Friday, November 08, 2013

Are Artists with Day Jobs Serious?

I was talking with the assistant director of a mega-gallery a few months ago--a very nice person who works very hard, but who hasn't risked any of their own money in opening up a gallery. I make that distinction because I was taken aback when they dismissed artists who have galleries, but who also need a day job to survive, as "hobbyists." They said it so naturally, it struck me it must be a commonly held opinion in mega-gallery-land. 

Many years ago, before we had opened our own gallery, I had heard Jeffrey Deitch on a panel at the New School (I think) say he wouldn't work with any artist who wasn't dedicated to their art making full time (i.e., who also had a day job). It struck me as a valid choice for an art dealer at the time, but the economy was pretty strong back then and studio rents (perhaps the biggest expenditure for most struggling artists) were much more reasonable.

Flash forward to 2013, five years into the "recovery," and real estate prices across New York, but especially in neighborhoods where artists and galleries have set up camp, are pushing out all but the extremely wealthy, even among galleries. Studio rents in particular are insane, compared with what they were back when we opened the gallery, pushing artists further and further away from not only the neighborhoods that had long had big concentrations (i.e., communities) of artists in them, but the wealthy New Yorkers who might purchase their work as well.

In fact, it's gotten to the point that the only emerging artists who can afford to work full time on their art, and still live and work in New York, are the wealthy ones. This has become a hot topic in New York, with celebrities like David Byrne arguing that the soaring cost of living is crushing the city's creative culture, at least for non-wealthy creatives, and now The New York Times has published a debate on The Cost of Being an Artist, with varying view points on how to survive in these financially challenging times.

But back to the assumption (let's call it a bias) that artists who have a day job are not serious enough to be represented by the more "serious" galleries. My problem with that is, with the way New York (still the biggest concentration of powerful curators, collectors, and critics in the world) is evolving, is how it more and more favors rich artists. Mind you, I know some wealthy artists whose work is wonderful and a very welcome addition to the dialog (and hopefully canon). But I also know tons of wealthy full-time artists whose work is pretty awful (and some have high-profile galleries, as well). The more they gain an advantage in getting into galleries over other artists whose work may be better, but whose access is more limited, the worse our overall cultural legacy becomes. 

I don't really understand the bias against artists with day jobs. Deitch implied it represented a lack of seriousness, but what's serious about being born with a silver paintbrush in your hand? Until there's ample, affordable studio space in the locations where it matters, to ensure we get the quality of art promoted that we as a society deserve, I think that old-fashioned notion of looking down at artists with other jobs has got to go.

UPDATE: OK, so that last paragraph was poorly considered. I do actually understand the bias, as it has existed historically, but in the current climate I'm not sure it's as important that good artists starve to focus all their time on their art, as it is we can agree that whatever balance is necessary to keep them working on their art will be supported by the system.

59 Comments:

Blogger Jerry Saltz said...

Ed,
Hi.
One thing: I seriously doubt that Deitch meant he would not work with an artist who had a full time job. I am sure he meant he would only work with artists whose number one job was art.
He knows that ALL artists have to work; probably full time.
Until they don't.
You know?
Otherwise you are golden,
Jerry Saltz

11/08/2013 10:53:00 AM  
Blogger Dwayne Butcher said...

Well, I think, taking a cue from your FB comments. I will start the artist run Fair. Baltimore could use it! Thanks for this post. Sweetness.

11/08/2013 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Jerry, it's certainly feasible I misunderstood Jeffrey's meaning (it was a long time ago), but as I recall it, he said it during a Q&A when the question was how he viewed artists with day jobs, so I'm pretty sure I interpreted it correctly.

11/08/2013 11:09:00 AM  
Anonymous J.T. said...

Should we also dismiss galleries whose owner(s) work full-time day jobs or other non-art-related jobs that require a significant investment of time? They must not be serious either, right? Same for curators and critics.

Thanks for posting on this, Ed. This topic drives me crazy.

11/08/2013 11:13:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

This is lame. You do what you have to do so you can make your art.

11/08/2013 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Lame or not, it's prevalent and therefore relevant.

11/08/2013 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger JD said...

