Thursday, March 28, 2013

Bragging Rights

Hello Chris,
I just wanted you to know that I was reading your article in the OPUS Visual Arts Newsletter, and your statement,
    "as a way to earn the interest of an exhibition partner and favourite partner to pursue is a charity."
This was like a bolt of lightning for me, as I have wanted to partner with the Nature Conservancy of Canada for a long time.  I went right down to the North Shore OPUS store, (which I thought was on Marine Drive, but found out that they had moved to the mall across from Wallmart in North Van as we were visiting my mother) to purchase both of your books.  I have just read, Artist Survival Skills and Making It.  I have improved my Art portfolio tenfold with your advice in the book, and I now have a partnered exhibition with the Nature Conservancy of Canada set for May 11th in Osoyoos.  I just had to let you know that this was all your doing, and without your amazing recommendations it might have been ages before I acted on your great ideas! 
Just had to say how much I appreciate your column in OPUS, and your books!  Thanks so much!
With kind regards,
Dorothy Tinning,
Dorothy's Fine Art,
Penticton, B.C. Canada

Thursday, March 21, 2013

How To Lose Business

I am changing the names to protect the guilty—this particular guilty artist is a very talented, polite and charming person. He wrote to me this week asking me to promote a web hosting service for artists. His proposal impressed me. I liked how his service proposed to present artwork; in his proposal art is presented on a wall like in a gallery and you can zoom in to see every detail. I was moved to write this blog post for my blog:

“Teaching professional development to artists isn’t easy. Artists exist to be creative and innovative, so rules are a foreign concept. Consequently, I provide guidelines and examples of best practices as my methodology.

When it comes to websites, my teaching unit begins with suggestions and proceeds to criticisms of many artists’ websites by design professionals. Finally, I show my class some particularly bad sites. One post on this blog—a rant about a web practice that really irritated me—has more hits than any other post I’ve written.

Over the years, I’ve had lots of website hosting services and designers approach me for some publicity, but I have always declined because it is too hard for me to separate the sincere and legitimate professionals from the scammers.”

In spite of my aversion to endorsements, I was prepared to endorse his services—that’s how impressed I was with the design of his online gallery. But before I published my post, I decided to find out more about him, so I went to his own personal website.

He’d given me the link in his email. His artwork quite impressed me so I clicked on “About” to learn more about him and was so appalled by the amount and degree of errors that I have not blogged about his services. First of all, it seemed very clearly to be written by him, yet it was written in the third person and I find that odd and off-putting.

Although it is not an error, his website broke one of my cardinal rules: writing in the third person is affected and insincere; it implies that there is another party speaking, yet there is never a credit to the speaker. I feel strongly that using the first person—saying “I”—builds a bond with the reader and is the only thing to do when you are writing on your own site. Using the first person is more welcoming than self-referencing in the third person. The Queen speaks in the third person and it is weird when she does. If I saw you on the street and we were friends and I waved and said, “Chris says hello,” wouldn’t you want to keep walking?

There were also errors in grammar, incomplete sentences, references (acronyms) that were unknown to me and probably many other readers and repetition. It was a disaster.

His errors erased my confidence; “spelling counts,” as my teachers used to say. And grammar counts as well. How you write and speak is a reflection of who you are as both an artist and a person. I would buy art from this person in a heartbeat, but would I hire him to host my site? No; I lost my trust in him so I couldn’t endorse his services on my blog.

My teachers were right to make spelling and grammar count. When I think of all the artistic projects that I have undertaken in my life, I could say that writing was their greatest facilitator. It was the grease that allowed all the gears to work. Good persuasive writing skills provided me with grants, permits, sponsors, media exposure, introductions, customers and audiences.

I don’t own a suit, I haven’t worn a tie since the 1970s, my typical shirt is a t-shirt and I can’t abide wearing leather shoes. I am an informal guy and I don’t seek to find fault. But when fault is as extensive as it was on his website, it is a deal-breaker. Although I want to be casual and informal in life, I want to present myself to my best possible advantage professionally and I expect that of other professionals. That means making no errors.

As a creative person, I add style to the essential base of good grammar and spelling in order to stand out. You can do wonders for yourself with effective communications, but you have to be as good with words and ideas as you are with pigment and brushes.

To balance the criticism above, I very much liked the website of Anthony Schrag that I recently visited. ( ) I love the nice, simple but colourful opening page that says: “It’s great to see you (again).” What a great beginning.

The first paragraph of his “About” page reads as follows: “Anthony Schrag was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in the Middle East, the UK and Canada. Originally, he obtained a degree in Creative Writing in Vancouver, as well as Photography and Sculpture at Emily Carr, and completed the MFA course at the Glasgow School of Art in 2005. He is (mostly) based in Scotland, and does not like to write in the third person.”

