Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tuesday's Aside : Investing in Yourself

Tuesday's Aside, a weekly post in which I will try 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).

Jon wrote:
Say an emerging artist comes by some money (donation, sale of work, inheritance, Apple shares, ...). In your opinion, what are smart ways to use this to further an art career?

Like many emerging artists, since finishing my MFA a year ago I've been struggling to get my work presented (it didn't help that I moved cities). On the flip side, I've managed to save up a five figure pot. I've had a bewildering range of opinions about how to leverage this to help my career, including:

1) Rent an exhibition space - I've heard that dealers frown on "vanity exhibitions". Is this true? If not, any recommended venues?

2) Rent a storefront in the LES for several months, install a group show there.

3) Make a single large/expensive work - someone with a presentation space will be more likely to want to show it, and when shown it will make more of a splash.

4) Hole up in the studio for six months, make new work, its all about the work.

5) Make a book and send copies to a wide range of dealers and institutions.

6) Keep it in savings for when you really need it!

I don't have training in business, and I'm feeling a bit stuck.
More than usual in this column, today I should note that all of this advice is terribly generic. Depending on each artist's specific situation, some of my responses may not be your best avenue.

My immediate response to your overarching question is to note that nothing has really changed in terms of how you should go about advancing your career as an artist. In other words, I would still recommend, now that you have a financial cushion, doing the same things you should if you were working a 40-hour/week day job. Combined, those things fall into two major categories: 1) make the best work you can make and 2) network, mostly with other artists and curators.

Having said that, with a financial cushion you can perhaps do both of those in ways you couldn't before. The very first thing I would recommend you do with the new found free time the money affords you, though, is to clarify for yourself exactly what your personal goals are. Some of your numbered ideas seem to compete or cut across each other. If you don't want to be a gallerist, I wouldn't recommend playing at being one, for example, even temporarily. Depending on how you manage it, it can send a very different signal to the art world than you intend. Most of the artists-turned-dealers I know who do a good job at it, ended up doing less of their art in order to do so. Even those who only did so only temporarily will often find networking conversations turn to their space, when they would rather talk about their art (as some artists seem to mistake any exhibition space as an opportunity for them personally, and some curators or writers may use the diversion to avoid opening the door to discussing your work).

As for taking advantage of the windfall for making the best work you can make, I think some of your ideas are solid. In particular #4. Ultimately it IS all about the work. I would support #3 only if you have a good idea for such. In other words, don't go big just because you think big will get you attention. Big, expensive flops are panned all the time.

Although I would argue that self-promotion goes hand-in-glove with networking, how effective #5 might be depends highly on who specifically you send it to, how well it is designed to promote your work, and whether you're ready to capitalize on such an investment in a big way (i.e., do you have enough work to justify a book?). Catalogs can be impressive in certain contexts, there is no doubt, but if a dealer or curator isn't inclined to be interested in the work, the world's best catalog isn't likely to change that.

The best generic advice I can offer with regards to using your free time to network AND make your best work is to apply to longer-term residencies. Artists can return from a residency with important new contacts, a fresh approach to their work, and even completed projects that increase their likelihood of breaking through to an exhibition with that particular curator or dealer. Many artists can't afford the time off from their day jobs to attend the longer-term residencies, but I've talked with artists who have had significant breakthroughs during them or met a new circle of like-minded fans of their work who can open doors for them moving forward.

If living in another place, far from your friends and studio, isn't that attractive, though, the other thing you might consider is investing in your studio. Renovate in order to make working easier for yourself. Racks or new lighting or some new audio equipment, anything that frees you from current restraints and makes holing up there more enjoyable. Again, it's all about the work.

But you're asking a dealer, which may not lead you to the best advice on this particular question. Folks, other ideas (other than buying one of your own works from you, that is)?

Labels: Tuesday's Aside


Blogger jason said...


Contrary to the prototypical business model, in the art world: MONEY = TIME. As an artist that works a 40 hour week and is raising a child, I can tell you nothing helps my situation more than a small windfall that buys me time in the studio. If you can use that mattress full of cash to stay away from a day job, do it. Your time and money are much better spent in your studio than any of the other options you've listed. You have to do the networking no matter how you spend that cash, so use it to buy time, man.

7/29/2008 08:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Buy time. Work in the studio, Take a residency if you feel you need one. Travel. Go to Miami for the fairs and network, go to Berlin, LA, London, etc.

Most of all do what I didn't do: save it. You never know, especially in this economy, when you might need it later on.

And keep socking money away!

Congrats on saving, that is really hard to do as an artist, you should feel very proud!

7/29/2008 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was in that situation once. I saved $10,000 on rent by working as an RA at a college in the Boston area. I put that money in the bank until I moved South to take a job; used the money as a down payment on a house.