Nice post, Ed. Dealers should be looking at how kickass the ART is, not relying upon silly extraneous measures such as the artists' age, what they look like, or whether they have a day job or not. This is especially true in today's NYC, where, as you say, affordable studio space is a thing of the past. If anyone is interested, some of us New Yawk artists have formed a group to work for city legislation that would keep our studios affordable. It's called the Artists Studio Affordability Project (ASAP), and you can find us on Facebook. Our next meeting is on November 25th; message us if you want to join, or email us at ASAPaffordablestudios@gmail.com.

11/08/2013 11:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben said...

Recently I have been able to work full time after years of working whenever I could fit it in. There is a difference in approach. It is not in volume or seriousness, but in allowing the work to stop and breathe. If you can't do this you can't be objective about your own work. It is very hard to notice the subtleties in what you are doing and where you are going if you are struggling against a limited clock. If I go back to squeezing in the work I will be better prepared - you almost need to take a longer view so that the clock doesn't seem so immediate.

11/08/2013 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Jen Wroblewski said...

I am not often a commenter on any blogs but this one is really doing a number on my nervous system. I would be able to calmly agree with Jerry Saltz' comment, but it doesn't sound like what Jeffrey Deitch was saying. I am an artist, occasional independent curator, and professor, and at all times supported myself with all manner of jobs that allowed me to prioritize my studio practice. Financial concerns precluded residencies, art-world make connections jobs, etc. To work full time as an artist is to have financial support in the high five figures, if we are talking about New York. The studio system absolutely favors the independently wealthy. Without even bringing into the conversation tuition for the MFA at Columbia or Yale. It is a big wide open world, for certain; but the way we talk about the success of emerging artists as if it is merit based is tired, inaccurate, and hypocritical.

11/08/2013 11:48:00 AM  
Anonymous janice caswell said...

Hard to believe that this is even a question, but thanks for posting, Ed. Two things:

First, I always joke that I have a job to subsidize my art career. If I didn't have a job, I wouldn't be able to rent a studio, or buy materials and equipment, or have health insurance. I'm lucky to have a pretty well-paying part-time gig with benefits. I'm extremely lucky. And those benefits cover me and my musician husband.

My second point is, I am incredibly productive in spite of having to split my time between work and studio. I spend every free day and some evenings in my studio, and much or my other free time I'm reading, researching, writing, applying. I would love to be able to do these things in a more leisurely way, not having to fit them into the limited time I have, but I make it work. Sometimes we do even better when we are forced to work with limitations than when we have total freedom.

11/08/2013 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Patrick Collier said...

I suppose one should not have a significant other or family either.

If New York pushes out all but the wealthy it will be its loss; yet it might be other cities' gain. Not such a bad thing. And it'll give those who can afford it more reasons to travel.

11/08/2013 01:03:00 PM  
Blogger CCCCppppCCppp said...

A Comment on FB:
Julie Levesque I consistently make better art when I don't rely on sales of my work. If you are living on your art, there is more temptation to just make more of what sells. My motto? "Make what you want to make and get a job."
-- Isn't this a reason for a gallery to prefer full artists? They depend on sales, have time to produce more, need to please customers.

11/08/2013 01:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Max Presneill said...

Co/Lab in LA - run by ARTRA Curatorial (all volunteer group) was run by artists, for alternative and non-commercial spaces, was free to be in too - ran 2011 and 2012 and will be another in Salt Lake City in 2015 - see www.artrala.org
I would like to see more of these kinds of DIY, self-supporting things.

11/08/2013 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Max Presneill said...

Also, just in case you want to know :-) - Artra Curatorial is planning a series of Mini-MAS Attacks, entitled MAS (Ltd Ed) >> (followed by the name of the city) in various cities across the western USA through 2014 - all artist run, free, etc. These originate from MAS ATTACKS, one-night-only 'relational aesthetic' type events for artists to share their work with each other and the public, to catch up with what is current, to network and make friends, all in the belief that good things come from good things

11/08/2013 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger lynnxe said...

Ed, thank you for saying this! For years I feel like I've been talking about the advantage that wealthy artists have over people who aren't so monetarily fortunate, and since I'm an artist saying it, I always get told it's "sour grapes". Of course wealthy artists are advantaged when it comes to time -- does it make them better? NO, except insofar as time spent on one's work makes every artist better. However, their wealth also gives them access to the best materials, the ability to hire help and be more prolific as a result, wealthy friends who buy their work, access to expensive benefits and parties where collectors hang out, the ability to take internships when they're young, access to the best schools and no need to work a job while they're there, etc., etc. If on TOP of all that we're going to punish those artists who need to have a day job to support their very expensive career, too? Well, then the lie of the meritocracy completely collapses under the weight of all that privilege. The cream doesn't rise, it starts out on the top and stays there.

