Printing postcards

In my long running quest to sell more art I’ve decided to make postcards. If zines at $20 sell better than prints at $400, maybe $2 postcards will be the big winner. A couple of thousand postcards and we’re talking real money. More likely, I’ll end up with a couple thousand postcards in the basement.

It’s real easy to get 50, 100, 200, or 500 postcards printed. Pricing is such that 100 don’t cost much more than 50, 200 not much more than 100, and 500 not much more than 200. The price falls exponentially. There isn’t an option to print 1000 cards, probably because they would be free at that point.

But how many postcards do I really need? Factor in that I didn’t want them all the same. 500 cards each of 10 different prints would be enough postcards to last a millennium. So I settled for 100 each. We’ll see how this goes. I’m going to the zine fest again this year, so I’ll have lots of merchandise in case there is a run on nude art.

The first sample cards looked and felt pretty good but the shadows were too light. Turns out the general Internet wisdom on the right profile to use to convert to CMYK for digital offset printing is completely wrong. If you use the Photoshop default of “US Web Coated (SWOP) v2”, the printer won’t have any problem with your files, but the results will also be washed out.

For the second batch, I tried “Coated GRACol 2006” after reading a couple of graphic arts articles. The total ink load is increased from 300% to 339%. That should be a lot blacker. The printer has not complained about the ink load. I’ll let you know how they turn out.

But they complained immediately about the subject matter. The Oakland office said they wouldn’t print my job because they don’t print genitals. Whoa, hold on a minute. While I don’t shy away from genitals in my work, I can read, and having read their policy, nothing I sent them contained any genitals. A couple of the images got very, very close, but none of the important parts were showing, except a couple of nipples and they don’t have a policy against nipples. Unlike those big Internet companies.

So I called their customer service number and ended up having an interesting and pleasant conversation about genitals with Melissa in their Kansas City office. Turns out the Midwest office knows more about the subject than the Oakland office. Melissa approved all of my images and was planning on calling the Oakland people to tell them the definition of genitals. Wish I could have heard that conversation.

Here are a couple of the suspect images.

The second one isn’t even close. Unless you can find someone whose genitals are down around the knees.

White on White

For White on White, I got rid of the blacks too. As the name implies, the tones in these images are all white. The blacks are gone as well as most of the grays. The content is familiar.

These images remind me of a ski hill. Down the steep chute, over the bump, and into the wide open bowl.


I’m sometimes known as a photographer that works in black and white, just black and white, none of those pesky grays in the middle. Inky black shadows and brilliant white highlights.

It’s an exaggerated palette that I like for abstract images, but some find unrealistic and annoying on more realistic images. I do try to tone it down occasionally; not very successfully.

Line is an example. The skin is rendered almost pure white except for a few inky shadows demarcating the different parts. There’s nothing but skin in these images.

The subject matter is familiar–breasts, butts, and pubic mounds. My favorite, curvy parts.

I think there are a lot more of these images. I wonder why they aren’t posted on my web site. I’ll look around and see if I can find and post some more. Then I’ll let you know.

Stuck in Yucca Valley

Yucca Valley, California. Not a three star destination. Probably not even one star. There’s not much to the town except for strip malls on either side of the highway for several miles. I’m stuck here again this year for a couple of months and trying to make the best of it.

I think they have every known fast food restaurant and a few that no one has ever heard of too. And a Home Dept and a Walmart. Nirvana! Just kidding.

Actually there are three good restaurants in town, if you take a fairly liberal definition of in town. Hey, it’s the desert, driving 10 miles on a dirt road to get to a restaurant is no big deal. La Copine, north of town a few miles in Flamingo Heights, serves modern, interesting food. Joshua Tree Saloon in Joshua Tree is pretty much what you’d expect with that name–burgers, fries, onion rings, and beer, lots of beer. And the Hookah Lounge, a classic middle eastern felalel and gyro place, is one of the three best restaurants in town.

There are also about a million thrift shops. Well, maybe really only a dozen. Last year I bought a great old oak, arm chair for only $9.95. Dale thought it was absurd, but I brought it home packed in the car. Had to throw away some other stuff to make it fit. But the chair is great; it’s reglued, refinished and living in the living room. Maybe I can arrange a photo of it some time. This year I bought an oak, extendable coffee table. Not really sure that I want a coffee table, but the grain on the top was well worth the price.

The one redeeming feature of Yucca Valley are the rocks. big, rounded boulders that would be at home on a Flintstones set. These are the same rock formations that are the main attraction in Joshua Tree National Park which is right next door. Which brings me to today’s photo, a shot of the characteristic and beautiful Joshua Tree National Park scenery. With a nude woman of course. Since everything is better with a little nudity.

Part of my upcoming series on the National Parks.

On the other hand

Nudity is a big part of my work–breasts, butts, and genitals abound. On the other hand, maybe you like nude images, but for whatever reason, don’t want those parts visible. Cracks and Crevices is for you. There’s nothing in these images that you wouldn’t see in public in daily life.

