Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tuesday's Aside : Impact of the Day Job

Tuesday's Aside, a weekly post in which I will do my damnedest to answer your questions. In order to keep each Tuesday's thread on topic, I'll ask that you post any additional questions on the original thread (even though it will fall off the main page, I'll be emailed each time a new comment is added there and so, thus, will be monitoring continuously).

anonymous registrartist wrote:
I'm an unrepresented artist working in a Chelsea gallery 40 hours a week and doing my studio thing nights and weekends. There are so many of us artworkers/artists, I wonder what the dealers think about us. Is it generally frowned upon when aspiring artists are known to work gallery day jobs?
In re-reading my response, I realize I'm a bit all over the map, and shouldn't offer the following up as my "professional" opinion, but merely an attempt to hypothesize about the speculation and or unspoken anxieties that exist on this topic. In other words, don't quote me on any of this.

I think there can be biases working against you in this. Not insurmountable, and not concentrated in any one dealer, but spread throughout the industry, and there's no point in not talking about them openly, if only to dispel them.

The first bias was expressed by super-dealer Jeffrey Deitch at a panel lecture he participated in about 8 years ago now. I don't want to try to quote what he said because I can't recall the exact wording, but what I took away from his statement (and I'm fairly sure this is accurate) was essentially that he wouldn't even consider working with an artist who held a full-time job. He noted how a fulltime job (outside the studio, that is) implied the artist wasn't serious enough about their artwork.

The second bias possibly working against you is the assumption that you might be too close to the business side of things (i.e., have inside information most artists are not privy to) to work well with a different gallery. This is much more subtle, and most dealers probably wouldn't even recognize it in themselves if challenged on it, but sensing it a bit in myself, I can't believe it's just me.

I don't exactly know what this bias stems from (and it's not a bias as much perhaps as an anxiety), but I'll throw out a few ideas and see how many sound feasible.

Perhaps the underlying anxiety, subtle as it is, stems from many dealers' fear that they're doing so much of their job poorly. There is no manual on how to run your business as a dealer, and trial-and-error is how most of us come to make decisions on the finer points of relationship management and other strategies. This, I can confirm, is felt by more dealers than just me. I've spoken to many other dealers whose self-doubt that they're not working as effectively or efficiently as they can is surprisingly high for people who put on such a brave face in public.

With that self-doubt current being so ubiquitous, learning that one of your competitors does something differently from someone (this artist in question) who was working behind the scenes (as opposed to learning it from an artist who is represented by other galleries, but whom you can safely assume only saw what that other gallery wanted them to see), can contribute to that self-doubt, but that in and of itself isn't the problem (dealers learn from other dealers all the time). Perhaps even more anxiety provoking would be the idea that this artist you've taken on who worked for another gallery might recognize your failure, call you on, gossip about it, etc. etc. and you'll be revealed as the fraud you fear you are. (A bit of projection, perhaps, but again, I've had the same ideas shared with me by other dealers, and not all of them so new to the game.)

These are, again, just guesses about the bias, but I can confirm that it can exist (again, somewhat unconsciously for the most part), which is not to say you shouldn't work for a gallery. You have rent to pay and food to buy, and this bias would be definitely something the dealer just needs to work to get over.

There is a third potential bias at work here as well, but this one is even more difficult to describe, and, to be honest, I'm not so sure it stems from the galleries as much perhaps as it's merely a reflection off the artists working for galleries that the artists think they see in dealers (and perhaps because in the context of working for a gallery, they, as an employee, don't get the same star treatment that they see the dealer showing to his/her artists), but...the notion exists that only an artist with self-doubt about their art would work to support the careers of other artists. Again, I've never felt this myself, but I do sense it among some artists who work as art handlers or assistants or for galleries. And because I sense they feel it, perhaps I reflect it back to them merely by recognizing it.

A dealer's main interest in how you spend your time outside the studio is that you're still able to get into the studio and do the work you need to get done there. It's generally only when you're not able to do so that your dealer will care what you're doing in addition to making your artwork. For those dealers who won't even consider working with you if your day job isn't approved, there's not much you can do except perhaps work to squirrel enough away that you can quit that job before inviting them to your studio. For the rest of the dealers out there, I'd recommend just not bringing it up. And if they do, emphasize that your goal is to be able to be in the studio full time as quickly as possible. You can imply, as well, that with their help you'll be able to do so (but that can backfire, so be careful with that approach).

Labels: Tuesday's Aside, working in galleries


Blogger nathaniel said...

I understand not wanting to work with someone who worked in a gallery, I suppose. I might feel weird about that, too. And I am also sympathetic to the idea that a full-time job might signify a lack of commitment to some. But I wonder about how limiting not "even consider[ing] working with an artist who held a full-time job" can be, especially if it has to do with your practice (teaching, writing, curating, or managing collaborations between artists being examples). It seems silly. Adrian Piper, Eduardo Kac and William Kentridge immediately come to mind as people Deitch would look over (in the latter case, would have looked over early in his career; Piper and Kac still hold a full time posts). In South Africa (I lived there from 2001-2006), there's less than a handful of artists - even and especially the their art stars - who don't hold at least 70% posts at academic institutions, and many of them are with the top gallery. When I lived there, I was only a part-time lecturer and spent most of my time on art, but I will ironically be teaching and working for cash LESS now that I am about to take on a full-time post - and I also believe myself a far better artist than I was 6 years ago, mostly because of the ongoing combination of teaching and critiquing and writing and making; the former three mostly happen because of my "full-time job," and my production is influenced by and inspired by it. I often RUN to the studio after researching and reading about a great theory or piece while prepping for a class, try out new technologies and experiments in the studio because of wanting to share possibilities with my students. And yes, my job sees making art as an important part of what I do, gives me a studio, a budget, and bases my promotion, etc, on things like press and exhibitions - seeing value in the same things a gallery would.
For all of these reasons, and many more I'm sure I can't think of, it just seems an odd - no, stupid - rule. But, to be frank, I personally wouldn't want Jeffrey Deitch as a gallerist either, so at least we are on equal footing there.

6/10/2008 09:12:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

"[T]he notion exists that only an artist with self-doubt about their art would work to support the careers of other artists."

This got me scratching my head. Are you only refering to artists who are employed by art galleries or do you mean this in a broader sense, so that it would include artists who write and publish art criticism?

6/10/2008 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Are you only refering to artists who are employed by art galleries or do you mean this in a broader sense, so that it would include artists who write and publish art criticism?

I mean specifically artists working as art handlers, gallery staff, artist assistants, etc. In other words, jobs where the other artist is more or less, if only via proxy, the boss. That would not include critics, who are seen as being in a check-and-balance role as opposed to a supporting role.

But let's not make too much of this, as if it's coming from the institution side. I don't think it is. I think it's coming from the artists working in such jobs and they're imagining the institutions/galleries, etc. are feeling it too.

6/10/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How curating, Ed? Since I started curating shows (where my work is not included), I find myself being described by others as a curator, not as an artist. While I always correct it by listing my upcoming shows, it is awkward.

6/10/2008 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Kate said...

Thanks again for your frankness, Ed.

I have been fortunate enough to work full-time in the studio for a a few years now. For ten years prior, I held a full time university teaching job, and remember coming to NY in the summers and hearing jokes about how all the university professors from across the country were descending upon The City with their slides during their time off. When you teach, you also have to contend with spending your time grooming other artists for success, which I always did with a generous heart, but it was still a great feeling when it was MY turn to focus only on my own work.

The simple fact is that, unless you were born with a trust fund, you have to pay the bills. (If you are not a recent grad from a prestigious university MFA program during the youth obsessed art era when the game changed, and) if you put in years trying to support yourself and still manage to be prolific in the studio and build up a resume, sometimes someone will give you a break, and the cycle will end. I remember being at a conference where Dave Hickey was speaking to room full of university professors, and he said that "the real artists are out there in the trenches making work, not hiding in ivory towers", and half the room got up and walked out. He proceeded to rattle off the names of some pretty successful artists, almost all of whom had families who supported them until they "made it".

