Determining the worth of art is hard. It just is, always will be. Do you charge by the hours involved, and what your time is worth? Unless you’re a big name, no, probably not because no one wants to spend that kind of cash on something from an unknown. Do you make up a price based on subjective qualifiers like how much you like it, or how much people say they want it? Do you keep prices high in case you get picked up by a gallery, or do you undercut your value to make rent?
Honestly, I don’t think any of those are right, but none of them are wrong either. It’s a delicate balance of understanding your own finances, your budget, and why you’re making art in the first place. As for me, I’m not going to pretend I make a living off fine art. i don’t, I have a day job doing commercial work same as most people. Sure, some of what I do is still art, but a commoditized, on-demand style of art called design. But, I’m lucky, my design pays my bills, and buys my paint. My fine art is free of the burden of needing to be marketable that many full-time artists have. Downside to that is it’s also a hard sell over the guy who spends all his time tapping into zeitgeists for works people want to hang over the couch. So, I’ve put a lot of thought into it, and ahead of my show at New Day Meadery I would like to announce my new pricing policy. My prices will now support my assertion that art should be attainable for the masses, and unless my financial situation destabilizes and I need to lean more on the value of my paintings I will price them to be reachable, and not what they’re worth in time and work.
For paintings, I’m going to go ahead and admit the direct relationship between my ability to afford beer and my love of painting. So, I’ll charge one good six pack (currently $12… I’m much closer to a yuppie than a hipster, and besides, I was a snob about beer before it was cool to be snobby about beer ;) per square foot of painting, plus materials and, in some cases, a charge to accommodate for the fact that the work is in some way irreplaceable. Like Naught But An Odd Tree, which is made on the remnants of a flat-screen projection TV, and would be really hard or costly to do again. But most paintings won’t need that, and you’ll find that it yields some pretty darn affordable totals, I feel. A typical 4×2′ painting, for example, will only be $130 under the new pricing. The massive 6×4′ 54-33 would be $330.
For photos, the equation will be what it costs me to print and frame it, plus $20. For a 16×20″ print, this puts the final price at around $60 in a poster frame. Again, I feel that helps make things very affordable for the average joe, and maybe it’ll help people understand that the barriers to collecting and appreciating art are all artificial, they’re their to keep prices high for people who can afford it and who can benefit from it. But art’s more than that. It’s expression. it’s me seeking to connect with you, and I can’t do that if I charge more for my work than you paid for your first car. So, unless I fall on hard times, I’m not going to. I’m putting my art where my mouth is.
At least until it’s on your wall. You probably don’t want my mouth on your wall, come to think of it.
Art is a lie and we are all liars.
Pretty much exactly that, yeah. There’s probably some more nuance under that, but, if you need a one-sentence summary of art, that would be it.
Oh yeah, and the source comic also pretty much sums things up, but isn’t nearly as perfect as it’s title. Funny, that.
Good designers are problem solvers, not artists. Great designers are both
Brent from Ommyo
There’s an old saying: “You can’t steal something from me that I willingly give you.” It has its limits, of course, but how much happier would we be, how much stronger would our own work be, and how much more would people enjoy seeing our work, if we remained committed to the idea of art as a gift. Some will pay for my work, some will not, and others will steal it. Either way, the gift keeps moving.
If I tried a dozen different drafts over the next few months, I couldn’t say as succinctly and perfectly why the bulk of my work here is released under the Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license. Full article via the source link. It’s a good rant.
We’re not here to capture an image, we’re here to maintain one. Every photograph reinforces the aura. Can you feel it, Jack? An accumulation of nameless energies.
Don Delillo, “White Noise”
In turn from a nice article by David White on Oxford’s Tall Blog.
File this under nothing to do with anything, but I was reading into some stuff about the Marvelverse after hearing more about Joss Whedon’s upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D series, and things got a bit tangential (as they are want to do after Wikipedia enters things). Long story short, I was reminded of the character X-23 when I learned they’d paired Gambit with her for a while. And, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this.
