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An Artist's Life (Continued)


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#1 bciskepottery

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 07:52 AM

Found this on Facebook, thought many of us could relate . . .

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#2 TJR

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 09:59 AM

This sounds familiar.

I was at a show opening last Friday. My buddy Tim and another painter Armand. Tom gave up pottery to become a painter. He is retired from the health care industry-age 62. Cost him $500.00 to rent the gallery plusprint out colour invitations and posters. I visited the show twice. The paintings were beautiful landscapes in acrylic. $720 a pop. The one I wanted to buy was $1800.00.Couldn't swing it. I went back the next week to look at the work again, because I like to look at work when it is not crowded. Nothing had sold. Took him three years to paint the paintings. He is in Poro Vallarta this week getting away from the cold.

Last night I went to the same gallery, as I knew a nurse who is also a painter. We went to art school together but I didn't know her work [class of 1975]. I was a women only show-5 women artists. Same deal. Beautiful work, no sales. These artists have to pay to show their work here, and do the set up and take down with help from the co-coordinator. I think they make money on the bar, but the artists do not see any of this revenue. I bought a beer.

TJR.



#3 Wyndham

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 11:03 AM

I feel better now, the reason?

Well 25+years ago I rented a shop in Murrel's Inlet SC for the summer. Back then I painted landscapes, seascapes, escapes(that's another story :) )

This tourist location has a restaurant row that during the summer has 1,000's of people every night. I thought that those that saw my gallery would stop by later to at least see what i painted.....nope, not one. 3 Months and one person stopped by to ask where the bait shop was.

People, ourselves included are self obsessed. It's all about what we want, need, wish for or to impress others. So what that means is we have to sublimate some, not all , of our creativity to what others want.

Back in the 1800's in France there was a doctor that wished to help the poor but he himself was not well off enough to do this with out income. He set up his practice to "doctor" the wealth that had had various rich aliments and charged a hefty fee which he used to help those that truly needed but could not afford a doctor.

How you do this, is open to any interpretation but value is a individually perceived and subjective creature.

I'd love to paint and make a living but I fear the cost of my identity as an artist would be greater than the return.

Look at the life of Thomas Kinkade,The Painter of Light, who died of an overdose of alcohol and pills.I believe he was trapped in his own myth and didn't have the strength  to break free.

Just a thought, as I was there once.

Wyndham



#4 Mark C.

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 04:14 PM

People do not NEED a painting-but can USE a mug. My painter friends  who  are still painters make small affordable work now. The big stuff market dried up when the economey crashed.

My photographer friend got crushed when digital made everyone a photographer and web images became free.

The times thay are a changing-I'm glad I can still provide everyday usefull objects and the market has lasted most of my life

Back to extruding soap dishes today while firing a glaze kiln load.

Mark


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#5 Wyndham

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 04:40 PM

They do NEED a painting but the need to survive trumps art.

My concession to function is to make beautiful glazes that allow me the satisfaction of painting but on a different medium.

If we allow ourselves to become devoid of beauty in our lives, whether clay or canvas, we've become the drones of our own creation.

The mugs are too wet for handles so I blather on , too late to start another project, too early to close the shop for the day :).

Wyndham



#6 Pugaboo

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Posted 08 March 2014 - 11:38 PM

As a painter I can commiserate in the crash I went from making what I considered good money for a painting ($250 for an 11x14 in case you are wondering) to not being able to get the cost of the canvas back. I had to switch to taking more graphic art jobs and even then they were pinching the price so hard half the time I didn't clear minimum wage when it was all said and done. But hey it's not like I was working a real job so what can I expect right?

Now I am doing pottery and painting on my pots, boxes, jewelry pieces, etc. I'm not making a living at it yet still supplimenting with graphic art design services but I can see the interest is there and am selling the pieces I have in a local gallery. I will be featured artist there starting next week for 2 months and have been told by others that have been so that they always sell a lot when they are the featured artist, only time will tell. I am hoping painting on functional pieces will help the "art" sell better than a painting. A serving tray with hummingbirds painted on it can be displayed but also used.

The only issue I am having is how to price stuff I want it to sell not come back here and collect dust but I don't want to give it away as it would be so nice not to have to design ads to earn my keep.

Terry
The world is but a canvas to the imagination - Henry David Thoreau

#7 Wyndham

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 08:04 AM

Checkout Mark's spoon rest thread. Start with smaller less expensive pieces that everyone can afford. If the market won't come to you, go to the market

Paraphrased from above, people need art but it may also be in the shape of a spoon rest

Wyndham



#8 TJR

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:55 AM

I have to say that I really enjoy this forum. There are some highly intelligent people writing on here.