Ironically, I found that knowing that your income was taken care of by another job allowed for an incredible freedom in making work that might eventually make its way to the marketplace, but was never even remotely affected by it.

6/10/2008 10:20:00 AM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Of course it is easy for me to say that it should only be about the art the artist makes, regardless of how they support themselves financially, but we all know this isn't the case.

6/10/2008 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

How curating, Ed? Since I started curating shows (where my work is not included), I find myself being described by others as a curator, not as an artist. While I always correct it by listing my upcoming shows, it is awkward.

I think that could be its own thread, but in summary I'd say the art world, like most worlds, tends to like its players to specialize. Or, if they don't, to excel beyond most others in each of their selected roles. In other words, for you to be seen as an artist who's just curating on the side, you'd have to be a fairly well known artist. Nayland Blake, for example, curates regularly, but no one would assert that takes anything away from his art. Why? Because his reputation as an artist is solid. (plug: his most recent effort opens this Thursday at Monya Rowe's gallery.)

But this does touch on the subtext of Eric's question, which is what damage, if any, does it do to your chances to thrive as an artist if you're also known as a critic or curator or whatever.

My guess is that it does indeed impact it (how could it not), but whether for good or bad is all in how you parlay it into name recognition for your artist self.

I think it helps if the extracurricular curating or criticism you engage in overlaps or fuels your art in someway, but again, the most important aspect to keeping it from impacting your art career negatively is that 1) your art is solid, and 2) what you're doing as a sideline you're also doing very well.

6/10/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

What if the artist's full time job is not within the arts, but related to the art they make? Say someone who works full time in a biology lab, and their work addresses the natural sciences? Would this heighten the anxiety that the artist is not a serious artist? A small nuance, I know, but I think it could have a reverse affect, making the artist more attractive to a gallerist...

6/10/2008 11:08:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks, as always, for taking the time to share your knowledge and insights with us. I appreciate it, but some of what you're saying here ticks me off. It sounds like a game played in the business world in general, one of acting like you're more successful than you really are in order to move up the ladder. It's like how if you're looking for a job, it's easier if you already have a job, because you're more attractive to future employers if you're already employed. If an artist can pretend that they don't need a day job, they will be more likely to get representation. It's a bit of a catch 22 because if you are already successful enough to be working full time in the studio, chances are you either already have representation (or have some other system in place for selling your work) or you have a financially supportive spouse or family. Having family money is great for an artist, giving them more time in the studio, but I don't believe that family money = better artist. In fact, one could make a case for the opposite: if you are able to support yourself (especially in New York) and STILL make good work in the studio, your exceptional organizational and creative skills should be recognized and appreciated. If you're able to make good work that is gallery-worthy while working a day job, the dealer should be thinking, "imagine what this artist could do without the time-suck of the day job... I'd like to help her get there, because the work will be even better then." Or something to that effect.

But also, there's a distinction in the first anon's question between a day job and a day job in the art world, that we haven't really addressed.


6/10/2008 11:09:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

It's much simpler than that Oriane. A gallery wants to invest in an artist whose future career will return the investment and deliver some profit. Dealers will look to indications of how serious an artist is, among other things, including of course how good their art is, in making a determination about whether the risk is worth pursuing.

Someone willing to risk everything on their art can be more convincing than someone who only makes art in their free time.

Of course, again, quality will outshine (or should) such considerations, but with everything else between two artists being equal, the one who sacrifices to be in the studio more send the more convincing signal.

No Catch 22. Just basic risk management.

When artists get ticked off or take such statements personally, I always think they're not considering how many other artists there are out there competing for the same limited number of gallery spots.

6/10/2008 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Sroka said...

"a fulltime job... implied the artist wasn't serious enough about their artwork."

Ha ha! Seriously? Someone who supposedly knows about art said somethings so... naive? Having a job has nothing to do with dedication. It has to do with reality.

It reminds me of the attitudes prevalent in Silicon Valley just before the last bubble burst. AI knew someone who ran a startup would publicly crow about how they wouldn't hire people who had families or girlfriends/boyfriends because these attachments wouldn't allow you to "fully commit" to your work. Needless to say, they went out of business.

6/10/2008 11:42:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ha ha! Seriously? Someone who supposedly knows about art said somethings so... naive?

OK, so this is a perfect example of why I couched my statements in the caveats I did. Whether or not you find such attitudes "naive" or laughable is really beside the point if they greet you in the art world, no? Perhaps finding such an opinion in a gallery you might want to work with would put you off that gallery, but I strongly feel it's better to understand such biases exist, so as to be better prepared to recognize/deal with them, than simply to dismiss them as silly.

6/10/2008 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, I'm not taking it personally. And you're not ticking me. But it isn't really quite that simple. " the one who sacrifices to be in the studio more send the more convincing signal" Uh, yeah, but there is rent to pay, food to buy, health insurance to somehow be scrounged, etc. How is this supposed to be taken care of unless you are already making sufficient money from sales of your work? That's what I mean by catch 22. Is it sending a more convincing signal to go into huge debt so as not to have a day job? I'm just talking basic survival. If you don't have family or spousal support, you have to support yourself. And by the way, I hear that dealers trying to establish themselves and build up their business also sometimes have day jobs. Are artists to take that a sign of the dealer not being serious enough about his business, or as a responsible and hopefully temporary decision to keep the business going through the slow cash flow periods?


6/10/2008 12:01:00 PM  
Blogger nathaniel said...

Someone willing to risk everything on their art can be more convincing than someone who only makes art in their free time.

In spirit, I agree, but part-timers also only make work in their free time (and in the case of teaching, full-time is sometimes less work than part-time). Imagine if we only published writers who didn't have full time jobs! And they don't even have to pay for materials and equipment... Also, some media cost more than others - meaning working to pay for your art is another form of dedication to it ("risking everything"). The point here is that there are a lot of assumptions in this point worth considering before dismissing working artists outright, as Deitch does.

When artists get ticked off or take such statements personally, I always think they're not considering how many other artists there are out there competing for the same limited number of gallery spots.

I think it's the sweeping generalization ("not even consider") that most of us probably take issue with. Art is a business, yes, and we all take risks for our work and investments, yes - but case by case should be the rule, not the exception. If there are many artists and the choices are so varied, don't you want the best and most dedicated ones? This "rule" is plainly flawed when working towards that outcome.

I, for example, am more dedicated to my work now than I have ever been, am more productive than most of my "part-time" friends, and all this despite - or perhaps because of, given who I am in the world and the above with regards to hours and money- the fact that I now hold the first full-time job I've held in about 8 years. Before that, I was a "full-time artist." Go figure.

I'm not angry about Deitch's comment, and I don't take it personally on any level. I just think he's bound to miss some great things: I'm sure I'm far from the only artist who can say the above (or something like it). It's a shame is all. I agree that your comments should not be dismissed or called naive, but it's equally true that this bias should be challenged in not only its status as "right" but also it's acceptance as "correct". Why don't you?

6/10/2008 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To clarify, I am not ticked off at Ed personally because I didn't get the sense that these opinions were necessarily his, but that they exist generally across the field. I'm glad he's expressing them, and now we get to react to and discuss them. I'm not taking them personally or dismissing them as naive or silly, but I think these general ideas could use some addressing. I agree with Nathaniel above that choosing artists by their employment status as a rule does not make sense.


6/10/2008 12:42:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

It's good to know what a gallery specializes in before approaching them. Mr. Deitch obviously specializes in work by trust fund babies, so there's no point in bothering with him. That Gorney person specialized in work by the under-26 crowd before his gallery deservedly went out of business.

