For artists not wanting to be pigeonholed as one genre or another, this question can seem intrusive and annoying. “Why should I have to limit myself to any one way, why can’t I be constantly evolving?” This may seem like a valid response, but for an artist that wants to become a professional artist, it is a question you must ask yourself and answer honestly.
Who are you can be as simple as where do you live, or how old are you? It can also be as complicated and detailed as, “I’m a classically trained photorealist painter who now works with found objects, clay, and a pottery wheel to create abstract constructions based on our consumer culture.” As human beings, we are constantly evolving and I would hate to see anyone who stayed the same at 50 as they were when they were 20 years old. We need to grow and evolve, especially for creative individuals, but who you are and what your story says about you is vitally important to why people relate to your art and want to own parts of it. As an art consultant and former gallery owner myself, I found that clients and collectors were most interested in the artist’s story, who they are or were. Once you tell their story, the client feels they know you in some way and can relate to you, and possibly can be a part of your creativity.
When artists begin to write their artist statement or biographical portrait, they must know who they are, and what it is they want to share with the world. You may not be comfortable sharing everything about who you are and why you are the way you are, but it is important to know what influences you and the factors that helped shape who you are as an artist. What influences you? This does not mean listing other artists you like and try to be like, nor does it mean what art movements have been interesting enough for you to follow. When asked the question “what are your influences” an artist must be prepared to share a bit of themselves that does not have to do with copying anybody or anything else. It has to do with who you are as a person and as a creative being, and why you would continue to work so hard at something that very few ever succeed in.
Art history honors the 1st and the most original within all new movements, it does not recognize the ones who thought that movement was interesting and followed along. I tell my kids frequently, “be a leader, not a follower.” Artists should honor that which is unique to them; be a first-rate version of your own self instead of a copy of someone else. A museum would never give a solo show to an artist who touted themselves as “influenced by Mark Rothko.” We all love Mark Rothko, but that is just not interesting to be purposely just like another more famous artist. What is more interesting would be that your work was influenced by living on a farm in rural Iowa and doing crop rotations every spring, creating mathematical grid patterns within a flat surface, and that the colors you use remind you of the rotting corn in August. That is unique to only you.
Click to read this very funny list:
The 20 Most Powerless People in the Art World: 2011 Edition.
This is a hilarious and very timely list in response to the recent Art Review “Top 100 Most Powerful People in the Art World”
I am still trying to figure out what a “Pre-post-studio Mono-medium Artist” is.
I would add one more Most Powerless to this list:
21. Emerging artists who donate their art to local charities for “great exposure”
Yes, we have all done it, but it is time to stop. I stopped after I was asked to donate a painting of mine to a very expensive private school in town (my kids are in public school) for their annual auction. “It’s great exposure” the parent informed me, adding “these parents have a lot of money. Last year we made over $165,000 in one night!”
So if these people have so much money, why are they getting an unfairly low price for a great work of art, while we essentially support their private school? I might even call this one number one on the list.
This lawsuit in California, headed by the estate of Sam Francis will most certainly be a case to watch, and will affect Galleries, dealers, auction houses, appraisers and of course artists.
Congratulations to the many amazing artists who recently won different categories in the American Art Awards contest. This contest is juried by 25 Art Gallery owners from around the United States. It even includes a very timely category of Teen Bullying for teenage artists. Some of these artists will amaze you. My favorite is the second place winner in the Human Figure/Acrylic Category “MARKET AND POWELL, SAN FRANCISCO” 24 X 48″ Acrylic on canvas by Dan Simoneau, featured above. Maybe it is part nostalgia for me, having lived in San Francisco for 5 years and still one of my favorite cities.
See some of the other winners at the American Art Awards website