My New Project: Designing Merchandise Using my Artwork

My New Project: Designing Merchandise Using my Artwork

Even though I am enjoying a lot of visibility these days (I was in five exhibitions this year!) sales are slow and like most artists, I need a steady revenue stream to support my habit. 

For many years I thought about designing some commercial items to sell. Simple things like mugs or bags. Over the summer, I started to activate this idea and I was quite surprised to see how the field of print-on-demand has exploded. 

Although there are many print-on-demand companies to choose from, I decided to start my collection using Printify because they have 250 items and I found them very user friendly. Here’s how it works. You choose an item, say sneakers, and upload your design. In a few moments, you can see a 360-degree model of the item and can easily edit the design.

Cambodia- 2018 43.5 X 52 X 1 screen--printing on fused plastic bags, sewing

Click here to see 360 view of Cambodia Boot.

The harder part is uploading this to your Store, in our case WooCommerce, as well as our new Save The Birds Design website. Fortunately, I have a great team. Sandra and I develop the designs and Tyler handles the technical back end. 

Designing the items is fun.  We use details of my fine art pieces like Cambodia (pictured above). We have used this detail on journals, cell phone cases, latte mugs, sneakers, high heels, and boots!  actually shop on our website by each design! 

Since nearly all of my silk screens are developed from drawings of endangered birds, we used the drawings on tee shirts and mugs and grabbed a detail of the drawings and enlarged this for its design impact. Here you can see an example of a detail from the Shoe-Billed Heron and how we used it on bags, aprons, shower curtains, laptop cases and sneakers and boots.

When we create the silk screens that we use to print on the sheets of fused recycled plastic bags, we shrink the drawings into smaller silhouettes. Our Save the Birds Logo features six endangered birds: Bengal Florican, Kagu, Maleo, Madagascar Serpent Eagle, Giant Ibis, and the Shoe Billed Heron. You can see the logo printed on bags, mugs, water bottles and of course, tee shirts. 

Abstract Wing Design: Shoe Billed Heron

Sandra and I spent two months designing items for our collection and when we launched the Save the Birds website, we had 123 items for sale! We had a great time and you can see how creative you can get using snippets from your own work. 

On our mugs and tee shirts, we have paired the drawings with inspiring quotes by environmentalists like Rachel Carson (we sure didn’t listen to her when she published Silent Spring in 1962), John Muir, Julia Butterfly Hill, Wangari Maathai, and our youngest muse, Greta Thunberg.

One of the big benefits of print-on-demand is that Printify and its affiliate printers produce each order as it comes in, packages it and mails it out. There is no inventory or shipping for us and we end up keeping about half of each sale. Kind of like a gallery split. I think it’s a great arrangement.

Since I give a percentage of all my sales to organizations that protect birds and their habitats, developing this new line not only gives me a steady income, but it also enables me to raise more money to protect endangered birds. Some of our favorite organizations are Audubon, Bird Conservancy and ProAves.

So if my original artwork is out of your budget, take heart. Now you can buy merchandise for your closet or home and gifts that feature my artwork and bird drawings

Click on our logo below to visit the Save the Birds Design website: 

Fiberart International Opening

Fiberart International Opening

10 Days Left to see the Triennial

Attending the opening for Fiberart International in Pittsburgh, PA was thrilling and inspiring. There were 55 artists from 8 countries in this 23rd triennial exhibition and about half of them were able to come to the events that were sponsored by the two galleries that hosted the show, Contemporary Craft and the Brew House. The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh also sponsored a day long event featuring a keynote by Jane Sauer, gallerist, artist and thought leader in contemporary fiber arts. The jurors were Jane Sauer and Sonya Clark, Distinguished Fellow at Virginia Commonwealth University. 

The exhibition took two years to organize and the coordination of this effort was shared by Rae Gold and Risë Nagin. There were so many highlights for me and I’ll share a few here.

Madeline Darnell, my hostess in front of the Pittsburgh skyline

First of all, I was hosted by the lovely Madeline Darnell, a member of the Guild. She not only had me as a guest in her home over the long weekend but also took me on a tour of Pittsburgh and to some of the area galleries. 

Fiberart Amy Morgan
Amy Morgan, Owner of Morgan Contemporary Glass

 We visited the Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery and had the opportunity to meet the owner, Amy Morgan, who is a firecracker and mover and shaker in the Pittsburgh art scene. 

Jim Arendt's first place piece, Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap

Some of my favorite fiber artists were also in the show. I met Jim Arendt, who collected the first place prize for his powerful piece Cat: Free Will Ain’t Cheap, which uses reclaimed denim to address labor issues.  There were several men whose work garnered awards and attention, a refreshing change in the female dominated fiber field. Another artist, Louise Silk, who also works with recycled denim, hosted a lovely dinner at her artist loft. She told me that she had been inspired by my installation Tribe of Dina that she saw in the 1980s. It’s great to learn that our work is making a difference.

I had a reunion with Susan Avishai and her husband Bob Bernstein from Toronto. They had attended our 360 Xochi Quetzal Artist Residency program in Mexico earlier in the spring and we had a wonderful connection as fiber artists. Susan’s piece No Place to Hide a Dark Heart is part of a series of  sculptures made from deconstructed, discarded clothing rescued from thrift shops. The other artist in our trio was Adrienne Sloan, who plans to attend the residency in 2020. Her piece 100 Days and Counting is a painful reminder of our current political debacle.

All in all, it was a great honor for my piece Kansai to be included in this exhibition and to have the opportunity to see so much excellent and innovative work in fiber.

Susan Avishai behind her piece No Place to Hide a Dark Heart
Adrienne Sloan's piece 100 Days and Counting and Deborah Kruger's piece Kansai

Fiberart International 2019

Kansai Has Been Accepted into Fiberart International


I am proud to announce that my piece titled Kansai, has been accepted into Fiberart International, a very competitive international exhibition scheduled to open May 31 and continue through August 24, 2019. Only 4% of the applicants were accepted and winners were judged by Sonya Clark, a Distinguished Research Fellow in the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University and Jane Sauer, a reknown artist, gallerist and former Chair of the American Craft Council. Both jurors are thought leaders in the world of contemporary fiber. 


Fiberart International is the only on-going triennial open to textile artists everywhere in the world and a growing national and international audience. The exhibition is produced by The Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh, Inc. a nonprofit organization that promotes the appreciation of Fiber arts and fosters its development and continuation through member support and outreach.


The shape of Kansai is based on the map of a state with the same name in Japan. The colors of the piece reflect the Japanese flag and the feathers are fabricated from fused plastic bags screen-printed with images of endangered birds and endangered languages. I am not only honored to be included in this prestigious exhibition, but acceptance also signals an acknowledgement that my new materials exist within the fiber spectrum.