One thing I learned from Mark Cortnoy ,when selling your work- cover your basis. Try to have a lot of variety. I could have sold 6 mugs, if I had them in brown. I do have a nice Temmoku brown, but it doesn't take decoration well. Would it hurt me to glaze up a dozen mugs in brown?

I have two,two day sales in my studio a year. Last sale I had a beautiful turquoise glaze on a dozen mugs. They walked out of the studio. I had a bunch of slab built trays that were artistically decorated with balanced colour and surface pieces of clay attached. Not one sold. So, you need to make things with a clear function that your customers can see an obvious use for, if you are in the game of selling your work.

I like to sell my work, but I do not like to sell my soul. I guess I will only go so far with the compromises. I do not make French butter dishes, for instance. Now you are into the whole debate of whether you are an artist, a crafts person, or a seller of chotchkas.[goo-gaws]

I think people still want beauty in their lives. It is tough to slap down $720.00 for a painting. Less painful to spend $25.00 on a mug. I still love painting though.

TJR.



#9 Benzine

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 01:01 PM

I have learned a lot from this forum as well. For instance, Canadians walk around with plates covering their faces, to shield themselves from their brutal winters.....

In regards to the topic, I was originally a studio art major, but switched to eduction my Junior year. When I try to explain, to my high school students, what "Studio Art" is, it confuses them. The graphic designer, and similar job titles makes sense, but when I tell them, there are artists out there, who "survive" by selling their work, they can't understand how that works.

For me, the decision to switch majors, wasn't based on potential, consistent income, especially considering, I was looking at becoming a graphic designer/ illustrator. I had an exposure to teaching and really enjoyed it.
"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"

#10 JBaymore

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 05:11 PM

The big stuff market dried up when the economey crashed.

 

I don;t think that sweeping statement is true. The medium priced stuff market dried up for sure. The high end for truly high quality work is alive and well. But the pyramid narrows FAST in that arena.

 

The rich still have decent dispoable incomes,...... and are getting more of it all the time.

 

The worst place to be is in the middle. That is where the hit always comes.

 

best,

 

........................john


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#11 docweathers

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 07:32 PM

it's very hard to get paid well doing something others do for fun.

 

 40 years ago I had a passing fantasy of becoming a professional potter. That fantasy was brought to a sudden reality check halt when I walked into the classroom one day and saw the best instructor was over in the corner throwing many dozens of cups off the hump. I was bewildered why a guy I had seen do astonishing things was pretending he was a cup factory. I went over and asking why he was doing this. He looked up and said "that's what sells".  I doubted that I could ever be as good as he was and I certainly didn't want to end up being a cup factory.


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#12 bciskepottery

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 07:50 PM

John hit it on the head . . . the current recovery has been very uneven, with the middle largely left stagnant and/or still struggling. And, for most of us who sell at craft fairs and shows, that is the customer base/audience. And, I think Doc Weathers also hit a good point, there is a fair amount of availability of potters and pottery, some by potters who make their living by clay and others for whom pottery is not their livelihood but some other fulfillment in their life. (Disclaimer, I fall into the latter category.) And, you don't find many who take up heart surgery, the law, and running a major corporation as a side-line.

I sell mainly at local craft fairs. I've learned over time to balance the pottery I bring to sell with the customer base for that event. Knowing you customer is really important. For most shows, I always display a few of my higher price items, but keep my expectations real. And, there are shows where those items are featured and the focus -- because those are the items for which that audience is looking. And, over time I have found -- through trial and error -- a mix of sales events more in line with my expectations. Throwing and handbuilding, firing and glazing, is the easy part; finding your customers and audience is the hard part of this equation. And, we'll all have different results at different times.

#13 Mark C.

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 08:58 PM

 

The big stuff market dried up when the economey crashed.

 

I don;t think that sweeping statement is true. The medium priced stuff market dried up for sure. The high end for truly high quality work is alive and well. But the pyramid narrows FAST in that arena.

 

The rich still have decent dispoable incomes,...... and are getting more of it all the time.

 

The worst place to be is in the middle. That is where the hit always comes.

 

best,

 

........................john

 

John I know your statement is true-I know a guy that sells super high end sculpture to the wealthy-his market never has dipped-They arrange to ship it as its always large and his market has stayed strong thru it all. He moved from the west coast to the east as thats where more $ was for his work.

Back to spoon rests  for me.

I'm starting to like TJR's spelling of my name mane because its noy better-most put A's or U's in it but adding a noy like soy is eh.