Myself, I'm looking for a gallery that represents the criminally insane. In the meantime, I'll continue supporting myself as a rock star and a tennis champion.

6/10/2008 12:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Deitch's comment says more about the type of artist he tends to represent (someone who's young, edgy, and has the potential to create a lot of hype) rather than him overlooking anyone who dare have a day job. I would guess there are many dealers who could care less about those factors and are more concerned with the investment potential Ed discussed.

I've always thought that compared to other creative industries the art world seems to allow people to work in different contexts without being blacklisted as selling out. I know actors who have been warned that the day they work for a casting director or agent they can kiss their acting career goodbye.

Ed, if there is a stigma attached to being an artist who works for a gallery, is there any potential benefit? Or are artists stuped into thinking they're bound to make some decent career connections when it rarely if ever happens that way?

6/10/2008 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger minimum said...

This conversation raises a lot of questions related to how prepared students are for the market after school. The push for interdisciplinary work seems nearly impractical without a wealthy background. If I were to attempt to make without working my process would change greatly as a lot of options would be out of my reach financially. Drawing and painting are making a lot more sense now.

6/10/2008 01:53:00 PM  
Blogger mbuitron said...

I feel the bias against artists who tap into other income sources (like teaching, art handling, etc.) is mostly a New York thing. Out here in Los Angeles, I've has the opportunity to study with folks like Mike Kelley, John Baldessari, Michael Asher, Doug Huebler, Sam Durant and Charles Gaines...among others. For most of these folks teaching provided them with perks that galleries don't (like health insurance and retirement savings) along with an income that allowed them to take risks in their art practice--making stuff that might not be commercially successful. Also, in the spread-out geography of LA, art schools provide a community of like-minded peers that are less easy to come by.

In the realm of writers, I think that spending time in a wide range of endeavors makes for a richer and more interesting creative output. I think folks from Herman Melville to George Plimpton made better work because they spent time outside their métier. I would hope the same could be said of artists who crawl from the hermetic caves of the studio-gallery world.

6/10/2008 02:08:00 PM  
Blogger Wes said...

Thanks for the interesting post and discussion, Ed.

How exactly could being honest and saying you need the galleries help to increase your sales and thus, allow you to dedicate yourself full time to your art and not worry about how to pay the rent and feed yourself "backfire"? It certainly seems like a catch 22 to me!

6/10/2008 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is just ridiculous. I don't think how an artist spends their time outside of the studio is any of the prospective dealer's business. It should be about the work being done in the studio. And now that we know (if we take Ed as the expert in this) that they don't want us to have full time jobs, well, why don't we schedule our studio visit at a convenient time (take a sick day from work if necessary) and just don't tell the dealer about our day job. I mean, should we subject our personal lives to the dealer's approval also? Should we let them tell us who to be friends with, who to sleep with, etc.? As artists we don't get to vet all that stuff on the dealer's side of the equation, and rightly so. It may be interesting to know, like gossip, but it's none of our business.


6/10/2008 03:30:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

How exactly could being honest and saying you need the galleries help to increase your sales and thus, allow you to dedicate yourself full time to your art and not worry about how to pay the rent and feed yourself "backfire"?

That's not what I meant to suggest could backfire, though, Wes. So let me separate out the two ideas, please.

I was a bit vague, I'll admit, but what I meant to imply might backfire is cheekily responding to any dealer who might question how soon you will quit your day job that that all depends on how successful they are at their job. Why that's dangerous is you're jumping the gun a bit. They probably haven't offered representation at this point, and so while the presumptuous statement might charm certain dealers, it might rub others the wrong way. Depends on the person.

Is that any clearer?

This is just ridiculous. I don't think how an artist spends their time outside of the studio is any of the prospective dealer's business.

I tell you what, anono, you run with that, throw it into a prospective dealer's face during a studio visit, like you're doing mine here, and let me know how that works for you. OK? I'll happily eat crow if you get into the gallery.

6/10/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, what's up with you? I'm not throwing anything in anyone's face. I'm not asking you to eat crow either.

I have several galleries, one in New York, two in other parts of the country, so my studio visit protocol has apparently been working ok. I guess all the dealers I work with are aware of the economic conditions that an artist is faced with and don't try to impose unrealistic conditions on their artists.


6/10/2008 03:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ps one of my dealers did once express to me her view that it's not good for an artist to work on the commercial side of the art business, but I don't think she meant "don't do it or I won't work with you," and she certainly did not say that an artist should not have a source of income.


6/10/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does Mr. Deitch consider prostitution, literal or figurative, a day job?

seriously, who cares...in New York, almost everyone has a day job, or a trust fund. It is nearly impossible to reliably live on one's work without one. Probably 1/10th of 1 percent of artists can. I know tons of artists with stacks of NYTimes/Artforum/New Yorker reviews, Guggenheim grants, Pollock-Krasners, been in Greater New York or even the Whitney Biennial, all with jobs and often of the full-time, 40+ hr variety.

Unless you are showing at Paula Cooper, David Zwirner, Metro Pictures or the like, you are most likely going to need some additional income whether it's from family, spouse, or work. I think most dealers are aware of this.

6/10/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

pps In my experience, a dealer doesn't "offer representation" so much as stick a toe in the water, starting by including an artist in a group show, and take it from there. I have never had any conditions imposed (other than a verbal agreement to not show at another commercial gallery in the same market), never signed any contracts (except consignment forms, which are good for keeping track of what is where) and I have dealt with some of these galleries for over 5 years, with solo shows at several of them. In my experience (obviously others may do it differently), it's more of a handshake kind of business than a contractual one.

And Ed, I don't really don't get the hostility that you're throwing my way, or that you seem to feel I've thrown your way. We're just talking.


6/10/2008 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Ed, what's up with you? I'm not throwing anything in anyone's face. I'm not asking you to eat crow either.

OK, so perhaps I'm multitasking too much today and reading too quickly, but I should note to everyone that when I'm representing the dealers on such threads and you all are representing the artists, I would appreciate if rather than in response to my advice or opinions on the dealer's point of view you say things like "This is just ridiculous." or "Ha ha! Seriously? Someone who supposedly knows about art said somethings so... naive?" you clarify whether you're saying that about my statements or you're saying that about others whose statements I'm passing along.

Perhaps rather than "This is just ridiculous" you had said, "It seems unreasonable to me that a dealer would care what an artist does outside their studio." I would have understood that your comment was aimed at the notion and not been defensive.

Part of why I do take such comments personally, to be honest, is I feel for artists who get the short end of this stick, but I also feel for the dealers who are bombarded by submissions and really can't afford to take the time to respond to each on the terms I know artists would appreciated being responded to on.

I'll go back to my previous statement and note there are so many artists competing for the open slots. Seriously...thousands of them. It makes no sense to take the system personally. What I'm trying to do here is offer insight, not defend the system, and hope you can use that information to your advantage. Comments like "Ha ha! Seriously? Someone who supposedly knows about art said somethings so... naive?" make me want to do that less, though, I have to say.

I don't know whether I'm supposed to defend the artist or the dealer in response to that. I wasn't sure whether it was aimed at me either.

For the sake of not having to have such conversations, I'll ask that folks who think things are ridiculous (and that is a rather strong statement), say so in a way that makes it crystal clear what they feel is ridiculous.

Or, I could just assume that you do take me as the "expert in all this" and carry on my merry way. But as I don't, I'll probably be unsure whether you're criticizing me or the notion and be defensive.

Does that help clarify what's up with me?

6/10/2008 04:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, thank you.


6/10/2008 04:32:00 PM  
OpenID ericgelber said...

Ed: I know why you accept anonymous comments and that you will not stop accepting them, but if you ever changed your mind many of the problems you are having with language use would magically disappear.

