Powered by Blogger.
RSS

Pros and Cons of managing Your Online Profile

Pretty much all artists search their online profiles from time to time to see what kinds of results come up and how they're presented. The large majority of artists do this out of curiosity and are satisfied with what they find-- and the more they find, the better-- but a small percentage are not, and as a result, decide they would like to revise, edit, alter or remove certain information or images of themselves or their art from third-party website articles or entries in blogs, gallery show reviews, interviews, or features about them done earlier in their careers. In other words, they decide to rewrite their own histories. To repeat, we're talking mainly about content on third-party websites here-- websites maintained by people other than the artists-- and not artists' personal profiles that they maintain themselves and regularly update on their own, like their own websites, social networking websites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), photo pages (Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, etc), and so on. Even so, what you are about to read holds true for pretty much any information about you or your art that exists online, whether you maintain it or not.
Almost all third-party online information that artists find when they search their names-- pages relating to their exhibitions and art were originally posted not only with their knowledge, but also often with their blessings or the blessings of the galleries or venues that showed their art, and range in flavor from supportive to complimentary. Even so, a small percentage of artists still want certain content stricken from the record. How positive or accurate or truthful it may be makes no difference, but rather these artists now decide that they're in a different place, they don't like they way they looked that day, they no longer like that older art, they don't like the look of an image, and in general, feel that certain aspects of their pasts are no longer relevant (to them, that is) and should in fact, be expunged from art history altogether. So let's look at the consequences of this revisionist approach a little closer-- this redacting of information in a society where freedom of speech and freedom of the press are among our most precious liberties.
To begin with, the idea that certain images or information from the past are no longer relevant to the present could not be further from the truth. The fact is that not only are they relevant now, but they'll become increasingly more relevant with the passage of time as artists progress in their careers. Look back on the history of any famous artist and you'll see that it is their early history, their early work, their formative years that ultimately become the most significant, fascinating and revealing, not only in an anecdotal sense, but also in terms of documenting and understanding the course and evolution of their art and their careers. No matter how good or bad an artist thinks they looked at any given point in time or how successful or disastrous any style of their art or any event they participated in might have been, these facts are essential to history and understanding. Why? Because they happened... and because they shed light on the totality of an artist's existence. Plus this-- you might think you or your art looks less than spectacular in certain images, but someone else might think those exact same images make you and your art look fabulous (more about that later).
Read any artist monograph; go to any museum show. Do you think they'd be anywhere near as informative if the artists had censored the content available to authors or curators during the course of their art careers? Furthermore, informed critical and scholarly assessments, writings, bloggings and photographic documentation are overwhelmingly more objective and illuminating than artists' subjective attempts to alter their legacies based solely on egocentric concerns. The more information that everyone has access to, the better. In other words, respect, honor and cherish your history, and all those who contribute to it; don't deny it.
The greater the quantity and the more detailed any artist's documentation is, the better we can understand that artist's process, influences and art. This holds true even for the artists themselves. Don't believe it? You may not think so now, but ask any older or more established artist whether they would rather have more or less in the way of history and documentation of their life and work, and see what they say (hint: they'll almost always say yes, even if that documentation has to do with their fuck-ups). Plus this-- without their art looking the way it did years ago, or themselves looking the way they did years ago, who they are now and what their art looks like today would never have happened. Artists may think they know what's best for them in terms of either limiting or eliminating certain content from their online profiles, younger artists in particular, but at times, may be so self-absorbed that they lose the objectivity and perspective necessary to make good judgments, and while they may momentarily satisfy themselves, censoring facts has never ever served the greater good... including the good of the artists themselves.
Younger artists especially should understand that in art history, everything is essential, the early history even more so because it's generally scarcer and more difficult to come by. When artists are unknown, hardly anybody cares or pays attention to their art, not that many people follow them, and few people bother to document either them or their work. Once artists become well known or famous, there's no shortage of information or images to be had or people willing to chase them around and record their every move, online or anywhere else-- but early on, it's exactly the opposite. That's what makes early formative documentations of their lives and art so valuable and so worth preserving-- not deleting.