For those of you even less up-to-date on Marvel than I am, X-23 is the ‘successful’ version of Wolverine, except with boobs instead of mutton chops. She’s a clone of him, with all his powers, except she was actually successfully programmed to be a weapon. The driving interest in her character is that once that program cracks, she sets out to redefine herself as a person. And that’s cool, it’s a neat, interesting idea. But, well, there’s that thing where she can really be most easily described as Wolverine with boobs. She’s not really her own person, she’s another, more popular character… but female. And she has no moral compass or personality, which leads to her always being told what she should or shouldn’t be by stronger male personalities (hence my indecision about how this would work with Gambit, Marvel’s greatest Lothario.) It’s a bit of a mixed message, for sure. They were clearly going for a commentary of some kind, but it gets lost under all the typical comic book cheescake. And boy is she guilty of that:
Seriously, I haven’t seen such a delicate balance of pleather and unabashed sexualization since Eliza Dushku was a regular on Buffy:
Unlike Faith, however, whose fashion changes as her character matures and becomes more comfortable with her own self, that is X-23′s post-revelation outfit. Save it’s not exactly her personality that’s getting revealed. So, I guess in the end, she comes across to me as Marvel’s equivalent of a Not Quite Feminist Phil meme. She’s got a lot going right, but then it all gets horribly subverted and Marvel’s left not getting why we’re giving them a funny look.
Ultimately, she seems sorta like the anti-Outlaw to me. I won’t lie, Outlaw is easily one of my favorite Marvel characters, despite being so minor. And part of that is because of her particular variety of cheesecake, I won’t deny that either. But here’s the thing: Outlaw clearly started out as just a good cheesecake-y character to put across from the very bro Deadpool. She’s not only got only the most generic of mutant powers (some poorly boundaried enhanced strength and durability stuff), but she looks like this:
And, not only does she dress like a stripper, but her character’s bio specifically includes stripping in her past occupations (before being a person who kills other people, much like X-23). But unlike X-23, who’s supposed to be serious but the sex keeps undermining it, Outlaw’s supposed to be sex, but they keep undercutting it with her actually being a person. The boobs she admits herself are fake, for her own confidence. The hair is a wig. She wears jeans and hoodies these days when not on the job. She has an apartment somewhere. She hates being called by her childhood nickname because she still has esteem issues from it. You know, relatable stuff. All around, she’s a person poking out from the cheesecake veneer. She’s Inez, and Outlaw is just a veneer and she’s bluntly honest about that.
Heck, let’s compare farther. Here’s a nice tender/quiet moment between X-23 and a male co:
Gambit: relaxed, at ease. X-23: stiff, vacant gaze, doing her best impersonation of a real doll. Now, one with Outlaw:
Note how despite there being actual sex involved with Outlaw, she still manages to come across as less of a sexual object than X-23. It’s that, it’s exactly that. X-23 is supposed to be some awesome commentary about finding identity in a world where she’s always been told what to be, which should have been some awesome feminist commentary. Except it gets totally undermined by the cheesecake and the patriarchal ‘guidance.’ Outlaw, in contrast, was supposed to just be a sexy blonde before something happened and they gave her humanity. X-23 makes me uncomfortable, but I root for Outlaw any time she shows back up these days. Funny how that goes, right?
Now that my fine friends at Eclecticpond have had a chance to introduce all of these shots the way they wanted to, I can do a summary post for you all. This series was a lot of fun for me, and I’m pretty happy with the results. The idea came from a Cracked article which linked to some awesome old criminal photos taken by the police department of New South Wales in the 20′s. These were just common criminals, but the mugshots were surprisingly elegant, like a piece for Esquire and not for one’s permanent record.
Mr. Moore Here Sold Fake Opium. No, Really.
So, that was the starting point. I like the slightly angled focus plane, which seemed likely to be the result of an un-evenly adjusted bellows lens, and the choice of framing and the diptych were all elements we wanted to keep. But, this production of Caesar was being set in the ruthless world of a modern Western business, so, we wanted less of the old-timey feel and more of the cold, heartless world of CEOs. For that, I took more influence from David Fincher’s way of portraying the world, with harsh shadows and an unnatural blue tint washed over everything, giving it a very clinical feeling. The results, I think, are stellar.
