Monday, October 25, 2010

stronger together?

i've noticed over the years that there seem to be 2 basic approaches to how artists relate to other artists. there are those who are generous, share information, techniques, ideas and like to see other artists succeed. i am indebted to many artists who helped and encouraged me when i ventured out to try to show & sell my art. these people answered questions, gave helpful feedback, filled in gaps in my education and helped me brainstorm ways to get my art out there.

i am lucky enough to know people who help me write artist statements (thanks anne), figure out problems with pieces (thanks pam & nancy), stretch me and encourage my growth (thanks zella), send book and video ideas (thanks judy) and packs of goodies (thanks susan) and who, in general, make me a better artist and a better person. i know that i have forgotten to mention lots of people, and apologize, but to all of you who have commented on the blog, told me you like something i'm working on or that a photo touched you (barb, becky), offered ideas to help through a block- thanks.

i try to pay it forward and am always happy to share techniques, tell someone where to buy panels or have cards made, etc. i truly believe that the stronger we are as a group the better off we are individually. i do not believe that we are in competition with each other.

i've been able to avoid a lot of crap. gypsy gallery is my baby- we have a good group of artists who don't need hand holding, who are responsible and are happy to see each other succeed. anyone who doesn't operate that way doesn't last long- the gypsy queen has low tolerence for drama, and anyone who needs hand holding won't be happy with the group anyway.

being part of a cooperative gallery has been an eye opening experience. there are lots of great things about it. i've met great artists who are happy to share ideas & techniques. then there are those who don't operate that way. who don't seem to get that the stronger we are as a group the better off we all are. 20% of our sales go to operate the gallery. though of course i like to sell my work, i am happy with any sales that contribute to our overhead. i don't love every member's work, but someone does- we're all juried in. people who don't sell don't usually find paying the rent every month to be worth it.

there is petty crap that goes on, people not being very nice to each other, tearing down rather than building up, that kind of thing. it happens in all sorts of groups, it just surprises me when it happens with artists. we're not competing to sell hundred thousand dollar paintings here. we're not competing for first prize in a big competition or juried show. we are supposed to be a community. and the stronger we are as a community the stronger we are individually.

thinking about this today because zella and i are organizing an emerging artist show at the gallery to encourage people to put their art out there. we're going to hold workshops on how to enter juried shows & how to present art once it's been selected. hopefully we can encourage some people to take a chance. also because my friend dave & i were talking today & he & i seem to come to this topic regularly. we both organize art events & charge minimal entry & take no commission. we're both sort of amazed at the competitive, unfriendly approach that rears its head sometimes. and i don't think either of us has much patience for bs.

anyway- this is a thank you to all of you who participate in my art- through my blog or in person. it's a reminder to myself of the sort of artist i want to be (because truth be told there are always those "how did that get in and mine didn't" moments), and a reminder not to be too hard on the folks who don't see it the same way- i can choose not to engage, after all.

have a great week-


Pam McKnight said...

couldn't agree with you more! And THANK YOU for all you have to done to help me- too numerous to mention all- Gypsy Gallery, sharing books and ideas, sharing your dining room table...being my sounding board and sharing your insightful ideas etc.

becky said...

Hi Marianne,
I loved this post. You bring up some very good points. I had to smile when you said "it just surprises me when it happens w/ artists" (the not being nice, pettiness, etc.) I use to get surprised (and still do sometimes) when I witnessed that behavior in backpackers, climbers, PT's, mediation practitioners, etc. I'd be like "well they're a ______ " (fill in the blank) how could they possibly behave like that!?" I guess the bottom line is that people are human, and whether they are artists, doctors,environmentalists... there will always be the ones where selfish, egocentric, pettiness reigns. BUT! The great part is, that there will always be the ones (like you!) that want to share ideas, help out, encourage, mentor and be a part of the community."The stronger we are as a community the stronger we are individually..." absolutely! United we stand... divided we fall.
I'd love to go to one of your workshops (and see your gallery!) Maybe one day!

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

Glad to help in any way my friend.
I ahve been on the other end of the artists behaviour; the not nice, mean, just rotten end.
I choose where I go, who I help, what I make.
And this girl doesn't put up with petty crap anymore. Life is too short and we all can make each other stronger.
Do you think bad behaviour is fueled by insecurity? Rhetorical question... ;)


Stephanie said...

I think that many folks will share and build others up when they are comfortable with who they are as artists. The others...raspberries to them, they aren't worth giving of your energy. Love that you are doing an emerging artists show.

I haven't gotten up the courage to enter any juried shows yet. Maybe some day...

Judy Wood said...

Nicely observed and expressed. I try to be a "no agenda" friend, supporter, mentor, whatever I can to whoever needs it. It's taken me a while to evolve to this way of being and sometimes I still have to work at it, but it's a worthy goal. I'd say you're a lot farther down this road than I was at your age. Good on ya!

marianne said...

thanks all. i do so appreciate the community i've found with all of you through the blog too. not too surprising we agree! :)

@ becky- yes, it is similar to the "i know that person is a greenie, why don't they pick up after their dog?" feeling i often get- and you are so right- we're all individuals.

@anne- i know it's a rhetorical question, but yes!

@ stephanie- enter some shows- know that not getting in is not always due to the quality of your work- it helps a lot! i always learn, whether i am accepted or not.

@judy- it takes some work sometimes :)

Postcards from Wildwood said...

I've come across the kind of unpleasantness you refer to in many aspects of life so it isn't a surprise to hear of it amongst artists too. But, from my perspective of about 4000 miles away, I truly believe you practise what you preach. And I've always been grateful for techniques you've shared and encouraging comments.

I kept one of your comments in my inbox - you said 'I had to call myself an artist in my head for a long time before I could say it out loud.' Well, I had to introduce myself online (part of an online web design course) recently. Since it related to why I want to design a website I described myself as 'a photographer, mixed media artist and compulsive creative'. I thought of you as I did it!

Good luck with your emerging artist show, and thanks for all your encouragement!
Janice. x