Would you rather see photographs of famous artists when they were young and unknown or when they were old and established? And how about their art? Would you rather see what their early work looked like before they got famous-- even their worst most awful mistakes-- or what their later work looked like after they became known and had settled into predictable patterns in their careers? And how about what people said or wrote about their work? Would you rather see only the wonderful things they say about it today or what they said about it years or even decades ago, both positive and negative? Think of all the uproar at the onset of famous art movements like Impressionism or Modernism. Suppose the artists who were skewered by conventional critics at the time had an Internet where they could request that certain content or images be deleted because they portrayed them in negative ways, or maybe because they just didn't like the way they looked? What kind of art history would we have then? The Internet is by far the greatest advance ever in terms of documenting the evolvement of culture because every event can now be recorded in greater depth, from more perspectives, in greater detail and with greater accuracy than ever before. And that's something worth embracing, not limiting.
Now let's consider what's necessary for revisionist art history to take place. In order for artists to reconfigure their online profiles they way they feel those profiles should be configured, rather than leave things the way they actually happened, they have to contact third-party websites or individuals and ask for certain information or images to be altered, revised or removed. Whether or not they initially approved or gave permission or were thrilled to have that content posted online in the first place, or whether their galleries or dealers were, the irony is that these artists have now decided to reconfigure their histories on the backs of the very people who documented them in the first place.
This is not generally a wise way to advance an art career because every time an artist asks someone to alter what they've already posted, especially when it was posted months or years ago, even though it's entirely accurate and well-intended, even though that person spent time and labor posting it, the artist is virtually guaranteed to lose that individual's support. Furthermore, the art world is a pretty small place, word travels fast, and if an artist gets a reputation for trying to micromanage their persona or press, rest assured that fewer and fewer people will risk covering their activities in the future for fear of being asked to either revise or delete portions of their content later. There's simply no upside to artists inconveniencing and imposing upon those who believed in them enough to give them exposure. After devoting their time, labor and website space to these artists, now they're being asked to spend even more time altering or removing or revising that content. Makes no sense.
What also happens when artists alter or remove information or images from the Internet is that, contrary to the belief that they're doing themselves favors, they actually reduce the number of search results that come up when people search them by name, thereby reducing the number of options for searchers to click on because certain keywords or images that previously would have appeared in search results have now either been altered or removed altogether. Simply put, their profiles are more difficult to access. The worst possible outcome is when someone searching an artist decides not to click on any link at all because the only images or content that might have interested them enough to click on were deleted at the request of the artist.
For example, let's say an artist doesn't like an older image of himself or an image of his older art. That doesn't automatically mean that no one else will like them either. Someone searching their name might love them so much that they'll click on them before they click on anything else. In fact, those very images may become the basis for that person forming a positive opinion about the artist. So why eliminate the possibility of that happening? Remember the old saying that all publicity is good publicity? Well, news flash: It's true... and it's truer online than almost anywhere else because every shred of content relating to either you or your art means one more opportunity for someone to find you!
Artists may think that manipulating their online profiles is a good idea now, but this is an exceptionally shortsighted approach, especially considering that their careers will likely last for quite some time to come, and that the longer those careers last and the more successful those careers are, the more important the early art (both masterworks and mistakes), images (both flattering and not so flattering), critical reviews (both positive and negative), writings, blog posts, articles, interviews and features become. Controlling what the public sees or does not see does a huge disservice not only to their personal histories, but also to our overall knowledge of art history as well.
Revisionist approaches to history are censorship, pure and simple, and if there is one thing that art and the art world are not about, it's restricting freedom of expression, not only of artists, but also of the critics, scholars, historians, writers, bloggers and photographers who publish art content online. We want access to the most educational, informative, compelling and inspiring art history available-- history as it happened-- not revised, edited or expurgated versions. So think twice before altering your online art profile or asking others to do it for you because in the end, you'll be doing neither yourself, your fans nor the art world any favors at all.

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Introducing New People to Your Art?


