The Laws of Nature

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ordinary Problems

Art & Fear: Observations on the perils (and rewards) of artmaking
by Bayles & Orland
photo: Birch Island, Maine where we celebrated Memorial Day with friends

Now that I've returned from a fabulous week in Maine, I'm returning to this great book. I truly missed my daily "conversations" with you all and look forward to resuming them. We've arrived at Part II, chapter 6 "A View into the Outside World." Here, the authors transition from our internal fears that were exposed in Part I, to how we artists deal with the problems that arise in the outside world once the art is made. Although the term "ordinary" is used to describe these problems, that doesn't mean trivial. I agree with the authors when they write that ordinary problems consume the larger part of almost ever artist's time. That's been my experience as well.

The easy part is creating the painting in the first place. After that, it's all downhill: marketing making contacts, sales, packing and shipping, and paperwork galore! As the author's put it: There's one hell of a lot more to art than just making it.

Finding a venue for our work requires navigating the intricate network of dealers, gallery directors, agents, critics, and patrons who decide whether or not to exhibit what we've created as well as to control its value. So much of what happens to our art once it is made is out of our direct control unless we decide not to show it at all. And, if our work happens to offend or challenge too many boundaries, it will be D.O.A.

Next time, we'll delve a little deeper into these "ordinary problems."

What are your thoughts?


Stan Kurth said...

Just think of it this way: once you've gotten over the hump and your work is selling for six figures, you're getting critical acclaim and recognition around the world; then you can hire a personal manager. Until that time it's just part of being an artist. Promoting yourself is hard work. Doors are opening and closing all the time and if you want to take advantage of all the opportunities you kinda have to be hanging out when they do. It's like purposely putting yourself in the right place at the right time. All of this requires all the steps you've taken so far ant then taking the next step, and the next, and the next. Not quitting is a must, but being stagnant is almost as like quitting.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back Kathy! This post doesn't apply to me since I don't sell or market my work. I'm still in the how to make art stage. But I wanted to pop in and say I missed you and your daily posts!

Celeste Bergin said...

I haven't met an artist yet who likes the marketing/selling aspect. I'm about as close as I have seen to someone who doesn't despise it--and the only reason for that is a couple of decades spent in the "persuasion" business. I don't know, I don't find it all that bad, but I do get frustrated about how few hours we have in the day. ALSO another thing that does irk me is when artists are treated crummily --is crummily a word? When artists have to do allll the promotion, give away 50% of the proceeds, purchase frames that come back wrecked, "required" to be at tons of events (as the "entertainment")--well, it does get old. I KNOW the economy is bad...but come on!

-Don said...

This is still new territory for me in my latest art phase, so I have nothing really to add at this point. Soon maybe...

Welcome back, Kathy. That gorgeous photo from the coast makes my heart yearn...


hw (hallie) farber said...

I will just follow for a while--I have nothing to add.

Unknown said...

Hi Stan - very true! I'm amazed by how much work has gone into this aspect of my world as a professional artist. It all builds, and I stick with it even if it's not something I want to do.

Hi Pam - Great to "hear" from you! Thanks.

Hi Celeste - "crummily" is a perfect word! I can relate. Others might see artmaking as charity work, but I don't!

Hi Don - it makes my heart yearn, too! I'll be going back in two weeks for the rest of the season.

Hi Hallie - nice to "hear" from you!

Mark Sheeky said...

Welcome back Kathy, I've missed you! I've been thinking about things like this recently. I've been painting so many things for competitions recently (in an unusually busy year for them) and at first I thought them annoying, wanting to paint the "proper stuff".

Now I'm switching round and thinking that what happens to the picture should be part of the design process. What you do with it should be clear before you even think about painting. In the context of the book, fear comes from unknowns, and by eliminating unknowns you eliminate fear. What would the world's best artist do? Not marketing, just manufacturing.

M said...

Marketing takes a tremendous amount of time. I'm lucky to have a gallery who really works for its artists. They organize events and applications for me . All I have to do is show up. There are many events that I have to apply for or find ways to market myself especially if they are outside the city where my gallery is. I'm learning every time I do something. I think you have to be selective about how you market your work and where you send it.

Dan Kent said...

Finally! This forced withdrawal from my art philosophy addiction was hard to bear! Welcome Back, Kathy!

I have nothing to add except, you'll always be KZATHY to me.

Unknown said...

Hi Mark - I see what you mean, and agree that planning is so vital to successful work. However, no matter how carefully we plan, there's always room for spontaneity. There's room for intuition.

Hi Margaret - I agree; it's best to be selective. You're lucky to have such a great gallery!

Hi Dan - :-))