The first rule of art is to base it on something you know.
For Cynthia Crawford, a former executive secretary in Phoenix, Ariz., that meant basing her sculptures on aliens.
"I've spent my life having contact [with E.T.s] and in 2003, I just began sculpting them," Crawford told HuffPost Weird News while selling her wares -- a line of alien sculptures at the MUFON Symposium 2011, UFO convention held July 29-31 in Irvine, Calif.
Nearly 500 people showed up to discuss serious scientific principles surrounding UFOs and extraterrestrials as well as to sell a variety of related goods, such as crystal skulls, flying saucer-shaped rocks and conspiracy theory DVDs of all types.
And, of course, there were lots of artists like Crawford, who was hoping to connect attendees with the E.T. sculpture just right for them.
You see, Crawford's relationship with E.T.s is what might be called up close and personal. She claims to be an E.T. hybrid from a government experiment and said she remembers being taken to underground military medical facilities for testing and examinations during her childhood. She also said she endured numerous alien abductions, examinations and impregnations, as well as miraculous healings.
Now she has taken it upon herself to help other "star seeds" people like her to awaken to their true nature via her busts of aliens, which she sells for as much as $200.
Each sculpture is different, which reflects, according to Crawford, the many hundreds of thousands of races in the universe.
"It would take several lifetimes to sculpt them all," she said, in between dealing with customers. "There are the Zetas, which a lot of people have experiences with, and there are also the Arcturians. Some planets have a few different races, but we usually make just one type for each planet.
"Not that we can't make more, but we are just so busy with people contacting us for different sculptures that it's difficult to take the time. Business has been picking up because people are waking up and they are remembering that they are star seeds."
Crawford and her partner, Diane Hamlin, a former interior designer who also claims to have had lots of E.T. encounters, said the alien art pieces are designed to be extraterrestrially interactive.
"We channel the beings and they come to us through the sculpture, and their presence in the sculpture can assist the star seeds," she said. "These are only for star seeds and that is why only people who are really drawn to them will buy them. And [these statues] awaken them to who they truly are and what their mission on planet Earth is, and to help them have contact with their star family."
"That's a Zeta," she said, pointing to the head of a pasty white alien. "They're healers, they're very intelligent and they create a lot of interesting technologies and they share their technology and they're very, very loving."
Apparently, they are also great doctors.
"It's unbelievable. I've had people -- we've had (points to Hamlin) people -- who've had incredible healings, and also people that they know have had them from just holding the sculptures," she said. "I had a woman who had a kidney disease who was healed instantly after holding it. The statue told her telepathically, 'Do not put me down until I'm done healing.'"
It may be stating the obvious, but, so far, alien sculptures have not been tested or approved by the FDA for the treatment of, well, any kind of illness.
But if some E.T.-inspired artists like Crawford have been communicating with creatures from beyond for years, others like Eve Featherstone are more newly acquainted.
Featherstone left the business world a year ago to become a channeler for a few extraterrestrials from other dimensions. The beings, who include "a female reptoid goddess-like creature," have inspired her to create various poems about the need to raise one's vibration and multi-colored paintings involving hexagons.
"One day, I felt some need to buy an architectural drawing kit," she explained between giving adjustments to people's "chakras," or energy centers at the convention. "I became obsessed with hexagons for some reason. I kept doing the same ratio. It was a very dense and slow experience, but it came out looking like a cool Spirograph figure."
Noticing an anatomically correct eye that appeared in one of the works turned out to be the point of no return for Featherstone.
"I almost went into another dimension," she said. "It was intense. I had to hold on to my cat so I wouldn't leave. At that point, I knew I was chosen and that I was a prophet."
Featherstone said the E.T.s who are in contact with her include tall gray aliens from Orion, as well as Ra, the ancient Egyptian sun god.
They inspire her works, and that, in turn, hopefully inspires others, she said.
"They raise the vibrations of people in a way that's appropriate for them," she said. "They're like paintings that stare back. They evolve your eyes to see other dimensions and open different neuropaths."
There have been no double blind studies of Featherstone's paintings to determine if they do in fact enhance one's abilities to see other dimensions, or if they do indeed open any different neuropaths.
Not every E.T.-inspired artist has been contacted by aliens. Santa Ana-based mixed media muralist Chris Ellsworth is inspired by his study of how extraterrestrials have been portrayed in history, most notably by Zecharia Sitchin, famous for theorizing that extraterrestrials created modern-day humans through genetic engineering.
"Sitchin, who passed away last November [at the age of 90], was a personal hero of mine and was basically able to prove that the ancient Sumerian society was visited by the Anunnaki from planet X -- also known as Nibiru -- and splashed down into the Persian Gulf about 425,000 years ago and created a race to mine gold for them," Ellsworth said, while showing off "Farewell Mr. Sitchin," a mixed media work using rocks, driftwood and beechwood to tell the story about how aliens came to Earth.
Although mainstream scientists and academics dismiss Sitchin's work as pseudoscience and pseudohistory rife with flawed methodology, mistranslations of ancient texts and incorrect astronomical and scientific claims, Ellsworth said he hasn't been turned into a disbeliever.
"The Sumerians etched it in petroglyphs and there's cave paintings," he sad. "There's not proof but there's evidence all around the Earth that this happened and the records are very specific."
Ellsworth, who works as an investigator for the Mutual UFO Network, an organization of more than 3,000 investigators that has been researching sightings since 1969, designed his murals to be a window on various parts of Sitchin's works. As such, there are little windows depicting the alien activity.
"The windows represent the mining," he said. "It's kind of like the Mine Ride at Knotts Berry Farm -- it's supposed to give the feeling that below the Earth, they're mining for the gold and that they consider humans gold as well."
Unlike Crawford or Featherstone, Ellsworth insisted he's had no personal interaction with E.T.s.
"They don't want me," he said. "But I am trying to dispel fear, which is what Hollywood is trying to promote. It's propaganda. Every alien movie that's out is bad. They want to invade and, in my opinion, the elites want you to be afraid. My job is to dispel that fear."
According to Ellsworth, the vast majority of abductions are nothing like the humiliating rectal probes that make the subject the basis for jokes.
"Ninety five percent of abductions are considered good things; people want them to happen again," he said. "But 5 percent are terrible experiences. However, the media focuses on those."
Despite what Ellsworth claims is an anti-E.T. environment, the interest in E.T. art is skyrocketing, he said.
"Absolutely, especially in Japan," he said. "And it's very pop. There's alien stuff all around."
The end result has negative and positive connotations for believers like him.
"There seems to be a desensitization about it," he said. "Kids tell me, 'Yeah, I see aliens all the time, but what do you want me to do about it?' Well, at least they're talking about it."