Q: My art is best experienced in person. Images on the Internet don't do it justice. It's unique and I've spent years perfecting it. When I meet, speak with or contact gallery owners, artist representatives, art consultants, collectors or anyone else who shows interest in my work, I always invite them to my studio because the only way for them to truly understand my work is for me to explain it in person. Unfortunately, I'm having a hard time getting anybody to take me up on my offer. Can you help?
A: Yes. The answer is simple-- immediately stop insisting that people come to your studio, especially those who know little or nothing about you or your art, and slow yourself down. Requiring people to see your art entirely on your terms and in a rather intimate setting won't get you anywhere fast. Think about it. You are asking people-- complete strangers, in many cases-- to go somewhere they've never been before, listen to you talk about your art, and basically submit to your agenda for as long as you deem necessary. That's an awful lot to ask. Would you be inclined to say yes to someone you don't even know or who you've only just met who wants to meet with you, and then dictate the location and schedule for the meeting-- all this without you having any say in the matter? I doubt it.
Believing that the only way people can adequately understand your art is for you to explain it to them in person in your studio is presumptuous at best, and at worst, outright insulting. Let people get familiar with your art on their own terms and see it wherever they feel the most comfortable seeing it-- online, in shows, in galleries or other art venues, or at whatever other locations they prefer. And don't insist on having to explain it; if people have questions, they'll ask. Nobody wants to be lectured or talked down to. Nobody wants to be told that they're incapable of understanding something without having it explained to them. So think seriously about striking these requirements from your agenda, letting people decide on their own if or when the time is right for them to visit your studio and how active they want you to be in terms of getting better informed about your art.
Now let's look at the rest of your question. Regarding your art being unique and your having taken years to perfect it, that's true for practically all art and all artists. So forget that line of reasoning. To think that your art is more special than all the other art out there and that it deserves extra and undivided attention just because you say so is a sure way to turn people off-- particularly people like the ones you've been trying to get to come to your studio. They don't need you to tell them what's unique or special or to instruct them in how to experience your art; many of them have already spent years figuring these things out. They know how to look at art; they know what they're looking at; they know what they're looking for. In fact, most of them think only one thing when an artist comes at them with a "My art is unique" presentation: "How fast I can end this conversation?" Believe it. If it's any consolation, you're not alone on this-- plenty of artists think and say the exact same things about the uniqueness of their art that you're saying, and very few of them ever get anywhere doing it.
As for images on the Internet not doing your art justice, that's basically true for all other art as well. So there's another talking point you might as well eliminate from your repertoire. We all know that art is best experienced in person, and we all also know that that seeing art in person is not always possible. The Internet is here to stay; it's how humans communicate these days. In other words, you better figure out how to use it to your advantage or else you'll have serious difficulty spreading the word about your art. In the old days, artists used to haul their portfolios from gallery to gallery in attempts to get shows. Now your website, blog or photo page is your portfolio. That's how today's artists make and maintain contact with collectors, galleries and related arts professionals in terms of introducing themselves and hopefully getting opportunities to show or sell their art. The more compelling your online (and overall) presentation, the greater the chances that people will at some point want to see your art in person.
Best procedure is to develop a step-by-step approach to introducing yourself and your art to whomever you think might be interested rather than shoot for studio visits right from the start. Go easy at first and make initial contact by email, phone, in person or by way of your online presence. Explain why you are making the contact (as opposed to making contacts at random), state up front why you think this person or venue might possibly be interested in your art, and then assuming all goes well, gradually get to know each other. This process might take a few days or last many months, and may involve an extended email correspondence, periodic phone conversations, sending occasional updates to links or images of your art, visiting people at their galleries, homes or offices, and so on.
The studio visit is normally well down the agenda for anyone thinking seriously about showing an artist, representing their art or adding that artist's work to their collections-- not the first. They have to feel comfortable communicating with you along every step of the way before wanting to seriously look at your art in person. However long these trial periods may take, be patient, always be sensitive and flexible about other people's needs, requests or requirements, keep an upbeat attitude and hope for the best. Like any other business relationship, you have to start slowly, gradually get to know each other, make sure you get along, and assuming all goes well, sooner or later advance to a mutually beneficial outcome.