Mark


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#14 Pres

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Posted 09 March 2014 - 09:30 PM

The demonstrators at the NC conference had fun bandying around the "Oh you do pottery, isn't that fun!" comments, and the "play with clay".  Mark Shapiro said he thought it was "enjoyable", but he would not consider it fun. I had a chance to talk with him at Dwight Hollands house later that night, he seemed to be really simple down to earth guy deep in his work. I would love to seem him in his studio for a few days.


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#15 ChenowethArts

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:44 AM

I've been lurking in the cheap seats as this thread evolved and want to go back to the cartoon that Bruce posted at the start.  There are some harsh realities in that cartoon that too many of us have experienced...we may laugh at the illustration because we have been on the receiving end of this narrative, but the reality isn't very funny.

I would be a wealthy man if everything that I donated to a charity in the past actually resulted in "great exposure"...or even a modicum of sales. In more recent years, my response to some (well meaning) person who begins the "great exposure" pitch for their auction/charity/fundraiser, is to let them know:

1. that I really prefer to choose the charities that I wish to support
2. I support those charities because I share their passion for their cause and have a relationship with the people involved
3. I do not take advantage of the charity in order to "gain exposure"
4. The charities do not take advantage of my generosity with "great exposure" promises/expectations that they cannot keep.


The "great exposure" pitch may not be complete bunk, but it is certainly an unrealistic sales-pitch-expectation that twists the artist's arm.  Without exception, the clay artists that I know are socially conscious and generous (to a fault) people. When/if the day arrives when I hear, "Hey, I want to buy more of your work because you gave something for the XYZ charity event", I will be more than happy to turn my cynicism volume down a notch.

 

...stepping down from soapbox,

-Paul


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#16 Wyndham

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 09:06 AM

Yea, it almost gets amusing when someone come into the shop looking for a donation to send some kids to Austrailia for a campout in the outback,it realy happened.

There are well deserving groups we support, most are cases of medical bills. In this part  of NC poverty and subsistance living is a reality, most here help if they can,

Wyndham



#17 Pres

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 09:19 AM

Sometimes when you add up the donations they cost more than you might think. I donated my time for years doing sets for the HS. I received a $500 dollar stipend. The hours I put in were after school from 4-10 4-5 days a week for 5-6 months out of the year for two shows. I did not eat dinner, as I had kids working, went home, ate and went to bed. 10 years of this, and I really liked doing it, but it probably was a contributing factor to fatigue, and poorer health in my late fifties that contributed to my T2 diabetes. Donating time when working full time jobs can be more costly than you might think, especially when it dangers your health. Nowadays, I try very hard to eat properly, get lots of sleep and watch my overall health. As potters working studio full time you should all do the same. It was interesting that much of Mark Shapiro's comments were about moving around in the studio, using tables of proper heights, using standing and sitting wheels, and using the body to brace and center as much as the muscles.

 

So be careful of "time" donations.


Simply retired teacher, not dead, living the dream. on and on and. . . . on. . . .                                                                                 http://picworkspottery.blogspot.com/


#18 Stephen

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 11:31 AM

I think the distinction is that it is very hard to make a living as a potter/artist on your own terms. If the realities of making 20 nice mugs as part of your Monday routine or painting specifically for what appeals to your market is a sticking point then I just don't see how the business side of ones art can survive. It's just a reality of any business that to thrive the hours are long when it's busy and products are tailored to the market. If the taste of your customer changes so does your product.  



#19 JBaymore

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 06:03 PM

...............and products are tailored to the market.

 

Or the market is targeted for the products.

 

best,

 

.....................john


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#20 Benzine

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Posted 10 March 2014 - 08:44 PM

One reason, I decided to not go into graphic design, was because of how much input the client has, in the creation process, to the point of making the final product worse.  That was, of course, my interpretation of said career.  As I have never worked in the filed, I can't say for sure.  Though, I have done enough graphic design, side projects for the the school and faculty, that I feel I have a small idea.

 

Now that I'm a bit wiser (that doesn't necessarily have to come with being older does it?), I realize, it is just another part of the challenge for creating the artwork. 

 

I see the art market in the same way.  Sure, the market dictates, to some extent, the work that you make.  But it is up to the individual artist, to make it their own.  There's a demand for green bowls.  OK, so make some green bowls, but make them unique to your style.  Cubist landscape paintings are all the rage.  So make some Cubist landscape paintings, but with your take on the style and subject matter. 

 

The demands/ requests of the client(s), is just another part of the artistic problem solving process, and part of what makes it simultaneously frustrating and rewarding.


"Anything worth believing, is worth questioning"




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