6/10/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous artomaton said...

Personally, I take my cues from an artist I befriended in the early 2000's. He was working in Manhattan with a construction crew on a restaurant remodel, the place I was employed at before my return to art school. He told me he was an artist too, and I was excited to see his work-- it turned out he was represented by Feigen Contemporary. I was blown away by his down to earth demeanor, as well as his art. Clearly, he still had to work full time. Clearly, he made time to work in the studio. Clearly, he was still able to get good gallery representation.

I look to the artists and galleries I respect for inspiration and examples. The rest of the art world, I take with a grain of salt. Perhaps it's idealist, but I really feel that there is still a chance for the work to speak for itself, if it's going to speak to anyone at all.

6/10/2008 04:48:00 PM  
Blogger David said...

I know why you accept anonymous comments and that you will not stop accepting them, but if you ever changed your mind many of the problems you are having with language use would magically disappear.

I don't know, Eric. I say some really crazy things and I sign my own name. But then I'm all the way out here on the left coast, so I figure EW takes that into account :-)

6/10/2008 05:14:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is why you need to lie to your dealer, tell him exactly what he wants to hear... and when and if you can leave for a better gallery let him wonder what happened, and moan about "our relationship".

wasn't koons working full time at the whitney and then in commodities? wasn't prince at time-life?

next time i see deitch i'm going to mug that ass.

6/10/2008 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After years of working in commercial galleries I now have another (more suitable, non public-facing, part-time, paid for every hour I work) job. I don’t regret my experiences in commercial galleries, I learned a lot of things (good and bad) about the way the art world functions.

Ultimately I did find that working in the commercial arena made other galleries take me a bit less seriously as an artist, not least because the benefits to other gallery workers from talking to me about business were more obvious than the more risky prospect of seriously discussing a young artist’s work (ie mine). Things are moving faster now no one asks about my day job.

If you work in any position where you have to maintain some public visibility at work, dealers are more likely to recognize you from your day job before they recognize you from your work from an interesting group show. Dealers meet so many different people every day (let alone young artists) that this is almost inevitable. If you find this daily duality intolerable, you should maybe look for employment in a different area of the art world (or elsewhere entirely).

I know some artists who have 5-day-week gallery jobs and are successfully represented by other galleries, it’s not impossible, but it takes an incredible amount of stamina and a very thick skin.

On a related note, of course you don’t have to say anything nice about your boss if you don’t like them or their business practices, but keep very quiet on the subject if that’s the case.

6/10/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Watch Me Do Yard Work said...

I recently re-read an interview in the Brooklyn Rail with Chris Martin. It seems relevant. When asked, How did you pay the rent? he answered, "I was a guard at the Guggenheim, I unloaded trucks, worked for art movers, did part-time jobs through the ‘80’s. . . I went back to the School of Visual Arts and got a college degree in art therapy. I got a job at an AIDS day treatment program in Chelsea—and I did that work for about fifteen years—in Harlem, Red Hook, and at Rivington House on the Lower East Side." If you find Jeffrey Deitch's comment disheartening, you are definitely not the person he is looking for. Being an artist involves an infinite number possibilities. There are many paths, many problems, and many solutions.

6/10/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Hey. Interesting thread, I'd like to add my two cents about the art-work-life equation. As a case study I'll offer myself.
My situation is of one who maintains a pretty active studio practice that allows me to do 'what I do' for both art and design worlds. Working in video & film, I have the luxury of working in many aspects of this field, and I have done so, in everything from video games to feature films, to installations for high-end fashion clients and music videos. I feel that each project/job I've had has affected and educated my outlook about art, design, and the moving image. The fine art world has many hybrid crossovers with the high-end design and fashion market; in fact it's often hard to tell the difference these days when you consider the work of people like, say, Tord Boontje, Jeremy Blake, Francesco Vezzoli or countless others. Or even homeboy Jeffrey Deitch's own prodigies Terry Richardson and Dash Snow who, if their mythology is to be taken at face value, had no actual interest in becoming artists at all and continue to do 'day job' type work in the fashion industry. Point is: the audiences that feed the high-end art-fair world are the same ones that feed other aspects of the high-end design & luxury markets...you know, if we're already at that level in the conversation.
What I'm saying is, I guess, do what makes sense to you as long as you can connect it to your art in some meaningful way. I am not represented by a gallery, but several gallerists and artworld individuals have expressed that they are both perplexed and/or impressed that 'what I do' somehow feeds the artistic life I'm following.
Don't apologize, don't lie, but above all, yeah, make your art. Let's not forget that Deitch's statement is merely what Ed "took away from the lecture", but I wouldn't put it past Deitch (or anybody else) to feel like they should make a bold, declarative and perhaps exaggerated statement in the context of a public panel lecture. If anything, as in most things on this blog, we should be thankful for a non-equivocating statement by an artworld bigshot, however much of a burn it might seem like...
Aside from teachers or gallery assistants, are there any other artists out there in other fields that have managed to straddle the line in this way? Where do you draw the line, or, in what situation do you confront the contradictions and negative attitudes about not being a 'real' artist?
One last thought: a huge part of a gallery's job is to brand & market that artist, a part of that is fashioning the 'persona' that feeds into the myth of the toiling lone artist. In other words one does not buy 'just art' but also buys the lifestyle the artist represents, to a certain degree. But really, at some point that feels immature and does not even recognize the hybridization and networking that in fact make contemporary art possible--am I off-target on this?

6/10/2008 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger concrete phone said...

Ha! Rules of behavior are not set, nor is the art set by the rule, more the exception to it.
James Kalm, interesting point, too, there is artist I watch, not sure if he is working full-time, but he makes his art, very minimal stuff, around the theme of the color of say, 'pharmaceutical'.
A good friend worked as a 'Bricklayer' his work, then, already in a number of museum collections. 'It is hard work!' I remember he telling me. Funny thing he started applying his paint to canvas with the same trowel that he used to stack the mortar on top of each brick. Massive churns of Schminke cadmium red deep care of the day job.

My advise is to keep as much time as possible aside for your career, and like all careers put 200% into it, on a bad day. The rest is...

6/10/2008 07:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

didn't jeremy blake move back to new york to work for rockstar games (and prepare for his corcoran show)? doesn't joy garnett work at the met?

any dealers that expect artists not to have jobs are jerks.

it's outrageous how much information artists are expected to either provide or hide, but god forbid you quiz a dealer about anything. they should at least have to provide resumes.

how many galleries open are opened up by people that don't have a clue as to what they are doing (on either the business or art end), only to fold not long after?

6/10/2008 08:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not "anono" here but my anonymous comment was sandwiched between anonos posts...

I make my living doing computer based graphics using skills I used in art school. I used to work as an art handler but in addition to needing to make more money due to parenthood I thought it was best not to work in a way which I could be construed as "the help".

Having said that, I would kick my day job in a second if I could. It is an incredible time and energy suck. I have managed to have a somewhat admirable career in terms of reviews, several solo shows, etc as another poster noted it requires a high level of stamina and motivation to keep going, especially if you have a family. I would also hope that a potential dealer would recognize this as a sign of dedication and even greater potential but maybe that's asking too much.

6/10/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Deitch also famously said that, when you are refused by all galleries, open your own gallery.

I'm pretty sure if an artist is really stunning, than working is not really an issue. If you art is really stunning, that is. Shoud I repeat that? Stunning.

But I've seen good artists damage their career by concentrating too much on their day job. Once in a while I see their name in a group show and think "gosh...what's going on with him (or her)? Why is the work so sparsed and in obscure places when they're so good?"

My doubt remains that maybe I'm the only one who like what they do. And they're still working as technician at an art school or something and you're not likely to see them in a big Chelsea gallery.