When I moved to Manhattan, I sold the house. I banked the original $10M plus some. It became (part of) the downpayment on an apartment in Manhattan. The apartment grew greatly in value over the years. I sold it to buy, outright, a two-story building in a nearby state. Now loft and studio are in the same space. I don’t have to pay rent or mortgage to live or work. Because all I pay is a relatively low property tax, I can still keep a small apartment in Manhattan.

My story is hardly Trumpian, even by artists’ standards, but that $10,000 has given me many options in mobility and freedom over the years.

My advice would be, don’t spend your until you are very clear on how you want to use it. Real estate—especially for live/work—is a smart move, especially if you are not in Manhattan. Prices are low-ish right now; they’ll probably go lower. Even if you buy something and prices go lower still, you’re OK because over the long haul you have good tax deductions. And, the ability to work in a space of your own making, under circumstances relatively within your own control are, as they say in the ad, priceless.

Not to burden you with undue pressure, but you have in your posession the cornerstone of your entire career.

Post script: When I did a large commission last year, I used the money earned for major dental work. In both instances the money was invested in me, the artist, rather than in the art. But my art and my life are intertwined, so my career has benefitted as a result.

Hope this helps.

7/29/2008 10:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I would set up an art-only account and use this money ONLY for art-related things. This gives you freedom in your art-making activities. If, in the course of your work, you want a camera or a thousand sheets of special paper, you can just buy it with no worries because the money is earmarked.I would NOT look for ways to spend it, rather I think you should use it over the natural course of your career so that you can behave like a professional artist, without having to make decisions solely based on money when you want to travel to ABMB to network or to buy supplies.


7/29/2008 10:25:00 AM  
Blogger pam farrell said...

This is an interesting thread...trying to figure out how to best use a financial windfall/nest egg. A good problem, no?

A few years ago, my dad died. He left my sibs and me each a small inheritance. Not enough to not work (I have a day job as a licensed professional in the health care field) but enough so that I was able to build a studio on my property. (The rest got socked away for "retirement". I moved out of the 8 x 10 ft. room I had been working in (I called it the nun's cell) and into my 16 x 20 outbuilding.

I will always consider building that studio an important step in my art career as well as a tribute to my dad, who enjoyed doing carpentry and woodworking. My work changed in many positive ways.

I'm quite certain that without that inheritance, I would not have been able to invest in my self, career, and art, at least not in the same way.

7/29/2008 10:26:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Aside from bribes, drugs, and whores (which I’m sure everyone takes for granted), you might use a small amount to “prime the pump”.

Think about becoming a member (there are several levels) of your favorite museum, maybe two. Make a point of being as involved in their programs, like “the young collectors”, as possible. Go to their members previews and meet the curators. Actively support some of the alternative institutions, go to their mixers, get to know the organizers and other big supporters. If possible take them out to dinner or for drinks. Go to benefit auctions and bid, but make sure you meet all the involved people. Instead of being a “starving artist” be “an artist of means”.

Invest the rest of the cash in funeral plots.

7/29/2008 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous cjagers said...

In addition to all this great advice, I would add pursuing a residency. Often these are hard to do if one has a day job. But getting a residency does a few things:

1) Gives you time to work
2) Helps your resume in a concrete way
3) Helps your social network

7/29/2008 11:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with kalmjames' advice. In my experience (at non-profit arts institutions), people who are there for their own agenda are easily spotted and treated differently from the genuine supporters. These places are besieged by artists and they will recognize an artist's alternate plan to get their foot in the door. If you're trying to pull off being a "young collector" you are not going to be able to keep up with the social life (meaning you won't be able to spend the money on dinners, have people to your non-existent country home or Hamptons beach getaway, etc.) and your fellow "young collectors" will see right through your ruse. They won't like being used and it won't get you anywhere with the curators or museum admin people either. This is not a practical way to spend your money.

ex arts professional

7/29/2008 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger kelli said...

#4 but if you have leftover money make solid investments to keep your future overhead and taxes low.
-Get a tax deductible H.S.A if you are over 30 and have no other health insurance.
-Make a small yearly tax deductible contribution to an I.R.A. even if it's well below the maximum. If you start making more money from art put as much as you can in a S.E.P. so you don't pay taxes on it.
-Buy a cheap apartment in a cheap but decent neighborhood (Lefferts Garden, Jackson Heights, Ditmas Park). If you buy a "sponsor unit" or "sponsor sale" you don't need 20% or board approval. A downpayment would be 5% to 10% as approved by the mortgage company. Rent it out for more than the mortgage and pocket the difference or live in it and take the substantial tax deductions.

7/29/2008 12:13:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

I'm going to buy a laptop. Its probably the one tool any artist in the modern era could use - whether you are sending out emails in your contact list, editing and burning DVDs of you "performing" the artist, or showing images and videos of your work in a Power Point slide lecture/panel discussion.