11/08/2013 04:17:00 PM  
Blogger lynnxe said...

Jerry, I've actually been told this before, too. I can't speak for Deitch, but I always thought of it as a commonly held (though completely repellent) belief. (Although even more obnoxious was the gallery that told me they only worked with "artists wealthy enough to pay for advertising". Oy.)

11/08/2013 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger lynnxe said...

As a woman, I've been told that I shouldn't more than once.

11/08/2013 04:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My most productive art making was when I was working in advertising and had to squeeze the art in when and where I could. Janice, you are so right about working with limitations.

11/08/2013 10:21:00 PM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

Art is a tough life few of us "choose" and I think Ed's correct that it's gotten harder, Attitudes about how one keeps on keeping on are based on a model of youthful stamina. At times I've been so poor I didn't have food and at other times I've had money to squander. For half my life, I've had an illness that prevented me from working even part-time at a conventional job. I've always done my work as an artist and like waiting for Prince Charming, i still yearn for the perfect gallery who will understand and sell my work to appreciative collectors who love my work but meanwhile, the decades pass and I won't have enuf retirement $$ to last me into old age with adequate health and other support systems. Hey, I made this bed bt it sure seems to have some bug lumps in it.

11/08/2013 11:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Todd Levin said...

It's such a ridiculous rhetorical question, I don't even know why one should respond. The greatest American poet of the 20th Century (and the greatest poet of the English language in the 20th century), Wallace Stevens, was a lawyer for his entire professional life until months before his death. The greatest American composer of the 20th century, Charles Ives, founded the Hartford Insurance Company and ran the NYC office until health issues forced him to retire. It's a complete non-starter. And anyone who would suggest otherwise is an idiot.

11/08/2013 11:24:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Todd, I entirely share the sentiment that it's idiotic to think artists with day jobs are not serious, but so long as powerful people in the art world, like Mr. Deitch or the assistant director at the mega-gallery hold the opinions they've voiced, I can't agree it's a non-starter.

11/09/2013 11:44:00 AM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

The subtext seems to be that there are hidden, unreasonable rules in the art world/ market and that for those of us who break them, for whatever reason, it may mean forfeiting our livelihood or our career or both, regardless of talent, integrity or hard work. It's a tough world represented by these representers. I don't see how ignoring that reality serves the making of art or the survival of artists.

11/09/2013 11:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this seriously a topic of debate? Almost every artist on the planet not born into the 1% works some sort of day job while establishing their career. And even artists who have attained recognition by the establishment often keep their day jobs (frequently in academia). To posit otherwise is just nonsense.

Fred Wilson: Teacher, Installer, Curator, Administrator, and Museum Guard
Matthew Barney: Model with Click modeling agency
Tom Sachs: Furniture Fabricator and Lighting Designer
Mark Rothko: Elementary School Teacher
Yayoi Kusama: Fashion Designer
Andy Warhol: Commercial Illustrator and Graphic Designer
Paul Gauguin: Stockbroker
Ed Ruscha: Layout Artist
Richard Artschwager: Furniture Maker
Jasper Johns: Messenger, Shipping Clerk, Used Bookstore Clerk
Julian Schnabel: Dishwasher and Short-Order Cook
Jeff Koons: Wall Street Commodities Broker
Barbara Kruger: Graphic Designer at Condé Nast
Ai Weiwei: Carpenter, Blackjack Player, and House Painter
Sarah Lucas: Daycare worker
Willem de Kooning: Commercial Artist, Window Dresser, Sign Painter and Carpenter

11/09/2013 12:28:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

hmmm...I wish one of the people posting that this can't be a serious issue or that it's a non-starter would address the first paragraph of the post. If the culture within mega-gallery-land is so dismissive of artists who don't make their living off their art, doesn't that suggest this still needs to be discussed?

11/09/2013 12:42:00 PM  
Anonymous Jacob said...

It's a ridiculous bias, but in my world, not really relevant. These mega-galleries represent a tiny sliver of the art world, one that is out of touch of most of the real art being made and sold these days.

