Value Art – Blog Posts

Here are the Value Art blog posts that I copied from the my closed website (in chronological order).

Value Art exhibitions in 2012


About two years ago, in Autumn 2011, I finished the Value Art paintings. One year later I had my first exhibition, starting with Café Tufvan in Växjö and then in the library of Linnaeus university in Växjö. Both exhibitions were quite a success I received many comments about the paintings and had a few very interesting discussions about the topic.

It was also fun to just sit close to one of the paintings and watch people stop in front of it, discussing with their friends what this art might be about, and then reading the paper with some information that I placed next to the painting.

Some spectators even smiling when looking at the art work, which made me very glad.

How to look like an artist


Fabrice (artist)
(Courtesy of Michiel Jelijs)

Today I found this picture of an artist on Flickr. I always thought, to look like a proper artist one has to look a little different than everyone else. That guy on the image certainly does a good job showing that he is an artist. Maybe art is just his hobby and he works actually as a dentist, wearing a white doctor’s overall.

So, I guess, if you want to reach many people with your art it might be helpful to dress like an artist – or at least in a way people think an artist should look like.

I must confess that neither my wardrobe, haircut or accessories are very artistic. My wardrobe is packed with blue, white and black shirts. There’s only one purple and yellow one which I only dare to wear on motto-parties – for example “bad taste party” or “Studio 54”. Not even my stubble or part-time beard shows any fancy lines that are shaved in a creative way.

Since my looks are more banker than artist, I thought I get some inspiration from the web and see what I could do to look at least a little more like someone creative and less like an accountant.

Google led me to a website that informs me about how to look like an artist in 5 steps:

1. Put spots of paint on your self and on your face…
2. Wear a brown apron and put some paint on that too
3. Wear a beret of any colour
4. Wear some ripped jeans
5. A nice colourful t-shirt would work

Well, after I read this I decided I might just stick to one of my black shirts and maybe black trousers whenever I want to look more like an artist. (Normally I probably wouldn’t wear this combination.)

However, now when you see me somewhere being dressed that way, you will know that I am in “artist mode“. ;)

Banksy stall sells art works for $60 in New York


Yesterday I read about Banksy’s latest coup, selling original signed canvas in the streets of New York.

The fact that probably no one who passed by either knew that it was Banksy’s art or even thought these spray-paints would be originals makes this event very interesting. This creates a classic “Imagine if …”-scenario. “Imagine you had been there and only known that these paintings are actually orinals.” I actually had this thought when I read this story. What about you?

I guess that if anybody new about it the whole stall would have been sold out in less than a minute. Who wouldn’t pay $60 for an original Banksy?

Searching for a pseudonym


Matthias signature on Value Art paintings

Most artists have a name that is rather easy to remember and in a way unique. If their given name isn’t that exclusive they might use a special pseudonym.

I guess Kamann doesn’t sound too fancy, or does it? Just Matthias? Mmhh, probably not that great either. I guess I have to continue looking for a better one. Until I find one I just go by the name Matthias Kamann – yes, I totally agree, maybe a little too ordinary for an artist’s name.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know, comment or contact me on Twitter @matthiaskamann #valueart

Do real artists need a Facebook page?


When I asked myself whether I actually need a Facebook page or not, I was a little hesitant in the beginning. Since I want to keep the online presence simple and leave out anything that could be distracting I wasn’t too fond of the idea of adding this main stream channel to my communication mix. Classic dilemma: being afraid of blending one’s name with a main stream brand and thereby risking to be taken less serious vs. the opportunity to reach more people with one’s message. In the end I decided to create the page because it makes it very convenient for everyone to stay updated. And since I – probably just like many other people who are proud of their work – want to reach as many people as possible with my message, I decided to just go for it.

So, here is the link to the page (not active anymore). Consider liking it if like the Value Art concept or just want to be updated with the latest news. (not active anymore)

What do you think? Good or bad idea?
Comment below or tweet @matthiaskamann

Intense brainstorming with my mentor Carl-Oscar Karlsson


The picture above was taken during the brainstorming with Carl-Oscar Karlsson, my mentor.

The basic idea of Value Art popped up in my head already a couple of years ago. Since then it was developing in small, continuous steps. I talked to friends about it and pretty much all of them were convinced that I should turn it into reality.

One of those friends that I talked to was Carl-Oscar Karlsson, a young man with the looks of a real artist with his full beard and long hair, from my hometown Växjö, in Sweden. Already in early stages of the idea he gave me useful advice and inspiration.

When I told him that I wanted to create the paintings soon, he offered me his help and advice not only on how the paintings could look like when they are ready but also the practical part, like building the canvas.

The brainstorming

I went to the brainstorming with a few cornerstones:

  • 7 identical canvas
  • with values on them, from 1 to 1.000.000
  • large

With these cornerstones in mind I went Carl-Oscar Karlsson‘s studio, located in the city of Växjö, and we discussed ways how the paintings could be created to send the message of Value Art with the biggest possible impact on the viewer.

We talked about the color, font, size of the values, painting techniques and which size the canvas actually should have.

After a few creative meetings with intense discussions I decided to go for … well the result you have in front of you when you.

It was great to get some input from a professional artist who asked the right questions and helped me out when I was stuck.

More about each decision and why Value Art looks the way it looks, in upcoming posts…

Building the canvas


The canvas I wanted for this project had to be large. So I decided that the size of them should be 185 cm in width and 115 cm high – golden ratio. You might think that I just bought some ready-made canvas and spray-painted the numbers on it and that’s it. But, no, instead I put quite a lot of effort into creating the canvas by hand.

