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How many artworks does it take for a series to become epic?

An art series gets epic when there are 100 items in the series. Do you have any art series that has more than 100 photos? I have one. My HDR photos of Chicago is currently up to 190 photos. Let’s take a look at what I learned from reaching the 100 artwork milestone.

Michigan Avenue during a Chicago snowstorm

190 photos

Chicago HDR: 190 photos in one series is very pleasing. That makes for a nice volume of work.

Flexibility is gained through having that many pieces in a series. You can start making a book. You can also start picking out various strands with the series that would make a nice mini-collection. People love buying artwork in threes, and fives, so it looks nice on their wall. Having a large quantity of related work starts to give you flexibility with what you can mix and match.

Legitimacy with galleries gets established through demonstration of commitment. The amount of work shows you have the dedication to see the work through. When a gallery sells your work, they want to be assured that you will continue producing the work and not flake out.

Perfection of your craft will come with producing so many artworks within a theme. You’ll explore the depths of that theme and make it grow. Your work will improve over time. It’s worth dedicating yourself to a theme for over 100 items.

How do you get to the 100 mark milestone? Here are eight projects I’m currently working on, each has a different lesson to learn about art production.

Plastic treasure chest on light pole

60 photos

Plastic treasure chests: Every artist needs an art series they can come back to when the creative process is dry. This is my series. It’s simple, quick, and touching. Since 2003 I’ve been dropping these treasure chests around Chicago and other cities. Lately I’ve started combining HDR photography with the documentation of these placements.

Yellow ginkgo leaf on yellow Chicago Reader box

40 photos

Yellow gingko leaves on ___: Whenever an artist can quickly produce work in bulk, it’s a good practice to knock artwork out. The gingko leaf series is super fast, because I load up on yellow gingko leaves and walk around a neighborhood. Anything that is yellow gets a leaf taped onto it and photographed. When I do a walk like this, It’s easy to produce about 20 photos. This series is very likely to hit 100 sometime this year. All it takes is few more neighborhood walks.

I like bright yellow leaves

37 photos

I like notes: If you can get other people to participate in your art series, that certainly helps the project to grow bigger. That was my hope with this project. I wanted other people to leave “I like ____” notes around town. But that never happened. Maybe it takes too much thought and effort to analyze your environment and then comment on what you specifically like.

A group effort is probably better suited to something like wheresgeorge.com where people just track dollar bill numbers. I could be wrong. If this project takes off, and other people start photographing their own “I like” notes, wow, that would be so fantastic. In the meantime to get the word out, I really need to pump this series up to 100 images.

Drawing on Bus Windows: Sky

19 photos

Drawings by me on windows: Waiting for windows to be foggy certainly limits the production on this one. Even if the windows are foggy, I need to have a seat next to the window. When I do get a seat and start drawing on the window, the riders usually find it entertaining. The bus drivers–not so much. I had one yell at me once. But that won’t stop me!

If you take these speakers, you must play Bach on them once a week. These speakers enjoy Bach.

13 photos

Alley giveaway: Giving away stuff to goodwill is fun and satisfying. You are helping someone else, plus you get to breath a little better with less stuff sitting around your living space. In the summer of 2011 I did a big reduction that resulted in this series. If you are putting stuff out in the alley or to goodwill, why not put a note on it? That makes it extra fun!

Call to God: Staff Sgt. Charles A. Kiser (Iraq War Memorial in Cleveland, Wisconsin)

12 photos

Call to God: Whenever I travel, I look up the local soldiers who gave their lives for our country. Then I leave notes in various places in that town. It’s a great series, and I encourage others to participate. I’m also looking to expand this series to general prayers left on sticky notes. During your commute, do you read? Maybe listen to headphones? Why not write down some prayers on a sticky note? And then leave the sticky note on the train or bus for someone to find.

Get into the swing of Montrose Beach Harbor: 1

7 photos

Get into the swing of: This particular series is fun as it combines both the art of photography and sculpture. At a nice park I’ll sit down with some wire and craft a little figure. And then whatever nearby items get recycled into a swing. It brings me much joy to see the little figure on the swing enjoying his surroundings. The creation of this piece makes me enjoy area even more. I hope that people who find it will also have more appreciation for their parks. This one will be tough to hit 100, because the wire figures take some time to create and I always do them on location. So I can’t just churn them out at home and plunk them around the park. Perhaps that’s why I enjoy the surroundings that much more, because that is the very site of where the artwork was created.

"Origami crane atop paper stack" collaboration Félix González-Torres & Matt Maldre

2 photos

Origami made from Felix Gonzalez-Torres paper: Wouldn’t it be cool to learn 100 different things to make with origami? I hope that happens with this project as I take a famous artist’s artwork of a stack of paper and transform each sheet into an origami creation that gets left behind at the museum. This would entail 100 visits to the museum as well, a hefty goal. But wow, can you imagine the volume it would speak?

Do you have any art projects where the series has reached 100 items? Or maybe you have some projects that could reach that goal. If so, please let us know about your art series in the comments below.

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