I highly recommend Carmina Burana as the soundtrack to any self promotional audio/visual. Especially if you are invited to a young collectors event at the Guggenheim. Wear a cape.

7/29/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

I'm assuming your basics are taken care of, health care, retirement, etc. Investing in your studio is a must, although look what Bacon worked in.

We could go round in circles here, I would rent more time with a printmaker, making editions, experimenting with different media.

Above all else - time.

7/29/2008 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Hey anon, ex arts professional,
I’d agree that boldfaced opportunism is a turn-off. But what I recommended is genuine involved support, and who’s your the mind-reader anyway?

As for your idea of a “non-existent country home or Hamptons beach getaway”, I like your thinking, but couldn’t recommend it, I wouldn’t have the chutzpa.

7/29/2008 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

firstly, are you serious?

you sound serious.

as an artist (therefore) i'll say kalmjames' advice (7/29/2008 11:23:00 AM) is not sound (in fact, i think he/she is being humourous). **i wouldnt bother with membership to museums or with being a collector -except of course thats what you want.

read all other advice and decide for yourself!

money is so speedily spent! it'd be gone tomorrow.

i had shares my (foreign) father got me as a child. i cashed it as a ween teenage and fled to a new country (where i thought my background wouldnt matter); and then, i traveled like a bug.

but you, you don't have any of these pressing problems of place, history or worrisome ontology.


7/29/2008 02:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: "although look what Bacon worked in"

this is funny. yes indeed, look what Bacon worked in!


7/29/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Margaret PG said...

This is a very helpful topic. I just got a (for me) big grant, and want to be careful about spending it (and I've been blogging about how I'm making decisions).

The money does buy time and eases anxiety about daily expenses (like extra daycare), which makes it much easier to get work done in the studio. But, time is not tax-deductible. So - I am trying to spend a good chunk of the money on stuff -- a computer, art supplies, etc -- that will count as business expenses.

And I want to spend some of it on something that I'd never be able to afford otherwise -- like travel. Because it is a grant, it seems especially important to do something like that.

7/29/2008 03:02:00 PM  
Blogger Ian Aleksander Adams said...

I think work/live space is the best idea as well. Rent will always be an expense. If you can get a large space that you can use for yourself and rent out to others (many people in Savannah do this, students are always looking to rent space. Buy a large house, apartmentalize it, and live in one apartment and rent the other.) then you can have the rent costs pay your expenses.

You might be able to live comfortably for some time if you get a good arrangement.

7/29/2008 06:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The one above who wrote about real estate - that is the best advice of all. Get something secure for yourself which will grow in value.

As to the work, I do think it helps to curate and show others if you have that bent. Not everyone is good at it. And of course you've got to make really good work. But that story about growing 10 grand was very impressive and I know others who have done it too.

7/29/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, look it, Jon, show us your work and you shall get better more helpful advice.

This is sorely missing in the generous advice here.

WHERE IS IT AT? (And I don't mean internet site)
However, direct us to a space or site OR post say minimum 5 jpegs anonymously on blogspot (if you wish to remain anon)

...and you shall get a good response.



7/29/2008 11:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Jon, you're working with painting which I find is a tough medium because the competition is very high.

Example, on this blog, most artist participants are painters (I feel like a total alien at times).

I can only describe your art as conceptual abstraction. Or neo-constructivism? I mean that
the work is upfront visually, about aesthetics, but very pre-thought, designed, and orchestrated. The result of mathematical methods? No accidents allowed, are they? I'm not sure there's even human touch. It looks very methodic.

I think what you need with that kind of work is showing corpus together. You need to entice a desire in collecting the pieces, because they all follow a certain method, or belong to a certain corpus. So the Big work is not necessary for you right now unless you can bring a corpus of them. Group shows will not help you either. You want people to get a sense of corpus (works using the same method and materials brought together).

You already have a magazine cover, that is excellent. I think you're on the right path. You must certainly be aware that your art will titillate only certain audiences. So getting an idea of where that audience is, or which curator will be interested, or which dealer, is important.

And the constructivists were not afraid of making design art too as part of their practices, if you can invest in jobs on the sides that can only help your career and expand your knowledge of materials or approaches.

Good luck!


7/30/2008 02:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...


Ok, I've read the statement at Drawing Center, so it makes more sense. Sol Lewitt was also using software late in life, but I never thought of Lewitt. Sol Lewitt was pure concept aka "1-idea-art". Yours I think depends heavily on concept but goes back to earlier schools where the love of exploring form was still apparent, or more loose. Probaby the result of using process terms or mathematics that exceed the minimal, but to me it visually looks closer to Ellsworth Kelly or even Malevitch. But I disgress...


