative, and reader of the blog, just ignore this whole thing, go about your business, move along, find something else to do.  Isn’t someone famous doing something you need to know about? Or political comedy more your bag?  No? Um...look! Squirrel!

Now that I have you non-family members alone, let me tell you how this goes.  On January 1st of every year I resolve, I have learned a valuable lesson and I’m not going to go through it all again.  Not going to pull the late nights, pay the expedited shipping, no, this year will be different, I'm going to get my act together and get a head start.  Maybe I’ll even make presents in July this year.  But then my inner procrastinator starts a chorus of “But you’ve got plenty of time” singing in my head and it’s really just such a catchy tune that the next thing I know it’s December and suddenly I’m using a blow-dryer to quick dry a painting so I can wrap it before December 6th, 23rd, 25th, 26th or whatever the holiday may be. 

Can you relate?  If so, bad news, we’ve done it again.  Seriously, Chanukah starts at sundown.  Christmas is in 19 days.  Neither of those your holidays?  Feeling kind of smug and relaxed?  Are you shipping that piece of art?  Sweating a little now, are we?  (By the way, should you be taking the time to read this?  Don’t you have a scarf to knit for your great aunt Beatrice?  Reading parenthetical statements even? You really ARE procrastinating.) 

So here’s my advice for getting through the holiday art making season:

Figure 2:  Photo and the portrait I created from it of my eldest son when he was a baby. Holiday gift 2011.

Figure 2:  Photo and the portrait I created from it of my eldest son when he was a baby. Holiday gift 2011.

1)      Don’t Panic.  Take a deep breath, you got this.  Keep a steady pace.  Just keep moving.  Sure you’ll be working late in to the night for weeks but you've done it before, you can do it again.  So what if you show up to a holiday party with sparkles on your face because you fell asleep on your craft table. You are just that much more festive. You might even start a trend.

2)      Prioritize.  You’re fabulous, whatever you make everyone is going to want one.  But who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, let’s get real here people.  I’m totally kidding.  But it is true that some loved ones will really appreciate the art beyond the gesture more than others.  That’s okay, and it’s okay to prioritize them as such.

3)      Coffee.  Lots and lots of coffee.

And if it comes down to it, don't be afraid to shop.   

You can feel good about purchasing other people's art not only because it supports them but also because there is art for a cause out there.  For example, I recently found out about Creativity Explored whose mission states: “Creativity Explored advances the value and diversity of artistic expression. We provide artists with developmental disabilities the means to create, exhibit, and sell their art in our studios and gallery, and around the world.”  Give something cool, you'll feel good about it, and the person receiving it will feel good about it too.

Or support local artists in your area.  Doing so helps your neighborhood's art economy, which in turn helps you, and builds a more robust artistic community.    This time of year there are usually many art fairs selling handmade goods.  I’ll be checking out this one in Seattle on December 12th Art for under $100.

But if time is really pressing in on you, there are also places like Minted which is a marketplace of independent artists all over the world with pieces sold in mass production.  It’s pretty, it’s framed, it’s shipped right to you.

Whatever you end up getting done or doing, good luck fellow artist gift givers, and happy holidays!