The Laws of Nature

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Do Artists Want to Read?

I was looking through a stack of art magazines in my studio pile, and began thinking about the titles of articles posted on the covers. These very similar journals are competing to attract readers, so the editors must consider which articles to feature. In so doing, they consider what it is that we contemporary artists are concerned with most. What follows is a short list of some of the feature articles on the covers:

Capture the Energy of Everyday Life
Break Rules and Make Helpful Discoveries
Loosen Up With Watercolor Portraits
Advice From a Top Portrait Painter
Learn the Best Qualities of Acrylics
Explore Still Life Painting With an Expert
Get to Work: Why Persistence Trumps Talent Every Time
Paint Like Van Eyck: Give Your Artwork Greater Depth
Design for Impact: 5 Compositions to Try
Lush Blooms in 9 Simple Steps
Keys to Convincing Water Reflections
What's Hot in Latin American Art
The Degas Controversy
Swoon: Street Smart

The categories of topics range from painting techniques, to pep-talks, to art history and the art marketplace. I tend to be attracted to all these topics, but the first two in particular.

Which art magazines do you typically purchase? What types of articles do you like to read?


Carolina Moon Arts Studio said...

i have found that many of the magazines i have subscribed to over the years all start looking and sounding the same after a while. I look for creativity in concept and use of materials first and then technique ideas. I also like to hear more about where the inspiration came from for the artists work than how or where they actually created the work. I am also intriqued at seeing artists studios and how they organize themselves to create.

Casey Klahn said...

One can see why you like the 2, Kathy. They are evocative in intent, and generalized instead of technical. Like you, I shy away from the technical, "How To" articles.

I admit to trying to title posts (my little blog magazine - which is what we all are writing) so they can be catchy. Putting a number in there is a trick, and I try to keep away from that to avoid overuse. Still, the last time I "numbered" a title, it went crazy with stats.

I keep to the pastel journal and the pastelagram mostly - medium loyalty, huh?. I do buy the Drawing special edition (American Artist?) OTR. Because they comped me a sick low-rate, I subscribe to the Artist's Magazine.

I do receive the American Arts Quarterly. I enjoy the level of scholarship, but I argue with the viewpoints. Another comp.

If anyone is interested, see this rundown on magazines for artists. magazines

Celeste Bergin said...

Artist's magazines! .... a slippery slope. I love them and hate them. What I love about them is being exposed to visuals I would not ordinarily see. I have seldom if ever followed along with a step-by-step --that seems weird to do, but I have often read them, especially if it involves an artist I admire. Nothing seems to come close to learning from a real life class or a workshop. Artist Magazines are akin to eating chocolates. You can be disciplined and eat one or you can eat the whole What I dislike about the magazines is that I can spend so much time pursuing them I don't get to my own work...but, what's not to like about chocolate? lol

hwfarber said...

Art in America, Art News, Art Calendar and Artist's Magazine--and I like Drawing; I think it's published quarterly.

Some of the best articles I've read about artists, however, have appeared in Smithsonian and Atlantic magazines.

I sometimes swear off magazines but then get an offer I can't refuse.

dpr said...

Artist magazines always call to me. I have to exert great control in my purchasing. I subscribe to Canadian Art. I also purchase Border Crossings (Cdn),Modern Painter because it is international as well as Art in America. Those four cover most bases. I am most interested in having a sense of the national and international scene so i can place my work in that larger context. Early in my career all I purchased were technique magazines which I only now get if there's something of great interest (mostly mixed media) on the cover.

Kathy said...

Hi Carolyn - all good topics! The last one - artists' studios and organization is beginning to interest me since I need to attend to this in both of my studios! Your studio is lovely :-)

Hi Casey - thanks so much for the link! I'm not surprised by your journal selections, and would love to be a fly on your wall to hear your arguments with the viewpoints expressed in AAQ ;-)

Hi Celeste - funny! Art magazines are like a box of chocolates - good analogy. I used to subscribe to many and have given it up since I can find most of what I want on the web. And, as you point out, they're a poor substitution for an actual workshop.

Hi Hallie - all good magazines, and I've subscribed to many on your list in the past. The only one I subscribe to now is Art Calendar - mostly for the listings.

Hi dpr - like you, I'm really interested in reading the international magazines to see the global state of art and to see how my work fits. I've never seen the first two magazines you cite. Thanks for joining our conversation! Hope to hear more from you in the future.

Dan Kent said...

Frankly, what I have wanted to read lately is your blog, and the comments to it. (No more blushing - can't stand that - it's just the truth.) I also find that visiting many artist blogs I pick up many neat things - maybe a tidbit at a time, that are wonderful - useful or inspiring.

I have rarely bought art magazines that teach, I am not sure why - except I have been disappointed in the past. Nevertheless, the articles on your list that jumped out at me were ones that would help me with problems I am having, like "Loosen up with Watercolor Portraits." Again, the title has often been better than the article in my experience.

