Tanya Madoff is a San Francisco artist who loved the idea of an art subscription service and was particularly inspired by The Thing Quarterly, which offers a new multiple by a famous artist every three months. Madoff wanted to create a subscription club that was a bit smaller and more accessible. As she says, "Living in San Francisco (frequently in small spaces), I wanted something that someone renting a room or studio apartment could enjoy. I started Button Club because I wanted an ongoing project that would challenge me creatively and allow me to collaborate with other artists." She always loved getting surprises in the mail and wanted to create that experience for others.
As a former guest artist and Button Club subscriber, I can tell you that receiving new buttons featuring art each month is always a welcome surprise. Mixed among my bills and junk mail will be a colorful little package put together with care and creativity. Some of my favorites have been a button with a drawing of a record with its own little sleeve, and another was a button representing Chinese New Year, tucked into a traditional red and gold envelope.
Madoff essentially creates a collage and packaging that matches the art on the button. She says she felt frustrated as an artist before she started Button Club, and that she enjoys having a deadline and audience for her collaborative work each month. She's also "learned to adopt the wabi-sabi approach and have an appreciation for the imperfections and variations that come from handmade art."
Small buttons are ubiquitous, you can find them everywhere, but Madoff's are extra special. She spends time creating custom packages, but also sees the projects as ephemeral: "Often you have to rip part of the packaging to get the button. I like to think I'm creating an experience for the subscriber. It's art, but not pretentious. Also, there's something very pleasing to me about the one-inch button size. They almost seem like candy. It's like having a delicious snack. An it immediately becomes unique to the person receiving it because they choose how to wear or display it. Plus, it's way easier than the "Fruit of the Month Club"--you don't need grapefruit spoons!" Madoff sums up the essence of Button Club best, "When people put care and love into whatever they are creating, it makes a difference that can be felt."
July 2013 is the fourth anniversary of Button Club, and August will mark its 50th issue. Many of the artists Madoff works with are in the Bay Area, and she finds them online, in galleries, and through her own art network of friends. The first time an artist approached her, asking to be featured, she says, "It felt like a really great benchmark." Button Club was officially on the map as a unique way to share tiny, wearable art prints with a new audience.
Subscribe to Button Club at TanyaMadoff.com. All photos by Tanya Madoff. Button Club artists pictured: Kristin Farr, Albert Campbell, Annie Galvin.