The first edition of Baby Tattooville, a limited-edition art retreat, held on October 5th and 7th has come and gone. Organized by Bob Self, the owner of children’s book publisher Baby Tattoo, the event stands out as something unique, experimental and daring. The impressive list of artists for ’07 included Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup, Gris Grimly, James Jean, Frank Kozik,
Ragnar, Tara McPherson, Jeffrey Scott, Jeff Soto, Amanda Visell, Luke Chueh and Lola. Now that a week and change have passed it’s time for a final look at the event and also for some overall impressions.
The number one question people ask about this unique event is "Was it worth it?". That’s a tough question because it’s quite subjective. I do recognize that’s it hard for me to answer this completely
objectively as I received a complimentary pass to the event courtesy of
the organizers. In my opinion, the worth and value of the event is directly tied to one’s personal art tastes. If you’re a serious art collector and a fan of most of the participating artists, then odds are good you’re likely to feel it’s "worth it". Some have negatively characterized the event as paying to hang out with artists. While that’s certainly part of the draw of the event for some (especially those not living in SoCal), the social aspect was very free form and casual. It didn’t feel forced at all. As a collector, I’m going to focus more on the tangible value of the event — specifically the "goodies" attendees received at the event.
I’ve taken the liberty of using Ragnar’s excellent picture of the full contents of the goodie bags handed out to attendees on the final day (see his Flickr for more). The highlights of these items are the limited-edition art collectibles created specifically for Baby Tattooville including a 12-in-1 art print (ed. of 100), Tara McPherson screen print pulled by Tara herself (ed. of 100), a Jeffrey Scott digital manipulation print (ed. of 60),a hand-customized Amanda Visell print, a hand-cast Spooketto resin figure from Ragnar (ed. of 36), a Severed Possessed resin figure from Luke Chueh and Dave Bondi (ed. of 100), an original James Jean sketch, and a large 1:1 scale Artist Jam giclee print on unstretched canvas.
You may remember that each of the twelve artists worked separately and sometimes collaboratively on a single shared canvas over Friday and Saturday of the event. From 10:30 PM Saturday night to roughly 8AM Sunday morning, the insanely dedicated folks at Pop Cling captured the original canvas and created 75 giclee on canvas prints. Each of the twelve artists then signed the print on Sunday morning. Pretty remarkable especially considering the caliber of artists involved. In addition, attendees also walked away with the Amanda Visell artist colorway of her Baby Eating Crocodile figure, the numerous Baby Tattooville books, the Dark Horse stationary and several other smaller items. So if you factor in all these items including many that were only available at this event, plus the experience of watching artists create, plus the 2 night stay at the very cool and upscale Mission Inn — the value is high assuming again that the selection of artists matches the attendees’ art tastes.
All in all many of the paying customers (20+) and many of the artists seemed to enjoy the experience. I definitely got the sense that Bob Self and Baby Tattoo have created something special which has a good chance of growing and evolving into a premiere event for art collectors. The challenge is to continually attract high caliber artists and find means of increasing interactions between artists and attendees while still maintaining a fairly laid-back atmosphere. Based on Bob’s passion and dedication to the event, we’re excited about the long-term prospects.
Finally (whew! this is a long post), early bird registration has opened for Baby Tattooville 2008 to be held on October 3rd – 5th, 2008 at the same venue — the Historic Mission Inn in Riverside (amazing hotel/resort). Registration is $1500 through December 31st, 2007 — a discount of $500 off the full registration fee of $2000.