I liked that last line—he gets it both ways! His site is simple, compelling, warm and slightly humorous. And I didn’t notice any errors.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Visual Art Blockbusters Come to the Cinema

Displays of artwork by Manet, Munch and Vermeer are to be filmed and screened in more than 70 cinemas, to give audiences from all over the country the opportunity to see them.
The same films will be shown in thousands of theatres across the globe in nearly 30 countries.
The films, by award-winning arts documentary maker Phil Grabsky, will include behind-the-scenes footage of the exhibition being prepared, and a guided tour of the works. A biography of each artist will be included to give context, with a complete display of the words on show.
The first film, of the Manet: Portraying Life exhibition at the Royal Academy, will be screened on April 11th cinemas including the Vue and Picturehouse /City Screen group.
It will be followed by the Edvard Munch exhibition at the National Museum & Munch museum in Oslo, with 220 paintings to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the artist.
In October, the National Gallery in London will grant film access to the Johannes Vermeer exhibition, with an HD film of his works.
The project, entitled Exhibition, was developed in association with Seventh Art Productions and BY Experience, with more films already in the pipeline for next year.
Mr Grabsky said the launch of the shows was “an absolute thrill”.
“I have been driven by the desire to share the thrill of great exhibitions with everyone from Kansas City to Adelaide, Osaka to Naples, and Glasgow to Cape Town,” he added.
Tim Marlow, an art historian who will give a guided tour of the Manet works, said: “I think that standing face to face with some of the greatest works of art ever made is one of the most powerful experiences in life.
“‘Exhibition' gives us the opportunity to convey something of this power in a cinematic format which brings the viewer as close to the real thing as possible. Sometimes, the camera reveals even more than the naked eye.”
Other countries confirmed to exhibit the series include: Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden and Switzerland.


Who Owns Street Art?

Graffiti art, by its very nature, doesn’t lend itself well to gallery shows or commercial auctions. So how do you capitalize on the demand for an artist’s work if it exists on the side of a building? An anonymous individual recently answered that question by physically removing part of a wall painted by acclaimed graffiti artist Banksy and putting it up for auction at it an estimated price of more than half a million dollars.
The piece in question, now titled Slave Labor (Bunting Boy), originally appeared on the side of a London budget store in the Wood Green area last May; its imagery was considered a critique of the “real-life” discomfort and sweatshop conditions behind the cosy, nostalgic British iconography of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
The artwork was removed from the store along with a large chunk of the wall last week, as noted by a local resident at the time. It has since appeared on the website of Fine Art Auctions Miami among a number of modern pieces and will be auctioned at the end of this week for an estimated price of between $500,000 and $700,000.
According to Fine Art Auctions’ owner, Frederic Thut, the art is being offered by a “well-known collector” who prefers to remain anonymous, but has apparently provided proof that they own the work in question. (Attempts to reach Fine Art Auctions Miami for comment were unsuccessful.)
Poundland, the store from which the artwork was removed, has tweeted that it is “NOT responsible for either selling or removing the Banksy mural,” adding that it does not own the building in question and has been unable to contact the owner so far to find out more, while local politician Alan Strickland has already launched a campaign for the artwork to be returned.
Talking to reporters, Strickland explained that “Banksy gave this art for free to our community, so we’re all angry that it’s been removed and put on sale for $500,000 in the U.S. We’re trying to track down who is responsible. We’re not certain who removed it, but we’re absolutely certain we want it back!”
With the auction set to take place on Friday, however, the citizens of Wood Green have little time to argue their case. Of course, if all else fails, Banksy could always just paint a new piece about the appropriation of public art in its place.
The BBC is citing a Miami auction house as saying it has withdrawn from sale an artwork by secretive graffiti artist Banksy that was removed from the side of a north London store.
The stencil of a young boy sewing Union Jack bunting vanished earlier this month, upsetting art lovers in the gritty Turnpike Lane area. It reappeared on the website of the Miami auction house, Fine Art Auctions, due to be sold Saturday with an estimated price of between $500,000 and $700,000.
But the BBC reported that the auction house confirmed the piece had been withdrawn from sale. It reported the auction house would not give a reason.
Poundland, the store that occupies the building, had said it had nothing to do with the removal.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Saving Ephemeral Art

The drawing above is what was purchased by a gallery
but the artwork is made of water.

This is a fabulously interesting video....
The maintenance and conservation of contemporary visual art is a new challenge for museums and art conservators. More and more artists have taken leave of the painter's brushes and are moving on to new media, such as video. Or they are making installations of transient materials like polystyrene, wax and scotch tape. Can these works be saved for the art lovers of the future?

How to preserve and reinstall the work Notion Motion by Olafur Eliasson: 1.500 m2 of water, light and movement? What about works that are based on outdated technology? A large group of experts worked on the restoration of Exhange Fields, an interactive video-installation by Bill Seaman. Despite the fact that the work is only ten years old, it had to be completely restored and digitalized. And the artist Tino Sehgal doesn't allow any form of documentation of his works. Tate London acquired his performance This Is Propaganda in 2005. Will Tate be able to keep on showing this work to the public?

This film offers a glimpse behind the scenes of the European museum. It investigates three cases that shed an interesting light on the practices and issues that the conservator of modern and contemporary art deals with.  Link.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Jim'll Paint It

Please paint me dinosaurs drawing people in a dinosaur art class.
Jim will paint it! Make a request, and he'll render it completely in Microsoft paint. However, Jim has a bit of a backlog now that word is getting around, so your suggestion should be particularly funny or challenging to move to the front of the list. The dinosaur above was the first entry on his Tumblr site.

Please paint me Bill Murray catching a bank robber using only his charm while members of the Tokyo police force shield themselves behind him?
You can see the requests have become more challenging and detailed! So far, Jim has painted three pages of silliness. Via Miss Celania. Link