7/30/2008 02:31:00 AM  
Blogger Iris said...

I think it all depends on where you feel you are now in your development as an artist. If you feel you already have a body of work and that you are ripened enough to show, then by all means, invest your money and time on promoting yourself - I have no idea how to do it though so can't give you any more detailed advice. If, on the other hand you feel you need to develop your art more, put all your money in buying the time and space and work, work work... I personally would probably go for this option. If what you always wanted to do was a big project that costs a lot but you couldn't afford it, then why not do it now, although the cost in itself does not assure the quality to prompt attention, so it's a risk you're taking. Maybe talk to a curator, tell all the details of your project, see if anyone will be willing to promise they will show your work once it's done.
The other option - saving, or investing in the future, if you feel you are able to continue and grow and develop in your art without using up the money, that sure is a great idea, save it or buy yourself a car or something. (or a house). Or go back to school, get a degree in something more practical like computer engineering, or business, or dentistry... some profession that will help you secure your future.. in your free time, and using the money you'll save in your new profession, you can still sponsor your art projects.

7/30/2008 03:15:00 AM  
Blogger the expat/pissedpoet said...

It's a no brainer Jon, find some place where you can hunker down and work. Produce a body of work that has a unique vocabulary, your vocabulary, and has something to say. And i kinda suspect that will take longer than 6 months, so find somewhere that is cheap to live.

Then when you have a body of work come out of your seclusion and start networking. Just make sure that when you are networking that you have something to offer back. Something that will make you welcome at the events you attend, something that takes you out of the "just another free loader" category.

7/30/2008 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger Aaron Wexler said...

If you are serious about being an artist:
Invest in OWNING a brilliant studio space.

Make sure you have health insurance, open a
modest IRA - "five figures" is a down deposit and it will go fast..

The rest is silly to think about.

Sometimes it's okay to wear a cape though.

7/30/2008 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Sunil said...

I am not so sure if it is all about work work and work. I have been making ‘OK’ work (in my humble opinion) for the last three years and I do not get at least a courtesy reply back from galleries I write to asking for representation. Is seems to be more about who you know and connections you have. Sorry for sounding bitter but this is the reality behind getting a decent exhibition or at least representation in a group show...

A five figure pot might help, but I do not have access to that either ;-).

I enjoy your Tuesday asides. A forum to commiserate.

7/30/2008 10:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Daniel Sroka said...

Think like a business. (You *do* have a business bank account, don't you?) Take some of the money and pay yourself a salary (the "buy more time to make art" idea). Take the rest of the money and invest in your infrastructure (improve your tools/materials, improvements to your studio, new hardware) or marketing.

Like any business, you should have a strategy in place about how to spend money *before* you make it. Plan ahead, then stick to the plan. This is the best way to make sure you don't waste the money on spur-of-the-moment purchases.

7/30/2008 11:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


How did you see Jon's work? Is it posted somewhere?

7/30/2008 12:25:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Ed's right, don't bother mounting exhibitions unless you are interested in being a gallerist. Nothing will take you away from your own work faster.

Rule #1 that every accountant has told me: if you're in debt, get out of it first!

Investing in a space is a good idea; not sure how much you socked away, but $10-$20K is not going to buy you anything in NYC or even Brooklyn. Hunkering in the studio is an absolute priority, but when you come up for air (IMO) you don't want to be stranded in the far reaches of an outer borough (no offense intended :)). As a young artist it may be more valuable to be located around your peer community and somewhere easy for studio visits, like Bushwick, but that would entail leasing. That's your call though.

Not sure how old you are (guessing mid-late 20s?) but why worry about retirement now? You are just starting your career. (Health care, yes!) For now, focus on building your practice: marketing materials, website, press & contact lists, equipment & materials. These are important and modest investments--and tax deductible. Worry about IRAs later.

Of course put some aside, there are modest investments you can make or even just set up a separate savings account. You will feel secure knowing that easily liquid cash is there.

Buy a suit. Get your parents something nice.

7/30/2008 12:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Invest the money, act like a business, save for your retirement. When you retire, you can paint full time....

These comments really do show that art has become a very bourgeois activity. What happened to risk?

7/30/2008 01:28:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is "Cedric" really "Jon" sending dear Ed a fake problem?

How did this "Cedric" see "Jon"'s work (and even know his/her Drawing Center page?? This would mean knowing who 'Jon" is-)

Respect your fellow bloggers!

