Meet the Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Dan Grissom. Read our interview with Dan to learn more about the artist and work behind the featured art piece.

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from and where you live now.
I grew up in very rural Louisiana. I was always drawing or doing something art related while growing up and decided to pursue a degree in graphic design. Once settled into college, I got more into the studio art classes and ended up going on to pursue a Master’s Degree in Studio Art (focusing on painting and printmaking) after getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Communication.

After grad school in East Texas, I moved to Austin in the Summer of 2006 because I had friends who lived here and I was also playing in some bands and it seemed like a good place to be for that. I worked as a designer at a sign shop for a few years and then got a job at the now defunct Sanctuary Printshop. There I learned more about screen printing and got my start designing screen printed posters, but I still hadn’t fully embraced illustration as my path. After a few years at Sanctuary, I left and got a job printing for Tim Doyle, who is also an Armadillo Christmas Bazaar Artist. Nakatomi, Tim’s print shop, tends to print posters that lean more toward hand drawn illustration and less toward traditional design and vector illustration, which is more what I’d previously focused on. Printing for lots of great illustrators at Nakatomi and seeing their work up close inspired me to get back into drawing more. I thought it might be a good thing in my tool kit as a designer. I took to it pretty quickly. For the next few years I created my own art prints and took on as much freelance illustration work as possible while still printing at Nakatomi. I tried doing a few craft shows and art markets to sell my prints and those went pretty well. At a certain point, I crunched the numbers and realized I could make enough with selling my prints and doing some freelance illustration work and that I didn’t really need to have a day job anymore. And without a day job, I could focus way more on my own work. So in the Spring of 2017, I left my job at Nakatomi and began the often wonderful and occasionally terrifying journey of being a self-employed artist. I have a fully operational screen printing and letterpress studio in my two-car garage in south Austin. I call that studio Biscuit Press and have now employed my friend Robert Steel to help with the printing of my posters as well as take on outside print work for other artists and designers.

What was your favorite part to create in the featured art piece?
When I was thinking about the direction I wanted to take the featured art this year, I thought about having some baby armadillos in there as well instead of just the adult armadillo often seen in the past. I did this not only because baby armadillos are pretty cute, but also because the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is very much a family environment. Not only are there always lots of people there with their families, but I’ve also met so many people for whom the Armadillo is a family tradition. So many people tell me stories about coming to the Armadillo with their parents growing up and now they are bringing their kids to see all the art and music. So when I was researching armadillos and specifically baby armadillos, I learned that 9-banded armadillos almost always have identical quadruplets. I love that little piece of trivia, and since I’m a stickler for details like that, I had to include four baby armadillos.

Tell us about your history with the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.
My first real taste of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar was when I was working as a printer for Tim Doyle at Nakatomi. The first year he was a part of the Armadillo, I worked his booth for a good bit of the show. Then when I started focusing on my own prints and doing similar shows I always had the Armadillo in the back of my mind as something I’d like to try myself once I felt like I had enough work to present and was ready. I knew from working Tim’s booth that it was a big commitment, but I wanted to give it a shot at some point. Then in 2017, since I didn’t have my day job anymore and could handle the commitment, I applied and got in. 2020 will be my fourth year. It’s a great show run by great people, so I’m really happy to be a part of it.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art.
It wasn’t a dollar, but the first piece of art I sold was to my Grandfather. I was maybe around 4 years old and I had told him I was going to be an artist when I grew up and he said he wanted to be my first customer. So I drew him two little drawings of flowers and he gave me a quarter for each of them. My Grandmother still has those two little drawings framed in her room.

If you were to work in any other medium, what would it be?
All of the above. I constantly see the work of other artists working in other mediums and want to try everything. I just bought the house I live in, so I’m currently thinking about trying my hand at some custom mosaic tile pieces and maybe even some stained glass pieces. I still paint sometimes as well, but one thing that really appeals to me about printmaking is that I think it sort of democratizes art in a way. Screen printing, in particular is sort of a mid-point between fine art and commercial printing. All of my colors are mixed by hand and every color layer is printed by hand, but since printmakers are making multiples, we can generally keep the price of our prints a bit lower than many other mediums. I came from a working class family so I really like that I can keep my art accessible to people from similar backgrounds. I’ve had many people buy my work and tell me it’s the first piece of art they’ve ever bought and that makes me feel great.

How did you get started creating posters?
I’m a musician as well, so my early posters were for the bands I was playing in. Mostly printed on copy machines that I had access to. Then as I started honing my skills with design, illustration, and printmaking, the possibilities opened up quite a bit. After creating posters for my own bands and working as a designer, I started getting hired by friends’ bands to create posters for them. Then the more I learned about the world of screen printed posters and the more I worked as a printer, the more I developed my own style. At this point I was still just thinking of myself as a designer and maybe a commercial illustrator, but eventually I started trying to create my own illustrations that could exist as art prints rather than being commercial projects for bands or businesses. Once I starting thinking about things in that way, my career really opened up. I’m now at the point where I’m taking on less freelance work and focusing on my own prints instead.