It'd be like a chef or restauranteur worrying about how the Food Network picks on-air celebrity chefs -- it's a fun diversion, but has no impact on your business or your audience.

11/09/2013 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding the first paragraph: It is hard to know if this is an individual bias or a broader market bias. If nothing else, I'd venture a guess that the gallerist in question was referring to well-established artists who maintain a day job (or they really have resorted to showing only artists with trust funds). And just maybe I could see the point of view that, if an artist doesn't need a distracting day job because their work sells so well, but still desires that level of distraction from their practice, then their priorities might be questionable.

However, it is also sad that real estate so directly dictates the art market in the city (and thus globally). When the middle tier galleries were priced out of soho and moved to chelsea, my sense is that many thought they were moving to an area less attractive to retail and thus more protected from rent increases. Interestingly, the galleries have this time priced themselves out (and now there is some grumbling about an exodus to the LES). I have a friend who is a gallerist with a ground floor space in Chelsea and was taken aback when they started showing sub-par work from an artist who was also a substantial collector/buyer. I'm sure that sort of thing is more common than I'd imagined but it certainly does a disservice to both the market and to talented artists without a trust fund.

11/09/2013 01:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ridiculous as it may seem, this bias is real. I have known artists (at a level where they were being considered by blue chip galleries) who went to great lengths to hide the fact that they have a day job.

11/09/2013 02:27:00 PM  
Blogger Renoits said...

Artist who lives in Brooklyn here, don't forget that people have loans to pay as well. Education was also very affordable in the USA. So, not only do we pay high rent but we also have a monthly bill from the Fed.Gov. If all this is true, then there is a serious reality disconnection with old and new artist right now.

11/09/2013 04:01:00 PM  
Anonymous Mia said...

Go into any non blue chip gallery in NY, and I guarantee you that the majority of artists exhibiting have some other source of income besides sales and commissions: teaching, commercial photography, design projects, art handling, bartending, trust fund, wealthy spouse, etc. It's virtually impossible to attain a middle class lifestyle from being an artist in NY only by selling work in galleries---and I'm not even talking about "NY Middle Class," which probably means joint income of $150K at least. Or you could make $75K one year and nothing the next. That's why almost everyone teaches. Stability and health insurance!

It's very hard to believe that anyone who actually works with non-blue chip artists could maintain this fantasy. But then again...I suppose it's possible. I wish you could get Jeffery Deitch to clarify himself. As for the snooty assistant director, consider the source. I'd love to hear her/his political views. Let me guess. They sound something like, "Let them eat cake!"

11/09/2013 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger Thomas Stolperer said...

an up side of having a day career - you don't have to worry about whether your art will sell, you can make whatever the fuck you want - that usually makes better art

11/09/2013 08:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thomas, you're onto something. Don't tell the lemmings, if enough of them run of the cliff art may recover from the dreadful hangover that has gripped it far too long!

11/10/2013 05:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Francis said...

One aspect that I found missing in the discussion, is that what Pierre Bourdieu calls Habitus. An artist who has a certain financial background, we can assume, has more than that. He/She also knows how to behave/react/control in a milieu of wealthy collectors. If the latter do not look for the underdog artist, they may simply feel well with people around them who are close to their social habits...

11/10/2013 05:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a self-taught, serious and exhibiting artist with a science background and full-time job, I have often thought that the art world deprives itself of some very interesting artists by discriminating against those working in a variety of non-art related fields. Writers gain prestige if they bring a background in medicine, law enforcement, etc. to their writing and are not considered less serious for it if it informs their work and gives them unique insights. Artists should be afforded the same leeway and be respected for it.

11/11/2013 01:35:00 AM  
Blogger Matt Benson-Parry said...

Before I weigh in, caveats apply; I am an artist from Fremantle in Australia and have only had a single exhibition in NY. However, I think that my own experiences have some relative worth inasmuch as they are a scaled down version of NY affairs.