(Meanwhile, the advice here has been helpful to all, myself included)

Betty Blue

7/30/2008 01:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Be sure to take care of the goose, (that would be you, the artist), and not squander on the golden eggs (that would be #1,2,3 & 5).
Setting yourself up in a stable studio situation is a good idea.
However, I disagree about the "holing up in the studio" idea. Excuse the fairy tale metaphors, but that is really putting your eggs in one basket. This is putting a lot of pressure on yourself. Perhaps I'm taking it too literally, but there is no need to "hole up", and it is probably counterproductive to do so. You can give yourself time to work uninterrupted in the studio, but this does not preclude being out there socializing with other artists, going to galleries, museums, meeting curators, etc. Thinking that it's necessary to wait until you have that complete body of work before you start networking is a bad idea. It leads to perfectionism and procrastination (not to mention isolation). None of that is good for working.

7/30/2008 01:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Chris said...

Sean said, "Worry about IRAs later." This exactly the opposite of what any sound personal finance expert advises. An IRA costs nothing to open, you can put in less than the the max allowed annually if you need to, if you start young then by the time you're 40 with compounding you'll have a really big chunk of money. Do not wait until you're 40 when you suddenly realize that, oh gee, I guess I better start putting money away. Start now.

What is five figures- $10,000 or $99,000? Big difference.

If your pot is towards the higher number think about property. All the advice about real estate is right on- while owning property, however, does take resources (property taxes, maintenance, upgrades) in the long run you will be on much more stable ground.

If your pot is towards the smaller number then buy yourself working time, and really use that time. If you are confident that you can save up the same amount again because you have good habits and no wait it takes, then really burn the money on making working.

At the same time- sometimes being out of circulation working in the studio can be isolating and lonely. It is not the worst thing in the world to work half time or less at something relatively undemanding if you're able to supplement expenses with your nest egg. It can be good to be out among people, to do something besides focus on yourself, to be of service- you might even find that you bring good "things" back to the studio from the outside world.

If you're only thinking about using six months to make a body of work, but you're not thinking about how that six months is going to lead into the next six months, and the next year, and where you want to be in five years, and so on, then you're not thinking this through enough. Let's say you're 25- realistically, what do you want to be doing when you're 35?

7/30/2008 02:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Bill said...


Listen to your own mind for guidance.

7/30/2008 02:53:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

RE: anon, what happened to risk?

That's not the subject here, the question is: what's the smartest thing to do with my money?

Making art is a full-time risk activity, esp. at the beginning.

I *do* disagree with the hyperactive consumer fascism of "save for retirement! Buy a house!" esp. for people in their 20s. Sure, it's "safe"--as long as the markets don't take a dive--but it can come later in the life plan.

Equally I disagree with the notion that artists *should* be reckless, feckless wastrels. It's a tiresome mythology. When the myth is lived, it only seems to lead to short (or embittered) lives and careers.

7/30/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

-----What happened to risk?

ML, I agree with you, but Jon's query is asking for security, not risk. Artists were taking risks in time when life was easier.

I am not Jon. I will respect Jon's decision to tell where his art is. I remain suspicious of anonymous queries, and I do not find them respectful of fellow bloggers. So we're even.


7/30/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

RE: ""Worry about IRAs later." This exactly the opposite of what any sound personal finance expert advises."

Not exactly true. My first advice was to resolve your debt first and foremost (direct from the mouths of at least three finance experts I've talked to when I *wanted* to take the money and invest it..).

My point was perhaps worded too casually. I'm only saying that fretting over your retirement fund at age 26 is a little ridiculous. Not with all the other stuff going on at the start of a career. But if you got some extra $$ to throw in, of course you should do this. Or to be a little more nimble, do some type of tiered 6-month savings account with a high yield (ING etc) or a CD or something.

What do I know==I'm broke all the time...

Is Jon getting any of this? What happened to him? Keen to hear his thoughts--really all the advice here has been pretty good.


7/30/2008 03:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I love you and your comments dearly but Jon was asking what to do with his money. I say stay in the studio and work like crazy. It's the greatest gift any artist can receive. Take the risk. Gamble on yourself. It seems that we've all become cautious conservatives.

Sorry if my anonymous status offends you. I make a point of not signing up on these group things. But I generally do add my initials at the end.

7/30/2008 05:47:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Our art may come from the depths of our souls, or the deepest part of our intelligence or gut--pick a body part, physical or metaphysical--but without a good place to work, and with the threat of escalating bills constantly looming, we may find it difficult to work. "La Boheme" is a myth. Poverty is overrated as an inspiration.

Artists in the 21st century need to think in the 21st century. That means managing money, owning property, thinking of what we do as a business. We can still be creative and make honest work.

While property in Manhattan (indeed all of the boroughs) is pricy, across the river in New Jersey, up the river around Saugerties and Kingston and toward Albany, down toward Philadelphia, there are still afforable places to buy. And they're all within a morning's commute into the city, so you don't have to be unconnected. When you're in your studio, it really doesn't matter where you are, as long as you have regular and frequent access to the places and situations that recharge and inspire you. (And, yes, a place for studio visits, but you can work that out with friends.)

