How to prepare a unique souvenir for an artist when you have no faith in your own artistic talent? Is it better to give presents that you’re confident with or those that others dream of but you have no idea about? These are some of the questions I had to answer a couple of years ago when I faced the challenge of making a Christmas gift for my artistic cousin.
What unique souvenir can you give an artist?
What should you do if you don’t have any ideas for a gift? I think it is best to ask the people in question what would make them happy. Sometimes, however, they are also unsure what they want. Besides, you might want to surprise them. In such a case, it is a good idea to ask their friends or relatives.
That’s exactly what I did some years ago when I asked my aunt what would please my cousin. ‘I think she would appreciate receiving a drawing,’ replied my aunt, which made my face fall. What you need to know is that my cousin is a visual artist, and I have never excelled in art.
Should presents be from us or for others?
This question may sound strange because we usually give presents from us to others. What I wanted to highlight is where the stress lies. Do we give presents that a recipient couldn’t receive from anyone else but us (e.g. because we are experts in a given field), or presents that we wouldn’t give to anyone else but the recipient (because we know that they will make this particular person extremely happy).
I usually opt for the first solution.
Recently, I have given my friend a collection of short stories by E.E.Schmitt, which she regarded with distaste. Less than a week later, I received a phone call from the very same friend telling me how terrific the stories were. If it hadn’t been for me, she wouldn’t have read them because she usually goes for a different kind of literature. Owing to the fact that I know a lot of great books, I could pick one I knew she would like. On the other hand, if I was to buy her perfume or cosmetics, I would be at a loss and would have to ask her to be very specific because that’s totally not my cup of tea.
Creative gifts are no different. I usually encourage people to focus on their strengths, natural talents and skills because such presents are usually more professional and their preparation more enjoyable.
Nevertheless, sometimes it is worth doing just the reverse.
Even the most brilliant book won’t engage a person that won’t open it because of a permanent prejudice. I don’t think we should forcibly palm things that we enjoy off on others. If someone asks me specifically for ‘winter tea’, I go to a teashop and ask the shop assistant for advice. If I don’t feel at ease with such a gift because it wouldn’t make ME happy, I try to personalise it (e.g. by writing on tea labels) or add something small from my treasury of creative gifts.
As regards creative presents, my aunt’s answer was definitely food for thought. While my cousin dedicated her life to visual arts, I am very much into creative writing. Hence, I asked myself whether a mediocre story written specially for me would make me as happy as a superb creative present of a different kind. The answer was simple since I would definitely appreciate the fact that someone made an effort for me. That is why I decided to face the challenge of preparing a unique souvenir for an artist.
My unique souvenir for an artist
It took me a while to figure out how I can go around my lack of talent for drawing. Finally, I decided to use a computer and… a sketch made by the artist in question! Fortunately, I had my cousin’s self-portrait in our wedding guest book. I scanned a relevant page, cut out the drawing in a graphic editor and pasted it on various backgrounds found on the Internet. These included the photos of Taj Mahal, a Nepalese pagoda, the space, some mysterious woods and fantasy graphics. Satisfied with the effects of my work, I printed my pictures on photo paper, and placed them in an envelope adorned with a red ribbon, signed ‘A Trip Around the World and Beyond‘.
I think it was a great idea to use my cousin’s own work for her present. This way she definitely couldn’t complain about the quality of the drawing. I still remember how she regarded the pictures for several minutes, amazed at the fantastic journeys of her artistic alter ego 😉
Photos from a round-the-world trip
My unique souvenir idea can be used on various occasions to please not only artistic souls. The first time I cut out silhouettes and pasted them on different background was shortly after we received our wedding photos. Although we couldn’t honestly complain about our original seaside background, I thought we would look even more amazing next to the Giza pyramid complex, on the Chinese Wall or in the Alps. I had great fun doing it and am really proud of the effects. The only thing I regret was that in my excitement, I immediately showed my work to my husband instead of waiting until our anniversary or other occasion and giving these new pictures as a romantic creative gift.
Apart from photoshopped honeymoon photos, which can be given for an anniversary, such a round-the-world journey may also be presented to other relatives or friends. Perhaps your kin dream of visiting a certain country, but have no means to do it or are no longer fit enough? Or perhaps your older relatives keep recalling a lovely journey from the time of their youth, but have no photos of it or just very poor-quality tiny pictures that show no details?
Your pictures may be funny (a ski-diving grandpa?), romantic (with a more spectacular sunset than on the day of the wedding session?) or sentimental (with archival photos of buildings that have long been demolished?). Use your imagination and give your loved ones a unique souvenir made of photos they have never seen before!
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– You may take your project even further and prepare a photo book with your photoshopped pictures.
– To prepare my pictures, I used ArcSoft Photo Studio, Edit -> Magic Cut.