Odds and Ends – Art Education


Odds and Ends – Monday, Feb 23, 2015

Art Education

Artist Chris Erskine
Artist Chris Erskine


Last weekend, the Globe and Mail (“Art School Confidential” by Simona Chiose; Feb 14, 2015, Section R1) had an article on the OCAD University and the many challenges now facing the institution.



One of the key problems, from my perspective, is how do you make money once you leave art school. As the article states:

“The economic prospects of arts grads have never provoked as much anxiety. Those with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts or design make the lowest salaries of all university graduates; over 20 years, they earn $300,000 less than someone with a philosophy degree.”

Going to art school is not the best way to become rich, but you do hope to be able to survive as a working artist. The challenge of making a living from the arts is something that was recently explored on the PBS Newshour.


Economic Correspondent, Paul Solman, produced two very good stories on how artists were coping in the post 2008 great recession world.


June 27, 2013 – Performing Artists Compete, Move, Adapt in Tough Economy


Sept 21, 2014 – Artists Learn Art of Business to Brave Tough Economic Times


What further complicates things is that the digital revolution is now affecting all aspects of society.


At one time, you had to visit a physical location to see a piece of art. Now, distance is no longer a barrier. You can make a judgement about its value without ever physically encountering the work. The unique object that took the artist time, effort, and money to make is now turned into information of a digital image. Once this conversion happens, the work of art becomes a digital commodity and with a very low threshold to owning. An art poster may lack some of special qualities of physical size and texture, but this is only a marginal lost compare to the image itself.


This is the same problem that authors with paper or musicians with vinyl.


How do you charge for something that can be experienced or consumed for free?


It is not clear from the article whether the OCAD is addressing this problem, but if art schools wish to survive then I believe they must.


Chris Erskine

My #HamOnt – Brad Pitt, Tom Wilson, and Christopher Healey

Brad Pitt buys Neo Rauch
Brad Pitt buys Neo Rauch (Source: StyleFrizz.com)

Patron of the Arts – Actor Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt seems to be on an art buying spree.  Last week, the Arts section of the New York Times published an article on Cuba and how things are opening up for local artists.

Brad Pitt buys Cuba Art
Brad Pitt buys Cuba Art (Source: New York Times)

For Cuba’s top artists, the international community has been able and willing to visited local artists and pick up key pieces at good prices.  The article cited the example of Will Smith.

Now, I see Brad Pitt is also buying German Artist, Neo Rauch, works.  Way to go Brad! I like most of his films, even Z Nation and Fury, so it is nice to see my movie ticket money being re-cycled into the visual arts.

Going it alone – Musician Tom Wilson

The Globe and Mail had this really great article on going it alone as an artist.  They looked at two musicians: Hamilton musician, Tom Wilson; and Fred Eaglesmith.

The article supports my view that whether you are a mid-career musician or a visual artist, you need to market and promote yourself.

Here are two great quotes from the article:

Tom Wilson states that “when you get to a certain age, you just become unacceptable.  And at that point, you have the opportunity to do whatever you wish to do, which really is why you became an artist in the first place.  You have the authority issues when you were younger, and now you’re a loner again trying to figure out how to communicate with the world.”

Fred Eaglesmith states that “I’ve never been cool, and I don’t guard my brand as something precious. So, as an artist, the gloves are off.”

The Interviews – Artist Christopher Healey

Christopher Healey is doing a series of interviews with artists who use social media as an art form.

Christopher Healey's Interview
Christopher Healey’s Interview (Source: Artist’s website)

I particularly like Healey’s interview with New York City artist, Eric Oglander.

Oglander talks about his “mirrors” series and how this project was discovered by a New York Art critic.  Oglander reflects on sudden fame and who uses Tumblr.

I am looking forward to additional instalments by one of my favourite urban artists. You can see Christopher Healey’s interviews at http://ChrisHealey.me

Chris Erskine



Comment Posted to Raise the Hammer Blog

In response to the Raise the Hammer blog post by Ryan McGreal I wrote the following:

When I was a kid, City Council had this great idea of cutting down the grand old trees in Gore Park and paving over the grass. They wanted to let in the sun and remove the mud. They had good intentions but what they created was a cold concrete parking lot for pigeons. The people never forgot nor forgave that Council. I think alot of them lost their seats in the following election. It appears to me that history is about to repeat itself. I hope the readers of this blog and the related articles are spreading the word on their Facebook, Twitter, Blog and websites. Furthermore, I hope they are emailing City Council and demanding that they say no to demolition.