Tuesday, 24 July 2007

La vie artistique

It's almost a year since I decided to pursue being an artist as full-time as possible and it has been pretty interesting, to say the least.

Probably the best part is being able to squeeze out a day like last Friday to wander in the wilderness and become inspired. The record snowpack is still causing localized flooding up in Canmore, where I caught this scene.

Bow River

And although I'm not exactly sure it qualifies as "fun," I've been learning a lot about the business side of art and what I need to do to get out there, some of which is greatly outside my comfort zone.

One of those things has involved upgrading myself on Flickr and organizing my pictures better: that's been my task yesterday and today. It's something that has let me exercise my skills as an editor and indexer to tag the public photographs of my artist books and fibre work.

Another is the amount of time I spend filling in forms and massaging photographs of my work to enter competitions, apply for grants, and promote my work for sale: it's an astounding amount of time that gets sucked away from the actual "creation" of art.

Something I find occasionally irritating is that each one has some really offbeat requirement: whether they specify "digital files exactly 300 x 400 pixels, horizontal, 72 dpi, and labelled just so" or "if you think you might need a hammer, you need to fill out a three-page request."

I feel a great deal of compassion for artists who do brilliant art, but aren't computer-savvy: these days, if you don't know how to use Photoshop or extract a page from a PDF form and turn it into something you can fill out, you can be shut out from a lot of opportunities.


  1. Personally, even though the formatting IS sometimes frustrating, I'm very glad to see more and more places accepting digital media.
    When everyone wanted slides, there was:

    finding an affordable photographer

    getting the work to the photographer, or paying extra for the photographer to come to you

    making sure you scheduled the photo shoot a week or more ahead of any deadlines, due to processing time

    ordering tons of expensive dupes because people KEPT the slides, even though you'd sent a SASE (and paid the postage that didn't get used)...

    sorting and storing tons of slides, etc.

    I just applied for a residency that requires slides, but now I can just upload my own digital shots and have them turned into slides.

    I can also shoot something and use it for an applicaton the same day.

    Probably a longer comment than you wanted, but...though I'm not the most computer-savvy person on the planet, I find digital media much, much more convenient, and had to say so.

    (and thanks for your comment on my blog awhile ago)


  2. I have absolutely no problem with going to digital either, believe me, and for all the reasons you listed.

    That being said, I know several people who don't (or can't), and it's a shame their work isn't seen more.

  3. Mmm... I'd love to be a full-time artist... :)

    I just wanted to let you know that Book Dragon was moving over to http://bookhblog.wordpress.com/ - I know I hate it when I link to someone, and they change their URL without letting me know, so I thought I'd drop you a line.

  4. Linda, you raise some good points about making art versus the "business of art." My background is marketing, and I've been working with a young book artist and friend (purely on a volunteer basis) on her business and marketing plans. What we continue to remind each other about when we get too ambitious is that the reason she's structured her life the way she has (a part-time waitressing job so that she can have the time to make books and teach bookmaking) is so that she can have more control over her own life: set her own schedule, take time to do some of the other things she loves (she's a talented musician and dancer)and be re-fill her creative well through her art.

    Sometimes we come up with so many marketing projects (meal culpa, since I'm usually the one that gets carried away), that to do them all, she wouldn't have the time to spend on her art. The marketing, of course, is only the means to the end). Of course, both her art and her teaching would suffer.

    And yet, what do you do when, as you suggest, the proposal deadlines are staring you in the face?

    It's not easy. Good luck with keeping a balance that makes you happy.



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