Firstly, why does this article surprise and shock everyone so much? It is almost as if everybody thinks that by saying how repellent and abhorent (etc etc) that the concept is, that it may then be fixed; this is not a quirk of NY, it is a fact of life and artists in all large cities must deal with it. Rents rise, so rent out somewhere you can share, apply for grants, forgo new tattoos. Find it difficult to get into the right parties? Schmooze those that you can get into. If you always act like you're on the outside looking in then thats how you will be viewed. Telling a curator/gallery owner that you work other jobs is going to tell them a couple of things, however wrongly, but it is human nature to assume; that you don't try hard enough and that you aren't beholden enough to their critical attention to become their artslave.
Secondly, so many of these responces seem to assume that good art only comes out of NY when the artists live within spitting distance of the good galleries. I live 26250km from NY and I still try. I have to get grants in order to get there, I have to prove myself again and again. It IS difficult but you have it made easier by being near to NY in the first place.
Thirdly, most of the world's artists do not live near NY or London or even Melbourne. The choice they have is to stay where they are or move. Personally I am trying to convince my wife to move to Toronto, because I'd rather not live in the States but would like to be within strike distance for shows. Being Australian, strike distance is within 1200km or so.
Thirdly, consider the reasons that the big wigs might have for making such statements as refusing to work with artists who work day jobs; they have to somehow wade through all the different artists who approach them and by being snobs they are applying Occums Razor to your hopes and dreams. I'm not saying its right, just that it is what it is.

11/11/2013 04:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wouldn't want to work with a gallery or curators who judge you on anything other than the quality of your work.

11/11/2013 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ed brings up some good points as many have here about the implication of Deitch and the anonymous gallery assistant. Art making and art dealing shouldn't only be an exclusive adventure for a small handful of the multinational business, curators, collectors, artists (all of the roles that mechanize this idea of art meaning). A democratized art market has ethics, passions, and ideas reflective in its practices attracts a diverse economic audience and practitioners. If one gives up because of this antiquated sentiment of the likes formerly mentioned, then one gives more power to a monopoly that proves their point, sending us back to the early 20th century, or as far back as the 14th. Is that the kind of art world you want?

11/11/2013 03:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The problem is, you haven't really established that premise. You are extrapolating from an offhand comment made by one individual. Yes, if that comment is indicative of a larger culture, that would definitely be something worth talking about. But all you have is one small data point.

11/11/2013 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Well, if you want to get technical about it, I haven't actually offered any data points, large or small (i.e., "data point: an item of factual information derived from measurement or research"), but rather an anecdote, which is not the same thing. (In total, actually, I eventually provide two anecdotes of voiced opinions on the issue: the one by Deitch and the one by the assistant director).

My point in the comment above is not that one person said something, but rather , and that it was said so casually that the conclusion I drew from how it was said, was that this opinion is common in the world that person inhabits. As I noted, I was taken aback by it, not only because I so disagree, but because it was offered so matter-of-factly.

While you're free to disagree with my conclusion, you should at the very least accurately represent what I wrote.

But this only reinforces why I noted the comment you responded to. There is throughout this thread and the various other places this got picked up (on Facebook and Reddit) a curious line of comments suggesting this isn't a real problem, with a strong tinge throughout that if we can only ignore it, it won't exist. It's paralleled by another line of comments, though, thanking me for raising it because people have noticed it themselves and it's bothering them.

I offered my anecdotes of why I feel it's an issue. If you're convinced I'm wrong, perhaps you can provide contradicting data points. I'm sure everyone will be happy to learn there is no such bias in the art world, including me.

11/11/2013 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

I appreciate that this thread continues. Yes, some of us can and do buck a difficult system but the point is that the difficulty is real and daunting and for some, insurmountable, or, over time, it wears us down to a nub. And yes, wonderful work can come out of the stubborn need to create regardless of obstacles, but what I hear in this thread is how the trickle down theory of economics in this country and perhaps globally, has meant that many are dying of thirst, at least figuratively. It is important to note that we are not talking about other points in history, with other environmental conditions. We have lots more people these days and lots more risks than at any time in the past, from sea level rise to terrorism. Since the Spring, a refrain I've heard has been that galleries, except the mega ones, are struggling. It's important to note that available jobs that pay a living wage are dwindling, meaning that for many artists it isn't just a matter of having a B day job, but any job at all, or hours left after working 2 jobs. Let's not even talk about people with families or medical issues. As always, artists are the canaries in the mines and the graffiti on this wall is at least illuminated by this discussion. Answers? Very few if we're honest I think.

