Sunday, March 18, 2012

Bridging the Gap Between Music and Visual Art

Art and music have always been equally essential parts of Justin's life. If he's not playing and recording songs then he's listening to music while making art. If he's not creating art, then he's making music in a studio surrounded by art. It's something of a symbiotic relationship, these loops of art and music bouncing off each other. He relishes the work of finding the tangents where they meet, or if they don't already exist, creating ways to combine the two passions.
Justin first got involved with modifying guitars while working for the guitar company Ibanez as a guitar checker in the early 90's. He was generously given access to the workshop, where he re-built and altered his first guitars. Being a music-lover, both playing and listening, Justin sees the guitar as a unique canvas for blending art forms.

With acoustic guitars, the front of the guitar body is the primary canvas. Justin is fond of collage, and old wallpaper designs are some of his favorite materials. Several of his acoustic guitars feature remixed, collaged wallpaper almost exclusively. Others use prints of art and photography and other collected materials. Because the sound of an acoustic guitar depends largely upon the top, he makes every effort to keep layering of materials to a minimum. This is accomplished by "nesting" the collaged elements into each other so that they fit together like puzzle pieces, without overlapping. He finishes each collaged guitar with numerous coats of sealer so they will withstand normal usage and can be cleaned with a damp cloth.

Guitars covered with embossed metals or detailed ink designs add yet another dimension to the work.

With electric guitars, he removes the finish, changes the shape and softens the feel of the guitar - removing hard angles and creating contours that mass-produced instruments rarely exhibit. His favorite materials for accentuating electric guitars are inks and a woodburning tool.

Altering each guitar's headstock, both in shape and with added designs and embellishments, is integral to his process. A new pick guard is also created for each guitar and found objects embellish the majority of them, turning them into mixed media functional art pieces.

You can find Justin's art-ified guitars at and many more angles and details at

Friday, January 20, 2012

Handmade Album Packaging from Portland, Oregon

Who says that only lunch can come in a brown paper bag?
We've been creating boutique album packaging for local musicians utilizing paper lunch bags since 2008. There are several noteworthy highlights to this unique packaging.

First, it's completely plastic free, so the entire thing can be recycled. Second, holding one of our matchbook style album packages is like holding a piece of art in your hands, it just feels good. Third, because the packaging is completely handmade we can't offer quantity breaks, but we can (and do) offer them with no minimum order.
(Image: Justin Potts / Mysterious Dot. Art, layout & design by justin potts.)

This is perfect for new bands, youth bands and small scale projects looking to produce affordable small run albums – usually from 50-200 pieces. We also offer simple, customized items such as lyric sheets and band stickers.
(Image: Mistral / Promontory with music sheet insert. Packaging by infinity arts.)

We've created packaging for local indie bands in a wide range of genres - rock, metal, rap, blues and folk. We're enthusiastic about music of all kinds and the art that goes with it.
(Image: Portland band Alligator Vs Crocodile took one look at our pkg and and thought, "Hand Puppet!" Pkg by infinity arts.)

Matchbook style album packaging provides musicians with 4 panels in which to display art, conceptual ideas, information, credits and song titles – plenty of space to visually complete a musical masterpiece.

(Image: Raise the Bridges / Fuel for Recreation...our first! Art, design and pkg by justin potts.)

In addition to album packaging, we also offer in-house art and design services. This is true whether you go with our handmade packaging or you prefer digipak or jewel case packaging from another company – we have experience designing for both.

(Image: CC Crowe & the Crowtones / 8-panel digipak + booklet. Art and layout design by justin potts of infinity arts.)

We encourage the use of client-provided art. So if a band already has art for the album, we give layout specs and just take the files straight to production. To see more images and art, check out the album packaging slide show on our website.

(Image: Plum Sutra / A Natural History of Lemurs - packaging by infinity arts.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mixed Media Collages Utilize Recycled Wood Cutting Boards

The Bird Women are a mixed media series I've been working on since 2007. I love to read books about cultural history. I'm the nerdy one who reads all of the references at the back to find out what I want to read next. This is how I first came across Riane Eisler's book, The Chalice and the Blade. This book was like mana for me. It spoke to me, expressing many of my feelings and clarifying historical truths about what it means to be a woman.

From The Chalice and the Blade, I discovered another remarkable woman, Marija Gimbutas, an archeologist born in Lithuania and educated in Germany. She emigrated to the U.S. In 1949 and taught first at Harvard, then at UCLA. Her books, The Language of the Goddess and The Civilization of the Goddess are fascinating accounts of prehistoric Old Europe, outlining societies that were both matriarchal and egalitarian. Much of the archetypal symbols found in these books have made their way into my goddess collage art.

In addition to reading, I'm also a huge fan of a beautiful cutting board. Bamboo is my favorite material, but I'm also instantly hooked by cutting boards that mix dark and light woods. Mmmm - makes the food taste better when it's chopped on a beautiful board by an appreciative cook.

So where does a cutting board go when its utilitarian life comes to an end? I hope it's coming to me to be recycled! I loved the concept from Daniel Quinn's Ishmael books that humanity's big troubles began with the locking up and control of the food by a few.

As for the goddess worshiping cultures, with their nurturing, life sustaining and honoring ways....their time was clearly the time before the food was locked up. So, what better background to use as the foundation for representing this time in history than a well-used cutting board?

