Tag Archives: artists

The Beauty of Studio Galleries

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My good friend, Jordan Miller, just aired her woes regarding running a studio gallery. I want to reply with my two cents.

First off, for the holidays, I doubt if many people buy art, especially in a city like Winnipeg in this economy. People do love looking at art… they love looking, but not just Winnipeg in particular, but the whole world in general. For someone to actually buy art, they often have to be invested in the piece or the artist already. That or they just have money to throw around at that moment. So yeah, either you have a fan or you’re lucky enough to come across someone truly compelled to buy your work.

And really this holiday, galleries and all other shops are competing against Amazon and Walmart when it comes to shopping for presents. When it comes to compelling imagery, they’re competing against the whole Internet and the world’s ADHD culture. It’s an uphill battle, and it’s a small miracle and badge on the artist every time someone buys art.

This is where I think a studio gallery has to utilize the artists it has. I think many new artists are under the assumption that once they’re in a gallery, it’s the gallery owner or curator’s responsibility to shepherd new audiences to them. To some extent, this is true. Being in a gallery brings about art enthusiasts as well as other gallery owners. But in a generally static market like Winnipeg, artists cannot expect their audience to grow if they keep on showing their stuff at the same studio gallery. To grow an audience, each artist in a collective should be introducing their friends to other artists in the collective, and thus, growing their community and their audiences. So let’s say there’s an open house, each artist in a studio gallery should at least try to invite friends to come over and see their works as well as the other artists’. “Studio artists tell me they want new people in, not just the people they know.” True. So each artist should bring the people they know and maybe they’ll buy their neighbor’s work and vice versa.

Another way to solve the “new people in, not just the people they know” dilemma is for gallery owners and artists to be sharing information regarding calls for submissions. I was once a part of an art collective in South Korea, and one thing I liked about the community is that people were sharing information and leads regarding opportunities. The organizer would encourage members to take part in shows. This encourages artists to be more productive and be part of the community. It also gives them more experience and hopefully leads them to a much better portfolio. Artists don’t have to be limited to their local community. It’s what the Internet is for. And with several eyeballs scouring the Internet for opportunities and sharing them, that should make the world of artists in a studio gallery a little bit bigger.

My friend mentioned that some artists make deals with buyers and sell work to them privately instead of going through the gallery and losing a commission. Now, there really is no way to work around this unless galleries start forcing artists to sign exclusivity contracts. But really, I think this comes down to the artists themselves. Personally, I feel grateful if a gallery hung my work and happened to find a buyer for me. That’s one person who may have never run into my work and I owe it to the gallery for making the connection. I believe artists should do the right thing and make sales through galleries rather than wait for their work to come down. Buyers wouldn’t normally care if the artist loses on commission or not. And artists, despite finances and all, should really be willing to support galleries who gave them a chance in the first place.

Now, with the two things considered: artists wondering why my gallery owner friend is not shepherding in new audiences for them and artists making private sales, I would assume this comes to either selfishness (and laziness) in the artists’ part or a fundamental opportunity missed by everyone. Perhaps the economy is bad that artists cannot afford to be generous to galleries in return, or perhaps the artists don’t realize how a small studio gallery in a city like Winnipeg could work for them.

So there you have it. If you’re an artist in a studio gallery, take advantage of your community and share resources and opportunities. Be more proactive, if not in your local arts community, then at least over the Internet. Maybe I’m biased because Jordan, the gallery owner, is my best friend, but don’t leave everything to the gallery owner or curator. There’s only so much they can do to help you.

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Opportunity for Artists!!!

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Been getting the occasional offers to submit my works to a show, enter contests, or be included in some magazine. Most of them would ask me to submit my works for a fee. I try to ignore a lot of these things, but one in a while I’ll respond just to see where it goes or if my initial impressions that it’s not worth it is incorrect.

It’s really sad how a lot of these operations prey on artists. With a mass-mailer asking for $50 per submission, a few artists are bound to respond. And for what? For a magazine that many art buyers don’t really read? A show in New York that goes unnoticed? A one-night event where a person’s art is barely seen? Good artists end up wasting their time and money participating in such ventures, while other artists just end up applying for things for no other reason than to basically get scammed.

Now I understand that some contests or call for submissions would require some small fees in order to cover gallery costs, but a lot of times, the gallery or magazines’ history is too dodgy to justify the cost. It’s not just applications, it’s also time wasted and sometimes cost of framing and shipping. And if you do the math, if a contest awards a winner $1000 in a contest that requires $50 per entry, then the gallery just needs 20 entries to start making it worth their while. That is, if a real winner is awarded a prize to begin with. And the thing is outfits like World Art Media and NY Arts magazine would charge artists upwards of $500! It’s like phishing for ambitious, naïve artists.

Can we stop taking advantage or artists who just want to put their work out there? Artists are already paying a heavy price for dreaming. It’s just depressing to see cynical reality teach artists a cruel lesson.

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Hidden Artists

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A co-worker quit last week. I believe she was with us for three to four years. We never really had much conversation since I don’t really talk much to the women at work. I think the women here at work are scared of me. (Well, at least one of them was. She left me a note saying she was scared of me right before she left. ) Anyway, this co-worker who left, I really didn’t know much about her other than her being a strict vegetarian. So it was a bit of a surprise that on her last day I find out that she’s also an artist (http://bbkjy.blog.me ). She even has a show on the night of her last day.

Instead of worrying about the wave of downsizing going on in our company, I kept on wondering how I could’ve missed this. How did I not know this person was not an artist as well? Shouldn’t we all sense each other’s presence like the immortals in Highlander? She sure dressed like one.

Do people in the office even know I make art? Would they be just as surprised? Anyway, it was a missed opportunity to get to know an artist. I guess the blame is on me. I should’ve been nicer to the people I work with.

Maybe I’m just a bitter person with a dark hole where my heart should be, but looking at her works, they are a tad saccharine for my taste. But I really do admire her tenacity for drawing and her commitment to a style. She knows what she likes, studies it, and keeps at it. Under the right conditions, her works could be extremely marketable. You’re probably not reading this, Jiyoung, but here’s to your success.

 

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Mountains

Mountains

I’ve just been included in a local artist group, http://www.pank.kr/index.html. There’s barely any details aside from a name and a few images (not even a link to my site). I’m just glad it mentions I’m a Canadian artist and not a Korean (not that I would ever be mistaken for one). Artist groups are good. It saves you a bit of time from hustling and finding galleries on your own. It’s also a good way to network and meet other artists and gallery owners.

I remember starting a local artist group years ago. I set up a show and everything. I ended up doing most of the work. Now I didn’t mind it at all, as long as the works I was given to display were decent. The problem is, they weren’t. And I ended up feeling  like I was selling work for others, amateur works that could never be sold. Laziness and lack of participation can be forgiven. Lack of talent, not so much. Not to toot my own horn, but I was tempted to show just my works and another artist’s. Leave everyone else out. But that wouldn’t be fair; after all, the other artists were bringing some of their friends in for the opening. That ended up being the first and last show I had with the group. I didn’t want to associate my name with them anymore… not that my name really means anything. I guess what I learned is that if you’re going to join a group, make sure you respect at least half of the other members’ works in it. And if you’re going to start a group, don’t just take everyone who calls themselves an “artist.”

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