the Agenda…..

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Ahhh…. if only i could talk all day… Today i DID talk all day, to a group of College students from Kendall College of Art and Design, and i realized that i have a very set, expansive agenda that i would love to push on all college art students….. or any young artist for that matter. So, here are those thoughts and a bit of a philosophical rant about the art/culture sector.

1. Show your work. Show it now. In this day and age no one cares unless you do. So DO what you can to get your work out. From hijacking an abandon newspaper bin, to throwing up a show in a store front, or warehouse, there are tons of options for showing in non-traditional spaces. The luxury of a “non” traditional space is you make the rules, do the work and reap the rewards. Success and failure are determined by YOU.

Grand Rapids is ripe for independent shows but there just aren’t enough… so I put together a zine for artists… 7 ways to throw a show. Tons of ideas about where, how and what to do to show your work. Anyone can download a copy at the DAAC website.

2. Get connected & get involved. Ok, so you still want traditional shows. (who doesn’t?) The art world is super insular. So, unless you know the guy, who knows the guy, who owns the gallery, sometimes it is hard to get noticed. Get out, go to shows and openings, introduce yourself to people and (in a non obnoxious way) let them know what you are doing.

There are tons of ways to Get Connected and Get Involved here are a few tips.

3. Finding a niche. (when i pronounce niche it rhymes with stitch)
a. Form relationships with artists interested in similar topics, issues or media. They can help you find shows, lend a critical eye and act as a support crew. Just remember the relationship has to be reciprocal.

b. Don’t be a copy cat… but figure out where you fit. What galleries show work similar in nature, what popular media is tied into the issues your work is centered on? What local organizations or businesses might have an interest in your work or the themes in your work? These connections will help you to grow your concepts, connect with new audiences and be aware of potential marketing opportunities.

4. The future of being an artist is not the stereotype of isolated genius. Since the tippy top of the art market pyramid is so tiny and elite, where does that leave the hundreds of thousands of “art” students graduating in the United States each year? There is a blue collar arts sector and to become a part of it, artists must become business managers, promoters, teachers and creative entrepreneurs.

5. BFA = Artist…. or…. maybe not.
For decades artists have been re-visioning themselves as creative entrepreneurs. They are expanding the concept of the art degree means for having an occupation.
First consider the idea that thinking creatively can be valued outside of the creative field. You might not always make fine art work, or work in the arts & cultural field. When this happens (and for many of us it will) you must make room to incorporate your education as well as supporting and nurturing creativity.

Secondly, the arts and cultural sector seems to be split into arts and cultural institutions that employ people passionate about the arts who generally have an arts related degree and… artists.

This seems like a stark bleak elitist landscape, void of possibility. But artists have the opportunity to revision what the sector looks like, and how it functions, with the ability to building more occupations within the creative field.

Point 5 really does become a philosophical rant… asking 19 year old art students to redefine the function of the creative field, but frankly if they don’t do it… who will?

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