11/12/2013 08:42:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It would be nice to get a show in NYC , Its realy no big deal . I gota a trade. What I do for a living and my art work are one in the same ive been doing the same thing since 1980. Some of my works are to dangerous for the general public . a prospective buyer would have to fill out a application and be vetted . These works could never be in the same house with children or teenagers or adults on mind altering medication. Even then the buyers would be would have to be very special and fully aware of the risks..

11/12/2013 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not to defend this attitude, but we are talking about top of the line blue chip galleries right? Presumably artists those galleries would be interested in would have already established a solid career (esp. with sales) that would make a day job unneeded and maybe even a hindrance to the kinds of high level schmoozing required. I don't think this is a GOOD attitude, but there is some sort of logic to it. It would, of course, be suicidal and ridiculous for a gallery working with emerging or just post-emerging artists.

11/12/2013 08:36:00 PM  
Blogger Matt Benson-Parry said...

I'm pretty sure Abjectism has been quite thoroughly ensconced into the mega-gallery circuit thanks to Damien Hirst and his ilk, but if you could supply a website where one might see some of your works then I'd be fascinated to see them.

11/13/2013 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger Matt Benson-Parry said...

I think the definition of what constitutes a blue chip and top of the line gallery is as sticky and tricky as what constitutes an emerging, mid-career or other kind of artist. I was previously represented by Rolf Contemporary in LA and there was only me and one other guy who weren't names from Phaidon Publishing's 20th Century Art book (Basquiet, etc, et al). So assuming they were dealers of that sort of high brow merchandise, it can be assumed reasonably safely that they were blue chip. However they represented me without me either having had any shows in the States at that time and with only one truly successful exhibition under my belt, and they represented me for a year and a half without ever offering me a single show or sale. Admittedly at the time I was painting fulltime, but they couldn't have had access to that kind of information from a foreign country without my authority, which they didn't have. I'm honestly not so sure that having a 2nd job really comes into it. Perhaps the offhand way in which the comment was thrown out there by the 2 people we're discussing shows more that they don't really care, that it is all in the work and how it looks. Edward_ would be able to say in what manner they 'said it'. Maybe I'm wrong in this and they really meant it.

11/13/2013 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the assistant gallery director is an ass. I also think that Ed is probably right in his assessment that the sentiment is widely held, however wrong-headed. I also fail to see why artists think they have a right to live in Manhattan (or Dumbo, Williamsburg or LIC, or any place that exceeds their means). Notwithstanding the concern for the cultural life of NY, companies of all kinds pick up and leave cities, even countries, when circumstances change. The galleries are in NY, yes, the buyers are mostly in NY, true, but why must the manufacturers of the art be here, too? (That rhymes.) There are far more affordable places in The Bronx, Upstate, even Yonkers. There's a thriving, one might even say booming artist culture in Philly, and I happen to know that places like Atlanta, Kentucky, Florida, Portland, Oregon, also have healthy artist cultures, not to mention Berlin. When you sell your work for seven figures, you can go buy a building like Sean Scully. Until then, adapt. -Cole

11/14/2013 02:02:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Matt, I cannot show you pictures of my work at this time , you would most likely be disappointed . How could I possibly top your imagination? You would have to live with the work for a while for it to set in. The young, weak minded and afflicted would be at risk with the work I mentioned that's why I would not want it in the public domain.

There are 2 kinds of art work Alive and Dead. Damien Hirst makes dead art, some of his work is Great Art .

My work is alive . Great art can be dead or alive , most great art is alive . theres loads of shitty alive art also.

Some of Andy Warhols work is very alive and dangerous . Richard Serra's new work at Gagosian is very much alive it has a few dangerous sculptures in it I would have to spend time with them to figure out their threat level.

His curvy stuff is harmless .

11/14/2013 09:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the public care about mega galleries? Seriously, look up pages for artists represented by some of the BIG galleries on Facebook and you'd be lucky to find 1,000 fans. But there are other artists, who either don't have gallery representation OR are represented by galleries the likes of Saltz would NEVER visit, that have 20,000+ fans. The PEOPLE can see past the 1% playground of wealthy investment collectors. They are tired of it. Eventually... people connected with that 'world' will be ridiculed openly. Museums will be 'called out' for pandering to a select group instead of placing the PEOPLE first.

