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There are times when an assignment comes across your desk that poses an entirely new challenge. How on earth do you accomplish such a creative feat with little to no money?


There are ways to make fantastic art with little to no budget if you just follow a few simple rules of making.


by Jason Robert LeClair Illustration & Theatrical Design


MAKING YOUR MARK, an exploration of materials on a thin budget.


1. 3.


Don’t tell the materials what to do, let them help you to discover their capabilities. For instance, attempt- ing to have expanding foam only expand so far is a losing battle. As with all materials experiment to discover its limitations. The sketch and trial process should be extensive. It is also what you are doing in between gigs. It feeds your ability to work with a wider range of supplies and unsuspected new favorites.


Never underestimate a material’s potential. Just because it’s “only” something and is seen as having minimal functionality, doesn’t mean its true. Using creative problem solving, anything is useful in the making of art. Designing sets in high schools and for non-profits has taught me that. My first techni- cal director said, “Theatre is the great recycler.” I thought it was due to him being a pack rat. I discovered otherwise. The reuse and reconfiguration of previous work has applied to all of my art making. I still have all of my sketch- books from age twelve up. These invaluable references and notes on materials aid me constantly.


34 | Rhode Island Creative Magazine 2. 4.


This brings us neatly into rule two: there are always ways around rule one. In that same expanding foam battle, you can actually carve it or place it in molds to get certain light- weight useful objects. Minimal ex- panding foam over an armature can make a very convincing fake turkey. In the same way, take your materials that you are accustomed to and see what the interaction is between your old standbys and new friends.


If it’s free, it’s precious! With the high cost of materials, don’t be afraid to pull a little freegan perspective on your art supplies. Hardware stores have mountains of materials that they either store or throw away routinely. Every- thing from open box items to badly mixed paint, or my personal favorite, paint sample chips. These cards with a myriad of colors are tossed aside and recycled. Imagine what you could create with an entire display worth of those chips.


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