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?
I think my advice to emerging artists would also be my advice to everyone. Be very careful about debt. One of the biggest hurdles I had in trying to transition to being a full-time artist was that I had a big chunk of credit card debt from when I was in college and just out of college. Having that debt hanging over me made everything way more difficult when I started looking into becoming a self-employed artist. I’m out from under that now and life is much easier.

3rd Annual Passport to Art

This year CraftHER Market is the official launch location for the 3rd annual Passport to Art initiative. Visit the Chula League booth (#99), October 12-13th to pick it up. Passport to Art is a free booklet promoting Austin’s upcoming big end-of-year art shows: Blue Genie Art Bazaar, Cherrywood Art Fair, and Armadillo Christmas Bazaar. If you miss CraftHER, you can find the passports at East Austin Studio Tour stops featuring our artists, or at each show. Those who complete their passport can submit it for free entrance into the Armadillo Bazaar, and will be entered in a drawing for our grand prize basket, valued at over $500!

image of Passport to Art Cover

How to use the Passport to Art (#passporttoart):

  1. Visit all three events and have your Passport stamped.
  2. Turn in your completed passport at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar for free entry, or Blue Genie Art Bazaar.
  3. Passports with stamps from all three shows will be entered into a drawing for a grand prize basket featuring art and gifts from local makers, plus two season passes to the 2020 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar (over $500 retail value).

Thank you for being a part of the Austin art scene.

Art City Austin

April 12-14, shop and browse Art City Austin’s Convergence Fair—an art fest featuring up to 80 visual artists, designers, installation artists, artisans, and makers showcasing and selling their wares at Republic Square. Enjoy
local musicians, performance artists, live food demonstrations by local chefs, food trucks, boozy bevies, kid activities, and interactive experiences. Guests also have access to guided gallery tours and artist talks around town during the weekend. Find some of your favorite 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting there. Here’s a preview with a handy artist list at the bottom.

Greg Davis National Geographic Photograper
Photography by Greg Davis
Heather Harris
Art by Heather Harris
Mixed Media book tree art by Jay Long
Art by Jay Long
Woodarts Box by Mark Mallia
Woodwork by Mark Mallia
Morgan McBride ceramic platter
Ceramic arts by Morgan McBride
Angie Spears painting of girl with umbrella
Art by Angie Spears
silver jewelry cuff by Fred Tate
Jewelry by Fred Tate

List of 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting at Art City Austin’s Convergence Fair:
Greg Davis
Heather Harris
Jay Long
Mark Malia
Morgan McBride
Angie Spears
Fred Tate

MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival

The MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival is an annual event that showcases a nationally recognized fine art and fine craft juried art fair, live concerts, performance artists, and street performers on the streets of downtown Fort Worth. Take a trip to Fort Worth, Texas April 11-14 to experience it all. Find some of your favorite 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting there. Here’s a preview with a handy artist list at the bottom.

Bailey's Jewelry Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Bailey’s Jewelry
Tanya Doskova
Art by Tanya Doskova
Clifton Henri Photography - Black Beauty 2016
Photography by Clifton Henri
Rick Loudermilk
Art by Rick Loudermilk
Iona Handcrafted Books - handmade leather journals
Handmade journals by Mychal Mitchell of Iona Handcrafted Books
Thomas Leathers
Tom Thomas leather bags

List of 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting at MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival:

William Bailey
Tanya Doskova
Clifton Henri
Rick Loudermilk
Mychal Mitchell
Horace Tom Thomas

Deep Ellum Arts Festival

The Deep Ellum Arts Festival consists of over 100 original bands and singer-songwriters performing on five stages, 200-juried visual artists displaying and selling their one of a kind works, spontaneous street performances, and over 30 restaurants serving trendy and classic foods & beverages covering six city blocks and adjacent spaces in the heart of the Deep Ellum Entertainment district. Take a trip to Dallas April 5-7 to experience it all. You’ll find some of your favorite 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting there. Here’s a peek at some of them, and find a handy artist list at the bottom.

Art by Greg Davis Photography
Iona Handcrafted Books
Handmade journals by Mychal Mitchell of Iona Handcrafted Books
Work by Mick Whitcomb
Sculptural Lighting by Mick Whitcomb
Rebekah Vinyard Jewelry
Rebekah Vinyard Jewelry
Zuckerman Art Studios
art by Kevin Zuckerman

List of 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting at Deep Ellum Arts Festival:

Meet the 2019 Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Lisa Morales. Read our interview with Lisa to learn more about the artist and work behind the 2019 featured art piece.

