General Topics

This area is for my thoughts, general comments and ideas

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 7 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Dear friends and fellow artist I will be teaching an introduction to Paper Cutting starting on the 28th of this month at 3rd Ward Brooklyn, if you are interested check out the link here

Being an MFA candidate does not mean that you are simply a student.

As artist we are always learning something. Whether it is new ways to do something, new materials to use, or new ways to promote and market our work, we are always on a journey to find something new in our art. This has been part of being an artist for as long as we have had fine art.

There was a time in art, when emerging and established artists were not just required to improve, but also expected to study beyond just what they have learned before. During the Enlightenment artist like Diego Velazquez would take time to travel to other countries and study new forms of making art. During their journeys while they were studying they were still considered to be well-established or master artists. This tradition of the artists going back to or even continuing their professional study would continue until the 1920’s were we start to see a change in the idea of the MFA or studying of art in a formal setting from being a furthering for artists to simply a institutional program for people to learn art.

In this day of mass media and the internet it is more important for artists to explore new venues to go with their work, new medias and materials to try and even new styles of work to combine with their style or creating work. But for many there is this stigma that going back to school to learn a new skill or to expand your understanding of an idea will reduce you as an artist.

More people are required to expand not just their minds but their ability to understand more, this can come in many forms, but none so strong as continuing their education. For some it is a means to learn a new skill, for others they are trying to advance their carriers as art educators, and yet for others it is simply a means to be able to teach at the university level. But if we continue to put stigmas that further development makes you less, than how can we expect the art world to grow?

As an emerging international artist who has had exhibits in China, Korea, New York, Paris, Zurich, Madrid, and London but is also going back for his MFA to learn a new skill and with hopes of teaching at a university I face these stigmas all the time. When people hear that I am working on an MFA they tend to look past the fact that I have had solo and group shows not just in galleries but also museums around the world, that my works are in permanent collections of galleries, hotels, libraries and universities around Asia and in New York, that I belong to professional artists associations, and have won awards for my art, and that I have been featured in newspapers, magazines and on television in China and New York. To them all of that does not matter because I am going for my MFA.

If a businessman goes back to school to learn a new form of accounting or management he is sharpening his skills. If a doctor goes back to school to learn a new technique or equipment he is being on the cutting edge. But if an artist goes back to school to learn a new technique, equipment or style he is a student? Being that academies of art were some of the first universities in the world, it is sad that we place them on such a low plane in this day and age of advancement.

Tip#9 for emerging artists TO PAY OR NOT PAY

I have had several galleries and spaces offer me the chance to pay for membership, join a co-op, rent a space or pay for a booth, and my answer to all of them has been the same, “I don’t pay to show my work”. As an artist if your work is good enough you will get shows, if not either look at the kind of work you are doing or the places you are trying to show your work. The truth is that once you start heading down that path to pay to show your work, there is no coming back.

Having said that, like anything else there are some exceptions to the rule.

1. Pay for entry to a competition or call for artist. many galleries are doing this these days, as a way to find new talent, but you have to be careful. There are three areas of this to look at.

a. Galleries. If a gallery does nothing but have pay competitions stay away from them, they will get you nowhere. However if a gallery has normal exhibits, and once a year offers the chance for artists to submit works to help them find new talent than they might be worth it. That does not mean to blindly enter, do your homework. See if the gallery is a fit for your work, but also see if the jurist has a liking to your kind of work. I once entered a exhibit where the gallery did not normally show my kind of work, but the jurist did. I did not get accepted to the show, because the jurist did not feel it was the right fit for the space, but they did introduce my work to a gallery friend of theirs that they thought would like my work, and I got a piece in a group show.

b. Art Associations and Art Leagues. It is good as an emerging artists to belong to one or two art groups. Again do your homework and see what they have to offer. Most will have  a members show once a year, and some will even put together smaller member shows for a group of artists, some will even feature a member. While more than likely you won’t get a solo show, there are galleries and museums that go to these shows to scout new talent, and sometimes people in the group belong to galleries or museums and will talk about your work. Being part of groups has gotten me 30% of my shows, because people saw my work, and recommended me to someone else. The memberships are good for a year, and if things are going good, keep it, if not or if you want to spread yourself out some join a different one the next year.. but don’t over do it.. joining to many can be overwhelming..

c. Community centers, government organizations, state art programs. These are usually community based programs and public works. These are good if you want to get into public projects. I have done a few small ones, and have sold some pieces through them, I have also meet people who have introduced me to galleries and museums. Once you get accepted to one public project, the more likely you will get others.

2. While I have never rented a space, and don’t see myself doing it, I have made agreements to do my own advertisement for exhibits with the understanding that the gallery or space gets no percent of sales. I have not done this in NY, mostly Asia and once in Europe. It worked well for me, and the space was great. Again do your research.

3. The last has nothing to do with money. I have twice had a gallery state that they liked my work and wanted to add it to their collection, but instead of buying the work would give me a solo show and pay for everything, and let me keep 100% of the sales unto the price of the art in the collection. As an artist one of the greater things to hear is that someone wants to add your work to their permanent collection, and to have a show around that is great. One show I did not make much, the other I sold 10 pieces. While I did not make a lot of money on one, my work is in their collection for all clients to see, and I got some great connections out of it. I have also had people contact me long after the show to do a studio visit.