Which to me confirms that artists may be sabotaging their career long before a dealer will mention anything in a symposium, but whoever mentioned Koons hitted the nail of the topic because Deitch pushed him really hard for a "working artist".

Did i mentioned something about stunning?

Cedric Caspesyan

6/11/2008 02:10:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Roy Lichtenstein was from a well to do family and he taught college on the east coast. And theres a show up at the Gagosian that got reviewed by Roberta Smith. I;m not sure what Deitch thinks of that - but he did show some stuff by Keith Haring, who already had an established rep (and was dead) so i don't know what that means, but in any event I don't think Roy Lichtenstein troubled himself overly much over stylistic gymnastics beyond variation on a theme, do you? Not in the the way many artists today do.

No, those were different times.


6/11/2008 03:06:00 AM  
Blogger the reader said...

thanks to all for the interesting comments. I can understand why a dealer might get hung-up on the full-time job thing. It's an easy way to get a handle on a much larger and more complex question of how the artist uses the resources of time and money that they have available to them.

Dealers can't access bank statements or follow artists around to find out how much money they spend on gadgets, clothes, beer or drugs rather than investing that money in their practice, so whether or not the artist has a full time job becomes a default way of figuring out how committed they are.

I know a number of young artists (25-35) who have received substantial grants and instead of using that money to take time off their jobs to work in the studio, they have used the money for a deposit on a house. Don't get me wrong I've got no ethical issues with this sort of situation, but as a dealer I'd definitely be more interested in the artist that invests their resources (time and money) in their practice.

6/11/2008 03:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know a couple of artists who showed with Jeffrey Deitch who never made enough money to live on, and rather had stipends from the man himself. He was (is?) bankrolled by an auction house, and sells a lot of secondary market stuff to support some of the artists who make less sellable work. In fact one of his artists told me Jeffrey was only really good at selling paintings. That was a while ago, and perhaps Jeffrey can sell anything now, but I would propose it isn't just working with richies (although he has some in the stable), but beyond the bombast an instance of someone also trying to enact some form of patronage to give some artists the freedom to grow their work by committing some of his resources too. Of course we can all debate some of his choices of artists to support, which veer into the empty spectacle, but he still gets press and attention for it, which would seem to be a good payoff on his investments, and keeps him in the position to sell those paintings, primary and secondary market. Slightly off-topic, just something to point out as another motivation for his comments.

6/11/2008 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

I’ve known quite a few artists who ended up showing with the galleries they were working for, or benefiting in other ways.

Some artists enjoy working in galleries, others hate it. Like everything, it depends on the artist and the gallery.

What I find interesting is that the concern here is all about how the artist is perceived by others—rather than the effect on the artist and the art. We should have learned from the recent Democratic race that always worrying about how you position yourself is not necessarily the road to success.

If the artist and his/her work have integrity, they can do anything and be respected. As far as whether or not to take a gallery job, do what makes you happy.

6/11/2008 06:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't live in new york, so please tell me how much money you need to make to live in new york. i would think you would need to be making $40,000.

how can one survive without a full-time job? i read articles in the nytimes quoting lawyers and professionals as saying they cannot afford to live in new york.

if i brush my teeth three times a day does that show a lack of commitment to my art?

i think dealers who say artists who work are not committed to their art says a lot more about the dealer than anyone else. it says "i don't have a clue".

something like that could only be said by a person who has never had to think about how to pay rent, get a cavity filled, or paid a student loan... money came off a tree. they also do not have the first clue about art or how to be an artist... and are imposing all sorts of ridiculous romantic fantasy.

i think there is a much higher percentage per capita of incompetent dealers than uncommitted artists.

6/11/2008 07:51:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am so sick of reading comments that croon things like "as long as work has integrity an artist can do anything". am i the only one that knows plenty of terrific artists wallowing in obscurity? did chris martin suddenly get struck by a bolt of integrity from the blue six years ago, and the twenty years before that he was a hack?

jeffrey deitch is umarried and childless, and lives alone in a one-room studio. he dresses flashy and makes sweeping statements, but the substance is lacking.

6/11/2008 08:20:00 AM  
Blogger Aaron Wexler said...

If you are an artist

with unrelenting studio ethic, working at a gallery job is just a stepping stone.
If you think making a long lasting career as an artist might be prohibited by a gallery frowning upon a transitional day job... you're not giving yourself enough credit. I think even questioning "what dealers think about us?" is a castrating line of thought to your creativity.
I think you can learn a lot from a limited stint working in a gallery - don't knock it if it's paying for the rent and supplies. I worked in window display at a major department store years and it was a unique and valuable experience that added to my studio practice more than the 40 hours a week took away from it. I just figured out how to make it work for me.

6/11/2008 08:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The beauty of being older is that I don't really care any more what dealers think about me or my work. I talk to them, argue with them. And have a great gallery as a result.

I imagine even Ed gets really tired of artists sucking up to him.

Politeness and courtesy are always good qualities, but the contortions I see young artists going through are not helpful to their art practice.

6/11/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon 10:10 -

I think that's what I found ridiculous about the idea of dealers' policing our activities and behavior. We are adults. Dealers are not our parents or our teachers or our lifestyle gurus or role models. We are adults and we make our choices (naturally influenced by necessity) about how we are going to manage our lives. I just found Deitch's notion absurd. Maybe life is different in DeitchWorld, but here on planet earth, you do what you gotta do.

Then again, if you only deal with artists under a certain age, I guess adulthood is less of a given.


6/11/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Sorry I've been away busy. But reading through the comments, I would note that there are two standout comments by folks who are getting out of this thread what I would hope all of you would.

The reader:

I can understand why a dealer might get hung-up on the full-time job thing. It's an easy way to get a handle on a much larger and more complex question of how the artist uses the resources of time and money that they have available to them.

and Aaron Wexler:

If you think making a long lasting career as an artist might be prohibited by a gallery frowning upon a transitional day job... you're not giving yourself enough credit. I think even questioning "what dealers think about us?" is a castrating line of thought to your creativity.
I think you can learn a lot from a limited stint working in a gallery - don't knock it if it's paying for the rent and supplies. I worked in window display at a major department store years and it was a unique and valuable experience that added to my studio practice more than the 40 hours a week took away from it. I just figured out how to make it work for me.

In other words, don't rant and rave about how dealers feel about this (dealers read here too, and you'll only teach them they can't be honest with artists about their opinions), accept that (whether you agree with them or not) dealers might have valid reasons for their opinions, pocket the information about their opinions so you can access it when it serves your purposes, but then, above all, never forget these threads are all about learning how "to make it work for you."

Seriously, that's my objective. Not to make you cringe at how dealers think or how unfair it all is, but rather so you have as transparent a peek at how some dealer may think so you can use that information to help you with your goals.

6/11/2008 12:10:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Great thread going here. Most has been covered,the over all theme being, you do what ever works for you, be kind to animals of course.

I know many artists, well known and not, who teach for a steady living and benefits. Some are proud amazing teachers, Nozkowski, some keep mum about it, some are "visiting lecturers".

Ok, back to work.

6/11/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Re: Anonymous "jeffrey deitch is umarried and childless, and lives alone in a one-room studio. he dresses flashy and makes sweeping statements, but the substance is lacking."
Whoah whoah there. Pretty uncalled for. It's not my job to defend him, but I don't think this is a forum for personal attacks on lifestyle choices. What I think you are trying to say is that he, or someone like him, doesn't understand the stress of supporting a family or of maintaining a 'real life'? If he, or other gallerists, use their privilege to maintain a successful, and often experimental and unsellable, art practice, than good for him.
There are a lot of attacks on so-called trustfund babies and people with otherwise disposable income. Well, for the most part the art world wouldn't exist without their support and patronage. That also goes for the non-profit organizations and grant & funding support system.
On the topic of working in a gallery, I would think that it would be an enriching experience that can only give an aspirant artist the education that art schools don't provide; i.e. the business side of being an artist. It's something I only wish I could have done when I was fresh out of school.