Lisa holding up 2019 Featured Art

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from and where you live now.

I grew up on the performing side of the art spectrum. My aunt owned a dance studio so at three years old I strapped on my first pair of ballet shoes and I didn’t stop dancing until I was well into my 30’s. I graduated from the High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Houston and went on to dance professionally in the Houston area. It was not until much later in life that I made the switch to the visual side of art. I was in my 40’s when I took my first drawing class and it wasn’t too long after that I fell in love with mixed media. A few years ago I was signed with a licensing company that has allowed my work to be seen on products throughout the United States, without having to leave Texas. I even have a calendar coming out in the U.K. in 2020. I consider myself to be very blessed to be able to make a living doing something I love.

collage art of raccoon in headress

What was your favorite part to create in the featured art piece?

I always try to hide images in my work that relate to the subject matter. The feature artwork has armadillos hidden all through out the piece and the lyrics to “London Homesick Blues” which is kind of an inside joke to all the artist who participate in the show. This song is played every morning to start the show, and every night as the shoppers are leaving the venue. By the end of the show we know all the words by heart.

How did you get started creating collages?

I used to work in stained glass and mosaics which is just a different media for the same process I use now. Stained glass, mosaics, and collage all take tiny pieces that are used in a jigsaw puzzle fashion to create a larger image. Paper is by far my favorite of the three because I can paint it any color I need, it is lightweight, and never breaks like glass can.

Collage dog portrait

What are your favorite art supplies or tools?

Paper is my main media so I am always on the lookout for papers with interesting writing or graphics on it. I paint and texture the papers I use in my work with liquid acrylic paint. This paint is vibrant and translucent which allows me to use a lot of color that does not completely cover up the markings on the paper. Having both the color from the paint and the markings on the paper make for very intricate texture.

Collage art of a cheetah and zebra

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?

I think a lot of people starting out in the business of art forget that art is a business. Talent alone is not enough. Take some business classes, learn some basic coding, make good choices with social media, network, be nice to people, work hard, think outside the box, be disciplined, and after all that, create good work!!

Bayou City Art Festival

March 29-31 Houston, Texas hosts the annual Bayou City Art Festival. The three-day festival showcases the works of over 300 fine artists, and offers more than 20,000 visitors the opportunity to meet with exhibiting artists, enjoy food and entertainment outdoors at Memorial Park. You’ll find many of your favorite 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting there.

Here’s a peek at some of them. Find a handy artist list at the bottom.

Amanda Bennett
art by Amanda Bennett
Eric Mort Art Glass
Glass Art by Eric Mort
Angie Spears
art by Angie Spears
Matthew Naftzger
Sculpture Art by Matthew Naftzger

List of 2018 Armadillo Christmas Bazaar artists exhibiting at Bayou City Art Festival:

Passport to Art

Passport to Art graphics
Last year’s Passport to Art was so much fun, we partnered with Blue Genie Art Bazaar and Chula League’s Cherrywood Art Fair again to celebrate and promote the three big local art shows of the holiday season.

The Passport to Art is a little booklet you can pick up during EAST from some of our artists, at Triple Z Threadz on South Congress, at Blue Genie Art Bazaar, and at Cherrywood Art Fair. You take this passport to Blue Genie Art Bazaar and Chula League’s Cherrywood Art Fair to get it stamped. After you have those stamps you can redeem your booklet for free entrance into Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, and then we enter your passport in a drawing for a chance to win an art & gift “basket”—not really a basket, as Rory Skagen’s art piece is about 33″x26”. The prized basket features a jacket by Garzig Design, tea towels by Fisk & Fern, art by Rory Skagen, candles by Luna Tigre, and a journal by Iona Handcrafted Books, valuing the prize at over $400 retail. That’s a pretty great prize for supporting Austin’s art scene! Here’s a peek at the prizes:

Image of prizes from Luna Tigre, Iona Handcrafted Books, Fisk & Fern, Garzig Design, Rory Skagen

How to Enter:

Pick up your Passport to Art.
Attend all three events, and get your stamps.
Turn in your Passport to Art:
If you submit it to Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, you get free entry into the show, and it will be submitted into the drawing.
You can also submit it into the drawing at Blue Genie Art Bazaar, if you attend that event last.
One lucky winner will be drawn from the Passports with all three stamps.

Event Details:

Blue Genie Art Bazaar
November 23rd – December 24th | 10:00am – 10:00pm
6100 Airport Blvd, 78752
Chula League’s Cherrywood Art Fair
December 8th & 9th | 10:00am – 5:00pm
Maplewood Elementary | 3808 Maplewood Ave, 78722

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
December 13th-24th | 11:00am – 10:00pm
Palmer Events Center | 900 Barton Springs, 78704

Meet the 2018 Featured Art Artist

This year’s featured art is by Christopher Smith. Read our interview with Chris to learn more about the artist and work behind the 2018 featured art piece.