Where are the vulvas?

The nude marble sculptures from Ancient Greece and the Renaissance are widely admired. Carved from white marble and accurately proportioned they emphasize shape and form through the lack of color. Many credit the Greeks with excellent taste for developing this classical style.

But we now know that the origin of this style in ancient Greece is a modern myth: the Greeks painted and decorated their marble buildings and sculptures with bright colors. The colors have been removed through centuries of neglect, pollution, and misguided cleanings.

And in all of these sculptures, there’s something missing, something not quite accurate. No vulvas. It’s as if women don’t have genitals. Men on the other hand clearly do; penises are frequently front and center, hanging out for all to see.

For the most part, modern artists, just as their ancient counterparts, still shy away from depicting female nudes accurately. For some reason, the vulva is usually obscured or hidden, sometimes by draping or a strategically placed arm or leg.

I don’t know why this is. Some artists say that they want to emphasize beauty and form over sexuality. Some fear being associated with pornography. Some critics claim that it represents a suppression of female sexuality; that male artists fear the sexuality of women.

Marble is a modern photographic take on these smooth, flowing, colorless, sculptures.
The brilliant white, texture free skin is inherited, as if these are images of those ancient marble sculptures. The poses, however, are modern, sometimes whimsical instead of heroic, separating these images from the ancient sculptures.

And these are accurate images of complete, fully formed women. The images are not coyly posed nor are shadows strategically placed. Female sexuality is not hidden. Unlike most ancient sculptures and most modern art, the women in these images have vulvas.

How big are the prints?

Sometimes that’s a hard question to answer. For example, for the Portrait of America prints which are really big.

Actually the answer is easy, 27″ x 72″, but getting someone to understand what that means is difficult. Most people don’t relate to the numbers. And the prints are too big to lug around and show people.

When showing small prints or the teeny-tiny web site images to people, I’d try telling them, “The real prints are life size.” Still many people were foggy. I felt I was getting nowhere with the wordy explanations.

So I asked two famous friends and photographers to pose in front of the installation mockup. That’s Michael Rosen on the left and Charles Gatewood in the center. Now with one picture, people get it.

On the wall they’re taller than you. You’re going to have to look up at them. The nude people are looking down at you; they’re in charge. Get used to it.

Portrait of America

Portrait of America is a celebration of diversity, tolerance, and acceptance.

What tolerance and acceptance, you say? Doesn’t this idiot read the news? Hate crimes, religious wars, and genocide are prominent in the international news.

Some American politicians espouse racist and sexist ideas, most often using code words, but occasionally by uttering something overt. Others insist on classifying Americans into narrow boxes—a lesbian Latina for this position or a straight black man for that one.

But get past the politicians and the news headlines, and there has been substantial positive movement towards acceptance during my lifetime. Fifty years ago, I grew up in a suburb of Detroit. Everyone was the same; everyone was white.

Today I live in a San Francisco neighborhood composed of a great diversity of people: black, white, Latino, and Asian; straight and gay; tattooed and pierced. All jumbled together in the new normal.

Is there still more work to be done? Certainly. But the progress in the last fifty years has been phenomenal. This project celebrates that progress towards a diverse and tolerant America.

Over the last ten years I have shot images of women and men of different ethnicity, color, fitness, size, shape, lifestyle, and age. A single image is a frank portrait of a particular person. The collection is a Portrait of America.

Why are they all in the same pose? Partly so people would notice and ask but it also serves to highlight the similarities and differences. Features are not hidden by different posing. And why aren’t the men’s shoulders sloped like the women’s? Most of the men just couldn’t do it. I had better luck getting them to tilt their hips. You may not believe that’s true, but look closely, they are tilted.

I’ve been working on Portrait of America since 2008. George the Younger was President, the country was mired in war in the Middle East, and privilege ruled. I thought a statement on diversity and acceptance was appropriate. Since that time a black man was President for eight years but now the country has swung back towards racism, sexism, and exclusion.

We need Portrait of America more than ever.


Sometimes art has a purpose–it might tell a story, illuminate an issue, or be a call to action. Sometimes it’s so pretentious and heavy-handed it makes you want to puke.
One of my current projects, Legs, is just for fun.

Taking a cue from some of the Marble images, such as,

Legs features, disembodied legs twisted into various shapes. No heads, no bodies. But my definition of legs does go up pretty high, so there will also be butts and other bits. Some of the image may be distorted or surreal, but in the end, they’ll all be legs.

This is my first nude project shot in color. Being slightly color blind (my family might tell you there’s no “slightly” about it) this is something of a challenge, but there aren’t a lot of green people (or so I’ve heard), so I think it will be ok. Give me a scene with trees and grass on the other hand, and who knows what it will turn out like.

Plus since these images are digitally processed and printed, I can measure the colors as I work with them. Numbers I understand, even when I can’t distinguish all of the colors.

Here is the first finished image:

The background is slightly off-white and the skin should be somewhat pastel. I’ve never been that fond of realism, even in black and white. Please let me know how I did with the colors.