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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.
155 Episodes
Art is obviously emotional and as such its value is determined absolutely subjectively. The big question though is how, because even though ambivalent, subjectivity can still give us a lot of various starting points to think about our target audience.How people recognise a good story in objects and experiences differs from person to person — that’s why it’s subjective — but usually we can find basic guidelines that can help us define this perception. The main idea behind this exercise is to find what is most important for each person, that we are trying to understand.What are their needs? What do they wish for? Do these wishes and needs have a certain urgency? Do they provide pain or discomfort for them and can our art elevate or even completely fix their issues?
Artist statements, even though they might appear like a load of pretentious art-talk (which many of them sadly are), serve a very important purpose: presenting your passion in a bite-sized package, to be easily consumed and understood by the reader or listener (you can, and should know how to pitch them too).But what many of us present as an artist statement is usually exactly the opposite of what it should be; we focus on intellectually sounding words and sentences like this: “As wavering phenomena become rediscovered through subversive personal practices, the observer is left with an awareness of the boundaries of our era.”, rather than actually trying to communicate clearly.
Story is everything

Story is everything


Be it online or in person, there’s a lot of competition in the arts. And the fact that the art world is much smaller compared to the world of business, law or medicine, only makes it harder for any one artist to succeed. While everybody online is telling us to “niche down”, and explaining why it’s so important, usually no specific tactics are disclosed, and the how is left for us to figure out for ourselves.This blunder is intended for anyone who wishes to find their focus and stand out in today’s oversaturated creative market by understanding the immense power of storytelling — especially when positioning ones creative skill and aspirations in the market.
In the last two blunders we discussed the importance of calculating ones base expenses and all-around financial needs on a monthly basis and the concept of added value. Today, I’d like to combine the two and take a deeper look into how various models can help us to set fair and consistent prices for our work.First of all, we need to acknowledge a very important fact; the pricing model we use to determine our value shouldn’t necessarily be the same one we use to communicate that value to others. Not to be misunderstood, I don’t mean that we should hide such info or act as we’re beyond money — the main problem here is semantics.Part I: Pricing your art the right way Part I: Expenses and ResourcesPart II: Pricing your art the right way Part II: Value and Worth
Oscar Wilde once wrote: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.”A true artist therefore should be the exact opposite, but not due to ignorance towards the ever-present concept of money; the real truth of the matter is that putting a price tag on an embodiment of love, hate, reminiscence or longing (and all the other messages that art can communicate) just isn’t as easy as adding up ones material and overhead costs and slapping a 20% markup on the sum.
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:
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