2018 Featured Art by Chris Smith

Tell us about yourself, your artistic background/career, where you are from, and where you live now.

I first studied Commercial Art at Austin Community College (ACC) from 1989-1991, there I had taken several drawing classes from the great Sam Yeates. I’m sure you know he was one of the Armadillo World Headquarter poster artists back in the 70s. Then 1992-1995 studied Visual Communications at Southwest Texas State (now Texas State) and earned a BFA in Commercial Art. I’m so glad I studied at ACC first, because I perfected my illustrative drawing/technical hand skills there. SWT helped me strengthen conceptual ideas/design, so I could combine the two.

My first job out of college was working for the University of Dallas in Irving as a Graphic Designer for the University Relations Dept, a good 2 year stint. Afterwards 15 years of Graphic Design in Austin at Frog Design as an Interface Designer, 10 years working for Harcourt, a book publisher here in Austin creating cover designs for K-12 textbooks. Started creating my maps as a side business in 2007, was laid off in 2009, been creating my maps full time since then.

I had a fun childhood in Anderson Mill in NW Austin during the 1970s and 1980s. I went to Anderson Mill “Armadillos”, elementary school, Westwood HS, and Georgetown HS my Senior year. Have been living in Liberty Hill, Texas now for 3 years.

Map Art by Chris Smith


What was your favorite part to create in the featured art piece?

Creating the armadillo illustration, giving it an illustrative pen & ink look with the numbers 709 hidden.

Was there a challenging part to create?

The armadillo was the most challenging, trying to recreate an icon for the ‘Dillo that is “fresh” or has a new look from any previous ‘dillo designs.

Tell us about your history with the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar.

I did my first Armadillo Bazaar in 2010, when the Armadillo first moved locations to Palmer Events Center.

Tell us about the first dollar you made selling your art.

In 2007 I sold my first print of my Republic of Texas map for $45 at a little Christmas show we had at Harcourt. Employees were able to set up and sell their goods at work for one day. I sold my first original map at Bayou City Arts Festival in 2008.

Map Art by Chris Smith

What are your favorite art supplies or tools?

I’ve been using Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph technical pens since my ACC days (over 27 years). Now I’m becoming more comfortable with acrylic paints with brush applications too, combining the two mediums more and more. Over the years I’ve been using more paint with brush and less technical pen.

If you were to work in any other medium, what would it be?

Definitely printmaking, I took one printmaking class at SWT and loved it, I could see experimenting with printmaking or combining it with the illustrative map idea. There are so many different types of printmaking, I just dabbled in it that one year.

How did you get started creating maps?

It started as an idea with several sketches back in 1998. Originally as a game board idea, like a “Texas Risk”. My first map was the Republic of Texas 1838 map; the other maps spawned from this.

Map Art by Chris Smith

Name your five favorite songs, albums, or musicians.

I love surf rock, garage rock, classic rock. Been listening to new Millennial bands such as Ty Segall, Mac Demarco, The Growlers, The Oh Sees, they are relatively new bands, but have the sound from the 60s-70s of course with a fresh perspective. Always been a huge Frank Black (Black Francis) fan, singer for the Pixies. He has a lot of solo albums after the Pixies. I’m always looking for new music for inspiration while creating artwork.

Is there any wisdom you would like to pass on to emerging artists?

I’m not good at giving advice, I never give it unless asked. Focus on one subject matter, and recreate it with a unique perspective. “​Work hard, be kind, and amazing things will happen.​”​ Conan O’B​rien

Gifts for Him!

Charcoal Soap by Black Hatchet
“Keep clean – stay rough” with this charcoal soap designed by husband/wife team Erez & Mazzi Peled. Black Hatchet is a line of natural and organic products made with unique blends of 100% pure essential oils and enriched with organic activated charcoal in Austin, TX. Find these “manly” soaps in booth K-3. PS – this is a fave at the Armadillo office.

Artist Bruce Reinfeld
High Fidelity Gallery – New to the show! Limited edition fine art photography on skateboards! Or think big, and decorate your walls with his vibrant images. Bruce Reinfeld’s mission is to direct us to see the beauty in unusual things, like the Lone Star Bus, Bull’s horn’s, a rusting Cadillac, or the palm trees of Coconut Grove. Find his photography works in booth R-4.

Flasks & Leather Goods by Espacio Handmade
Espacio Handmade‘s leather bound, hand-stiched flasks are the perfect gift for the man who has everything. Leather wrapped & handcrafted with style, these handsome, classic flasks have an air of rebelliousness. Pair it with the Leather Journeyman Pocket Notebook, for the perfect gift set. Find these gifty goods in booth D-1.

Head to our Facebook page for the whole gift guide photo album, plenty more to see there!