Friday, June 25, 2010

About Marketing the Self

There is a bridge to be crossed to get from the studio to the world of art business. The crossing is harrowing.

Isn’t there some part of yourself that is private? Not because it is secret but because that is how it is meant to be? Maybe there is a place within ourselves where we really abide. It would be the place that painting and poetry spring from and probably who we are as well. I imagine there are some among us who are sure they are without fault. Then there are those of us who have a few doubts. So writing or painting or producing anything that reveals the perceptions of the inner core may not be such a good idea.

The work is personal, not in the manner of skeletons in the closet or old love affairs, but of that place within. Last week’s question was: “Does anybody see what I see?” If I didn’t need to sell what I make, this would not be an issue. But it matters a lot. I want acceptance, praise and sales. Sometimes I get all of that, sometimes none.

I have become more adept at advertising myself — note that it is not my work I must advertise, but myself. There is performance anxiety when there is a show, and the recurrent discomfort of marketing: making the phone calls, writing the letters and press releases, sending out packets of images, managing the web site(s), sending emails and doing the research. The other side of the bridge.

I found in a web site about marketing art, first this comment: “You need to believe that your artwork is your special gift to the world.” and then these rules:
1.  Get good at making remarkable art.
2.  Ignore critics and people who try to bring you down. Is that all? Piece-a-cake!

Eric Maisel: Art and business may be strange bedfellows, but an artist must make room in her bed for both.

The image above is Trio One ©2010, Giclée Print, size varies. For information about any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.

Friday, June 18, 2010

About Perception

Does anybody see what I see? Sometimes. Not always.

I suffered some performance anxiety before opening my studio recently for a local event. The feeling was much the same as the days before opening a gallery show but there was some additional cause for concern this time. I was dedicating much of the space for viewing my work to my new giclée prints. I would be lying if I said that the response of my audience was of no import. The truth is that I don’t know what I have done until it bounces off friends, family and strangers, and I dearly want the work to be embraced. I would probably continue in the same vein without that desired encouragement but it’s definitely a more difficult path.

During the two very pleasant weekends of playing hostess in my workspace, the response to the giclées was unreservedly positive. I had expected some rebuff because of the bias against technology in art. I guess I need to have more faith in my audience.

I am a harsh critic of my own work and I don’t always see with an objective eye. I can do so after a certain amount of time has passed and then I usually I think I can do better. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln: “You can please all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot please all the people all the time.” I would add to that: Sometimes people surprise you.

The image above is Mini Diptych ©2010, Giclée Print, size varies. For information about any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.

Friday, June 11, 2010

About Being an Artist

Calling oneself an artist seems to me a little presumptuous. I don’t usually object when I’m named so but I’d rather call myself a painter or something along that line. Plumbers and carpenters are about what they do. M.D’s and architects have their diplomas. But an artist?

Some who are called artists have studied, others have not. I have an opinion (not unusual): I believe an artist is one who works at it. Those who call themselves artists and say they have to “get back to it” are fooling themselves. I know; I stopped painting for a long time. I was raising my children and teaching. I was a mother and a teacher. And in spite of the fact that I hold a degree in the fine arts there was no way I could call myself an artist.

So I suppose (here’s more opinion), I think it has to be earned. Not by any measure of success but by hanging with it through all the vicissitudes that are common to the path.

The image above is Geranium ©2006, Acrylic & Mixed Media Collage on Archival Board, 9 x 30". For information about any of the paintings on this site, please email Joan.

Andy Warhol - “An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have.”

Ben Shahn: “An amateur is an artist who supports himself with outside jobs which enable him to work. A professional is someone whose wife works to enable him to paint.”

My dictionary — “a person who produces paintings or drawings as a profession or hobby.” I find this too limiting in scope and “hobby” has no place there.

Friday, June 4, 2010

About the Throes

I’m in the throes of converting my studio into a visitor friendly space for our local North Coast Open Studios event. The task is daunting. Apart from the difficulty of moving about in a space filled with large collage pieces in progress on foam-core, barely held together with quilting pins, which will tip over if you breathe and mess up hours of serious pondering, my space is private. It is where I find my blessed solitude. How can I open it to the public? Don’t ask. I just do it.

I’ve done it before; it’s good for me to be friendly sometimes. Maybe a little out of character, but there are rewards. I like hearing people admire the look of the studio. It is basically an ugly space, a converted double garage. But it is almost completely covered by works in progress, finished work and some projects that are exercises in putting color together that I find beautiful. I like it to be seen. I suppose that the artist, even those shy and introverted, is a performer and needs an audience to complete the experience.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “There is no strong performance without a little fanaticism in the performer”.