Ask me a Question / Part II
I opened up my social networks to see what questions I would get from artists about painting, curating, teaching, and much more. Check out the questions and answers below!
By, Dana B
There’s a lot of mystery about how to approach galleries, how to get your work shown. I’d love to know how artists actually make that breakthrough! I’m currently heading to that fine line of being ready to exhibit, and take things to the next level (professionally) but hesitating as I do not want to rub any gallerist the wrong way. (I’ve never sent my portfolio to a gallery, nor have approached one…for fear of being blacklisted or fear of aggravating them/coming off disrespectful of their time.) P.S. Keep in mind that I am abroad so I don’t have a network of friends to rely on to help get me through to even the tiniest group show
Great question Dana – I think this is a hard thing no matter where one lives. In a big city it is easy to be lost in a sea of talent and hungry artists and in a small town it is hard to find opportunities. Both have their challenges! First, I would say – focus on the work always! Make the work strong enough to hold up and create a strong portfolio. Begin to seek out opportunities close and far – apply to residences and shows in places you feel like you’d be understood.
Don’t take your work to galleries – show up to their openings and make friends with them and those who show and work there – eventually ask them for a studio visit but wait and be patient.
By, Angela Alba / @angelaalba_ / www.angelaalba.com
How big of a role does networking play in your practice?
Well – this is a great question and an honest one Angela, so thank you for asking! Networking plays a huge deal in the life of an artist. Now with the internet – networking can be a little easier and one can feel connected when they actually aren’t. This is a great thing but also sort of exhausting.
I think having a balance is key – I network in a way that I feel is genuine and I don’t burn bridges as much as I can ever help it. It never pays off and it’s a small world – the art world. I have learned some lessons in the past and know now it is so important to just cut ties with professional relationships that you don’t want to continue and to focus on the few quality relationships you may want to continue and strengthen.
Showing up to openings – curating shows, replying kindly to emails and professionally when asked to be in a show – all of these things are really important. Simply writing a thank you note to someone and being present in conversations – these things all add up and are noticed by
others. To be curated into shows and continue to be invited into the art world – you have to be kind and generous, everyone is busy and no one has time for divas and mean artists because there are simply SO many excellent artists working today.
By, @eastonawesome / East A Miller
What are your personal standards for a successful piece? Made by you or another artist?
Wow, Easton – that is a tough question but a great one! A successful art piece has so many properties to fill in or encompass!
This is a personal response – not facts or anything of course. To me, a successful art piece is one that alerts me – of beauty, of danger, of inadequacies, of nature, of otherness – no one art piece can do this alone. Art is a viewing experience dependent on so many variables – in the best possible situation – art makes one breathe more alertly – that is, it wakes you up.
When I look at work and question who made it – then find out a peer made it, It can do a successful thing – it can make me feel like the art is ahead of the artist and that it is growing – like a living organism. I love this – I crave this – I want to be chasing my work and I want to feel that my work is alive.
I believe a successful framework moves the viewer – in a bad way, in a good way, in a strong way – a strong art piece lives with you in your head after you leave it. It is rare honestly, I don’t think it is easy to make this kind of work. For me, personally I want to be surprised of myself and my work – that is, I don’t want to fill in the blanks. If I can make work that surprises even me, I am pleased. Along with this elements of culture, art history, and psychology all interest me and I want reflected somehow in my subject, process and forms.
By, @jacqferrante / Jacqueline Ferrante / www.jacquelineferrante.com/
Do you have a daily/weekly studio routine?
Great question Jacqueline, I have a few things I do when I get in the studio. Daily studio routine is clean and organize first – then put on my headphones with music or a podcast and begin thinking quietly. I try to avoid touching my phone – so I plug it in across the room and put on my bluetooth headphone so I can’t touch the phone unless I really need to. This is a huge thing that helps my productivity. I also draw and look through notebooks as soon as I get in.
Weekly, now for me it has changed and is based around my work schedule with teaching. I have to squeeze in time where I can and be strict about my mornings and my evenings here. Sacrifices come in the way of not going to openings, waking up early and limiting social time when trying to balance hours in the studio and teaching at several universities. It ebbs and flows – when I can’t get in the studio as much as I would like one week, I will read about art, draw a ton and make digital paintings. All of these things strengthen my time and mental acuity when I do get here!
By, Marc Prats / @marcpratsfineart / www.marcprats.com/
Are there advantages to curating as a practicing artist as opposed to curating as an academic curator?
Well – I don’t know any other option than curating as I do. I am an artist first and then I curate when I can and get offered the opportunity. My lens for curating is based on literature and gaps I see in the art world. By gaps, I mean places I don’t see enough equality either socio- politically, racially, and or formally.
Being an artist and a curator has tons of advantages and it allows me a strong perspective on how to work with galleries in a successful way and also keep relationships strong. I have a ton of respect for gallerists that do this full time – I could never. It is really hard and often a labor of love.
I would say an academic or perhaps better said, a full time curator for a museum has a large lens through art history and through museums and critical theory. Often though, they are affected more by the market and this may affect (in positive or negative ways) their choices in curating. As a full time artist and a part time curator who helps run and direct a non-profit art gallery in Brooklyn, I am not beholden to the market.
I want to sell paintings for artists but we don’t need to in order to have a show. This is a major advantage to our shows and my choices because I feel it offers us a ton of integrity and originality our shows! That, I believe is the largest advantage of being an artist who curates as opposed to a full time curator.