Friday, July 17, 2009

Insight Please: Request for Comments

Should young artists devote all studio time to developing art or should a portion be spent on developing their art into a business?

Is it ever too early for an artist to think of his/her creating art as a profession?


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Leah honey, I think as their dealer you should think about developing young artists' art into business, and let them concentrate more on their work. Direct them as necessary. It is important that they gain a voice of their own without worrying about the intracies of the market. Once they have ample experience and enough cashflow, they will have already learned what it takes to start transforming their work into a business on their own.

    But if what you mean by business is creating a good portfolio, especially by trying to tap into residencies, grants, shows, and awards, then certainly, the earlier, the better.

  3. I absolutely agree Suleyman!

    In fact, this question arouse when I was speaking to Jerry (an artist I do not represent) about the role his CV, documentation, keeping copies of press, website, etc plays... He asked me if he was not too young - having only graduated 2-3 years ago from college - to be concerned about these matters or even apply to grants and residencies. His argument that young artists are best off developing a body of work before considering their career is very valid. I said that in my opinion an artist - no matter how young needed to think/learn about developing themselves professionally. After saying that, I felt very much like a "Gallerist" instead of a supporter of the Arts.

    I appreciate your input. I am sure to continue to revisit this question and the insight I've received often.

  4. Unless you're independently wealthy or have some kind of financial support as your beginning your career, it's a balancing act to be able to make art and a living. The earlier an artist can spend some of their time focusing on the business/career part, the better. Why not try to set yourself up for success in all areas possible? Having the luxury of choosing to not focus on the business aspects is rare - it's one of the many realities of being an artist.

  5. Ironically I solved this problem by making my art self-reflexive and based on social networking among art professionals. I really do think that it was like knocking on two birds with a single stone.

    For me, I had the original idea to execute oil paintings of art professionals I had met on Twitter and Facebook. Too cliched as Paul Campbell did Facebook portraits at Roebling Hall. So I decided to make a radical change into conceptual art by striking these new interview portraits instead which are a hybrid of the verbal and visual as well as the new media art with traditional works on paper, granted printed at Staples or c-prints for better quality. The strange irony is that I really found out that these interview portraits are more like the verbal/visual counterpart to Chuck Close but focused more on the soul of that person.

    For me, I haven't been exhibiting professionally that long... only since October 2007 so I feel that I have a lot of ropes to cover. I am scrapping by and end up having to work day jobs to fund art projects, such as my forthcoming art world baseball cards but it will be an expensive undertaking to create limited edition prints.

    So my art practice has the marketing and business parts rolled up. Moving forward in the art world isn't really always about the money, it's about progressive networking and going beyond just bribing a gallery director to show the work that is consigned.

    I spend about 60% marketing and 40% studio time but for me, since I have an established practice and methodology, the work comes easier (or assistants can help if needed). Marketing is the hardest leg and thing that doesn't seem to get taught very well in art schools.

    --qi peng

  6. I asked this question through Facebook and received the following responses:

    Josephine Lipuma at 11:43pm July 9
    First have the great art, then market it!

    Peter Strange Yumi at 11:51pm July 9
    art is art.. bizness is bizness. art is a bizness

    Gabriel J. Shuldiner at 11:54pm July 9

    Ryan Alexander at 11:57pm July 9
    interesting question. so many do see art as separate from business. does that mean that one should never be able to live off of art? or is living off of art an offense to purity? is living off of art de facto commercial?
    i believe frank zappa is the only man who may ever have been able to answer this question.

    Josephine Lipuma at 12:04am July 10
    One has to have a superior product, then the marketing is easy to do!

    Jenevieve Hubbard at 12:27am July 10
    YES! If you take yourself seriously of course! No real businessperson sits around and hopes magic is going to make their venture successful. Why do we all think artists have to be starry-eyed mystics that never come down to earth. Granted, good art sometimes sells itself. But if you are doing this seriously, you have to be as organized as anyone else would be -

    Mark Staff Brandl at 1:21am July 10
    As compared to the last decade where young artists spent ALL their time developing their art-business and no studio time?

    Kathy Schnapper at 1:41am July 10
    Every successful artist that I have known set aside some time each day, or at least each week, for 'office work.' If they don't do it all themselves, then they have an assistant (or a 'wife') who looks after the business side.

    I disagree with Josephine. Those who make the work and then hope to market it later end up in their old age, unknown and with a huge inventory, or else they give up discouraged.

    Not saying that it should be all marketing and hype, but you have to spend some time getting the work out.

    Joseph Hugh O'Brien at 3:34am July 10
    " the julian schnabel " was with a very close friend in manhatten and pointed to the museum of modern art and said " i'm going to be in there someday " ... it takes a tenacity and a willingness to prostitute yourself to get known in the art world... art is subjective...

    Joseph Hugh O'Brien at 4:00am July 10
    to simplify the complicated... both...

    Enjoy the answers.

    --qi peng

  7. albert's response makes a strong point between the lines. it would surely be to a young artists's benefit to find a balance between the creative and the busines side of their career. theoretically, this balance could even go to the extremes of being very much focussed on the business side, depending on what concept or set of parameters the artist uses. it could, in the same way easily be taken to an extreme that exponentiates a young artist's frustration and eventual exhaustion. as there is no precise way to define an artist or art, or what an artist should be doing, it is important for a gallerist(in the same way it was at one point important for professors or other role models), to provide encouragement in the development of business strategies appropriate to the individual, so long as it encourages a lasting and mutually beneficial business relationship for both. that is to say, some artists may need only walls and a consignment agreement and some may need to be taken by the hand. one is not better than the other and there are all levels of grey area between these two extremes. all in all, what i am saying is that what is good for one person may be totally the opposite for another. some people are endowed naturally or have learned somehow to keep a business mind while producing work and for others this death. ideally, business should not be allowed to stifle great work and it is to the gallerist and the art world at large to recognize when this is in danger of happenning.
    -adam collison

  8. I asked the second question on Facebook and received the following responses:

    Noe Kidder at 8:46am July 13
    do you mean making money?

    Ravenna Taylor at 10:06am July 13

    Kathy Schnapper at 1:33pm July 13
    Think of it as a profession from the start. Period.

    Ravenna Taylor at 5:35pm July 13
    it's a spiritual vocation as far as I'm concerned. A few will make money; the rest will be happier if they don't expect to. My opinion, for what it's worth: (little).

    Enjoy the answers...

    --qi peng