I'm really, really, REALLY liking John T. Unger's Art Heroes podcast. I've listened to all nine of the ones I can get off of iTunes. I'm not sure when he started this, but it seems like it's within the last month, and it's a brilliant, solid idea with awesome guests that really have something substantive to say. The interviews don't shy away from comparing and contrasting the philosophical and the practical, resulting in a potent mix of information that is at once readily applicable and yet provides food for thought that can be pondered for a long time. I'm finding it incredibly inspiring, and can't recommend it enough.
The last episode I listened to was with Hazel Dooney, an Australian artist that sells her work outside of the gallery system on an international level. I've been to her blog, and her work is really thought provoking as well as strikingly beautiful. She creates, essentially, pop art to draw attention to how it actually uses us, using texture and scale to demonstrate how it does this. On the surface her work appears to be illustrative pin-ups of busty babes, but when you stand back and consider the why behind it, it sorta blows the lid off things.
But her interview was incredibly inspiring. John describes her on his website: "Uncompromising, driven and dissatisfied with the art world as she found it, Hazel pioneered her own path to global recognition."
And I'm learning all of this through various podcasts and as I struggle to find the right place for my stuff while doing local market research. I'm already developing "prejudices" about what these industries are like before I've ever stepped into them, but I haven't been presented with anything that contradicts my perspectives... My education and exposure is limited, to be sure, so any conclusions I draw are hypothetical, not experiential.
So here I am creating a body of work and I have no idea what to do with it. I want to go to craft fairs, but I would also like to display it in a gallery setting as something that thematically makes a statement on our culture. I don't want to manufacture pieces in large quantities, but I am capable of reproducing them in limited editions on a small scale. I feel like the audience for my work isn't the regular art consumer but is instead a more mainstream apprecianado that doesn't typically buy art--one that approaches the work from a more fashion/attire perspective.
And then I'm left with a quandary. Am I making up my consumer demographic to fit my work instead of making my work to fit the consumer? And why do I find the term "consumer" insulting? There seem to be two opposing stances to me: "Make it and they will come" versus "find what they want and cater to that." Craft, Fashion, and Art all subscribe to both stances, but to varying degrees depending on the maker.
I think, right now, I am concentrating on finding and making an audience that can understand and appreciate what I'm trying to do. At the same time, I'm trying to work on creating a body of work that speaks to that. I am not interested in trying to follow trends much--I am instead interested in focusing on what is not common, not the norm. And right now, individually designed wearable art pieces with a heavy dose of artistic flair, drama, and presence feels right to me. It's anti-fashion, almost, simply by being singularly produced and having some aspect that can only be rendered by the hand of the artist, be it in the design or in the making. I like thinking of them from the soft sculpture perspective. It's not traditional art in the sense of painting, or installation. It's more functional. But it's not so functional that it's fashion. It's aspect of both...
I think the next step is for me to create a sort of Art Manifesto for myself, outlining my thoughts in a clear and concise format. And to pursue working on building that body of work...
Until next time, Live Life with Relish!
Picture of Advice to a Young Artist by Honoré Daumier cliff1066™, Creative Commons License.