Archive for June, 2010

back to school

photo by Michael Nagle

My beloved New York Times recently did a story about business education for artists. Okay, so the NYT is definitely not “mine,” but I do spend an obscene amount of time trolling its online pages. Procrastination or research? A good dose of both.

Where was I? Right. Art in the classroom.

A June 18th story, “Creative Types, Learning to Be Business Minded,” by Kate Taylor, describes a City of New York-funded program (run by the New York Foundation for the Arts) that teaches business skills to artists. School’s in session for 55 students on five consecutive Saturdays. They’re painters, sculptors, photographers, filmmakers, creative writers, actors, directors, dancers, musicians and others who can’t be slotted into single-word titles, and they’re learning to make money from their creative talents.

The program is a terrific idea and a great public service. It’s also smart thinking for a city that prides itself as North America’s top creative hub, underscored by the fact that the New York City Economic Development Corporation is footing the $50,000 tab. A similar series is also being run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council.

One of my favorite quotes comes from a “lanky puppeteer” and program participant, Eric Wright, who tells reporter Kate Taylor: “People think that art and business are at odds, but you can create great art and have it also be a business.”

Amen to that.

posted 28 Jun 10 in: art, business, media. This post currently has no responses.

the cheaper show

- 200 artists

- 400 pieces of art

- $200 each

That’s The Cheaper Show in a nutshell — and the ninth edition runs this Saturday, June 26th from 6 pm to midnight!

Even if you’re not in the Vancouver area, The Cheaper Show is worth noting. You can even watch a live stream of the action from the event website, filmed by ArtLive.Tv.

Originally called “Cheaper Than a One Night Stand,” the first show was launched in 2001 by Graeme Berglund, Steve Cole and Syx Langeman as a vehicle to promote talented, underexposed artists — and to sell their work at one affordable price. It’s now a non-profit event organized by the Emerging Arts Foundation and run by the Cheaper Crew — 12 artists from East Vancouver — and a team of over 100 volunteers.

The show has grown exponentially to become one of the hottest summer tickets in town (the afterparties don’t hurt, either). Last year, line-ups began snaking around the block a full seven hours before the doors opened and 5,000 people vied to purchase over 200 pieces of art in just five hours. Organizers are expecting 7,000-10,000 for Saturday’s festivities.

The Cheaper Show highlights the hunger for accessible art, introductions to talented new creators, and a lively forum to mingle, sip a cocktail (or three) and celebrate the local visual art scene. Talk about art meeting commerce in the most authentic way possible. It’s also a format that could be easily re-created in cities from coast to coast.

Any art-minded connectors and planners up for the challenge?

posted 23 Jun 10 in: art, business, retail. This post currently has no responses.

meet jamie beck

photos by Jamie Beck

Easy: Getting lost in the dreamy, evocative photographs of From Me To You.

Ridiculously difficult: Choosing just a few images to include in this post.

I have no idea what series of online snakes and ladders first delivered me to Jamie’s gorgeous photo blog; I’m just glad I ended up there at all. Not that the Texas-born, NYC-based photographer is suffering for digital traffic. The girl has a perceptive eye for everything from portraits to urban landscapes to make-you-weep still life shots — and people everywhere are quickly taking notice.

Jamie lives on New York’s Upper West Side and contributes to several online art and lifestyle publications, including Working Class, This Recording, Westside Independent, Apartment Therapy and more. She also shoots editorial and commercial work for a variety of clients and is working to expand her published portfolio (hint: hire her while you still can).

Food is a key theme in both Jamie’s life and photography. Her Friday “Dinner & A Movie” series serves up film-and-food pairings, such as Amélie with mussels or Viva Las Vegas with homestyle pot roast and creamy mashed potatoes. She also posts the recipes and photographs the entire process, so readers can simply drool at the delicious pics or re-create the feast at home.

Despite her busy schedule, Jamie was kind enough to share more about her work, her plans and her growing business. Read on and visit From Me to You to glimpse the world through Jamie’s prolific lens. Just be sure you have a good hour to spare — you, too, are likely to get lost in her extensive visual archives.

1. What fuels your work?

My imagination. It is a blessing and a curse. I can look at things or scenarios or even times of life and make believe what I want to see, which is what I capture in the end. I create through my work the world I see in my head.

2. How do you organize the business side of your life so you still have the time, energy and focus to practice your craft?

That is really really tough. At a certain point I had to just decide that my main purpose is to create and that creating will take priority. I try not to beat myself up when I can’t get everything finished on time or corresponded or there’s a missed opportunity, because I am only one person who can only do one thing at a time. So I just decide what is most important at that moment and do it.

3. Is there another artist or creative pro whose business model you admire?

I haven’t met anyone yet who has it all figured out and balanced. So I’ll just say that I admire French people’s approach to life.

4. How many revenue streams do you have?

I could have a few but right now I’m just focusing on creating work, getting shoots and putting my name out there. If I wanted to have a steady stream of income I could sell prints / postcards online, stock photography, in addition to being hired for shoots. But like I said, I’m only one person and I choose to spend my time creating and sharing my work in hopes to be hired to shoot commercial / editorial content.

5. What is your bread-and-butter income source?

Being hired to photograph whatever it is people want photographed.

