While visiting our stunning new library, I popped down to the second floor gallery space to see collage artist Lance Letscher’s Books exhibit. It’s an interesting show because all of the pieces started as studies, or warm-ups: Letscher begins his day in the studio by collaging and experimenting on a book. Sometimes he’ll incorporate what he comes up with into a larger or more involved piece, but sometimes the book itself becomes a finished piece. (To learn more about his process, check out the new documentary, The Secret Life of Lance Letscher.) These aren’t your typical Letscher works. They’re rougher, more miniature. They’re beautiful in a more intimate way, like looking inside a Van Gogh sketchbook or listening to a Prince demo.
I love process-based shows like this, and I was reminded a little bit of “Test Me,” an exhibit by Chris Maddux on display at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery’s Image Lab, the interdisciplinary work space run by Lynda Barry.
Of course, I wrote a whole book about sharing your process and showing your work, but this is a very particular kind of move, which is akin to what Jason Fried calls selling your by-products: Taking stuff lying around the studio that you’d usually keep in a box or throw out, and re-framing it and presenting it as a finished piece. Turning process into product. (Fried talks more about selling your by-products in the book Rework and on the Rework podcast.)
Lynda does this herself when she sells off her watercolored calligraphic manuscript pages or her morning pages on eBay:
And the folks at Aesthetic Apparatus do this with their test prints: one-of-a-kind artworks made by layering elements from different screenprinting projects they’re working on: