Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Call to Artists - Expressions of Interest
Mount Royal Conservatory
City of Calgary Public Art Program,
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Deadline for Submissions: September 6, 2011 at 2:30pm local time.
Budget: $85,000 CDN.

Since 1910, thousands of people of all ages and abilities have thrived because of the Mount Royal Conservatory’s commitment to students. Today it is one of the largest performing arts schools in Canada, setting the standard in music and speech arts. Its programs nurture the artistic potential of each student by providing them with a learning environment that fosters passion and excellence.

The successful artist will engage the selection committee with their artistic vision; have practical, demonstrated experience in the field of public art; a history of successful collaborations with multidisciplinary teams and community stakeholders; and an ability to work within set budgets and construction schedules.

In addition to being a striking piece of art that warrants its featured position in the balcony lobby, the piece must be resilient, durable, low maintenance, and a fully functional part of the overall design. It will serve a structural function as a movable wall (positioned on a track) separating the balcony lobby from a private room / VIP reception area. The approximate size will be 7 m (width) by 3.7 m (height).

The selected artist will work with the lead designer (Pfeiffer and Partners) and Modernfold system to ensure the functionality of the work. The piece must be tested and approved by Pfeiffer Partners.

To view the complete Call to Artist opportunity:
Alberta Purchasing Connection
Public Art Call to Artists
Reference Number: AB-2011-03864
Solicitation Number: EOI No. 11-034

Myriam Laroche, Senior Buyer
Supply Chain Services
T : 403.440.6194
F: 403.440.8927

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In-Person Direct Sales for Introverts

I am a strong advocate of the importance of direct sales to visual artists. I am also an introvert, so I have always made the subject of personality a part of my teaching because, for people like me, personal direct sales and self-advocacy are very challenging. I teach my students to know themselves and to develop career development strategies that capitalize on their strengths and compensate for their weaknesses. I advocate for the buying or trading of support skills that you do not have and that are part of every career.

Today, I got this email from a student in my current class at Emily Carr University.
The artist I interviewed for my final assignment when I asked if there was anything she would have changed in her art practice after 30 years and she said she would have liked to change her personality so that she would have been more out going and sold herself more. I think that was a big message in your class. I didn't want to say this in class because it would preempt my presentation. Just thought you enjoy her comment.
I love sharing methodologies of other introverts who have found ways to succeed with personal direct sales and self-advocacy and recently I met two women artists at an arts and crafts fair. We got to talking together and at some point I asked them if their friendship was a result of meeting at a the fair.

"No!" they both said. They told me they had been friends for decades. They had met, in fact, in an art class and remained friends ever since and when one of them, Susan, wanted to get into having a booth at an art event, she asked the other one, Monique, to share the table. Each of them felt incapable of manning a booth and developing sales alone, but they felt it might be tolerable together.

In fact, they had a ball doing it together for many reasons and now they always enter fairs together at two side-by-side tables or booths. They do not share a single entry fee and space any more but they still have the support and encouragement of the other at every event.

"And I talk more about Monique's work, than my own," Susan said, "And she does the same for me. It's easier to gush about her than about myself."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Copyright Threat

This photo is all over the web. (I have reproduced it as part of a news item and for no commercial benefit). It was taken by a Macaque monkey who grabbed the camera from British nature photographer, David Slater, and shot a series of photos while admiring his reflection in the lens. The monkey’s photos, released by Caters News Agency that represents Slater, and the agency has been involved, ever since, in a copyright dispute with parties who have reproduced the image.

The controversy has led to a widely-circulated clarification that copyright, in Indonesia (where the photos were taken), in the UK and US (where the images were reproduced “illegally”) can only be obtained for work that is “the product of a human hand…” and that has opened the proverbial can of worms for many contemporary artists. The website Techdirt is the best place I have found to follow the controversy. Their lead article is here.

Now, artists such as Cory Angel (who currently is showing at the Whitney Museum) and Nikki S. Lee are concerned about copyright protection for their work and for the work of other artists whose work is mechanically and/or randomly generated.

Slade's defence of claiming copyright is explained here on the Techdirt website.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Dealer Speaks

Ed Winkleman has a blog. He also has no shortage of opinions, like me, but he is often brutally frank. This is part of his post from today:
But it led me to climb up on my soapbox at one point and preach a bit more about something that really began sink into my consciousness during [a class.] In a nutshell, it's the idea that the art world (galleries, museums, collectors, etc.) doesn't exist because artists are nice people. It doesn't exist as some charity for the sensitive or perceptive types who'd much prefer to spend their time making things than getting a job like everyone else. It's not your surrogate parents. It doesn't care how famous you want to be. It doesn't care how much you really, really put your heart and soul into that painting or video or performance.

The art world exists to find, support, and ultimately preserve the objects or ideas worth preserving. It's not about you or what you want. It's about the most amazing artwork being created in our time. Either bring that to the plate or stay in the dugout.

Too frequently in such discussions (not so much last night, but in general), I get the sense that 1) artists feel getting a gallery will be the key to all their career dreams (it ain't so); and 2) because they feel that, they spend way too much time considering what it is they think a dealer wants. How should I craft my artist statement? What types of shows should I include in my CV?

Who cares?!?!?!

You want to know what we really want (...and I know it's a tall order...the tallest, actually...but...)? We want you to shut us up.

We want you to show us something so jaw-droppingly amazing, we're left speechless.

Do that, and the art world will do anything for you. We'll be your charity. We'll be your surrogate parents. Just keep feeding us that jaw-dropping art crack.

Or get back in your studio until you can.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Design Professional Resource

AIGA (an American organization) represents a variety of professions under the umbrella of communication design, ranging from book and type design to interactive design and experience design. We support design professionals, educators and students throughout their careers.

AIGA works to:
  • Inform about best practices, standards for ethical conduct and professional expertise
  • Communicate design’s importance to the public and business leaders about the power of design
  • Inspire through articles, online galleries, profiles, videos and exhibitions
  • Represent the profession through a network of chapters and student groups
  • Stimulate discussion of the industry through events, social media and websites
Although focused on the American market, it may provide you with some valuable insights if you are a freelance designer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

E-newsletter Frequency

Clint Watson, an American former gallery owner has a unique take on a way to evaluate your e-newsletter.

You can send your newsletter as often as you like...as long as you don't have more than 2 people unsubscribe for every 1,000 emails you send (.2%) [3]. If you lose more than 2 people out of every 1,000 emails, then you're either sending too often, or you've strayed too far off topic (such as discussing politics in a newsletter where people were expecting art). I sure wish I could remember where I first read the 2% number cited, but I can't, so I did some quick research, and came across these statistics from a 2010 Direct Marketing Association research paper that reports - those who email to their own "house" list have an average unsubscribe rate of .77%. So let's say, based on that research, we'll set an upper bound of 7/1,000 unusbscribers [6].

What I'm recommending is this: for every 1,000 emails you send, you pick a number you can accept to lose...it can be as low as 2 or as high as 7 - but it can't be zero (zero is unrealistic once your list grows past a certain size). Incidently,FineArtViews shoots for .2% (our current unsubscribe rate is .04% (4 out of 10,000)).

How to Measure Your Unsubscribe Rate

First of all, you have to know who unsubscribed. [4] Yes, that means you cannot and should not send your newsletters with your regular email program using the BCC field for all your subscribers. Seriously. Don't. Do. That. What you need to use is a tool made for sending email newsletters like MailChimp, Constant Contact, or Aweber. If you're aFASO customer, we provide an email newsletter manager automatically integrated with your website (and Facebook!) that tracks all this stuff.

The whole article is here.

Funding: Kickstarter

Kickstarter is an interesting site for creators needing funding. The link was provided to me by one of my students at Emily Carr Univeristy of Art + Design. The quote below is from their website.
Kickstarter is the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Every month, tens of thousands of amazing people pledge millions of dollars to projects from the worlds of music, film, art, technology, design, food, publishing and other creative fields.
A new form of commerce and patronage. This is not about investment or lending. Project creators keep 100% ownership and control over their work. Instead, they offer products and experiences that are unique to each project.
All or nothing funding. On Kickstarter, a project must reach its funding goal before time runs out or no money changes hands. Why? It protects everyone involved. Creators aren’t expected to develop their project without necessary funds, and it allows anyone to test concepts without risk.
Each and every project is the independent creation of someone like you. Projects are big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental. They’re inspiring, entertaining and unbelievably diverse. We hope you agree... Welcome to Kickstarter!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Good News For Artists

From the Huffington Post on arts jobs and the future:

Over the next seven years, job growth in the arts will exceed job growth as a whole, the report states. In fact, according to the report, artistic careers for painters, architects and photographers are expected to increase by 11 percent by 2018, compared to the projected 10 percent total increase in the American labor force.

Due to long-term structural changes, there will be approximately 2,196,100 people working in artist occupations in 2018 compared to 1,977,800 in 2008, the most recent year with data available, according to the report.

Certain arts industries are expected to see especially significant jobs growth. Jobs associated with museums, such as curators, archivists and technicians, are expected to rise 20 percent, or "much faster than average employment growth."

For the full article, click here. Scroll down for a slide show on the ten arts jobs predicted bto be in high demand in the future.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Art Marketing Workshop in Vancouver

I normally do not advocate for people or services that I do not know, but I respect and trust Cam Anderson (one of the founders of Myartclub.com) and he wrote to me to recommend this workshop on visual art marketing. The presenter is American; he has run a gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona for many years. Cam has read his book and is very enthusiastic about attending the workshop himself (see his post here). The event is Thursday, July 21; 5:00 - 9:00; Holiday Inn on West Broadway; $60.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

iPad App Lets Anyone Create Designs with Vintage Type and Art on a Virtual Hand-Driven Printing Press

LetterMpress™, an app just released for the Apple iPad, gives users the hands-on experience of working with traditional letterpress wood type, art cuts, and printing press techniques. Every step of the letterpress printing process is replicated on the iPad for the authentic feel and experience of traditional printing techniques. Users select and assemble vintage wood type and art images, mix colors and ink the type, select paper, and hand-crank the virtual letterpress to produce graphic designs for prints, posters, books, invitations, greeting cards, photo albums and more.