You may ask why some galleries have entry fees or ask you to exchange art for shows, remember that galleries have to make money to be open and to handle the entries for exhibits. This does not mean that they are not successful just that they are trying to reduce cost to themselves while staying in business.

There are those who will argue that well if you sell work at a gallery they get a percentage, so what is the difference between that and paying to show your work, the answer is simple. Galleries that ask for payment to show your work will usually take anyone that can afford it, galleries that take a percentage are putting up the money to hold the show, and putting their faith in your works ability to sell, it says they thing your work is worth the investment. Know that putting on a show is not cheap. The average show will cost anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 dollars to put on. Think I am wrong, think about this, the gallery has to pay rent (depending on the location can be expensive), pay their gallery staff, utilities, printing of invites, advertisement, postage, refreshments for opening, security, insurance, maintenance, handling of the art. When they are choosing an artist for a show they are putting more than money on the line, they are putting their reputation and possible business on the line. If nothing sells they are out all that money.

Nerdrum is no Wei Wei…

Artist Odd Nerdrum claims to be the Ai WeiWei of Europe… what a joke.. Nerdrum was jailed after a court case (which he lost) for not claiming all the money he made from selling his works in the US. Ai Wei Wei, had no court date, did not get to have lawyer present during questioning, and was not allowed to go on national TV and talk about it while in Jail… also unlike Wei Wei, Nerdrum’s conviction, sentence and punishment was announced for the public to hear, and explained why they did what they did.. Now does that mean that the court was right? No, but they did not hide it, he got a court date, and an appeal, two things Wei Wei never got… 

Lots to do still

My summer is very busy and just keeps getting busier.. I am working on putting together my exhibits with August, dropping off work for exhibits this month, and attending live painting events. I am also looking at my exhibits for Sept, and Oct, as well as hoping to hear back for an exhibit in Feb… Yes, I am looking at events for next year already…

Success in art is 30% luck and 70% hard work…

There are a couple of artists I have met in the last year that ask me how I get my exhibits. I tell them it is 30% luck and 70% hard work.

The luck:
They say that success often comes by being in the right place at the right time… it is a little more than that, you have to also have something to offer… I can tell you that it is true.. I often took advantage of opportunities that have come my way, and while they don’t all pan out more than not I have been lucky enough to meet people who enjoy my work. In China I was able to meet some great artists, art association leaders, and museum and gallery owners, in Europe I was introduced to an artists who invited me to be part of a touring project and some galleries, in Korea I met some gallery owners and amazing artists, and here in Long Island I have met great artists, wonderful museum and gallery people and some terrific art lovers and collectors.

But like I said that is just one part of it. The other part is hard work. Not only am I working in my studio as much as I can, I am out there meeting people, making connections, staying in touch, sending paper invites to those that give me an address, always have business cards on me, taking opportunities to be at as many events as I can, giving demonstrations and doing workshops, visiting other artists studios, going to friends exhibits, supporting galleries and museums that support me, introducing artists with galleries I know if I think their work will add to the place, introducing artists friends to other artists friends, researching galleries and museums that I think will fit my work…

No you can’t do everything, but the most important thing you can do as an artist, is share your information, knowledge and opportunities with others, because in order to be able to do both of these it is important to remember that it usually other artists who help us get our breaks. Most exhibits I have had have been because another artist introduced me to someone that they thought would like my work.

Hope this helps…

What is takes to be an artist in todays art world.

Please mind that this is a start and I will add more later…

Lots of people ask me what it is like being an artist in todays market. To tell you the truth, it is harder today than ever before. You would think that with multi media, mass media, digital media, mass production, internet, smart phones and email it would all be easy, but the truth is that the more technology the harder it gets. I will try to explain this in sessions while trying to break down what it takes…

Lets start with the internet… that ever growing unknown place in clouds that we can’t see but know it is there… In the past if an artist wanted to get their work out there it happened in galleries, museums, printed art publications and Art Fairs… today with the internet it is harder to tell who are real artists and who are faking it… now there are vanity galleries, vanity exhibits, art web sites, art blogs, art pages, art apps, virtual galleries, virtual museums, virtual exhibits, virtual publications.. and lets not forget about facebook, twitter, Blogger, wordpress, linked in, and others… anyone can claim to be an artist and post some work.. but you have to ask yourself, is it real? does this person really make art or are they faking it to make a buck? A couple of months ago I met someone who claimed to be a successful artist, they claimed that I knew nothing about real art and had more exhibits than me.. It is not rare to hear this these days, even the legit artists today can tend to have a chip on their shoulders, but I wanted to check him out and see what made him so great.. well it turns out, he does digital art (not that digital art is not real, just not his) all of his exhibits were virtual, and never in a real gallery, most of these virtual galleries were set up by his friends. This is not to say that no virtual galleries are real, there are a few, we will talk about them later, but these clearly were not, they had no offices, no curator, no business license. Now you would wonder what this has to do with making it as an artist in todays market, that is simple. When you are a serious artist there is such a thing as bad exposure. There are lots of people that will tell you that it is most important to get your work out there, and it is, but anyone who knows will tell you that there is such a thing as the wrong place to show your work. When you start to get noticed the last thing you want is a gallery looking at your experience and turning you down based on the fact that they think your exhibits are fake or in vanity galleries..

more later