Jon, the bottom line is that investing the money wisely doesn't preclude you from still working like mad. Even with a 9-5 job, there are evenings, weekends, holidays, vacation weeks, "sick days." Plenty of time to make art--and have equity is something that will be your rock for the next three or four decades. (I'm guessing most older artists--those unaffiliated with teaching institutions and thus without retirement benefits--can't afford to retire. If they didn't "make it" and they didn't invest, they're now paying very high studio rents on very low incomes.

Are there any artists out there in their 60s or 70s or 80s who can offer Jon ad the rest of us the benefit of their experience?

7/30/2008 06:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Artists in the 21st century need to think in the 21st century. That means managing money, owning property, thinking of what we do as a business."

Joan, I'm certain every artist in the French academy would have agreed with you completely.

7/30/2008 08:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

---Sorry if my anonymous status
---offends you.

Oh, not you, ml. That phrase was adressed to Betty Blue because she was saying "Tell me where! Respect your fellow bloggers!". I thought that was rude, is all.



7/30/2008 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

7/30/2008 10:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

----thinking of what we do as a business.

Really depends of your aim as an artist, and if you need money.
The danger in thinking too much
like a business is reaching a state of complacency where you're only trying to please your audience.

What amazes me is when artists finally reach that state where they don't have to care about thinking art as a business anymore, but still do.

To come back to my previous suggestion, that Jon should focus on having a solo show (focussed on a corpus or two), I think that involves enough risks. You need a certain amount of works, and you need the gallerist willing to show you. I am not sure what is so wrong with renting a space, but I would never do it through a company that does that. I would rent a space totally independantly, and document that exhibit VERY well. Than present the show on your web or as a mini catalog and make it seems very serious (thw work should speak). But there are soo many galleries in New York that I wonder how can that be so impossible to find a place to show?? Knock! Knock!??
Anyone wants to show Jon??

Oh by the way...are there any vanity galleries that are situated in real home-apartments? Like someone renting their living room and it's very obvious when you enter that it's a private living space ??? I would sooooo exhibit there!! You're gonna miss the "cachet" in the white cube artworld.


7/30/2008 10:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedric might have just went to the original thread. I don't know, sometimes that works.
Very generous of Ed.

7/31/2008 06:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


You never explained how you knew who Jon was, and now it seems even more like you're working on his behalf. What's up with that?

yes, I am anonymous, but I'm not saying anything rude or provocative.


7/31/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

Anon, I'm just a curious person by nature. Jon has been a commenter for a while.

Jon, there is a chance that half the gallerists will let you down because you are already 40. I know this sounds cruelly vain. That's why I'm trying myself not be concerned by commercial galleries.

Is there any distinction to make between exhibiting in a well known vanity gallery and doing something very independant, though? Or as this already been covered?


7/31/2008 10:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Chris said...

I just looked at jonmeyer.com.

Jon, website advice is not what you or Ed's post asked for, but I'm going to give it anyway.

I am thinking that the "studio pass" idea is a not a good idea- you're cutting off exposure with a "capture visitor data" concept. By doing this you have: eliminated a sizable majority of visitors who are not going to give you an email address; blocked search engines; prevented any blogger from linking to images other than the few you provide on the "works" page. There are visitors who will think, I thought, "Who does this guy think he is that he needs to protect his content," or, "is too good to share?"

Also, on the "works" page get rid of the label "MFA Thesis Work." If the work is student work that you can't stand behind remove it from the site, and if you think the work is good don't separate it out like this. People can figure out from your resume that you've just been in school, but don't tell them on the web, "this is my student work." Despite the success stories of a few artists hitting in big while still in their program, MFA work for most people is still student work, and there are assumptions that it is probably not very tested and it was made in an incubator. BTW, "Ten thousand squiggles" looks interesting.

Here's a small thing, less crucial, nitpicking, actually, but might possibly indicate some lack of planning or clarity: why when I click on "works" is the URL jonmeyer.com/projects? "works" and "projects" aren't necessarily the same thing. Unless you're building a site with a database back end- and even then, some of this can be controlled- label and name things as consistently as possible so the user knows where they are, where they've been, and how to get back there. Make your art complicated and ambiguous and worth returning to and puzzling over. Make everything else that supports your art as clear and clean and easy for the viewer to use as possible.

None of these suggestions will make a dent in your nest egg to fix.

7/31/2008 01:50:00 PM  
OpenID deborahfisher said...

Judging by past recipients, residency programs bias towards socially engaged art, female and minority artists (see Ed's cultural equity post), and artists that are already showing / are familiar to the panel. Unknown white dudes may wait 5-10 years before beating those odds.