The new app enables finished letterpress designs to be printed, shared via email, Photo Album, posted to Facebook, Tumblr and other social media, or output to graphics applications for incorporating into larger design projects. LetterMpress offers the flexibility and image quality for professional graphic designers, and is easy enough and enjoyable for beginners to use, too.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Professional Development Drop In Self-Help Sessions?

Writing Artist Survival Skills turned me into an “expert” on visual arts marketing when it was published two years ago. As a consequence of my new status, I received invitations to do workshops and make speeches in several south-western B.C. communities. It also earned my a position teaching professional development courses through the Continuing Studies department of Emily Carr University. And last year was spent interviewing a great number of artists for my new book, Making It, that has just been released.

These activities, together with my experiences running a non-profit gallery, have exposed me to thousands of artists who have taught me a great deal about the visual arts profession as it is practiced in this region of the country. The exposure and my new status of “expert” has also produced a demand for private consultations with me from artists seeking to advance their careers.

Most requests for a consultation began with a certain specificity—artists wanting feedback about a specific aspect of their practice such as their online marketing, achieving representation, pricing advice, etcetera—but my discussion with them would always lead to a discussion about their practice in general and I would often find that they needed to address many aspects and not just the specific issue first presented.

I find that contact with me often has artists experiencing their first real consideration of their practice as a business and it leads to further questions and concerns. I also very often hear artists despairing over the loss of contact with peers after graduation out of a training program. They miss the critical response to their work and a forum for discussion of career challenges. In the absence of the opportunity to get peer feedback, they come to me.

Now, after a couple of years of coaching artists, I know two things: I do not want to do career coaching, and artists can be very effectively coached by their peer. The challenge is figuring out a way for visual artists to help each other effectively and inexpensively, and when I recently got involved with an actors’ initiative, I was inspired.

My performing arts friends created a vehicle for themselves that provides an opportunity to hone their professional skills. They made a deal with a local restaurant: They provide a lot of customers to the restaurant on its weakest night in exchange for exclusive use of the space for their event. Their event involves individuals making an oral presentation, with no notes, to an audience of peers for feedback. I did it and it was fabulous and I noticed that the restaurant’s former worst night is now one of it’s busiest. So I got to thinking, what if my local community of visual artists could establish a mutually beneficial relationship with a space to serve our need for peer review?

Were less busy, I would poll/promote interest in a series of drop-in sessions that gave visual artists a chance to present their work for feedback about the work itself or its professional advancement. And, were there interest, I would be out seeking a site that might work for the sessions—a community centre, gallery or school. But I am anchored to my current work, so I wonder if CARFAC could somehow organize and promote an ongoing series of self-development sessions for visual artists here in Vancouver as an experiment? Were someone here in BC to take the lead in such project, I would certainly use all my resources to be of assistance; I just cannot lead the investigation or implementation.

I believe strongly in CARFAC and I wish far more artists were involved with the organization, so I wonder if membership might not grow if CARFAC could facilitate practical sessions such as I propose—free for CARFAC members, thinking that were this to become a popular service, it would drive CARFAC membership in this area. If someone (or a small team of dedicated workers) were to work with me, my monthly newsletter editorial to an estimated 60,000 artists, and my network at Emily Carr University of Art + Design can be a very effective tool for research and advertising.

Galleries are closing here, the economy is unstable, BC has some of the densest communities of artists in Canada, technology is changing our behavior, artists exist in isolation and visual art professional development resources are limited. How many reasons are there for artists to professionally assemble for shared experiential professional learning?

How can we help ourselves is my question and I have proposed one idea to address it. It may not be the best idea, but I am willing to work on whatever the best one is. Do you have a better idea? Let me, or CARFAC, know!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

(Not) Vancouver Riots

My first blog, which I have since removed, featured the work of lots of artists. This blog, would not focus on the work of artists, I decided. This blog is about the business of visual art. But I am providing this reference because of what recently happened in our city.

We had a massive riot downtown after losing the Stanley Cup hockey championships. The thing that went around the world as its iconic image, was a photograph of a couple kissing on the ground while all around them was chaos. The image was viral on web news sites. A kiss and a photograph of it (in the context of a raging riot) mesmerized people.

In London recently, Artist James Caulty re-imagines big events on a smale scale in his new series "Riots In Jam Jars." Caulty describes the purpose of the series as "[appropriating] the mediated and sensational language of our news and communication networks" that are adept at "focusing in on and amping up situations for instant consumption..." He continues, "these tiny acts of violence serve as snapshots of a greater and vastly more complex reality." Link.

When your art and news meet, things can go crazy for an artist—sometimes the link can be serendipitous; sometimes it is engineered.