Dec
03

Making a Living as an Artist

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I found www.Davistudio.com surfing on-line. Check out Mary Anne Davis’ blog. I like her site and her attitude. This post titled, Making a living as an artist, (Jan 06) is well said. Enjoy.

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This is a tricky and difficult proposition. I can only speak from personal experience so here I go. Art school, undergraduate and graduate prepared me for nothing with regards to commerce. One valuable skin it helped me develop, though, was the skin for criticism. I’m not talking Art in America here. I’m talking about the day to day opinions of others about my work. Art school has weekly critiques, which prepares you, in a way, for others looking and commenting on your work, often brutally. So, that, I admit, is of value.

Commerce, on the other hand, is far more brutal than mere opinion about what are your sources. Commerce requires that I be organized, have a product (art) that is clear, specific, well done and affectively communicated, not to mention ready to ship. And, selling my work is in a constant state of change. I lived in New York City for 15 years, had a studio in the meat packing district for 10 and was a star in graduate school. None of that helped me develop a presence in the art world. Maybe I was drinking too much, although that didn’t seem to hurt a lot of other artists (at least at the level of their careers). I think my timid attitude toward commerce, at that time, was counter productive toward my career. Artists with an eye to a career are called careerist, a very derogatory term. Hello! Who doesn’t want a career as an artist? What am doing here, making art that is above commerce? What’s that anyway.

I hope my work will contribute to the expansion of culture in our society and in the global village, but I sure as hell can’t do even that if I can’t make a living doing my primary activity, making art.

I have found a way to integrate my art into a living, which is in the development of a line of fine porcelain dinnerware. That is an aspect of my art. I also draw, paint and make totally useless (although mind bending) sculptures, but what I sell on a daily basis, to normal (maybe slightly above normal) income people is dinnerware.

I have shown my work at craft shows and in a fair number of group shows in galleries and museums and even had a great show this past summer of 5 years of sculpture. I am still getting up every morning, now blogging first, then pulling myself away from my computer to mix clay, pour it into molds, fire it, glaze it and hopefully ship it. This requires I also spend a fair amount of time marketing it. Taking photographs, making catalogs and updating my web site. Oh yeah, mailing info to people, snail mail, email and word of mouth. I donate lots of work to good causes, mostly for silent auctions to raise money. Oh, and I also maintain a press list with editors who have published my work in the past and I do my best to keep them updated. Whew! That is a lot to do in a day.

You know what though? I love it. I am passionate about it all to the point that I want to continue learning (major learning curve, all the time) and share what I have learned with others. Back to blogging. This seems like a good way to do that.

So, there is today’s rant. I hope you will consider buying my work. It is really good, hand made by me, not in my spare time, but in the main core of my daily activities. Check out davistudio.com

No grants (I am a for profit org of one) , no VC (yet) and no academic institution to pay me a salary while I wax poetic.

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