As a general perception I think the public views the life of an artist as being self -indulgent and at times narcissistic. I have also seen this to be true way too often but I want to focus in on the other side of this equation. A given that I also see is each artist’s dedication and commitment to excellence in the development and production of their work.
I have had the benefit to have been on all sides of the art world by being a professional artist, a high level art gallery as well as a collector of art as well. This vantage point has given me insights that highlight both the best and worst that this art life can give. Where I want to focus this article is on the value of what you do as part of the contribution we each make to the whole of what we define as the art market.
Every contributor [you] adds something to this arena from the most highly touted to the least thought of. All of the participants offer something of value. This value can be realized in the most highly respected gallery to the informality of a house visit that turns into a purchase of your work by a family member or friend. The components are all the same and should always be highly valued.
I will give some insight to my experience in the gallery environment as to how your solitary pursuit of making art can affect and enrich another’s experience. The dynamic that is sought after by all galleries is the bringing together of artwork with a specific viewer through a vehicle of presentation whether a gallery, a viewing room or even a website. What most artists do not see is this moment of magic that occurs when this all aligns and that specific viewer is ‘moved’ by your effort. This is the Value matrix that fuels both careers and the art market as a whole. To be clear things that attract one person may not attract another but there is always something that resonates with them eventually.
As a gallery director or curator we create an environment that instills a sensibility to its clientele. It is a signature or fingerprint that is reflected in each offering that is put on the wall. These come out of your intimate studio and then are presented in such a way as to highlight the best of what you have made. This is what the ‘Studio to Wall ‘premise is. At its best this process is compelling enough to make people want to act, in other words live with your piece. This moment of decision, as I have seen, comes typically very fast. The sale might not come very fast and that is alright, but the attention to something that stands out comes fast. As the person travels through the exhibit etc they are ‘struck’ by something that enlivens them and the magic happens. I have had clients see something and just say in a heartbeat ‘I will take that, send me the invoice.’ Boom. Quick and done.
I love to foster the surprise element. New discoveries that someone will say, ’wow who did this piece?’ The givens [blue chip artists] can be exciting too but it is a different excitement. It is more the hunt for the tried and true. It would be expressed as, ‘I finally got a Sol Lewitt!’ or whoever they covet in that arena. I love the presentation of unknown but amazingly exceptional work. The rarity that I found, presented in a compelling manner and in the process built a collector base for this artist. This is how value is created. You don’t have to be highly touted, just be real good at what you do and find a way to be seen well.
I have seen, felt and benefited from how someone [the viewer] has been affected by what you do. Never think there aren’t those ‘out there’ who will be affected this same way by you. They are there for YOU just like I described. Most of these people live to be moved by great work and have ‘their’ eye tuned to find it. Your work gives them a high and an enjoyment that they live for. Your collectors are out there but you need to be visible in some way to cross paths. Once you internalize this reality, instead of being afraid of putting yourself out there it becomes a recognition of your value in the world of offerings in which you belong.