Notes from the Life of an Artist by Franklin Einspruch. Previous: Neither subjective nor objective Next: Portrait of an Artist as an Avatar 2.
Seven Things Every Artist Should Know
I have been thinking about these career issues quite a bit lately, so this book by a director of Mixed Greens and an arts lawyer comes at an opportune time. But the fifth and most recent edition of Survive came out in and it's already showing its age eight years later. It was before the proliferation of blogging and the decimation of the landscape of print criticism. An update seems in order. First and most importantly, a book on this topic must do no harm.
My one moment of bewilderment came from the section on artist blogs. One of the first financially successful artist blogs, until recently called A Painting A Day , features the traditional still lifes of Duane Keiser. It provides a lot of practical and informative advice. The section on transfer of title edified me utterly on the subject, as did the clarification that one refers even to male persons tending the front desk of a gallery as "gallerinas. On the other hand, it seems to have lifted some of the topics point by point from Michels: the problem of day jobs, the countdown checklist before an exhibition, dealing with rejection, and a few others.
Obviously, it's a finite problem set. Survive has one somewhat weak aspect: its discussion of dealers, for whom Michels has little regard. By all means, approach your dealer with prudence, but not body armor. Every gallerist we interviewed made some kind of analogy to courtship and marriage when describing what it's like to bring a new artist into their program.
We think the comparison goes a long way to [sic] explaining how gallery relationships feel , but in the end it doesn't explain everything. Oh - and don't forget that if representation is like marriage, you're getting hitched to a polygamist. No matter how much your gallery loves you, you'll never be the only one. Perhaps I have had unusually good luck with galleries, but I find that if I act like I'm running a business as opposed to indulging a hobby , and I treat them like they're running a business as opposed to doing an elaborate favor for my artistic temperament , everything goes just fine.
It seems like it would be enough to say so. It also features short quotes from conversations with Andrea Rosen , Ed Winkleman , Mary Leigh Cherry , and other critically regarded gallerists, so the advice seems commensurately up-to-date. That said, I hope an editor has the opportunity to take an axe to the manuscript before it goes to production.
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First of all, I find the book overdesigned. Sidebar quotes, which fill the thing from cover to cover, are preceded by an odd, 8-em long middle-height horizontal bar. The designer has given whole pages to individual quotes twelve to twenty words in length. Sidebars switch between body copy and margin copy. Some of the effort to make the book look slick and contemporary is instead making it awkward and harder to absorb.
The book features charmingly drawn but inadequately droll cartoons by Kammy Roulner throughout, peopled with a stereotypical cast of art world characters: poseurs, scoundrels, megalomaniacs, perpetrators of nonsense, and airheads. The editor should cut them. A few of them are downright sad-making in one, a little boy says to a little girl, "When I grow up I wanna become a performance artist and put everyday objects into my anus" , and they play to a conception of the art world as a romper room for self-important fools that doesn't need any more reinforcement than it already gets.
Roulner belongs to the Mixed Greens stable, so I understand how her drawings got in the book, but aside from providing negative example after negative example of how to act like a nimrod, their presence subtly undercuts the presupposition of the book that the art world rewards professionalism. Frankly, for this kind of thing it's hard to beat our own Thomas Marquet here in Boston. The authors offer this caveat: "We're also not telling you that if you do everything we say, you will be the next Damien Hirst.
Pity, that. A discussion of the book's features, in the introduction, lists "a slash in the title, so it will look cool on your shelf. Too, while the authors make a point, to their eminent credit, of saying that the kind of art career they advise on may not be the kind that you want or the kind that suits your work, they provide almost no examples of what the alternatives look like. Survive does a much better job in this respect, with more discussion of exhibition possibilities and more advocacy for artists selling their own work. If only Survive was current enough to cover the new social media and the possibilities of the Internet, as well as the fairs.
This book makes a decent, substantial addition to the library on the topic, its publisher has priced it affordably, and despite the attitude of the authors that they're telling you things that you won't learn in art school, it would make an apt textbook selection for the increasingly common college-level art business practices class. Nevertheless, it only further whets my anticipation of the forthcoming book by Jackie Battenfield , due out sometime this Spring. Battenfield gave up her New York City gallery to devote herself to her painting and her art career.
This subject really ought to be addressed by an artist with a healthy professional practice, whatever helpful thoughts a gallerist or a lawyer might contribute to a discussion thereof. Well, I think "gallerina" is, you know, sexist. Plus it sounds stupid. I propose flunky, minion, or receptionist.
ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career
Oh, and Heather Darcy Bandari should drop the Heather. As for Shamim Momin, the entire name should be replaced. Shamim Momin is a perfect name for the perfect person at the perfect time. She's multicultural, young, very attractive, likes crap, and is brilliant at producing quotes like the one above. And you can tell all of that from her name! Her middle name might as well be Whitney Biennial. Thanks for the pointer to Thomas Marquet, Franklin. My favorite quote so far: "In my official capacity as a lackey, I'm extremely unpersuasive.
How about Whitby Momin? Or just Whitby?
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That's much better. It's time for art world types to go the one-word name route. If it's good enough for Cher, it's definitely good enough for them. And if it's good enough for Jack Personally, I think a simple, understated pair of initials is much more chic.
By the way, Franklin, my guide for artists is in preparation.
7 Books to Help You Market and Sell Your Art
It will be short and sweet. The central message is very simple: Just make Jack happy. The rest is details. I'm not really making fun of Momin's name so much as her taste and position in the art world. How, you might wonder, could she possibly get where she is today? What's more, should this book reach the majority of working artists today, the quality of gallery staff life would improve by a level of magnitude Show More Show Less. Any Condition Any Condition.
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Related ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (and Do) As You Pursue Your Art Career
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