Saturday, July 13, 2013

Conversations about Art

The Fine Arts America website has some very good article on art. I enjoy going out and talking with other artists no matter what medium in which they work. I love the conversations and tips and how it makes me think more about my own artistic practices and marketing. There isn’t any one true way and every artist has to find their own way in developing their own techniques and styles. A number of topics come up for discussion and this morning, I found myself asking questions.

When does art go from being an enjoyment of creativity and exploration to producing almost a mass market inventory to sell? What is lost, is anything lost, when the artist focuses on selling and doing art with the sole goal of what will sell? Does something change within the artist when the joy of creativity is taken over by the need to sell/make a living? What happens when every piece of work is only “good enough” if it’s considered saleable?

For many artists, selling and making a living is the ultimate goal. For others, that kind of work is “selling out.” Many develop techniques that will permit them to be able to produce many pieces throughout the year. Some are able to push out painting after painting. Others may take a long time to create one piece of art. I am curious about what “makes the artist tick.” Why do you do what you do?

It doesn’t matter what side of the fence you’re on; whether you’re in with those who produce many items a year or only a dozen or so. I want to know the story behind what you do. I want to Understand. (Capitalized on purpose.) And it’s not about one way being right and the other wrong.

Maybe it’s because I am constantly asking myself questions about my own art. I am one of these artists who cannot focus on one style or technique. I love what I do, but I can also see where it does hold me back. But I LOVE what I do, so if it makes me happy, why would that be wrong and does that make me less of an artist?

Yes, my goal is to sell my work and because my work brings me much joy, I want others to enjoy it as well. Does this mean we base our worth on others purchasing our work? If our work doesn’t sell, does this mean we are not good artists?

Looking deeper inside, I often wonder what is said to “defend” our work and who or what do we try to defend ourselves against? If someone gives a negative comment, is that because he doesn’t personally like the piece or is his own creativity threatened somehow. What triggers the negative response? Is it total technical advice or a personal opinion? What is the intent behind the negativity? Is it to degrade the artist? And does a juror realize that even giving “constructive criticism,” it is still negative and her words can be more destructive than helpful?

There are more artists now than ever before and competition is stiff. Marketing strategies have turned into their own art form. Do we make our work better by putting someone else’s down? Do we make ourselves feel better by downplaying another’s technique? How can we market ourselves when there are many others out there doing similar work? If we are not good at marketing, does that make us less than professional artists?

I am very pleased to have numerous artist friends and I love the camaraderie, support, and good conversations that we have. I enjoy meeting other artists and learning about their styles and techniques. I enjoy hearing about WHO they are on a deeper level, not just the artist persona they present to the public. Does this help me be a better artist? YES! Because it broadens my views, teaches me acceptance, and I am more comfortable within myself to be the artist that I want to be.