The set-ups for all of the above were pretty simple. All of them were shot with an 85mm PC Nikkor fully tilted either one way or the other. The head shots were done with a single small softbox close by, and the full body shots were done with a strip box a good 8 or 10 feet from the actor. The directing for them was also pretty simple. Since we wanted ‘mugshot’ as the tone, I just asked them to take a neutral pose, unless they had an angry character, in which case they were to look so. The lighting diagrams are below, and pretty self-explanatory. The cool blue cast was done with some highlight split-toning in LR, but otherwise it was just some simple corrections for tones, crop, and the occasional horizontal distortion correction.
ETC’s run of Julius Caesar opens, appropriately enough, on March 15th here in Indianapolis, and features a gender-inverted cast and updated corporate setting to go along with the original language. You can order up some tickets for one of the shows here: http://jcaesar.bpt.me/
“You have to change people’s perceptions. Baselitz says women don’t paint very well, with a few exceptions. Men don’t paint very well either, with a few exceptions.”
Agreed. Heck, I certainly don’t paint very well, and I do have a penis.
Just a quick toy for you I put together based on a post over at Expert Photography. All credit for the concept goes to Josh Dunlop, I just made it easier to use.
I’ve been reading a lot about the new minimalism lately. And by that, I mean about a lifestyle usually assumed by reasonably affluent, tech-savvy young people who are embracing the notion that life is simpler with less stuff. I also know, thanks largely to the design sense of Sir Jonathan Ives of Apple, that design is also currently embracing a renewed love of the minimal. Apple’s industrial design, Microsoft’s paradigm-formerly-known-as-metro, content-centric white-space-rich websites (which you’ll note I’m certainly guilty of). Minimalism is in, and among certain types of people, it’s highly desirable even.
Interestingly, the people who seem to most desire a minimal lifestyle are either A) creative people, or B) people inspired by and consumers of work done by creative peoples. Which leads to the curious realization that minimalism is more or less inherently unsustainable, or at least very willing to turn a hypocritical blind eye.
Robert Rauschenberg, “White Painting.” Now that was minimalism.
What I mean is, you show me a creative person without a billion tiny messy possessions, and I’ll show you a creative person who’s reached the wonderful point of handing all the mess to underlings. Every creative person I know is only a psychological snap away from being a hoarder. Some of them are more organized than others, some much more messy, but they all have a catalog of tools, materials, and resources hidden away that would make your average minimalist go into shock. For example, while I love, love, love the dream of someday having one of those spartan, minimal living environments and living my life from a tablet, a phone, and a Kindle, the only way I could pretend to manage it would be to have an offsite storage for all those pesky things that keep my studio ticking. Just a quick list of things that would have to go:
- A dozen tubes of paint, a half dozen brushes, stand oil, linseed oil, and gamsol, glass palette, glass scraper, and rags.
- Painting easel
- Work table
- 2 dozen hardboard canvases
- 4 primed canvas canvases
- Over a dozen finished and unsold paintings
- Work table
- Cutting matte, box knife, Xacto knife, matte cutter, 3 rulers, t-square
- A dozen rattlecans of various fixatives ad adhesives and paints
- Two vertical filing cabinets, filled with (among other things):
- Charcoal sticks
- China markers
- Colored pencils
- Bookbinding tools
- Paper stock
- Mixing jars
- Label maker
- A camera, four lenses, a Quadra two-head kit, barndoors, reflectors, reflector adapters, soft box, strip box, PLM, two stands, background stand, Gorillapod, various gels
- Several partially used matte boards and foamcore sheets
- Miscellaneous fabric and canvas scraps
And more that I’m surely forgetting. I’ve also just decided to make latex masks, so, I’ve added plaster of paris ad Sculpey to that list. And that’ll need bowls and forms. I don’t even want to count the various types of tape and glues I’ve accumulated. Simply put, the only way to be an artist and also minimalist would be to maroon all your stuff in a remote “studio” and pretend that doesn’t count. That, or just kinda suck at being creative.
And that’s the other catch. For all those minimalist living off a Kindle and some iPads… those are devices made by creative people, who are almost certainly incapable of actually living the fulfilled life they describe, but ironically make that minimal lifestyle possible in the first place. A fact which makes each next smug assertion that a life of less will make a better life grate me more and more. Minimalism is an artform, not a lifestyle. It’s best not to get them confused.