Deep Thought Thursday

This is a portion of Gregory Amenoff's letter as first published in Art on Paper in an article titled “Letters to a Young Artist,” which was in response to a letter sent to him from the writer. While at the Joslyn Art Museum last weekend, I found that Art on Paper has repackaged this wonderful article into a pocket-sized book. Very much worth the read.

. . . LET YOUR STUDIO BE YOUR SANCTUARY. Have no illusions . . . the art business, despite the pretension that surrounds “cultural products,” has more in common with other businesses than it does with art. When your work leaves the studio and moves into the world, its character changes. One doesn’t need to consult a Marxist to understand that art is a luxury commodity. You learn to live with this fact (and find ways of justifying it), but in the studio things are different. Within that space you create and take chances, destroy, and create again. If the marketplace finds its way (spiritually) into that studio you have abdicated your essential power. Keep your studio clear from concerns of the marketplace. You might have to dance with the wolves but you can still keep them near the door.

(Thanks, Mel Ristau, for telling me about the original article two years ago. I’ve been saving that issue of Art on Paper ever since.)

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5 thoughts on “Deep Thought Thursday”

  1. Letter to a young artist

    Normally, I don’t like reproducing large chunks of other blogger’s writings. But in today’s case, I just can’t resist. Alyson B. Stansfield posted this wonderful quote from painter Gregory Amenoff. While it’s geared towards 2-D artists, I think a lot

  2. I really like this and it all seems do well and good – but if you make your living from your art (or are trying too LOL) doesn’t the market place have to factor into the equation somehow? Fiona

  3. Alyson B. Stanfield

    Fiona: I believe the best art comes from the artist’s soul. And the best way for the art to sell is for the artist to exude that passion. This is hard to do if you’re making art from someone else other than yourself.

  4. Alyson – I agree the best art comes from an artist’s soul, but sometimes in this world the hard reality is that to make a reasonable living from artwork you have to consider the market. The art we make after all is still a product and is subject to the same market factors as every other product out there. Let’s say I am passionate about making little horses out of popsicle sticks, I love, love, love expressing myself by making these but no one is buying because they are so awful and never will be any good. I’ve marketed & marketed my little butt off and I’ve sold not a one. But I love and am passionate about creating my little stick horses! So how do I make my living from this? Even in your business (which indeed you are very passionate about) you need to tailor what you offer to what people will buy – if no one is interested in your workshops after and you’re not making money on them you will drop it. I think the same goes for what we artists produce.

  5. I agree Fiona, I am a self supporting “artist”. I have passion for my work and do my best in every painting I do!If the work doesn’t sell you can’t pay your rent! It is all well and fun to romanticize the world we work in but the competition to survive is fierce! Alot of really good art out here. I have my work everywhere on line that I can, I have a blog, 2 websites,a gallery here. I work it . You cannot make people buy it, you paint what they want and it changes, you go to your studio and can’t help being frustrated and take it all with you there! That is the reality! If you paint what you want to paint with passion and love, it shows in your work, of course but you still have to think of the market, color,subject matter,timing. My love of what I do keeps me doing it but bottom line is survival!

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