The epiphany that we were cradling art in our newsprint-dusted fingers happened this summer.
Here in the office, some of us were drooling over Cameron Cottrill's breathtakingly nerdy illustration of the grand dames of geekdom — Carrie Fisher, Linda Hamilton, Lea Thompson.
Cameron, one of our staff news artists, conceptualized and created the illustration to run on the cover of Weekend. But the image clearly had legs beyond the news cycle. Even Thompson tweeted kind words about the cover.
The Tampa Bay Times employs a staff of professional visual artists. We have illustrators who wield tools from pencil to mouse. We have photographers who tell stories through lenses, who capture beauty and profound moments others don't see.
With so many of these images, we're looking at more than a news page. We're looking at art. Art that, stripped of the headlines and the type, could hang on any wall or sit wrapped under any Christmas tree. This rang especially true with the Comic Con cover, in this cultural moment when you can't walk into Target without being assaulted by mass-produced Star Wars merch. (R2D2 is on my coffee creamer, guys).
We thought, why not bring our art to you? The Times has offered reprints of our illustrations and photos online for awhile ( tbtim.es/photoarchives), but we wanted to feature it in the flesh this holiday and make shopping easier.
This weekend, we'll have a booth at the Tampa Bay Holiday Market (an event presented by the Times) at the Coliseum in St. Petersburg, specifically to offer prints of dozens of works by Times artists.
We'll have the Comic Con cover, of course. We'll also have a wild illustration of Donald Trump and his hair, a funky take on Elvis Costello, a moving image exploring the brain as a lighthouse.
And you'll recognize Tampa Bay life through a series of our staff photographs, from local zoo animals to lightning crashing across purple skies over the University of Tampa to fireworks to kids swimming in our waters.
Prints range from $19 to $29, less than reprints normally run on tampabay.com. You'll be able to order prints on the spot and have them shipped to your home.
What else is happening at the expo? Strolling carolers, 100 vendors with holiday crafts and gifts from local boutiques, regional artists, jewelry, books, candles, kitchen gadgets. Santa visits from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. It's free to attend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 893-8134.
Who knows? You might even find a frame for your new print.