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Showing Your Art Nationally or Internationally


Q: I'm looking for exhibition opportunities in major art centers like New York, London, Los Angeles and Asia. How can I show my art in places like this? The local art scene here where I live is not very good, people don't appreciate my art, and it doesn't sell well. What I need is more exposure in front of larger audiences to increase sales. Please tell me the best ways to approach galleries in big cities here and internationally.

A: Many artists believe that all they have to do to get known is to show their art in major national or international art centers, and somehow some way, collectors will discover and appreciate it immediately. Continuing with this magical thinking, they fantasize that the exposure will result in instant recognition, a steady stream of sales, and the beginning of a great career. Why do they think this? It's kind of a "grass is greener on the other side" mindset, often having to do with the mistaken belief that their art is not in front of the "right audience," and that the only reason they haven't been selling is that there's not much of an art scene in their hometowns or wherever they happen to live, and that hardly anybody who lives there buys art. But the truth is that people do buy art, they buy it everywhere, and the hometown does count, so let's take a look at the reality of the matter.

The problem with the "I can't sell locally / I need a better audience" approach is that in order for your art to be accepted by a gallery located other than near where you live, you have to present some sort of compelling reason as to why they should take you on. Usually this means that you have to establish a reputation and a proven track record of successfully showing at galleries somewhere-- usually in or around where you live. This being the Internet age, getting that reputation online through blogs, social media, interviews or feature stories about you and your art is also a possibility, but regardless of how you do it, you need at least some semblance of a resume somewhere before you take your show on the road. You may have a great reason for contacting out-of-town galleries, but is it also a great reason for the galleries? The fact that they're in good locations, you're not, and you need sales because you can't get them where you live, is not a great reason.

Think about it. If you can't put together a decent history of shows or sales in the city or area where you live now, or online, then on what basis do you expect a gallery in a city where you don't live (and likely have few if any contacts, access, or experience) to seriously consider your art? For one thing, major art centers already have plenty of artists who live and work in the vicinity. Based on logistics alone, galleries tend to prefer showing local artists for a variety of reasons. They have an easier time getting to know them, communicating with them, following their work, making studio visits, meeting with them in person, introducing them to potential buyers, and moving their art from location to location. Art by artists from the immediate area is also easier for galleries to sell mainly because potential buyers are often much more familiar with the local art scene than they are with artists from elsewhere who they've likely never heard of. In other words, there's a lot less explaining and convincing to do.

On the flip side, plenty of galleries show artists from faraway places, over the years I have spoken with numerous gallery owners who do, and I ask the same two questions over and over again, "How did you hear about this artist?" and "Why did you decide to give them a show?" The answer to the first question is almost always that the gallery owners hear about the artists as a result of their reputations and accomplishments where they live and work. They tell me why the artists are known, how they became known, what types of awards or distinctions or publicity they've received so far during the course of their careers, where they've exhibited, what collections their works are in, and so on.

In answer to the second question, they talk about why they believe art by these artists deserves to be seen by people in other parts of the world, particularly their parts, and more importantly, why that art is worth paying attention to, and more importantly yet, why it's worth owning. In short, they are convinced that art by these artists is significant enough and noteworthy enough to be brought to the attention of wider audiences who don't yet know them, but who should. When you can come up with reasons like that for your art, your chances for getting shows at out-of-town venues will increase dramatically.

Whenever a gallery shows art by any artist, especially artists who are not from the immediate area, that gallery has to be able to present the work in such a way as to persuade their clientele that it's worth owning. They have to provide potential buyers with compelling evidence about why they should seriously consider adding the art to their collections. A gallery would have a difficult time indeed trying to sell work by an out-of-town artist with few accomplishments or a weak sales history. Art buyers need to feel comfortable spending good money on new artists whose work they're not familiar with; they need encouragement, aka concrete documented facts and figures-- and impressive ones. Liking the art is a good start, but it's generally not enough for someone to whip out the checkbook.