Jon, respectfully, the first thing I would do if I were you is rearrange my attitude toward rejection. This is a negative, blame-oriented way to look at routine rejections that I am sure every single artist (even female artists of color) in New York has gotten more than once.

Re: your money and paying to get your work seen, I think the best way to accomplish is to use moneymaking as a way to network more.

KalmJames is being foolish when he says blow your wad on schmoozing with rich folks. He's shooting too high, and violating fundamental networking rules that everyone will see through. But the person who gives you your break is not going to be rich or a gatekeeper anyway. That person will be a peer with their foot in the door--someone not very different from you who wants to do you a favor because you're so nice or they owe you.

You do have the luxury of not needing to earn a ton of money at your dayjob. Why not use this to your advantage and get a lower-paying job in which you regularly meet lots of different artists and administrators?

If you work for a nonprofit you respect or something similar in which you meet lots of people and make a sincere effort to befriend some with whom you genuinely feel a connection, you'll be much closer to cracking your chicken-egg problem.

7/31/2008 02:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“...residency programs bias towards socially engaged art, female and minority artists (see Ed's cultural equity post), and artists that are already showing / are familiar to the panel. Unknown white dudes may wait 5-10 years before beating those odds.”

Seriously? What an entirely tiresome, accusatory, self-pitying, and altogether generalizing statement. Jon, as a 40 year old emerging artist, I’m quite sure that you have experienced a particular reticence from gallerists. As such, why would you choose to condone an ignorant and discriminatory remark? Me thinks a little introspection is in order.

Having said my bit, I do believe that you’ve received some very strong advice in this thread, and I extend my appreciation to all who have contributed. I will add this final morsel - your statement about your work could use some tweaking in your use of language, and the expression of your ideas.

Best of luck :)

From yet an altogether new anono

7/31/2008 03:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that the "studio pass" thing on your website is not good. People don't want to give their email address just to look at your site. It sends a weird message: you want people to look but you're making them give you something first. There are a million artists' websites; why would anyone want to get on your mailing list before they even see your work?

Also, I would take all the student shows and open studios off the resume.


7/31/2008 04:53:00 PM  
Anonymous another chris said...

It's none of my business and not what you asked but what is so important about a career? If you can get up each day healthy and devote some time to your artwork and find that fulfilling, and whatever else you must do is not too odious, you win, right? It's wonderful to share and show work (which you are actually doing via this conversation), and to get some remuneration, perhaps, to continue one's work, but vis a vis your funds, isn't the real question a step back from the career question? How do you want to engage the minutes and days of your life? Is career pursuit the most efficient means to get there and the best use of resources? Just a thought.

7/31/2008 07:04:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

Seriously? What an entirely tiresome, accusatory, self-pitying, and altogether generalizing statement.

I apologize, I should never have made that comment. I had spent time looking at past residents but I must be entirely mistaken to assume that positive discrimination (which I am in favor of) actually occurs.

7/31/2008 07:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

“...residency programs bias towards socially engaged art, female and minority artists (see Ed's cultural equity post), and artists that are already showing / are familiar to the panel. Unknown white dudes may wait 5-10 years before beating those odds.”

Is this what Ed said as well? Astonishing. A self-pitying racialist gender-hostile POV geared towards everyone who doesn't look like you and whose approach to art and visual ideas comes loaded with the problematic and often with glaring issues of self and society.

How many " female and minority artists” have you seen (especially when compared to how many make art, and believe me, they, they are a plenty!, there are few indeed being allowed into residencies.

Residencies are mostly in Europe. European artists populate residencies because why? They fund it.

I cant help thinking if this comment is what Ed's being busy promoting in the last thread.

I am too bored to find out.

Racists and sexists always bore me.


Artist who you would conveniently label to suit your pathetic self-pitying mindset.

7/31/2008 08:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed, did you know who Jon was all along?

Do you shall is opinion?

7/31/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

There's one comment I'm not posting because it took what I consider a too personal swipe at someone's art. Comments on people's opinions, so long as respectful, are always welcome, but I've repeatedly asked folks to refrain from commenting on the art of other commentors unless their art is the subject of the post.

To answer the penultimate question, though, no. I do not know Jon. I posted his question because it was interesting, and for the bulk of this thread spawned a very helpful thread.

I do feel Jon could have phrased his opinion about residencies a bit more carefully, but I appreciate Deborah's response much more than some of the others I have approved here. Two extremes don't advance anything.

Jon retracted his statement, so can we please return to the subject of the thread?

7/31/2008 09:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Residencies are mostly in Europe. European artists populate residencies because why? They fund it.

European artists populate residencies everywhere, whether in Europe or the US.

Residencies preferred issues-oriented stuff because these often has to do directly with the locale or community or town (whose local governments, province and/or non-government institutions fund the residencies), meaning they engage the social issues out there.