11/14/2013 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why must you live in NYC? You need to disconnect from that 'only can make it in NYC' myth. If most of your money goes toward rent and schools loans I have little sympathy for the situation you've got yourself in. For the cost of living in Brooklyn you could rent a HUGE pad in rural areas throughout the US, most of which are just an hour or two a way from a major city or airport. Imagine what you could accomplish if your money was not being burned on making someone else wealthier??? The collectors are online. If they truly want your work... they will find you. The galleries are online as well... same thing applies. Stop burning your cash.

11/14/2013 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim D said...

Not just day job artists, but also artists who do not need a day job because they have the financial security of a spouse working (or other source of income). The pressure to pay the bills increases the creativity, art production and selling juices! :-)

11/15/2013 01:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

T.S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Man Ray....

11/15/2013 10:35:00 PM  
Blogger Jerry Saltz said...

All I can say is IF you hear someone say TO YOUR FACE that "I can't take you seriously unless you have no job," email me at New York Magazine.
I will get medieval on them. Really.
In your deepest hearts you know you FEAR that people think this. I can tell you that NO ONE I have EVER met in the art world seriously thinks this.
Trust me; I am old. And have been around A LOT longer than all of you.
Get. Over. This.
What you're all really saying is that it is a bitch-and-a-half to make your work and try to cultivate your career when you have a full-time job.
Don't shift the blame.
Me? I was a FULL TIME long-distance truck-driver while I wrote.
I was a FULL-TIME chauffer while I wrote.
While I was the Art Critic for the fucking Village Voice, kids, I taught at THREE schools and lectured regularly. I used to fly to Providence to teach at RISD, fly from there to teach in Chicago, and then fly to NYC to teach at Columbia or SVA.
I did this EVERY fucking week.
So you know, chill on this a bit, and get to work.
I have $9000.00 to my name on the earth today.
I know that sounds like a lot of money to most of you.
But if you were my age and that's all you had it wouldn't seem like such a bundle...

11/19/2013 08:58:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

You're absolutely right, of course, Jerry. None of this is an excuse to not work or not believe the system can and should work for everyone.

I noted the two comments I've heard to this effect only in response to a facebook thread that touched on it, and because quite frankly the one comment offended me so much I wanted to get it out into the discourse and hope it reached back to its author who should have been much more careful and thoughtful.

11/19/2013 09:26:00 AM  
Blogger AvivaRahmani said...

I can't help wondering if we're arguing over the wrong point. That is, it's not a question of whether it's real or fair or surmountable but that the whole economic apple cart needs to be turned over and re-examined and then how do you do that as an artist with a clear aesthetic philosophy? Can FB address some of that formative need, for example?

11/19/2013 09:50:00 AM  
Blogger Jerry Saltz said...

PS. So glad you got the comments showing again, Spirit of Discourse.
Without it, ... well you know the rest...
Jerry Saltz

11/19/2013 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been lucky enough to avoid having a day job and live from the sale of my work. I hustle in the studio and I hustle to make sure the works are sold. I have never produced things I think will sell. Nor have I ever worked with anyone outside an emerging or mid level gallery.
But living off the sale of one's work is almost another full time job. I am not rich or in possession of a trust fund and no, my parents do not support me.
I understand this is an anomaly, but I write this only to say it is possible. And yeah, sometimes the salary is 30k and sometimes 100. Who knows?

11/20/2013 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Jsun Laliberte said...

Galleries operating at the Mega level got there by taking some calculated risks and avoiding others. Take on artists who've proven themselves to have "cracked the commodity code" and can also be counted on to produce said commodity with regularity or predictably high quality. "Taking the artist seriously" more than likely means "Seriously considering taking the artist on."

Also, commercial galleries are in the business of selling the "story" of an artist almost as much as the artwork itself, enhancing the aura of worth and desirability. If the artist's alternative means of income aren't sexy or of interest in any way, that becomes harder to sell. Not to say that there isn't a way to sell it, or to usurp the discussion. But given the option (one living on proceeds from art sales and one not), they go with the easy sell. Simple Business 101.

Having alternative sources of income doesn't make the art any less important to the furthering of the human culture. it just makes it harder to sell in certain markets.

Until that bias or paradigm is shifted in the majority of collector's mind (most likely by way of dealers who choose to stick their necks out to promote it), little will change these huge economic forces. When millions are on the line, they enjoy a sure thing as well.