6/11/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

I think that this thread is a good example of why there will always be a fission between dealers and artists. Each has their own interest which meets only occasionally. The dealers are more obsessed with creating an image (illusion) of hipness and stability. The artist has to appear “serious”, (what ever that means). Surprisingly none of the comments has anything to do with the actual art, which, I think, says a lot about our sad current state.

Historically artists have always been involved in starting and running (sometime covertly) their own galleries, from Ed Keinholtz with Farris in LA to Kaprow and Wolf Kahn with Hansa in New York. Hell, the whole Williamsburg scene was damn near all artist started and run.

There’s a whiff of elitism (if you can’t afford to be a fulltime artist, you obviously don’t rate being taken seriously) that’s disgusting. On the other hand, I’d advise any dealer to work with rich artists (they’ll have rich friends too). Who needs another poor artist, no matter how good their work is. (Sarcasm)

My attitude was always: the work of trust funders is questionable because there’s considerably less struggle to create it. Artists who aren’t part of the community (i.e. helping and working with other artists) weren’t part of the tribe. Art is a lot more than creating cash flow for dealers and collectors, it about a network of energy. Artists must take charge of their own destinies, if you find a dealer who you can work with good, but that isn’t the meaning or goal of “good” art. No one said the life of an artist was going to be easy, so stop whining.

6/11/2008 12:23:00 PM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Rah, rah, James, and Sean, and Ed. You all just said what I was going to say when I read this thread yesterday, but was unable to say calmly enough.

As much as my hackles rose when I read some of the presumed 'dealer bias' statements, I have to say that I, personally, discovered early on that I COULD NOT work a 40-hour day job and progress in my art on a professional level. My life since then has been an exercise in creative ways of supporting myself on what I can earn in as little time as possible.

To the anon question above: I will lay bare my soul and disclose that I have survived for six years in NYC, barely, on roughly $30K a year. I could probably do it on less if I got rid of my truck, but holding on to that freedom has been worth the investment for me.

Paying rent here is a nightmare, but there are a whole lot of things that most people think of as 'necessary' that aren't.

James, it is both true that many successful artists have started their own galleries or alternative artspaces, and that is it difficult to be taken seriously as an artist by the 'established' dealers (not to mention by other artists and curators) if you do so.

I take very grave exception to the perception that if you support other artists, you must doubt your own work. I have always found the reverse to be true--artists who perceive the value and virtue in a wide range of other artist's work are much more likely to have the expanded sensitivity and sensibility to create great work themselves, and the generosity of spirit to create a healthy, growing art community around them. Artists who only invest in their own work are on a very narrow track which often becomes a dead end.

6/11/2008 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

pretty lady,

You bring up some interesting questions. As I said, the whole Williamsburg scene is basically artist founded and run. There is a level of incestuousness that’s breathtaking, (hey I’ll show you and your artists in my gallery if you show me and my artists in your gallery). Ed, I’m sure, can testify to this, so what else is new? If you’re successful (makein’ money) people take you seriously.

Perhaps you could give myself and other struggling artists here some tips on “creative ways of supporting myself on what I can earn in as little time as possible.”

6/11/2008 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

There is a level of incestuousness that’s breathtaking, (hey I’ll show you and your artists in my gallery if you show me and my artists in your gallery). Ed, I’m sure, can testify to this, so what else is new? If you’re successful (makein’ money) people take you seriously.

James, every time I begin to suspect I'm getting too cynical, I just turn to your comments and realize how optimistic I truly am. :-)

Perhaps you could give myself and other struggling artists here some tips on “creative ways of supporting myself on what I can earn in as little time as possible.”

Funny you should ask that. I was just recommending a framing for such considerations the other day.

I can't give you any specific tips, not knowing what you're best at, but I think it's important to think in terms of two goals here: 1) do something that keeps on paying for re-purposing the same efforts. For example, putting images on t-shirts or keychains might be beneath you as a fine artist, but for those who've managed to market some unique visual (doesn't have to be your art), they quickly learn the joy of reaping the rewards of mass production. Or if you write (hint, hint) figure out ways to repackage what you've already written into new, salable formats (a collection of essays, or a radio spot, or whatever...).

The idea is to squeeze every extra penny out of the effort you can.

2) do something you can do in your sleep, more or less. In other words, don't pay the rent with a job so mentally demanding you're exhausted when you finally get to the studio (whether while you're still working or after you've squirreled away enough to make art full time). Some mentally challenging tasks might actually inform your work, so don't overdo miss those opportunities, but the goal is to be financially and mentally able to get the most out of your studio time.

6/11/2008 02:59:00 PM  
Blogger Carol Diehl said...

Robert Irwin played the horses in the early days in order to support himself.

Philip Glass drove a taxi through the time "Einstein on the Beach" was being produced.

Frank Stella painted houses, (and used house paint in his work) James Rosenquist was a sign painter (and used sign painting in his work), and Julian Schnabel was a short-order cook (and used plates in his work).

Flavin, LeWitt, Ryman and Mangold became friends when they were working together as museum guards.

Although Anonymous may disagree, I think it's your attitude toward your day job that's important, not what other people might think.

Does Chris Martin (who I notice has a degree in art therapy) regret those 20 years?

John Baldessari said (in the February INTERVIEW): "I've been more of a slow starter...During the time I was in San Francisco, I had no audience, just a couple of friends who did art, and yet I made some of the most important work of my career then. If I'd been in New York, I might have gotten too much attention. I think there is value in being under the radar...yeah, I think the maturation process has been worthwhile...

6/11/2008 04:06:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Or JB might have had no attention in NY either. Or does his work speak for itself like so much work in NY?
I find the inevitable manifest destiny in hindsight is what makes real artists, don't you?

I'm a chump, but one day I will be vindicated, as shall you all. So sayeth I.

Also, doesn't it take a more discernig eye to spot potential than to judge ambitious and completed works? I'm thinking here of Jeff Koons, who obviously half as good as Anish Kapoor but ten times the man Smithson ever was, not to mention David Aljtmed, who is a hack by comparison. I could go on, but I can't figure out who makes the best infinite mirror room - do we revert to Duchamp or ignore him entirely as a gigolo diletante par excellence?

6/11/2008 04:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Znonymous said...

A little of topic:

Concretephone wrote, "...there is artist I watch, not sure if he is working full-time, but he makes his art, very minimal stuff, around the theme of the color of say, 'pharmaceutical'."

I am guessing that this would be KF in Philadelphia who works as, I believe it's called, a pharmacist's assistant; in past series he has used the color from the pills he pushes (his terminology) as a reference for the color in his paintings (http://minusspace.com/log/minusspace-finklea.htm).

6/11/2008 05:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All of us have multiple hats. Even if we are lucky enough to be full time in the studio, we all do have a life beyond the studio.

If you examine dealers, they have multiple hats as well.

But the comment about rich artists having rich friends is very sadly accurate. And rich dealers also have rich friends. My suggestion is to return to the Roman policy of the rich adopting the talented children of the poor.

6/11/2008 05:54:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Re: "he makes his art, very minimal stuff, around the theme of the color of say, 'pharmaceutical'."

Sure it's not that British guy, whatsisname, Damien Hirst?

I hear he's doing quite well.

Ed: your comment about diversification of income. Products, items etc, good idea. A lot of this conversation reinforces the opinions of the panel at the DAC Artist Bootcamp. A good tip I walked away with: it's a good idea to have several streams of income, because all artists' careers come and go in waves, in and out of popularity and slumps. Diversification can help get you through the times when your gallery can't move your work or your collectors dump you or you go through a 'black canvas' phase or whatever...

