Tuesday, November 8, 2011


I used to think that I was meant to give of myself through my art and writing - my art existed for the people... either times are changing or I am growing up... the end result is nonetheless that I am no longer doing society a service by creating art. In fact I increasingly feel that artists are being taken advantage of and that whenever some service is provdided for artists, they should be bloody greatful for receiving it rather than the other way around. No doubt there are so many artists begging for some attention that we have a kind of inflation that makes one artist replaceable with another. 

On the internet, there are a zillion websites that take money off of artists with the promise that they can offer you unprecedented visibility and presence online. They tell you your chances of selling artwork or prints is going to increase. But how often do they give you any evidence that they ever sell anything at all? You need to carefully consider where you're investing your precious money. Of course, allegedly you are very rich already if you are an artist to speak of, so you shouldn't really have to worry about such small amounts of money. This is what a lot of people think, anyway, especially the authorities who won't give you grants unless you can show that you have already received many grants before and sold art for at least 5000 pounds a year (this is the case with the prestigious Pollock foundation, for instance). 

I think I will finally let Flickr go, as I am not gaining much from showing my stuff there and I suspect that it's just another site where people go and pick copyrighted material for their own personal use. People have little concept of copyright, I find.

Those who admit that the climate for selling art is not great and is possibly only getting worse, ask why you price your art so high that no one can afford it. To be honest, I actually value my artwork, not just the efforts I put into it technically speaking, but also the ideas. When I sell a piece, I also give away an original idea that can never be used again in the same form, There is also no evidence that a few hundred pounds more or less actually matters to the serious art buyer. Besides, if anyone is buying directly from me, they can always discuss their own situation with me and so there is always the possibility of arriving at an agreement that satisfies both parties. If they buy through a gallery, they have to know that the commissions are exorbitant and that I am pricing my artwork in accordance.

There's a gallery in a neighbouring town whose owner is desperate to be put on the map. Her main objective is to represent her late husband's work, but according to her latest leaflet she represents most important artists in the county. We had some artwork for sale in one of her exhibitions a year ago, to be honest it was all a bit ex tempore from our part. Our work didn't sell and we have not been asked to participate in any more exhibitions. The owner had no problems asking Martin to help her out in terms of advertisement and PR, as well as just watching the gallery for her, but will not give anything in return. It was soon clear to me that it was yet another one way street. We are active local artists but for reasons unknown to us she is not interested in representing us. I see a similar attitude with many people who are being paid to represent culture. For some reason, their time is valuable, but apparently ours is not. They play their little power games... it's all so very petty. We should be coming begging for their help. Of course, when I sense a lack of generosity and fairness, I just back away.

Still I have to concede that those who deal in art have plenty to choose from and you're lucky to get picked. This creates an atmosphere of even greater dependence on some random authority figure than what I am used to, and it makes me extremely uncomfortable. Martin claims that he's not sure artists have ever been kept in high esteem in the UK. He's speaking of some sort of national attitude which is obviously not a great thing for me to deal with this late in life when whatever energy I might have had to get my art out there is greatly diminished.

During the open studio, I was interested to talk to people, but to be honest I also felt that some people were somewhat lacking in respect for our house and for the art we were showing. I think that it no longer occurs to people that by showing your art, let alone your house, you're showing your soul. Too many people are exhibitionsts, which can give the public the wrong impression about artists. I was left with the feeling that I was talking about my art and showing people around without getting much in return. Our private views over the past year left us pretty much with the same feeling. It's very sad to feel that one no longer feels like doing these kind of things for free. Really, the morale is you should not give anything that is not appreciated. It's hard to know this in advance though... instead it's easy to just give up and assume that everyone is selfish and ungrateful. Yet even just giving people the benefit of doubt can be taxing, and when you have to look out for your health you start feeling less and less inclined to do this.

I have no doubt that there is too much "noise" on the internet and in the world at large. There are too many artists competing for attention, too many blogs and books being published. To be honest it's all very disheartening and uninspiring. I used to feel very excited at the prospect of publishing a book. When the possiblity of publishing yourself without the aid of a real publisher became more accessible, I thought hooray! But it didn't take long for me to realize that everyone else felt the same and that I stood only a very small chance of being heard at all. 

I used to think I had lots to say, and that it was important for others to hear about the conclusions I had arrived at. Bah! You could call it hubris. I call it a vocation. But that sense of purpose in life is gone, and it's very hard for me to overcome the sense that it's all so very useless. People keep posting updates on the social media but how many actually reciprocate? If they do, it's mostly because of a silent agreement to pat other people's backs so they will pat yours. Why people can be bothered I really don't understand.

I am learning to wind down, to push aside some of the greater worries in life so that I can get some peace. I am really going against the grain by doing so, as I have always been an intense person and the world is rotating faster and faster. In the end I have to do what many people are probably doing, and that is look out for myself and my family and leave the rest of the world alone. I have to cease believing that anyone needs anything from me, because it stresses me when no one shows any interest, and if anyone does show some interest it winds me up and easily makes me exceed my own limits. I don't have the luxury of unconditional giving at this point in life - sadly, too much giving just leaves me depleted. My condition very quickly reminds me of its presence. Perhaps there is another way, but I have yet to discover it. First, however, I have to admit defeat.

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