11/30/2013 08:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Benny Laruce said...

I encourage you to do some investigation into the financial realities of artists and musicians. I've been working in "The Arts" now for most of my life (production back-end) and to put it simply... it's kinda a con.

When I confronted a pair of millionaire twenty-one year olds recently with the reality of the bs they were laying on me I was told "fake it 'till you make it." Alongside this "truism" please consider the facts:

1. Get a wealthy benefactor, or more often than not, be born with two of them; you may know them as "Mom and Dad". Being in a gallery = paying a gallery to hang your work for a month. Do /you/ want to pay to hang pictures up somewhere that probably won't sell?

2. Move to a major city. Apparently art only exists in Major cities. That apartment your grandparents own in the toxic-waste part of town = credibility. And hey, they just got an organic cafe! Gentrification Uber Alles.

3. Steal. Basquiat + Marvel = Money. Tiffany + Memento Mori = Money. Adolescent attention seeking + "the cause du jour" = Money. Money = money. Caricatures of the poor as grief-clowns = money.

4. Get bored with "how fake it all is" and start taking numerous trips to Africa or India because they're more "Authentic". Steal. Sell that. Money.

5. Ignore the pestle and mortar grinding sounds of people's eyeballs rolling in their skulls whenever your name is mentioned to people with jobs, and focus on the fawning praise of teenagers, and people who value the opinions of teenagers. You won;t make any money because hey teenagers don;t have any and you'll go out of favor for a generation - BUT then you'll be picked up as "authentic" when somebody who advertises their drug use as a personality trait name-checks you in the children-of-rich-people-working-for-free-and-calling-themselves-journalists press. Comeback baby. And the chance to merchandise and make some actual moolah.

6. Network. Or, be born into a network. Birds of a feather. No? Name one blue collar president. Name a blue-collar musician or artist at the top of the pile... Oh... See-whadda-mean?

Or:

Make Art. Have joy in it's making. And never stop. The parasites will pick through your work once your long gone and your decedents will be cheated out of any profit. That's life: business is for business people, and"Art" as it is commonly understood is a social fiction played by the wealthy to excuse the fact they don't have to work. And, if you aren't wealthy. You gotta work. On the bright-side you can't express humanity back to itself - Art - if you never come into contact with it - and being an artist is a rarefied strata of reality that's not really suited to describing how humans live and feel - this is another valuable aspect of having a job. Authenticity ;)

Ultimately: study craft, practice, develop, and never stop. Find joy in the doing, because the selling is wrapped up tighter than the stock market - and incidentally by the same crowd.

12/02/2013 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous tungsten carbide rings said...

I appreciate that this thread continues. Yes, some of us can and do buck a difficult system but the point is that the difficulty is real and daunting and for some, insurmountable, or, over time, it wears us down to a nub.

12/20/2013 09:20:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I remember being coached by an artist who was further along in his art career than I was NEVER to mention that I do book design for a living. And for years I internalized that, but screw it. I'm not rich. I sell some art but if I had to live on that I'd be on the street. I know very few self-supporting artists. I really hate the attitude that because I need other work to pay my rent I am less serious about my work.

3/21/2014 06:23:00 PM  
Blogger VELVEETA HEARTBREAK said...

Im late to this fascinating thread, thanks to Edward and everybody who posted. I've been living in and around NYC for 30 years, working day-jobs and sometimes not, all the while trying to make art and show it. During that time I've perceived a bias towards "sunday painters" as they used to say... The situation today vs. 30 years ago when I first moved to NYC, is that the artist herd has grown exponentially, not so much the exhibit opportunities. Many galleries now just say "we don't accept artist submissions" period. Despite having found ways to show my art (23 exhibits so far) and sell it (eBay, etsy, straight outta the studio), I wouldn't really know about the "real" art world as I've never been rep'd by a "real" gallery, never been in a major art fair, "real" art magazine, etc... I'm sure my resume at this point reads like a true amateur to the pros, but fuck it, if I can connect to even one person who likes the work enough to buy it, that's success in my book (small aspirations). Huge thanks to Jerry Salz for letting me know he doesn't have a swimming pool full of cash in a gigantor hamptons mansion (like maybe Richard Prince)... peace, VH/MJB

6/18/2014 09:23:00 AM  

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