6/11/2008 07:26:00 PM  
Anonymous val said...

Thank you,Carol D,I feel better having read what you wrote-maybe I can sleep tonight-

6/11/2008 08:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed,you are apompous little poofter.You give gay folks a bad name.Go deal antiques.

6/11/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger concrete phone said...

Sure, it could be Damien couldn't it--night club too! But na, Damien has given up his day job I have heard. So prize goes to anon. ... Kevin must be that example 'there is an artist...' [sometimes I wonder, was it that I was born illiterate, or is it that I'm just driving that way].

Kalm says nobody is talking about the art. Does that mean, 'in order to' be an artist and be burdened with having to work full-time, 'the art', which is kind of a spinoff from the 'art career' needs to be good?
So, I'm thinking, all those great names Carol offers [Carol, Myron, how did he get through?], does it mean that because they supported themselves for a time working away from the studio [Irwin during the race days I think used to just hang out in the street for hours, in a sense, was his studio--a place and state away from " " for incubation. The racing too, was part and parcel of the shift Irwin was going through, right, being fascinated by information and relationships, from the tiny to the big--helps with horse racing BTW, as with anything, really!] they are poor models, bordering on the unprofessional? Or was it that their work was not very good at the time. I was going to say 'not sellable at the time'. But everyone knows 'that if it's good, it is sold'
I heard the next big umbrella is going to be The Politics of Space.That's a mighty big umbrella, but Ok, it might be interesting.
Sean's diversification of income has to make sense:)
Seems to me people are having a hard time picking what is good, so these little rules get imagined as 'good business practice'.
Good to ask artists what is good. Only problem then is which artists do you ask?

6/11/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

We're not talking about the art because the conversation is about the business of being an artist. Quite distinct from a discussion on aesthetics. Although the two things go hand in hand, they are entirely separate activities that often contradict one another...
Anon, what was the purpose of that post? Like, what use did it serve at all, to anyone? Furthermore, what is with the homophobia on this thread? Anonymous coward, angry at your own failures, you probably see yourself as some kind of hero for 'tellin' it like it is'. (Oh god, Ed, it wasn't just Bambino joking around was it?)

6/11/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>Surprisingly none of the comments has anything to do with the actual art

Hmm, Zipthwung had a critical comment about Lichtenstein. And them some more about...
Hey: stainless steel art ! .. Well, Zip.. To me Kapoor and Koons are two facets of
the same coin. Koons is getting repetitive but have done the greats in ways that I usually
read as less superficial than it's widely regarded.

I don't see Altmejd related to either, but that man clashes.
I feel priviledged to have followed this guy's art long before
he crashed the scene (and trust me, in his beginning group
shows, he was cute but really wasn't a standout, that came after
his studies in New York. He started very young, though). I
think David is heading toward the top, whatever that means.

I think the difference between David and other quality artists
of where I'm coming from is somehow he became a carrierist.
It's all what it takes, but it sounds like involving a lot of sacrifices. Some people don't want to just spend their life making art, which goes against what is discussed here which I find very carrier-oriented*. There is great art outside the carrier circles that I presume so much people here are missing (now..THAT's a pompous statement, but..)

Oh, and you're the doofer oofer given anonymo(doof)us a bad name.

Cedric C

(*no relation to David Carrier)

6/11/2008 10:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Cas said...

THAT IS SOOO CUTE and totally poetic!:



6/11/2008 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger CAP said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/12/2008 12:18:00 AM  
Blogger Pretty Lady said...

Perhaps you could give myself and other struggling artists here some tips on “creative ways of supporting myself on what I can earn in as little time as possible.”

Here you go!

Right now I am a self-employed bodyworker, because I can work for 1 1/2 hours and earn about as much as I would if I were working behind the desk at a gallery, ALL DAY. Also, people who can afford massage can frequently afford art, hint, hint.

And Ed, that tacky person who just insulted you gratuitously is an embittered, malicious serial stalker. I highly recommend banning her.

6/12/2008 12:51:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

it’s where does a dealer look to assess an artist? Well quite clearly in EW or JD’s case the last place they want to look is TO THE WORK! The reason being that the dealer simply can’t trust their perceptions/understanding there – I mean that would require like, expertise, possibly research and intellectual engagement, right? Phew! Let’s slip that one into the too-hard tray, right there.

CAP, with all due respect, you're not even remotely trying to see the big picture here from the gallerist's point of view. As I've noted, but clearly not enough, I'm writing these posts to offer some insights, not to piss anyone off or suggest you should agree with me about the issues. But simply to clarify the questions people have so artists/collectors/etc. can use that information in helping them steer through the muddy waters of the gallery system. Stop over-reacting to it, or you'll make me not want to do it.

To address your central complaint (that dealers don't look at the work [and I'll ignore your wildly flung insults]), perhaps it would help you to understand that dealers know artwork being done today is no guarantee the same level of quality or innovation or accomplishment will be still be there a decade from now. But a decade from now is generally how long a dealer must wait to see a good return on their investment in a totally unknown artist. Even if they really, really like/understand/appreciate the work being done today.

Artists' lives and goals change just like anyone elses. A good artist I know whose career was just getting underway found herself responsible for running the family business when her father passed away. She had to take it over. Her studio practice had to be put on hold. Shit like this happens.

More to the point of whether an artist's day job is a hindrance to a dealer wanting to work with them (and I never said it was, by the way, so lumping me in with that is ungracious of you), we're not talking about whether the dealer likes the artist's work or not. There are plenty of artists whose work I'm very fond of, but whom I would never work with because they're total terrors. Or maybe they're just fine, but our personalities clash. It's about working with the artists whose work you love AND who you'll work well with. It's a partnership.

Some dealers may feel they can't work well with an artist if that artist has a fulltime job. Perhaps the way they best make sales is by rushing collectors off to the studio at a moment's notice, and so having the artist in the studio more often than not is key to their success. Each dealer is different. Just as you, as an artist, have every right to decide you won't work with a dealer known, for example, for being at their country home 4 days a week (or you might hang with that, it's up to you), a dealer has every right in my opinion to decide the criteria that make sense for him or her. If you don't like it, don't work with them. But don't project all kinds of libelous shit onto them just because you don't like how they make their choices.

One final note on this, the work being good is clearly critical. But it's only one part of what makes a dealer decide to work with an artist. It's not like there's any shortage of artists looking for representation, many of them very, very good, so to suggest it's only the work the dealers should be looking at is, quite frankly, deluded. They must make choices and whether you like it or not, these criteria are among the tools they use to do so. So recognize the signs, and work with it to your advantage.

6/12/2008 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

And Ed, that tacky person who just insulted you gratuitously is an embittered, malicious serial stalker. I highly recommend banning her.

I saw that comment last night, didn't know how to respond, decided I'd sleep on it, but today, still, I got nothing. But that just makes us even. That person's clearly got nothing as well.

6/12/2008 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to go with all is disingenuous here, as I have seen artists posting claim to have "worked" in the past when I know full well they still work, and they just dont wish Ed to know. I was once told by a dealer "We dont want artists who work, we want artists who can go out and dance all night then get up and make things in their studio." I was never certain who "We" was exactly but the use of that word seems to say it all. Basically I would say follow the advice of the artist who is trying to ingratiate themself here on this thread, and be disingenuous. Whatever it takes. Remember "Art is a lie that tells truths"
PS Charles Ives toiled as an insurance salesman all his life.
I'd say he was pretty influential.
I am certain that this will just come across as angry in cyberspace, but it is not, its just sad. Sad about the situation.

6/12/2008 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

I salute your courage in putting yourself out there. Going public on the internet opens one up to all sorts of wackos (though it does occasionally make for interesting reading).

Regarding my cynicism I’ll just say: give yourself another twenty years and you might see my attitude as more insightful. If I were truly an art world cynic, I wouldn’t be doing the kind of work I do.

