The Art Biz ep. 15: Confronting Your Professional Legacy: David Paul Bayles

Last fall I received an email from David Paul Bayles, who was a member of my class at the time. The email read, in part:

Recently The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley (third largest special collections library in the U.S.) created The David Paul Bayles Photographic Archive to create a home for my life’s work.

I am driving down to meet with them on Monday to place a large number of prints and oral history audio files into the Archive.

Whoa. How cool is that? A major institution deemed David’s work worthy of saving forever – all together under a single roof.

©2009 David Paul Bayles, Elder on Fire. Archival pigment print, two editions of 7: 12 x 18 inches and 16 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

After peppering David with questions, I knew that his was a story that needed to be shared with you.

I have been concerned about artists’ legacies and what artists are doing to prepare themselves and their loved ones for their passing. What happens to the work and the records after they’re gone?

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, David tells us what his professional archives consist of, including his photos, writings, records, and audio files.

He also gives us insight into the process of negotiating with the Library – fascinating stuff. And, yes, it includes lawyers.

Photographer David Paul Bayles's studio, converted from an old rusting steel pole barn using trees that fell on his land after a fierce windstorm.

Photographer David Paul Bayles's studio, which serves as a gallery as well as a space for shooting, workshops, print storage and sometimes wine bar.

Of course, we also talked about his art and why he chose to focus on photographing trees throughout his career. A better way to frame the question is how the trees chose him.

And we ended with a discussion of David’s next big goals. What comes after finding a permanent home for your entire life’s work? For David, it’s an artist residency and a traveling exhibition.

As you listen, pay careful attention to all of the people David has connected with along the way. His story is one of finding and nurturing connections.

And it all started with a fire …

Music: Keep It Simple by Wildermiss. Used with permission.
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About My Guest

David Paul Bayles has been a working photographer since the 1970s.

His photographs have been published in numerous magazines and his prints included in the collections of The Portland Art Museum, the Santa Barbara Art Museum, and The Harry Ransom Center, among others.

Photographer David Paul Bayles
David Paul Bayles in his photography studio. Photo courtesy the artist.

Mentioned in the Interview

Mary Virginia Swanson – Photography Marketing Consultant
Jennifer Stoots – Photography & Art Appraiser

Our Sponsor

This episode of the Art Biz Podcast is brought to you by my Big Table Art Retreats, which are coming up in Santa Fe (May 5-6) and Lancaster, Pennsylvania (June 7-8). Each retreat has its own personality but they all center around a core concept: That when I fill a small room of ambitious artists and we stay focused on the needs within that room for two days, we can get a heck of a lot done.

This online thing is necessary and can be helpful, but in-person retreats are career-changing. There’s nothing like being together and connecting face-to-face. So much is accomplished when everyone is present for the same purpose: to grow their businesses.

Please read about them and consider joining us.

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17 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 15: Confronting Your Professional Legacy: David Paul Bayles”

  1. Wow. Very inspiring story! I was especially grateful to hear him speak about the more personal nature of his work – something I’ve been thinking about with my own work lately. I also loved to hear about the continuing evolution of his work, his career and his goals. Thanks so much for this.

  2. Yes, What an amazing, inspiring interview!
    Two passionate, polished professionals sharing forward.

    How can we best handle our life’s work with care and pride, Now, knowing that the work itself will have a life of its own, After.

    A great storyteller with poignant tales to tell.

    I love the follow up suggestions too. Very specific and personal and grateful.

    Taking a cue from you, Alyson, I am going to reach out to him personally.
    Life in the natural world is just a start. Having lived on a small home built boat in the Aegean Sea, I agree, things that can kill you can heal you. This is from where the work comes for me as an artist.

    Thanks for a such an enriching podcast!

    1. David Paul Bayles

      Hello Sam — I visited your site and it looks like you have great stories from your adventurous life. Your artwork is so alive. Bravo!

  3. What a truly talented, gracious and humble man. The fire that approached his home literally sparked a remarkable change of direction in his career. This was an inspiring interview about creativity in his work and his marketing, a wealth of information for artists.

    His remarkable gift of not burdening his family with the decisions of distributing his life-long work after he’s gone while creating a legacy to be shared with the world is brilliant.

    Alyson, I am so happy to be a part of all you share.

    1. David Paul Bayles

      Hello Mickey, Thanks for listening. Your tromple’oeil work brought big smiles to my face!

  4. Loved listening to this… Thanks to both you and David! Kudos to finding a place for his work to reside permanently. Really fascinating to hear how it all happened. I’m in the beginning stages of a tree-related body of work (working title: branching out) so the stories around his work were inspiring to hear. I know the Benton County Museum and the old-growth forests, having gone to school at Oregon State. Perfect place for his show to start its travels. And how cool that he envisions it as a multi-year traveling show. Hope to see it somewhere/sometime!

    1. David Paul Bayles

      Hello Janice – You might like to know that OSU will finally get a full scale dedicated Art Museum via the Schnitzer family. I’d love to see your Branching Out work when it is ready. Seems like a great subject for your fabulous sense of design. The Center for Photography in Fort Collins is on my list to approach for the traveling exhibit. They specifically say do not submit proposals, but I am trying to find a ‘connections based’ way to get in front of them.

  5. Thank you, Alyson. What an inspiring interview. Thank you, David, for sharing your journey and wisdom. You are a great storyteller. I got goosebumps when you recounted that the Bancroft wanted your entire collection. Congratulations! It must be a wonderful feeling knowing that you have taken care of that for your family and that your work will be preserved in such a prestigious institution. Lastly, thank you for reminding us that art is a “people” business.

    1. David Paul Bayles

      Hello Tara – What a story you’ve told in your exhibit. I love that you used old photos and your other gifts to bring stories from the past to the present. It seems we are re-discovering the importance of sharing stories with each other. Thanks for listening.

  6. Hello Alyson– I enjoyed your conversation with Mr. Bayles. While listening to him express his strong connection with trees an image arose in me and I completely understood the connection. I lived in Pike Peak National Forest on a five acre ranch from 2010-2014. The Douglas firs that surrounded my home was a reminder of my childhood memory living and playing among the trees in the great Northwest of Bellingham, Washington. My home stood three stories high and I would often sit on the porch swing that faced East admiring one perfectly shaped tall Douglas that stood alone among the many. After leaving the ranch and moving back to Colorado Springs I longed to go back and visit. In that timeline while gone the occupant who remained on the property had decided to literally cut that beautiful fir tree in half. It got in the way of the view! It left me with such a profound sadness and disbelief. Thank you Mr. Bayles for your honor and respect for trees.

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