Friday, March 6, 2009

Ebb and Flow

Today is the deadline for booth payment for Vegas Art Couture. I was excited about this show, since it’s one of the few festivals my art fits perfectly with, it coincides with the national broadcasters convention (150,000 attendees), and it’s in Vegas! Unfortunately, I can’t afford to go. My financial situation, like many others, is tenuous at best. Even if I could go, art sales are suffering. It may not be worth the effort.

In hopes of securing a spot for next year, I wrote the promoter to decline my spot. It turns out less than half of the artists are able to go, and the show may be canceled entirely. It’s a sad turn of events.

The art world is rapidly changing in the downturn of the economy. There are fewer opportunities, fewer buyers, and even more competition in a field full of hardships. In a year when I planned to go further, bigger, and better, I’m scaling back (on everything but the better). From now on, I’ll do fewer festival shows, stay local, do more gallery shows, and look for alternative venues.

So how does an artist survive in this economy? Getting a day job is probably your best bet, but this article may help. Excerpt from an article by Alan Bamberger:

For you artists interested in overcoming the formidable challenges ahead, this means demonstrating your art has the kinds of values buyers will be looking for, not only today, but beyond. It needs to have more going for it than simply that you’ve christened it art, you loved making it, or that it means something special to you. This may sound harsh, but the days of navel-gazing on obscure irrelevances, flimsy justifications, shoddy product, dabblers, overblown attitude, and "It is because I say it is" are over. Being an artist ’cuz it’s cool, aimlessly gallivanting across the prairies of artland, random unfocused art-making, expressing yourself only when you feel like it and purely for the sake of self-expression-- these approaches may be fine in boom times when money burns holes in people’s pockets, but not now.

Your art will have to fight for survival. You’ll have to conclusively demonstrate why it’s worth owning by offering tangible, intangible, theoretical, philosophical and related forms of proof (not the least of which is visual) that it embodies concepts, ideals, inspirations, and aspirations potential buyers can identify with-- or if you’re not that great of a communicator, providing your dealer, agent, or gallery with that information so that they can demonstrate on your behalf-- because convincing people to let go of their money will soon become more daunting than it’s been in decades, assuming it hasn’t already. Why does your art deserve a place in someone’s home or business? How will it enrich or enhance another person’s life? In short, what’s in it for the buyer? You know what’s in it for you, but that’s no longer enough to consummate a sale.

The upshot? You as an artist have to dedicate yourself to creating the absolute best art you can possibly create. You’ve got to look beyond yourself, think seriously about what you want to communicate and about how you intend to effectively get those points across, however arcane or concrete they may be. Work hard, work daily, be productive, embrace quality, and commit yourself to prevailing as an artist regardless of the adversity of the circumstances. By approaching your discipline with consummate dedication and seriousness, you maximize your chances for success. It’s that simple and no more complicated.

For some good news, I was accepted and confirmed for a local show, the 52nd Annual Saratoga Rotary Art Show. It’s only 15 minutes from home, and the largest one-day show on the west coast. This was another show that initially rejected me due to the nudes, but we worked out a compromise. If anyone is in the area, it’s Sunday, May 3.

I also want to announce another show coming up at the Space Gallery on March 27th (1141 Polk St. San Francisco) A tamer affair than the last show; No naked people, except the ones on the walls!

To sum up everything on a positive note, I finished the Marilyn commission I’ve been working on. I enjoyed doing this painting, and it was a challenge, working from a soft focus, and low resolution black and white photo. I ended up using a mirrored reflection of my own face and various color images of Marilyn to get the skin tones and details right. She’ll be leaving the studio tomorrow. 30x40" giclee prints on canvas will be available through the 57th Street Gallery.

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