I’m thinking of taking PL’s advice, and becoming a pole dancer. I’ve got great legs, and there’s gotta be some make-up that will cover the liver spots and varicose veins.

6/12/2008 01:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>But a decade from now is >>>generally how long a dealer >>>must wait to see a good return >>>>on their investment in a >>>totally unknown artist.

This is off topic but I'll take the opportunity to decry again what I see as a failure of the commercial gallery system in how it shapes the art that is shown in those spaces by depending on many of these sub-criterias, the more important being that the work can sell. And though it is easy to point fingers to the lazy taste of collectors looking for the type of art that can fit their living room, I think gallerists could have a fair influence in shifting these clichés by promoting art that explore different approches to art-thinking (as opposed to artmaking).

In other words I'm sad at the idea that a commercial gallerst might refuse to deal an artist they find thoroughly interesting by fear that the art is unsellable, at the profit of an artist which is much less interesting but sells like candy. I am pretty sure these sacrifices occur frequently and they are shaping the way people perceive of art (at least temporarely).

Conclusion, if the art exists to fulfill a payload, it's almost the same as an artist working on a job. It becomes complacent, convenient, "commoditic", functionalist, etc...


Cedric Caspesyan

6/12/2008 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric said...

Note that I didn't use "decorative" as I find an artist assuming decor is almost a rebellious act these days.


6/12/2008 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ed,

I'm new here but want to thank you for being so frank and explaining how the system works. I hope heated discussions won't deter you any future contributions to this blog; which after a short read is fantastic! Although it's a tough world I'd rather know how things work so I can try to slot in or not. It's a matter of choice and dealing with what's real.

Thank you.

Sam Bech

6/12/2008 06:06:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Interestingly, the situation is exactly the opposite for writers. Working for a magazine or publishing house is a huge leg up. Someone with no editorial experience has a much harder time breaking in and being taken seriously.

6/12/2008 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeffrey Deitch comments points to artist who are lucky enough to come from very wealthy families. I know of 2 who I won't name as it's in bad taste to do so. They are both in a major gallery and having this money behind them sure made life easy for them. Hence my anonymous post.

One who I did not know but was in the same school as me has a trust fund, father is a multi-millionaire.

Maybe Deitch is pointing out that they should have enough money to get them through a year or two to see if they can make it in New York. That they should spend all the time working on their work.
That makes more sense to me, I could be wrong, but this is not a bad idea if one could afford to do this.

I don't begrudge trust fund artist, that has nothing to do with how good they are. They are lucky and more power to them to use this gift to make art. There are worse things they could do.

6/13/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

People with money don't have to work, so what's interesting is what motivates their dedication to devote their time and energy into making art. Either they're looking after social status or they really have something to say. But it's interesting to compare the type of art that people from different economic standings can produce.

The artworld is not a place to seek models for righteous politics, I find. Actually, many artists are pointing that out through their art. I tend to appreciate art by eliminating everything that goes behind it, including the artist.


PS: I like Deitch because it's a cozy gallery. I feel like I could arrive there dressed in a pyjama, somehow. This is a type of place where I would definitely show, especially that the Wooster spot has the most intriguing architecture. I'm not attracted by issues of programming or gallerist, or whatever apparently an artist should consider, I'm really focussing on atmosphere and architecture. Is that weird?

6/15/2008 11:27:00 AM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Wow, interesting thread... I wish I'd come across it sooner. Thanks as always, Edward.

The thing that happens in all these threads like this is people get all bent out of shape about the unfairness of it all. I empathize with that. Deitch is an ass if he can't see that you don't leave art school with a trust fund automatically, and he's confusing artists with resources (Dash Snow, Hope Atherton) with good artists.

But this is not as stupid as it sounds on Deitch's part. Artist X--who is going to believe in you financially if you can't believe in yourself financially? Who's going to invest in your career if you don't?

The truth is that I don't know any serious artists who work full time

(teaching excepted--that's full time in name only) for more than brief stints. They don't do it because it's bad for their art, and the truth is that these people don't have trust funds, but they do figure out creative ways around the particulars like rent and feeding themselves.

All in all, I have to say that I think Deitch is limiting himself by making a categorical denial. There are artists I am sure who flourish after 5. The last time I had a full time job, I did get a lot of work done. But I don't think the assertion that an artist probably shouldn't have a full time job is baseless, and I am looking to my own experience when I say that. I will do *anything* to work less, so that I can be in my studio more.

It's simply what my art needs.

6/16/2008 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

EW - Is Joy G. a full-time employee at the Met? I just want to out someone so we can get past the bullshit that no "serious artist" works FT.

6/16/2008 07:43:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Please understand that I won't offer up personal information about any of my artists to further one side or the other of a controversial debate. It's not fair to them, and given that the plural of "anecdote" is still not "data," it doesn't really help to put such information out there.

You can make your point without such an example, no?

6/16/2008 08:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even though I jumped in early on protesting the Deitch point of view, I have only worked full-time at a day job for very short periods of time (usually less than a month). Like Deborah and Pretty Lady, I also find I can't get enough of my own work done if I work full time. But I was still offended by the dismissiveness of the assumption that one CAN'T be a good artist and work full time. I think every individual has to work it out for themselves and dealers should judge on a case by case basis. I empathize with those who don't have a choice, or who choose to arrange their lives differently. Some people may choose to try to pay off their student loans quickly so as not to have them hanging over their heads. And the mindset that assumes that an artist can not have a full time job if they believe in themselves is just too privileged and upper-class for me to be comfortable endorsing it. Some people have family obligations, some people have children, some people have health issues and need their insurance. Who are we healthy, childless, debt-free people to say that those people can not be serious artists? So Ed, since you implied that I seemed to be taking it personally, yes, I'm personally offended by the Deitch point of view, but not because I personally am in that category of artists that he excludes. I don't want to only see art by people from rich families; I want to see art from people with diverse backgrounds and it should come as no surprise that some of those people have to work full-time to survive.


6/16/2008 09:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about all of the "serious" female artists who are supported by non-artist husbands who work full-time? I guess that cancels out the leg-up that men have by being male, right?

6/16/2008 10:14:00 PM  
Blogger Stefano Pasquini said...

uhmmm... I know a lot more "serious" male-artists who are supported by their non-artist wives, then vice-versa...

6/25/2008 04:37:00 AM  
Blogger beebe said...

Weeks too late for this. But.

I have three studiomates: two of them work (full-time) for Chelsea galleries, and the third works (full-time) for a well-known arts organization and all three of them have told me art-world related anecdotes that make my stomach churn.

I'm glad I'm not part of it. I work full-time as a graphic designer. I'm totally indifferent to the work and the company but I leave the job at the desk when I get up at 5 pm. I wish I didn't have to do it...but it pays for the studio, you know? What can I do. I like to maintain a certain level of bourgeois material comfort.

I've yet to see anyone admit that an artist sometimes has down periods when the studio time might not be needed full time. I--in fact, most of the artists I know--tend to work in cycles. I can be in the studio 40+ hours a week when the ideas are hot. But there are times--after a show goes out the door for instance--when I just sit, relax, drink beer, read, eat, date, sleep, and generally refill the tanks for a few months. I know I'm going back in. I'm just not in a rush to do so. I don't think that make me (or any other artist) less dedicated. It just makes me/them a little more human and easier to be around.

There is something so frantic and alpha-male about this idea that one must be in the studio ALL DAY EVERY DAY. If you're not making yourself miserable to make art--and thumping your chest about it--you're somehow not dedicated to it...huh? That's a nice piece of propaganda but wouldn't you like to enjoy your life, too?

You have my permission to take the afternoon off. Now, get out there and have G&T and a quesadilla.

7/18/2008 10:00:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home