So in order for you to broaden the market for your work and successfully take it outside of the immediate area where you live, you have to first establish a reputation at home (or at least online), a supportive fan base, and a respectable succession of accomplishments including regular sales. This is pretty much how every artist has to do it. You begin by convincing those closest do you-- namely the people where you live-- that your art is worth paying attention to. Call it home-field advantage; these are the people who know you the best and in spite of what you may think, are often the most sympathetic to your cause. Once you begin to get traction and acceptance with them, you can gradually start to expand your fan base and introduce your work to larger and larger audiences.

A final point to keep in mind, before attempting to contact any gallery anywhere, is that you should be able to clearly explain why they should consider adding you to their roster, not only in terms of why your art is relevant to that gallery, but also to the people who live in the area where they're located. If you make a convincing enough presentation and a gallery decides to take you on, the reasons you convinced them with will be the exact same ones they'll pass on to potential buyers when talking about why they should add your art to their collections.

Lastly, one important caution-- especially for those of you who think you can skip steps and have a successful show at a gallery in a major art center before establishing an adequate reputation elsewhere. Certain galleries in these parts of the world will be more than happy to give you shows, regardless of your resume or credentials. Why? Because the way they make their money is by charging you to exhibit there, and occasionally at costs ranging well into the thousands of dollars. Whether anyone buys your art is not that important to these galleries because they've already been paid. They are fully aware of how many artists are eager to show their work in big cities, and for a fee, will gladly indulge the fantasies of any artist who thinks that in order to live happily ever after, all they have to do is show with them because of where they happen to be located.

Never forget that advancing in your career as an artist is like advancing in any other profession-- it's a long hard step-by-step process. So keep making art, be persistent, and show your work whenever you get the opportunity. With dogged dedication and perseverance, sooner or later people will begin to take notice, you'll gradually bulk that resume, and as time goes on, you'll get more offers to show your work at increasingly significant galleries-- both at home and beyond.

