Babytattooville 2009 – a terrific, intimate art experience

Mosh at Babytattooville

Over the weekend, I attended Babytattooville, an amazing and intimate art event produced by art book publisher Baby Tattoo. The idea is brilliant — 45 people sign up to spend the weekend with 11 lowbrow/pop surrealist artists at the stunningly beautiful Mission Inn resort in Riverside, California.

Everyone painted, drew in sketchbooks, ate meals together, sat around talking late into the night, watched a documentary about Robert Williams, and even played an cool alternate reality game that began in the catacombs of the hotel.

The invited artists were all extremely gregarious, and it was impossible to distinguish between the artists and the fans; the artists are all fans themselves and everyone mingled.

Bob Self, publisher of Baby Tattoo Press and producer of the event is really on to something here. This kind of authentic, unmediated experience can't be reproduced online or traded on P2P sites. Many of the attendees were there for the 3rd time — they told me the $1800 price was well worth it (the price included two nights at the hotel, meals, and a huge goodie bag loaded with books, prints, and original art, including one of these Audrey Kawasaki original drawings on wood). It would be fun to see this kind of model used in other spheres of interest — a Makerville, or Cookerville, for instance.

I've never been to ComicCon, and I never want to — it's way too crowded and noisy. Babytattooville was the exact opposite. It's more like joining a club. (If you want to go in 2010, hurry up — only 5 new memberships are available.)

I took a lot of photos and shot some video, which I'll post in the coming days. To get started, here are some photos of one of the events from the first day of Babytattooville: a figure drawing session produced by Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School, and held at the Riverside Art Museum. Founder Molly Crabapple was their to direct the event, and the model, Mosh, was a big hit with everyone there.

Babytattooville 2009 Dr Sketchy figure drawing

(Ken Harman took 110 photos of Dr. Sketchys, every one of them much better than any of mine.)