6. Do you have a passive income stream?

Not yet, however, because there have been so many inquiries about the design of my blog, I am developing a blog design with the web designer who created my blog that people can buy and start their own blogs with! So once that is up for sale, if it is successful, then the answer is YES!

7. What tools or opportunities do you think most creative pros fail to leverage?

I’m not 100% sure how to answer that question right now. I feel at the moment artists (much thanks to everything going digital) are being taken advantage of and devalued by others, as so much has become available through the Internet, and cheaper but better digital cameras are available to consumers. I think it’s really tough being a creative person and making money at your talent. I’d like for someone to answer that question for me!

8. What has brought the most opportunities and attention to your work?

Hands down it has been my blog. It’s been such a great outlet to share projects I’m working on, what I’m doing for clients, and just as a place for this archive of images I have. Through blogging my work, I’ve gown so much as an artist and made wonderful connections which have led to work.

9. What is the best investment you’ve made in your career?
My knowledge of basic black and white photography. How film works, what it’s made of, how to process it and print it. It’s like how a chef first learns the basics, such as sharpening knifes. This is my foundation.

What has been the biggest waste of time and / or money?

Saying yes to many of those free shoots that promise “great exposure and opportunity.” Some are really worth it but most are not. Go with your gut.

10. Where do you stand on the “selling out?” debate? Do you believe it’s possible to sell out?

Yes, people can sell out. For me, at the end of the day I just do what my gut says and make sure it’s something I’m proud of and will always be proud of, I mean… it is my name attached to it.

Thanks, Jamie!

posted 20 Jun 10 in: art, business, food, inspiration, interviews. This post currently has 12 responses.

finite and infinite games

photos my RJ Muna

Big congratulations to my friends Liz Levine and Adrian Salpeter of Random Bench Productions. Finite and Infinite Games – a collaborative art project between a choreographer, filmmaker, visual artist and fashion designer – is celebrating its European premiere at the Hot Art Fair at Art Basel Switzerland from June 14-20.

The film features nine pure movement performances for 10 dancers choreographed by artistic director Katherine Helen Fisher. The massive, colorful geometric backdrop is by visual artist C. Finley with costumes by Gai Mattiolo. Award-winning dance photographer RJ Muna shot and directed the performance at NYC’s Judson Memorial Church. Random Bench produced the film and provided new technology applications, marketing and social networking strategies to execute this labor-of-love across multiple mediums.

Finite and Infinite Games is “not about people sitting in a dark room watching a screen,” says Liz. “This is a thinking person’s movie.” Two iPads in the Art Basel booth encourage viewers to put themselves right into the piece through interactive photographs.

Longtime friends Liz and Adrian launched Random Bench to develop, produce and market original films for an international audience. As we chatted about the premiere, Liz highlighted a key juggling act for creative pros everywhere:  balancing pure inspiration and creation with more commercially viable work. While Finite and Infinite Games represents art at its finest, I’m sure it will make a deep impression on the Art Basel galleries and international glitterati.

Check out the film’s website for performance dates and times – if you’re lucky enough to be in Switzerland for Art Basel.

posted 17 Jun 10 in: Uncategorized. This post currently has no responses.

ink & peat

I was in Portland, OR all last week, working with the lovely Lisa Johnson, doing interviews for a new project, and making some big (and soon-to-be-revealed) plans for the Free Agent Formula.

I also had the chance to visit Ink & Peat — a beautiful store opened by Pam Zsori in 2008. The airy space features a lovingly curated collection of jewelry, candles, pottery, botanicals, glass, books, paper, blankets and sweets, with an emphasis on fresh custom floral designs.

After 15 years as a designer in the fashion inudstry, Pam created the shop to express her passion for home and floral decor. She also pens (types?) the design-focused Housemartin blog.

I arrived at Ink & Peat from the passenger seat of my good friend Amy‘s VW bug, and unfortunately, Pam wasn’t in the store during our visit. But, I still got to snap some photos and check out all the wares. If you’re in the Portland area, stop by this pretty shop and take a look.

posted 14 Jun 10 in: business, retail. This post currently has no responses.

critical question #2

Last month, I posed a question that will squeeze the truth out of any situation:

What am I noticing?

Now it’s time for another query that many artists fail to consider:

Whose business model do I admire?

I know, I know. You’re an artist. You’re not in this for the money — and you haven’t thought about business models. You just do what feels right.

But take away the terminology (biz model, ugh) and it’s not such an uptight idea after all. Scrutinizing how other creative pros stitch their careers together can help you think bigger and be more strategic. And isn’t that the point? Less time landing, selling or marketing your work and more time to be creative — to be bold and innovative. To focus on making incredible art or music, furniture or food.

Think about the people whose work inspires you, then break apart the individual pieces of their careers: What are their revenue streams? How do they attract new opportunities? Do they work alone or with a team? Do they do do just one thing (i.e. designing buildings) or many (i.e. designing buildings, teaching, consulting, speaking)? If you were to sketch out all the elements, what would we see?

Whose business model do you admire? Why?

It’s a question I pose to all my generous Inspired Outsiders. Now it’s your turn. And please, leave a comment and tell me what you learn!

posted 3 Jun 10 in: business. This post currently has no responses.