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

What to Do When People Criticize Your Art


One inescapable truth of the art world is that throughout your career, all kinds of people will say all kinds of things about your art, whether they tell you to your face, write about it, make videos about it, blog about it, post about it or gossip behind your back. Not only do you have to learn how to handle this continuous onslaught of thoughts, feelings, feedback, comments, criticisms, observations and impressions, but also how to evaluate and respond to them, and most importantly, how to not take them personally.
But first, a word to all you artists who have a habit of spontaneously asking people what they think of your art. The real question should be "What do YOU think of your art?" but let's save that one for later. Anytime you ask people what they think of your art, you have to realize that you instantly put them in awkward positions, especially if they don't really know you (why an artist would even ask someone who doesn't really know them-- or their art-- hardly makes any sense in the first place, but they go ahead and do it anyway).
Most people who find themselves in tricky situations like this will try to end the conversations as quickly and painlessly as possible, and you can bet that in almost all cases, what they'll tell you will not be what they think of your art, but rather what they think you'll want to hear-- which is usually that they like it. In other words, asking the question is basically pointless because you'll have no idea whether the answers you get will be honest or not, and have no real way of finding that out. Unless you already have an established relationship with whomever you're asking, or you're in a setting where people are specifically critiquing each other's work, there's rarely any upside to putting someone on the spot. If people feel like commenting, let them do it on their own; don't force the issue.
The good news is that you never have to ask because over time, plenty of people will volunteer every conceivable critique of your art-- some fantastic, others not so good. No matter what they say, these are always excellent opportunities to learn how your work impacts others, but at the same time, you can't take absolutely everything you hear at face value. Way too many artists have a tendency to get overly sensitive or defensive the instant anyone gets the least bit critical, and often without even thinking about who the criticizer is. These sorts of overreactions are rarely called for because most of the feedback you get comes from people who are not buyers, collectors, critics, gallery owners or anyone else who can impact or influence the course of your career, but rather from friends, family, acquaintances or casual art fans simply out for a good time and a little small talk. And making a big deal out of small talk does not do you one iota of good.
In order to figure out how seriously to take any conversation where your art suddenly becomes the center of attention, start by asking yourself a few questions. Who is this person? Do they know you? Are they familiar with your work? Are they familiar with the type of art you make? How much do they know about art? Are they qualified to judge art? Are they potential buyers? Are they respected members of the art community? Are they trying to make art conversation? Or do they just like to hear themselves talk? You'll come across them all... believe it. Once you figure out whom you're talking to and are able to get a little perspective on the matter, then you'll be in a far better position to relax and get the most out of every encounter.
This doesn't mean that if someone fails to "qualify," in your opinion, to meaningfully weigh in on your art that you blow them off or ignore everything they say. If one of your goals as an artist is to broaden your audience-- to expose your work to as many people as possible in as many different circumstances as possible-- then you have to consider and reflect on what everyone tells you, and not just a select few. Even the most uninformed viewers can at times provide brilliant bits of wisdom and insight into your art, not only in terms of the work itself, but also how it affects them, what they get out of it, what it communicates, what they understand, what they need help understanding, and so on. Input from others helps you become a better artist. It's just that simple.
Another important determination you have to make is whether a particular response is based on an individual's personal tastes, or is instead based more on certain degrees of knowledge, familiarity or experience of the art world as a whole. Usually it's the former-- someone either likes or dislikes your art only in terms of what they find personally appealing, and has little or nothing to do with the quality, meaning or significance of the work itself. This type of criticism is worth listening to, especially if you hear similar versions of it over and over again, but at the same time, you can't take it all that seriously because it's not really about you or your art, it's about them and their tastes. In other words, don't get all bent out of shape when someone speaks about your art in less than glowing terms, based solely on his or her individual preferences.
If, however, a person's comments are based more on facts relating to the art itself and are presented more from an objective critical perspective, then you should generally be considering them more seriously. For example, I see accomplished works of art all the time that I do not find the least bit appealing personally, but it's still good art, and I still have plenty of good things to say about it. And the same goes for not-so-good art. The important part is that I leave my tastes out of it and consider the art based purely on its own merits or lack thereof. These are the types of criticisms that are worth paying the most attention to.
Regardless of who's telling you what, you always have to keep the bigger picture in mind rather than flip out every single time anybody says anything the least bit contrary about your work (many artists fall victim to this, and it's almost always way more energy draining than productive). Think more in the aggregate, in terms of cumulative feedback over time. That's what really educates you about the impact of your work, and about how and what it communicates to others-- not any one person's remarks. Be more like a census taker and catalogue and accumulate data. Over the long haul, general response patterns to your art will emerge and become increasingly clear. You'll begin to see similarities in how people react to and experience your work, and you'll be able to make progressively better informed decisions about how to present yourself and your art to everyone's advantage, and to ultimately advance in your career.
Taking any one person too seriously is never good-- regardless of whether that person happens to have a profile in the art community or the ability to influence your career. The art world is so huge, especially in this Internet Age where pretty much everything is accessible to everyone (including you), that there's plenty of room for all points of view and all art to coexist, and plenty of potential interest in your art as well-- assuming you're willing to put the effort into finding it. The influence or authority of any single individual only extends so far, and even the influence they currently have is becoming gradually marginalized when compared to the ever expanding number of available options not only for artists to call attention to their art, but also for getting it out there in front of the public.
In the end though, while comments and critiques from others are certainly worth contemplating and at times even acting on, at some point you have to set them all aside. Remember way back at the beginning of this article when I said that the real question you should be asking is what YOU think of your art rather than what other people think? If you happen to be one of those many artists who are guilty of looking to others for acknowledgement or approval rather than looking to yourself, then perhaps change up your agenda a tad and occasionally reflect on why you find this quest for acceptance so necessary. Your art is ultimately about you and your belief in it regardless of what anyone else has to say. You can't underestimate the importance of other people's observations and input in terms of understanding the overall impact, effect and appeal of your work, but after everyone's had their say, your dedication, commitment and creative inspiration are all that really count.

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

Awesome Hand Paintings

  • Digg
  • Del.icio.us
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS