Four Ways To Make Your Own (Tiny) Door

Update Friday, March 2, 2012 at 10:55 PM. Dalam topik Marketing
Here is the one thing that makes art nothing like business:

artists do just about nothing to set the value of their work.

You don't make a widget that you price and put on a market. Instead, you depend upon arbiters of taste, like critics, gallerists, curators and buyers to stamp your work with an external imprimatur, a list of instances in which someone else valued the work. And we all know the following:

1. There are tiers to this system. The fact that you are a top seller on Ebay or killed in St. Louis may or may not translate in LA or New York.
2. The actual quality of your work is, in many ways, irrelevant. You may be depending on gallerists and the like to be actual arbiters of culture, but they are really businesspeople. They don't want to take chances as much as they want things to go smoothly. They're more conservative than you want them to be.
3. There are a ton of artists pummeling these so-called arbiters of taste all the time.
4. So it's really all about who you know.

This set of "known knowns" causes artists to envision the art world as a big castle surrounded by a high wall, with themselves positioned squarely Outside The Gate and gallerists and the administrators of nonprofits acting as Gatekeepers. You can play that game if you want, but it's a recipe for feeling powerless. Instead, you might want to try making your own door:

1. Offer something you do have. Write criticism, make websites for galleries, help artists organize themselves. Work for an arts organization or assist an artist. Volunteer for an arts organization you love for one day--they would love you back!

2. Start a Crit Group or a Salon. Go create some community of your own.

3. The next time you see a show you like, go poke your head in the back and tell the gallerist how much you liked it and why. Not only will this make most gallerists feel good, it will also make you feel less and less afraid of gallerists the more you do it. Added side effect: if that gallerist is such a pompous ass that s/he can't take a compliment with grace and patience, then you will know in five or ten years when you have power that you don't ever want to do business with them!

4. And then write the artist of that show an email and tell them the same thing. Not to be a sycophant, but to be nice.

None of this will get you a studio visit with Zach Feuer, but let's face it--you weren't getting one anyway. This is just my humble opinion: I think the hardest part is just staying in the game. Anything I can do for myself to keep it light, to keep it not-ugly, helps me stay in the game. How do you do this?


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