More useful are books. I have many books on technique I pore over again and again. And books on art history. And I love receiving recommendations from artists I admire: I recently put in my Amazon cart a few used, out of print, books on watercolor and acrylic - that I found out were very important to an artist on the web that I think is great, for example. My cart is full - and I want them but am hesitating to spend the money. I will probably have to chose.

The only art magazines I have subscribed to have been Artnews and Art & Antiques, and while I would read all of the articles, the pictures in the ads were more important to me. I also subscribed to Smithsonian that would occasionally have great articles on art.

Myrna Wacknov said...

When I first started painting in Watercolor, I couldn't get enough of the art magazines. Now, I check them out at the book store and only buy a few. The articles are not in depth enough for me at this stage. I am no longer the target audience. If I love an artist, I will buy the magazine so I can tear out the article for my files. I am always surprised and frustrated when I can't find more on an artist of interest on the web. I do appreciate the boost to my teaching career from being featured in the art magazines. Coupled with my blog, it has made all the difference.

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Kathy said...

Hi Dan - it sounds like you're an avid reader and finding lots of ways to tap into information, including websites. That's great! I wish I had enough time to read everything that's on my list, but I don't. And then, there are books and articles that I need to read several times. You probably have similar feelings.

Hi Myrna - I'll buy ANY magazine that has an article by or about Myrna Wacknov!!

Hi Pam - I used to suffer from the same problem of not remember the names of so many artists. It has taken repeated exposure over years to solve that problem. It's great that you're viewing and reading so much! I found that it helps a lot.

-Don said...

ARTnews and Art Calendar are the only two I subscribe to any more. I end up reading them cover-to-cover, but I get more out of the images in ARTnews and the listings in Art Calendar than anything else. I've tried many others over the years but always find myself eventually getting irritated with the "how to's" which often talk down to the reader and the saccharin artwork that ends up being favored.

I also subscribe to National Geographic which has some wonderful artwork (photos) throughout and some impressive writing. However, they have a tendency to hang out on a soapbox at times... Smithsonian is another good one for rounding out a good art diet of the old and new, but I quit subscribing a few years ago and haven't renewed yet - maybe someday...

Hey! As I"m typing this my daughter just brought in the mail and my new ARTnews and National Geographics are in! Guess which headlines belong to which:

"Swoon: Street Smart"
"Water, Our Thirsty World"
"What's Hot in Latin American Art"
"The Degas Controversy"
"Bill Viola's Video Game"

If I were at the newsstand I don't know that I would pick up one of these based on their headlines. Regrettably, it's one geared to my profession... My son would call this a "Fail".


Stan Kurth said...

Twenty-five years ago I read Art News religiously. Now I might purchase an art related magazine two or three times a year. I guess I'm more of a book reader now.

-Don said...

Happy belated birthday.


Kathy said...

Hi Don - you names the two magazines that I settled on as well, although I subscribe only to Art Calendar and buy ArtNews at the stand. Like you, I'm dissatisfied with a lot of "how to" articles because they're so technique focused that they miss the bigger picture of content. And ... thanks for the B-day wish. If only I could get younger like Merlin!!

Hi Stan - As you've noticed, I spend a lot of time reading books as opposed to magazines. But, there's a place in my life for both.

Margaret Ryall said...

Hi Kathy,
I'm the dpr who responded earlier. I forgot I was on my husband's computer and he was signed in.

Kathy said...

Hi Margaret - funny! Thanks for identifying yourself :-)

Eva said...

Read??? As a little girl once said, "words are for people who can't read pictures!" LOL,
Actually, I do have tons of art books, including two copies of "The Art Spirit", but I've only read bits and pieces of it. Most of my reading in the past few years has been art blogs. My favorites are Robert Genn and yours. However, I've pulled out "The Art Spirit" again, and thanks to you I'm reading it this time!

Kathy said...

Hi Eva - like you, I love my art books! Can't get enough of them. I'm truly honored that you enjoy reading this blog. I enjoy reading your comments! Hope to hear more from you in the future :-)

r garriott said...

I grew up around art magazines, and in college, working in an art supply store, would flip through whatever latest issues we had on the stands to pass the occasional slow morning. I guess I got my fill of them then. I've had only two subscriptions in several decades.

When I do pick up an art magazine, it's to 'read' the pictures (as Eva so aptly put). In a direct corollary to gallery hopping, an issue (or rooms) full of mediocre works can let the air out of creative balloon, but a single brilliantly thought out and well executed painting can inspire me for days.

Kathy said...

Hi "r" - I agree! When I see an inspiring painting I feast on it for weeks, months, even years. It says more than a million written words could (what's the old adage??)
Thanks for commenting.