Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Artist "Pensions"

I interviewed twenty artists for Making It: Case Studies of Successful Canadian Visual Artists. Collectively, they have half a millennium of experience; had I thought of the project that way from the beginning, I might not have been so surprised by some of its wonderful but unexpected outcomes.

One great idea that emerged from the panel interviews came from Val Nelson. She referred to one of her business practices as the development of her self-directed artists’ pensions. Whereas I was familiar with the professional practice of strategically retaining work throughout the span of their career, I had never thought of the practice as the creation of an artists’ “pension.”

I have often heard artists bemoan the volume of their unsold inventory, but rather than see it negatively, thinking of it as a pension changes a perceived liability into an asset. Val put a clever (financial) spin on an established professional practice; she made me consider an artists work record (or unsold inventory) in a different and positive way.

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