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Notes from Professional Development Workshop at Harwood Art Center

Posted on:June 2, 2014 at 08:00 AM

When creating your artist’s statement, read two types of art writing:

Not all artists are successful at articulating and theorizing about their art. See Picasso’s essay on African work or Cindy Sherman’s statements from the 80s.

Create an organized message that “you” understand. Avoid sophisticated theories unless your message has something specifically to do with race, feminism, deconstruction, etc.

You must have an original vision. What are you trying to convey about roses that the viewer doesn’t already know?

Translate your work into verbal form for non-visual people. Pretend you are explaining your work to a child or person who has never been in a gallery, yet don’t talk down. Never say what your work means. Artists don’t get to decide what their work means, see The Intentional Fallacy essay.

Artist’s Statement should be two paragraphs about 8-9 sentences. Include what questions you are grappling with in the studio. Create a dialogue with the viewer.

Start with observations. In Donald Judd’s essay Specific Objects, he looked around and referred to other artists and saw there was a trend.

Read letter to NYT Art Critic from Rothko and Gottlieb.

Create a statement for each body of work that you do. The statement changes as grappling continues.

Your vision could be “impulse is good” and that you have an intuitive process. Also, you could define your vision in the negative. If you are in the middle of the process, you might say you don’t know where this is going.

Get away from conventional ideas. Like Elizabeth Peyton or Kara Walker, try to be perverse.

Artist’s Talk

If you are doing an artist’s talk, talk about your decision-making process. Why are you using Black & White? You do have a reason. In the process of understanding your decision, your vision becomes more clear.

Artist’s Biography

An artist’s biography is used to distinguish you from other artists with the same name. It also shows your exhibition history, so viewers can reference other times they’ve seen your work.

Cultivation of Collectors

Form a relationship with your collectors, open your studio, reward repeat collectors by giving them a discount, connect over something deeper.

Describe your work well to gallery owners. They act as an intermediary with the collector.

At openings and receptions, introduce yourself to curators. Place a painting on your business card. Never ask for an exhibition, ask for a studio visit. Have thick skin.

Find group shows at galleries that show similar work. Look in the Arts Calendar, check local institutions, and introduce yourself.

Look at Richard Serra’s 20-year relationship with Leo Castelli. Castelli gave Serra a stipend before any work was sold because he saw that Serra had a clear, coherent vision.

Web and Communications Tools

Most people prefer to see work in person, so don’t worry about selling online, unless you are selling prints.

Use clear, large images of your work on your website. Don’t worry if they are printed out, it means you have a fan.

Use your email address on your website, don’t use web forms that discourage people from contacting you.

Use squarespace for an easy artist website. It has drag and drop layouts, mobile-ready, cheap, and fast. You can only do basic sites with squarespace. It’s not open source, but an export tool is available to move images to a new website.

Add content to your website like 365-day projects, photo field trips, studio visits, or “Day in the life”. Document your process.

Use POSSE Post on your Own Site first Syndicate Elsewhere.

Create a cycle for your work. Create new work for 3 months, Promote & Engage for 3 months, Review & Seek Inspiration for 3 months, then Break for 3 months.

Audience Cultivation

Use Instagram to show your work and process. Use appropriate tags to reach people. Use Statigram to get a breakdown of your most popular picture and the best time to post.

Approach the editors of art magazines with press releases. Include Who, What, Where, Why, and When. Include the story of your career and artistic approach. Don’t just send a one-line email with an attachment, include dates, a one-line description, and location within the text of the email.

If the gallery is doing promotion, you can still have a proactive role in how you promote yourself.

Invite editors, curators, or art critics to coffee to talk about current projects.

Know your audience, even if you don’t have an audience. Go to exhibitions/openings. Pay attention to art being shown and the type of venue.

Find a community of artists that have similar intents, deeper personal connections.

Creative Capital artist grants