Today we hear from Marla Martin, who is a Teen Librarian who makes art on library due date cards as a way of engaging in art-making practice every day. Love this take on the art journal! ~Laura

Library as Incubator Project (LAIP): Please introduce yourself to our community – who are you, and what sort of work do you do (creative work, day job, etc.)?

Marla Martin (MM): I am Marla Martin and I work fulltime as Teen Librarian at the Woodbury Public Library in Connecticut. I have always been a creative person, and my job at the WPL has always allowed me to explore my creative side, form making crafts with the younger ones, to offering teen and adult artistic programming. Outside of the library, I mostly create collages and mosaics. My home is usually in a state of artistic chaos!

I started creating the art cards as a daily project to encourage my creativity based on an idea from a book , 365: A Daily Creativity Journal: Make Something Every Day and Change Your Life! by Noah Scalin. My sister, who lives in Massachusetts, also joined me in this daily venture. We started a blog, 365 Artful Days, and we contributed daily. The due date cards were a perfect canvas to work with; the size, while not too large to be overwhelming, was not so small that there was no space to work. The 365 day project lasted about 163 days – it was exhausting trying to work, to create art daily and maintain the level of energy needed, but we both created some surprisingly interesting things during that time, and almost 60 of the ones I created were the art cards.

LAIP: How do you figure out how to assemble the collages for each book title–how do you start, and do the ideas usually come right away?

MM: I was surprised how quickly ideas for the cards came; my first was “Are You There Judy Blume, It’s Me, Marla” and it felt comfortable, and I was pleased that the idea transpired into an interesting little piece of art. Next came Harper Lee, and from there they just grew. Shakespeare, Sherman Alexie, the Flower Fairies, Walt Whitman, Rachel Carson (one of my favorite cards, her hair is made of tiny butterflies I cut out), Curious George, Alice Walker, so many books were in my head thanks to my job(!) that I didn’t need to think too much about the subject, just about design and color. My husband cut rectangles from old chestnut so I could mount and hang them (it was a difficult to figure out how to display them, and the pile kept growing!!).

LAIP: What do you think it is about library ephemera (catalog cards, due date cards, etc.) that is so appealing to people especially when it comes to craft and art projects?

MM: I love library ephemera – I just look at old book cards and want to make something! I think the items elicit a nostalgia for the past, many people have such wonderful library stories to tell (maybe that will be my next series!) and date stamps, book cards, etc., open that conversation. When all the cards were displayed together people discussed art, library memories, and they discussed their favorite books and authors. It was wonderful.

LAIP: Do you find that your art work influences your library work, and vice versa?

MM: My job has always allowed me to tie my creativity into my work – I am very lucky!

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