Canvas of the sice that I decided to go for usually cost a lot. Since I wanted to save some money I decided to build them myself, again, with the help of my mentor Carl-Oscar Karlsson who has a lot of experience in this area.

I also wanted to build the canvas myself to give the artwork a more personal touch. Certainly they maybe are not as perfect as a factory-built ones but due to professional help the result turned out to be really good.

Things on my shopping-list

  • Wooden-bars for the frame
  • Screws
  • Fabric to strech over the frame
  • Thumbtacks to fix the fabric on the frame
  • White color

To build the canvas Carl-Oscar supported me with tools, his location and he even helped me out when we cut the wooden bars at his uncle’s carpenter workshop.

After finishing the frames I had to attach the fabric to it. I can tell that was physically the toughest part of the whole project. Fixing the cloth in a way that it sits tight on the whole frame, with no wrinkles and enough tension was more difficult than I expected. But after some practice and slightly bleeding knockles I was very satisfied with the result and I could start with the painting part.

An almost finished canvas, after the paint-job, before cutting off the excessive cloth in the back:

Now, that I have experienced how much effort it takes to build seven big size canvas, I hope that my next art project will be on smaller ones ;)

Numerics 1 to 1.000.000 – Color, Size and Typeface


Decision making

So far I had the big white canvas. Then I had to make further decisions on how the numerics actually should look like. Once more I brainstormed and discussed several options with my mentor Carl-Oscar.

Here is why I chose the ones that you can see on the finished paintings:


I went for black on white background – to create a slight association with dollar banknotes and a strong contrast. At the same time I wanted simplicity. No color should distract. It should look like a simple numeric on white ground, easily reproducible.


Since the “1.000.000” had to fit on the canvas I had to measure the maximum size of the numerics.
Below you can see how I tested the sizes with printed numerics on A4 paper. This gave me an impression how the end result was about to look.
I also had to choose whether I want the “1” on the $1 painting to be the same size as the “1” on the $1.000.000 painting.

I chose the same size because I liked the idea that the difference between the paintings actually is just an added zero to the previous picture. All “offer” the same “1” and “0”.


To add a feeling of a banknote to the painting I was looking for a serifed typeface. After testing several versions I went for the very classic Times New Roman. This gives a certain width and proportion that I found perfectly fitting. And again, also this factor stands for simplicity.

More about the painting technique in the upcoming post.

Experimenting to find the right painting technique – part 1


The image above was taken when I was experimenting with painting techniques back in 2011. It took quite a while until I found the right way to create the desired effect. (More about the technique in a later post.)


Below you can see some a few test versions where I was experimenting with several techniques for printing, paints, stamping and spraying.

Getting my fingers dirty :)

Coming up with the right painting technique was almost as difficult as removing the paint from my hands.

Experimenting to find the right painting technique – part 2


Printing effects

I wanted to borrow elements of the printing effects of a mass-printed art-works. Such as those in Andy Warhol’s or Roy Liechtenstein’s screen prints. At the same time I found it very appealing to use spray painting technique, which, with the use of a stencil also stands for reproducibility. This spray paint technique also stands partly for street art. 

I came up with a solution that would combine the visual effects of screen print and spray paint: I cut a cardboard stencil in the shape of the numbers and glued a gardening/mosquito-net on it. The net’s holes were formed in a circular way, so adding the net to the stencil created looks that remind and refer to the “circles” of popular screen print artworks.

Also, the fact that the screen varied in distance to the canvas when applying it to it, created a change in the sharpness of the circles – just as in old fashioned newspaper printing, which was a nice effect.

You can see this shading when you take a closer look at the “1” on all paintings.

Before that I also tested different ways to add the pattern, like spreading out sand over a surface or different types of nets. But in the end I went for the plastic gardening net, which delivered just the perfect result.

Value Art Vine


Created this little Vine video. It’s rather difficult to sum up the Value Art project in only six seconds. You can pause the video by clicking on it.

Thoughts about Art and Marketing


  • Why are certain art works so expensive?
  • Why do some people pay a lot of money for art? Do artists consider commercial sales when they create an art work?
  • Where is the fine line between art work and a product? Or when does art become a product and vice versa?
  • Marketing and advertising can be really annoying. How can you market or praise a product without being too pushy?
  • What is it that creates a hype and makes people curious about something? Particularly on the web.
  • Actually I somethimes still don’t know whether I am a marketer who sells something that some might consider as art. Or am I a real artist? Or am I just someone who created some art?
  • And do I really have to find an answer to all these questions?

Donation 1 Dollar Painting


Thomas Himmel from Växjö, Sweden bought the “1 Dollar Painting” a while ago. After I reached out to him to ask to which charity the money should go to, he chose to donate the one dollar (at the time he bought the painting around SEK 7) to Green Peace. Since it wasn’t possible to donate one dollar only, I rounded the amount up a little and donated USD 5 instead.

Here is the email receipt that I received after doing the donation.

Payment confirmation page on Green Peace’ website

Donation 10 Dollar Painting


All payments for the paintings of the Value Art Project will be donated. The “10 Dollar Painting” has been sold to Karin C. from Sweden. She wanted the money to be donated to “Rädda Barnen” which is the Swedish division of “Save the Children“.

Here the receipt of the donation

Donation 100 Dollar Painting


The “100 Dollar Painting” has been sold. As with all other paintings, the sales amount will be donated to charity. The buyer of the painting chose “läkare utan gränser” the Swedish division of “Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)“.

Here the receipt of the SEK 840 (USD 100) donation

End of blog.