The Challenge of Blogging – What kind of Artist or How do you see yourself?

@erskinec urban landscape artist
@erskinec urban landscape artist

The Challenge of Blogging – What kind of Artist or How do you see yourself?

Some of the best bloggers are illustrators.

In my opinion, the art of illustration doesn’t get much respect because its purpose is to sell a product or a concept.

Almost all art, the stuff that will shows up in a gallery is conceptual. It requires the seal of approval of a gallery, a curator, or art critic that the stuff is actually art and it has merit. Your work can’t be too appealing because it may be associated with wall-paper or the decorative arts.

As a painter, the challenge is not as great when compared to other visual artists. If there is a canvas with some paint on it then it must be art. Maybe not good art, but art none the less.

For the conceptual artist, you are looking for validation from an art critic or a gallery owner. These authorities will then convince clients to buy your art. So, maybe writing and documenting the process of art making isn’t very helpful.

I once went to an opening at Hamilton Artist Inc when it was located on Vine. The opening featured a video artist who created some very challenging, but interesting work. The art dealt with cultural identity and how western society raided other cultures of their symbols of religion and ethnic identity for fashion.

Some really powerful ideals and the art demanded a conversation; unfortunately, the artist was anything but helpful. Maybe she was shy or maybe she believed that her art should speak for itself.

Well, the show got no notice in the press and I never heard of her again.

Sometimes, I think the worse fate for an artist is years of hard work resulting in great pieces, but no one writing about you.

The opening of a new bar gets more press coverage than the opening of an art show. Then again, the bar owner likely invited someone from the local newspaper to visit his establishment. The owner likely took the time to show the reporter or art critic the new craft beers or special dishes.

In my opinion, the biggest problems that artist have is their own concept of what it means to be an artist.

I view myself as a craft person. Akin to the 16th century artists who created artwork for a particular purpose, the promotion of the local nobility or wealthy merchant.

My artist statement would go like this:

We all see the world from our unique and very narrow perspectives. We try to reach out and understand the world around us, but our lives are busy with many competing demands.

Let me show you the buildings and places that you encounter every second of every day. Each urban building and place is shaped by human hands. Buildings and their spaces are reflections of our times and a single builder. Let me show you my architectural portraits and landscapes that may help you see the world in a new perspective.

Like many visual artists, I am seeking a truth that is beyond the value of a decorative or commission works, but that does not prevent me from providing value and emotional benefit to my patrons. In my eyes, I am trying to do the same thing as that 16th artisan who tried to create something of practical value that ultimately stood the test of time.

Art can be anything, why can’t you?

Social media provides you with the tools to create your own art market.

You don’t need Fate to land Peggy Guggenheim, Life Magazine, or Clement Greenberg at your door step.

In a world of art fairs, pop-up galleries, and social media; the only limits is your ability to tell a powerful narrative that connects with niche of fans and collectors.

This is the last installment on the challenge of blogging.Thanks for all the interest and support.

Next Monday, I will return to my regular postings on art.

Challenges of Blogging – Being Consistent

Chris Erskine, Urban Landscape Artist
Chris Erskine, Urban Landscape Artist

The Challenges of Blogging: Being Consistent

Only 2% Are Professional Artist

Five years after graduating from art school, only two percent of artists work full-time.

Let’s say you are not an instant success and that your paintings are not racing out the doors of Toronto and New York art galleries; this means you have to work.

So, now you are spending 140 hours per week on activities not related to the production of your art.

Maybe, for the first few years after graduation, you are single and you are able to devote yourself to creating art in the evenings and weekends. Eventually, however, you decide to settle down with a partner and maybe decide to have some kids.

Suddenly spending a few hours every night on your art and maybe another 10-20 hours on the weekend becomes difficult.

Now, you are lucky if you can manage 10 to 20 hours per week.

This is the challenge that all artists face (including writers and musicians).

Artistic Output

When I started painting back in the 1990s, each painting would require about 100 hours of studio time (and still true for today). This means that if I spend 10 hours per week on a painting, I could complete a single work in about 10 weeks.

This translates into 5-6 paintings per year.

In those days, I didn’t have a family, so I could work on several paintings at the same time.

Art vs Social Media

When time for art is scare, how can you justify time spent on social media?

There are many answers to this question:

1. Galleries can’t afford to keep artists that don’t sell. You will be lucky if you get two or three years without establishing a market for your art. Social media is a way to mobilize your fans and collectors to come to your shows. At the very least, having a crowd at your opening may convince the gallery owner to give you another chance.

2. Your art production likely means solo shows only occur every few years. Social media provides a way to maintain interest in your art during the off years.

3. The best way to generate support is through word of mouth, social media gives you the means to attract and engage before, during, or after gallery showings. Shows provide the opportunities to super-charge interest in your art and maybe generate sales outside your bi-annual solo shows.

All this social media engagement cannot suddenly happen during the lead up to a show; it must be developed and be supported during the two or three years between showings.

If you abandon your social media presence every time you get busy with art or life then fans and collectors that you have generated interest from will suddenly disappear. As a result, the whole cycle of building interest and support will have to begin again.

What I say about gallery shows also applies for musicians and writers who face the same challenges; that creating original material takes years, but the buzz in the market place lasts only a few short weeks.

Social media is the way you maintain that interest and show during artistic production period.

You may not have a movie out, but like Jennifer Aniston, you want to people talk about you and not to forget to go to your next movie.

So, the production of art and social media must be seen as a mutually supporting relationship that needs to be nurtured every day.

Next Week: How do you view yourself?