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Surviving Art

Author: Matej Tomažin

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The art world is a magical place full of complex conversations about unmade beds, buttered-up chairs and urinals, but nobody seems to want to talk about how it actually works. I want to change that.

So, welcome to Surviving Art, a safe place where trigger words like job security and pension fund are strictly forbidden.

But what isn’t, is making sense of the art market; how to price your work, approach galleries and get exhibitions, as well as tips and strategies on how to sell your art directly to collectors and get your creative message across.

A new episode every week.
150 Episodes
Creating a beautiful work of art is hard by itself, but when it comes to putting a price tag on whatever we made, it does tend to get even harder for most of us artistic types. The question for today (and a few future blunders) is therefore: How much is creativity even worth?And today I’d like to share the method that works best for me; and please don’t worry, there’s minimal maths involved, and the few equations that we will mention are of the sweet, money-generating variety, that — in my opinion — makes them much easier to understand.Let us therefore put on our green accountant hats (if you have one) and get down to business.
Just as with sweeteners and coffee, you have natural and artificial options to spice up your art, too. Both sweeteners and symbols are created by moulding reality to our will, but unlike aspartame and the like, artificial symbols don’t have negative health side effects (unless we count war and propaganda, of course). It does though open up your work to the possibility of being misinterpreted, and in today’s blunder, we’re going to take a peek at how we can at least guide our audiences into the right direction as well as take a jab at the underlying question that many of you might be asking yourselves. Namely, if there even is a “right” direction with art — we might just as easily say that any perspective is a valid one and that there are no “wrong” ways to understand a work of art. Well, let’s find out!
Art and entertainment

Art and entertainment


More and more you see art shows being coupled with support programs that, to an art goer from a couple of decades ago, would resemble more a visit to the local club than an actually gallery — albeit a club that, for whatever reason, seems to also have some “art” on the walls.But why is that?!
An interesting sentence, uttered by a friend of mine while we were chatting over drinks, was that “Art has no purpose, only consequences.” and these six words really struck a chord with me. In today’s blunder therefore, I’d like to explore this statement, because I think a lot of us may posses a misconstrued understanding about our artistic production that could (and probably does) influence our ability to reach the right audience and consequently grow as artists.
Welcome to a very special episode of Surviving Art (done for the 33rd Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana! What makes this one so special are the interests of my guest: Amy Whitaker.She is an assistant professor at NYU with a Masters degree in business as well as a masters in Fine Art. An incredible mix of interests and one of the reasons why I’m so excited for this interview.She’s also the author of two incredibly interesting books. Museum Legs, which is a wonderful collection of thoughts on the operation of museums, asking questions like: What's the purpose of an art museum? Should they educate us or entertain us, or merely act as a public display for works of art? And regardless of what purpose they have, should all art museums try to serve the same one or niche down and specialise in following one particular mission?Her second book Art Thinking explores the act of being creative in today’s world of schedules, budgets and bosses. It combines the mind-sets of art and creative thinking and the tools of business, offering practical advice, inspiration, and a healthy dose of pragmatism for anyone that wishes to navigate the difficulties of balancing creative thinking in a business environment.Link to the Hyperallergic article, mentioned in the show: to Amy’s worksheet and notes: to the video interview:
Creating art is a two step process; first you obviously have to make it, but then you also have to show it and present it to the public, and hopefully leave an impact on the world (preferably for the better).But these two steps could not be further apart in both their methodology and all-around nature. The real problem is that making art is a predominantly personal and intimate experience, but showing and presenting it requires an entirely different skillset.So, in today’s blunder I would like to explore the act of creation and presentation and — with a little help from psychoanalysis, theory of mind and history, all sprinkled with a few down-to-earth examples — show that even though it seems like they are two very disparate things, in order to master either of them, we really “only” need to master one thing: ourselves.Link to the book, mentioned in the podcast: The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
A few days ago I had the great pleasure to interview Amy Whitaker (she has an MBA from Yale and an MFA in Painting from Slade University — an incredible mix!).She is also an associate professor at NYU and the author of two very interesting books: Museum Legs and Art Thinking. Our conversations and her writing got me thinking about my own exploration of both worlds and the ever-present question of economics in art.Amy speaks of two inherently different but incredibly interconnected ways of thinking and experiencing the world. The first kind she calls Art Thinking; this is the process of letting go, of giving ones mind the time and space to wander, explore, and get excited about the world and the question I want to ask today is:How can one create their own system that incorporates both? Or better yet: How can we find already created ones, that we can reappropriate and reuse to fit our own needs?LINK TO HER TWO BOOKS (Both are incredibly interesting for artist, that would like to nurture their business side and I highly recommend reading them both!):Museum Legs: Thinking:
A wonderful quote of which the author eludes me even after 5 min of thorough Google searching goes like this: “Life is a game. You can be a player or a toy.”And the question I’d like to pose today is: How does making your own rules, and sometimes even completely rejecting the already established ones, that our environment proposes, impact our perspective on life and place in society?
When we think about creativity and inspiration, we might picture an image of a spirit, a muse, that comes forth from the heavens and touches us in funny places at the most random of times imaginable.But these moments aren’t random, and there really is no extraterrestrial or divine power fondling our brains. It’s all an illusion, a misunderstanding of causality and how our perception and thinking work.While the idea of inspiration coming from outside of us isn’t that far from the truth — the building blocks of any idea are build, similarly to dreams, from our encounters with reality — it’s not the outside that needs to come into alignment for us to get a “great” idea. It’s our insides.Link to the book I mention: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
To be frank, all comments on either the meaning or purpose of anything are irrelevant in the grander scheme of things, because all are but a form of ideology, a kind of software that runs in our minds if you will, and contrary to common belief that humans are nothing more than complex Turing machines, no programs are actually alike.What I believe my purpose is, could not be further from what you or your friends might think your goals in life should be; while we might all resemble each other in the ways we operate — we may wish to expand, to satiate our insatiable curiosity about life, to play and consume and of course gain as much power as we can (or believe is appropriate to have) — each and everyone of us has a distinct means of operating in the world.What I’d like to focus on today is the distinction between form and function or between self-actualisation and power appropriation.
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