What’s Your Story? Featuring Artist Deborah Fagan "The Painted Thingamajig

So excited to bring you the unique mixed media artist I stumbled upon at The Painted Thingamajig!!  On with it…

About your work:

I’ve been creating as far as my memeory goes back.  My childhood was in the sixties, so I was healily influenced by that whole psychedelic, Yellow Submarine pop culture, even though my parents were very conservative, and our home was decorated with basic beige hues.  Maybe I was rebeling at an early age..ha ha.
I think that psychedelic color palette shows in my work.

Where are you located?

I was born and raised in California, but now make my home, and have a studio on an acre and a half in the desert of Arizona; with my husband of 19 years, my eighteen year old son, an intense German Shepherd named Karma, and two rambunctious Rough Collies named Mojo and Elvis.

What do you create?

Besides canvas and mural work, I like to create what I call functional art. Meaning, things you would use everyday- phones, clocks, etc..making the item into a piece of art. Life’s too short to wake up every morning looking at some random alarm clock you bought at Walmart along with the rest of the masses. Why not wake up to to something that will put a smile on your face? I’ve been painting anything that didn’t move, it seems like forever. One of the first big pieces I ever did was a refrigerator that my parents gave me when I first moved out from home. Somehow, it made the fridge my own, of course my conservative parents were just horrified! I also like creating with textiles as well. I love makeing art quilts, and have been known to make some pretty quirky art dolls. Oh, and now I’ve been working on a series called- ‘Got Green?’ recycled/repurposed art. Besides being a good thing to be green, it’s kind of cool to think that all these diferent things had another purpose/life before coming together to make this objet d’art, of which now has a life of it’s own. Working with found and recycled objects…kinda warms my mixed media heart. 

When and why did you set up your online shop?

I was teaching art at a private school, and selling my art at mainly festivals/fairs and one gallery, when one of my customers/collectors, decided to open a gallery/shop in the art district.  She asked me to be resident artist, and help run the gallery; which entailed being a curator to other up and coming artists, organizing and running our First Fridays, (so much fun!), as well as creating my own art in a studio I had in the back, and then selling it in the gallery. I must say, that was one of the best jobs I had ever had. Getting paid hourly to do what I would be doing anyway, which is to create, then selling my pieces in the gallery and getting a percentage, was fabulous. I was so sad when the owner had to close down because of personal reasons.  I then started selling on Ebay, just when it was becoming popular. I did quite well with Ebay, and sold pieces that went all over the world, which is kind of a cool feeling; to think, a part of me is living in different places everywhere.  Ebay started going in a direction that I wasn’t to happy with..and a lot of other artists started moving to this brand new website called Etsy. So, I opened a shop on Etsy called The Cosmic Whim WhamStudio.  I closed that shop last year, because everyone kept telling me how hard it was to remember that name. I opened a shop on Artfire not too long ago, and then re-opened a shop on Etsy, called ‘The Painted Thingamajig‘. I hope that’s easier to remember, I know I use the word thingamajig all the time..and I turn so many thingamajigs into art!

How do you promote your creations?

That, I’m still working on! I’m one of those artists that needs a secretary or assistant, of which I can’t afford of course. Artfire is very good at promoting your site- which is one of the reasons I opened a store there. You’ve got to do some work too though. They have a very good tutorial there on how to succeed, in which they tell you to definitely do the social networking thing, and get as many items in your store as you can. They say the more things you have in your store, the more google will pick up on it.  I’m a little ADD, I gotta focus more. What with taking pictures of my pieces and editing, writing descriptions, listing…and now I gotta go be social? I end up seeing one of my projects in progress out the corner of my eye, and wander off to work on it…yeah, still working on the promoting thing. Maybe I should move my computer out of my studio.

What inspires your work?

Color, light, patterns and shapes. My surroundings. Found objects and things that can be thrown into the alchemy mix of my art.

What is your must have tool for creating?

Paintbrushes! I have hundreds, but seem to use my same three favorite brushes I’ve had for years now. I’ll see a beautiful brush and buy it, bring it home and place it in the can with all my other brand new, untouched brushes…

Do you have any tips for others wanting to turn their art into a business?

Create things you love, not just the trend of the moment, and what all the other people are doing on Etsy and Artfire.  I think it shows when someone’s just doing something because they think it will sell. Or, if you really like the trend, incorporate it into your art. Like the whole bottlecap and resin thing?
I thought that was kind of cool, so I used that technique for fish eyeballs on this recycled piece of art from my ‘Got Green’ series, called ‘It’s A Fish Eat Fish World. And read the Artfire 45 Day To Success Guide- http://www.artfire.com/users/45DayGuide/blog – you will learn sooo much!


What good books have you read or movies have you seen lately?

Love the author Joe Hill-love love loved his book ‘Heart Shaped Box’, which is about an aging rock star that buys a ghost off Ebay. I’m currently reading Juliet Blackwell’s- Art Lovers Mystery Series. Blackwell’s an Art History major, so along with your mystery, you get all these interesting art history facts, along with a few paint recipes.

Where was your last vacation?

Being a California girl living in the desert, I must make my migrations to the ocean.  One of my favorite places is Laguna Beach, CA.

What is your favorite pastime outside of creating?

Reading, playing the guitar, songwriting, playing and walking my three big crazy dogs, combing antique shops and flea markets…oh, and did I say reading? I’m a voracious reader!

Who is your favorite designer/artist?

Okay, I know you don’t have all day, so I’ll just list the major ones I was influenced by- Peter Max, Niki De Saint-Phalle, Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Piero Fornasetti, Rene Magritte, and Mary Nohl. Mary Nohl seems like a kindred spirit to me. I see myself as an old lady hermit, with a couple of cats, making my whole house into a piece of art! I just ordered this book- Mary Nohl: Inside & Outside, off Amazon, I can’t wait for it to arrive. She really was amazing, you ought to google her.

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