Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Making It: Case Studies of Successful Canadian Visual Artists, is my new book. It debuts this July at Opus and Chapters/Indigo.

My first book, Artist Survival Skills: How to Make a Living as a Canadian Visual Artist (2008), documented some business standards for Canadian visual artists. In this second book, I set out to celebrate some business practices that have significantly contributed to the development of a visual artist’s career. Each chapter may be about the entirety of a career or it may be about one aspect of a career. It is my hope that in these stories, you will find inspiration or a comfortable methodology to apply to your own practice.

The stories in Making It are not “how-to” stories, although some chapters provide specific directions. Rather, they are narratives intended to inspire and provoke you. These stories prove that the routes to success are many and varied. Each chapter is an interview with one or more artists. Making It contains interviews with twenty contemporary artists who have experience with various best practices in the visual arts. It was a wonderful and rewarding experience to meet these creative practitioners and to interview them.

I am extremely grateful to all the artists whose words are recorded in this book. Their willingness to share their professional experiences for the benefit of upcoming generations of Canadian visual artists is wondrous creative and intellectual philanthropy. If you read it, I sincerely hope that you find it as rich and insightful document as I do.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

All the work in The Cheaper Show sells for the same low price of $200. Because contributing artists are asked to submit their best work to it, I wondered why artists would sell their best work at so low a price so I interviewed a few past participants about their experience. For one of them, the appeal was in her assumption that The Cheaper Show would expose art to a new public—people who might otherwise not be able to afford contemporary artwork of good quality. Other artists I spoke with were attracted to the value of the preview to which curators, the media and dealers were to be invited.

So I spoke with more artists who had participated in past versions of The Cheaper Show and it left me with the impression that the show is working for everyone except the artists involved. The buyers are happy, especially those who were invited to the preview, and the producers of the show are happy because they report significant sales and, therefore, commissions. But are the artists well served?

My concern is that The Cheaper Show may actually devalue the work of artists. I worry that it creates the impression that good art is available at ridiculously low prices. And, as an advocate of other collective artist initiatives that facilitate a dynamic interaction and market for artists and their customers, it concerns me that The Cheaper Show is a corporate entity, rather than a not-for-profit society as is the case with The Eastside Culture Crawl, Artists in Our Midst, etc.

The artists in a recent Cheaper Show earned $133.93 per work sold. As one artist said to me, “At that price, you are giving away your work.”

Feed Me Seymour

Like the plant, Audrey, in Little Shop of Horrors, a blog needs feeding. But when you are teaching, and MARKING and writing/publishing a book while planning a two-month walk in France, you get behind. But my book is done and I have one preview copy to look at before I leave for France.

I should have been blogging about my recent workshops. I did two in Richmond, BC, and one in Kelowna, and both experiences were wonderful from my end. I hope participants enjoyed them. I got some positive feedback, but what else is someone going to say to me?

Now I am Off to France for two months to raise money for a local housing charity. You can follow my adventures by clicking on the link in the previous sentence.