European artists who engage these issues--and a lot of them do--are often in.

Artist who are women and/or 'minority' feel marginalized and in order to save from being further marginalized within some established 'genre', go for art they feel challenge those spaces (of 'canon' --think Nancy Spero: she said this more or less)

Europe is not only exciting and exotic to ITSELf (the new idea of 'euro' brought together often incongruous 'new' bedfellows --from Estonians and the Brits to Scandinavian A.I.R. wanting Spanish or Hungarian artists in their company), they are exotic to us here in the US.

Female Artist and "Minority"

7/31/2008 09:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this a retraction:

I had spent time looking at past residents but I must be entirely mistaken to assume that positive discrimination (which I am in favor of) actually occurs.


Honestly, I don't understand that sentence.


7/31/2008 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Jon said...

My remark was idiotic and inappropriate, and quickly worded late at night in a way that didn't capture my intentions. I regret saying it (I've felt queezy all morning) and apologize if it caused offense.

Thanks for the comments about my website, which I have updated.

I particularly appreciate Ed's response and the call to return to the topic of the thread - ways that an artist can leverage their career.

Deborah's suggestion of working with an arts org was really interesting. Are there specific arts orgs in the NY area that people have had good experiences with?

Regarding another chris's "what is so important about a career" question - I think many artists (myself included) love being in the studio more than anything else, and the dream is to find a way to do that full time.

8/01/2008 09:00:00 AM  
Blogger Donna Dodson said...

Cue Art Foundation?
Exit Art?

8/01/2008 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger kalm james said...

Hey deborhafisher

Unfortunately you are intentionally misreading my statement and its clear meaning when you imply that I said: "KalmJames is being foolish when he says blow your wad on schmoozing with rich folks”.

What I actually said was “you might use a small amount to “prime the pump”. Please people, I enjoy differences of opinion but blatant distortion in an attempt to make a contradicting point is a sign of a weak argument and unprincipled rhetoric.

Also, I didn’t say you should smooz rich folks. What I intended to say (go back and read the original post) was that if you can afford it, supporting the institutions in the community is a valuable opportunity. If you won’t support the community, don’t be surprised if they don’t support you.

8/01/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Anonymous another chris said...

"I think many artists (myself included) love being in the studio more than anything else, and the dream is to find a way to do that full time."

Well, here's to that, Jon, but as I implied you don't need a "career" to do that, all you need is time. That is a simpler proposition than jump-starting or manufacturing a money-making career in short order.

In practical terms I think Joanne Mattera's line of thought is very worthy of consideration.

8/01/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger artmarketblog.com said...

I think that it is important for an artist to maintain a balance between the amount of time they spend promoting and networking and the amount of time they spend creating. I have seen the work of many artists suffer because they are trying to find fame too quickly and too ferociously.

8/02/2008 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think I might have to respectfully disagree with Kalm James. There are several kinds of collectors this strategy could alienate. Some older collectors are specifically philanthropic. They enjoy supporting emerging artists, seek out challenging work and often donate work to museums. The feeling that an artist is independently wealthy or obsessed with money would not be endearing to them. Young collectors on the other hand often have banking or finance jobs of their own and hang out with other rich people all day long. They like meeting creative people and money is the last thing they want to talk about. As to collectors who buy art as an investment they usually don't fraternize with artists so it's a moot point in that case.
If you want to support worthy institutions like Exit Art do it for it's own sake.

8/02/2008 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger gnute said...

Hi Jon,

Unlike my artist peers who are working low-paying jobs at libraries, restaurants and galleries, I chose to earn some bread from the corporate world when I graduated from art school.

I have been working full-time at a large corporate law firm for the past 2 years and saved up more than my peers would've saved during that time.

While it has robbed me of time from my art, I have still managed to do group shows, projects & networking efforts outside of my day job. At the same time, recently my big boss gave me a big bonus specifically to help out with my upcoming art exhibition.

Now it's time to move on. With my savings, I plan to quit my job in the near future and go into art full-time for at least a year.

I essentially bought myself a residency, without the pressures of any attached institution.

All the best to you!

8/03/2008 05:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Eben said...

Do exactly what you want--once you figure that out you'll be four times the artist. Guaranteed.

The best artists make the work=ld come to them and as such, aren't scared of money--having it, not having it, whatever.

Once you're bigger than money, the rest is a cinch.

8/04/2008 11:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Terry Ward said...

Assuming the artist is looking for a gallery, maybe save some of the newfound funds for the expenses of visiting galleries to learn where you'd be a good fit. Gotta also save some more for boxes, crates, or whatever it is that'll transport the creations to the venue/s.

3/27/2010 01:47:00 AM  

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