As happens with art, these Bird Women collages have taken on a life of their own. They seem to have a story to tell. The story is told in short snippets and alluring phrases that hopefully cause the observer to either say 'amen!' or 'I never thought about it that way before'. I've attempted to restore something of the sacredness and reverence for life that these early cultures embodied, while highlighting the importance of storytelling to ancient and modern cultures all over the planet.

I'm not overly focused on selling the collages at the moment, but there are 10 listed in my bird women etsy store, if you'd like to see them. I'm also listing a few art prints of the original pen, ink and watercolor drawings and prints of the Bird Woman Coloring Book. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Music Based Art for the Artful Musician

Back in early 2011 two longtime friends who live across the country from each other got together over the phone and brainstormed a joint artistic endeavor. Justin Potts and Tom Meyers met in high school where one was obsessed with drawing and the other with the darkroom. The common passions that brought them together and keep them close are making art and making music. They named the venture Artful Musician, a small business focusing on art prints that cater to other lovers of art and music. You can find their 'sister' Etsy shops by following the links below. (click on individual images for specific pricing information.)

Tom's Etsy shop,, features a gorgeous array of music inspired art prints based on Tom's original photography and polaroid transfer art.

He captures the vintage artistry of brands like Fender, Vox, Marshall, Gibson, Orange and Moog. A range of musical gear is represented: microphones, headphones, speakers, amplifiers as well as guitar, bass, drums, band and classical instruments.

Fine art prints are available as 11x14, 8x10 or 5x7, as well as ACEO print packs of 10...all at extremely affordable prices.

Justin's Etsy shop,, features art prints based primarily on photo collage, though his watercolor and ink drawings make appearances, too.

Justin's detailed and dreamy musical collages are created from original drawings, paintings, old photographs and other imagery. They're filled with guitars, drums, bass, piano, harp, choirs and composers.

This musical art is available as 11x14, 8x10 or 5x7 prints. You can also choose from several music themed sticker sets. Justin's shop also features his beautiful altered guitars and art-ified drum heads.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Nature Inspired Art Clock Commissions

One rewarding aspect of making art clocks over the years is the opportunity to design and create clocks on commission. For about 7 years I've been working with L'Attitude Gallery in Boston to create custom wall clocks for the Boston Children's Hospital. I've made giant dragonflies, an airplane, a sailboat, a giant crab, three horizontal cityscape clocks and, more recently, I created several “Ode to Trees” block clocks.

“Ode to Trees 2” is a 30-inch-long wall clock rendered in various shades of orange and green. Two whimsical trees painted on 3” square blocks make up the center of the clock body. A whole lot of love goes into these clocks. The tree designs are carefully drawn in black marker, then painted with layers of color washes to create a surreal environment. Contemporary numbers are drawn on the clock face in gold paint marker. The clocks feature an open window near the bottom that houses a swinging pendulum. Black and gold scalloped patterns decorate every circle opening.

The inspiration for the 'Ode' clocks comes from my love of nature, particularly trees. I live in a place (Portland, Oregon, USA) where trees are abundant. All kinds of trees. Walking around (and around) my neighborhood with our border collie pup, I have plenty of opportunities to take notice of the variety of trees that grow and thrive here. A mild climate paired with steady rainfall make for a very happy tree community. Towering heritage elms overhang the width of a street, creating forever shade. Delicate Japanese maples provide the focal point for many a landscape. Not to mention the wide variety of pine trees...

Of course, one thing always leads to another, and at the start of 2012 I found myself 'branching out', if you will. I was commissioned to create a wall clock in the Ode style, but with whimsical flowers instead of trees. The challenge with custom work is usually the color palette and this project was no different. The intended room was a nursery and images of art on the walls and a rug were my starting point – and the Ode to Trees design, of course. In the end I came up with these fun, stylized flower designs, complete with a butterfly on one stem. I chose a mountain motif for the flowers' backdrop and a sunset for the sky. And so, the “Ode to Flowers (numero uno)” was born!

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Etsy: Do It Yourself @ the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland

Tonight is First Thursday and the perfect time to check out the Etsy: DIY exhibit in the Community Showcase at the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Pearl District. This exhibition will be on display in The Lab from now until March 6, which means you can go check it out the First Thursday in March as well!

Justin, Jonah and I were fortunate to be included amongst other Portland-based Etsy crafters with two of our DIY iron-on art transfers. Jonah, who is 9-years-old, has sold his art on etsy for 2 years and Justin and I are honored to have our iron-on sit next to his in the case.

We hope to post more videos/photos once we get a chance to see it ourselves.
We'd like to thank Kat Perez for highlighting etsy crafters and putting together such a lovely exhibit.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monsters, Gift Bags & Patches - Recycled, Upcycled at The Village Art Show

The Village, a non-profit promoting the sharing of art and culture, and also a spin off on Northwest Share, is holding its first ever art show this Saturday, August 15 from 2 to 6 pm at 4144 SE 60th Ave, next to Coffee Lovers.

Because we live so close, Jonah and I thought it would be fun to participate in this free community event, meet a few artists and art lovers (as well as coffee lovers, right?) and share some of our newest creations.

I'll be offering a selection of one-of-a-kind embroidered patches that make use of fabric scraps and garage sale embroidery floss.

Jonah will be offering his practically famous DIY monster iron-ons, monster cards and a selection of his watercolor art.

Last but not least, my reusable cloth gift bags will be available for sale. They come in several sizes and all sorts of fun materials from sample upholstery to upcycled scraps from my grandma!