My work was recently published on the cover and inside The Journal literary magazine. My painting Vital is wrapped around the front and back cover while several other paintings from my In Our Veins series are inside. In addition, there is an interview in which I’d like to share just one of the questions because I think it’s an important one:
SS: Is there anything you can tell me about this work that someone who doesn’t have expertise might not see or appreciate?
AG: I think people need to realize this: they are much more astute when it comes to art than they give themselves credit for. True art will elicit an emotional response from someone, whether it’s a positive or negative reaction. For those that enjoy my work, they often tell me that something resonates with them. It may not be exactly what I expect the viewer to respond to, but it’s in the ballpark. There have been times when someone finds my work “dark” and therefore they are unsure of it. I would still consider that an accurate response because I deal with some tough issues in my work. Animals are beautiful, nature is beautiful, and I’m trying to create something that is beautiful but at the same time sends a message. Either way, I want to draw attention to these issues and inspire others to take action, even if it’s just small changes because every little bit helps. That’s the takeaway I hope for when anyone looks at my work, whether they have an art degree or not.
The latest edition of Vegan Mainstream’s VStream Zine is now available. I am honored to be a part of their feature on Vegan Professionals. I’ve also had the opportunity to learn about many other vegan companies and services as a result. The issue is about change, whether it pertains to ourselves or changing the world, so many of the professionals, myself included, relate our stories of change through our business. With my artwork, I hope to have a positive impact and create change starting with my viewers, and hopefully-maybe-if-I’m-lucky that has a chain reaction. If you would like to read my story, as well as the many other stories, recipes, and articles featured, you can order a download here (as well as get a sneak peek): www.veganmainstream.com/vstream-magazine-ebook-book-guide-zine-vegans.
Since we are in the midst of the holiday season and there never seems to be enough time in the day, I was inspired to write about a popular question… How much of your time should you spend in the studio and how much should you spend marketing? I’ve heard everything from spend most of your time creating to spend 80% of your time marketing. I can’t say that any one answer is the correct one, however I personally lean towards the marketing end these days. Unless you are a true beginner with a handful of work to your name, you should be marketing your work. Sure, if you don’t have work to show, you can’t have an exhibit. However, you won’t get any exhibits if you’re not marketing your work. And it’s not just shows you will earn, but publicity on the internet, magazines, tv, radio, etc. So back to the big question- just how much and how do you balance it all?
-It’s best to do a little each day (as far as marketing goes) but if you are the type that won’t be consistent, it would be better to do your marketing all in one day (or 2…) than not at all.
–Gauge your deadlines. If you have a show scheduled, clearly you will need to devote a lot of studio time. Figure out roughly how long it will take you to do the desired amount of work and plan your schedule accordingly. Any remaining time should be spent marketing, especially when you have a show to promote to collectors, the media, etc.
–Set limits. It’s easy to lose track of time if you’re buried in paperwork, doing research, or networking via social media. Set a reasonable time limit for each task and stick to it.
-Prioritize your marketing goals. There are a ton of things you can be doing to promote your work, so much so it’s overwhelming. But you won’t be doing all of these things everyday, nor do you really need to. Decide what is most important and allot a day or days to accomplish those goals. For instance, how many times a week do you want to post on your blog? Pick the days of the week you wish to do so and keep the remaining time free for other marketing efforts throughout the week.
-Marketing is especially important when you have something to crow about. If you go pretty light on marketing, then you should at least devote more time to it when you have a big announcement. If you have a show coming up, won an award or grant, did a big interview, were on tv, spent time in Paris painting for the summer, etc., etc. then you need to up your marketing efforts to announce these accomplishments to your local media as well as your mailing list, email list, etc. These are the things that people want to read about.
-It takes a village (well, sort of…). We rely on galleries, collectors, reporters, etc. to talk about us and get our work “out there.” It’s great having this team of supporters, however, some artists think that this is all they need to market their work. Not so. You have to be a team player. Your mailing list is different from everyone else’s on your team, not to mention, you frequent different places- stores, doctors, salons, gyms, etc. And even if someone is already familiar with your work, reminding them that you’re out there only helps to reinforce your brand.
–Write it down. This is actually the most important tip I can give so I don’t know why I didn’t think of it first. As mentioned before, it can be overwhelming trying to accomplish everything. Make a list of all your goals- sketching, painting, blogging, gallery proposals, etc., etc., etc. Break it down into a smaller list so that you know what you need to do from week to week, or day to day even, depending on your list. Then just cross them off as you get them done. Personally I like to do all the little things first just because it makes me less stressed when my list is suddenly a lot shorter.
I’m excited to announce that I’m currently featured in Professional Artist Magazine (formerly Art Calendar Magazine) as part of their December/January issue. The article is titled “Communicating Social Messages through Art, Partnership and Publicity” and was written by Renee Phillips, aka The Artrepreneur Coach. I am honored to be a featured artist and to have had the opportunity to share some insight in this article. If you’ve been following my work, you know that art is my passion but reaching people through my work is also incredibly important. I strive to inspire others as well as get them thinking, talking, and acting upon issues that are of personal as well as social importance. In addition, Renee makes a great point that it is up to the artists, no matter what their subject matter, to be proactive about getting their work out there. I strongly agree and if you’ve checked out my previous posts on press releases, you understand why. I can’t post the actual article but if you would like to read a modified version of it, you can check it out on Renee’s site at www.manhattanarts.com/readingroom/ezine/CareerBusiness/Renee_Social-Issues.htm.
I recently did an interview with Michael Rakov for the Russian arts magazine, “My Moleskine.” I’m happy to announce that the interview is now online- in Russian, of course- http://www.mymoleskine.ru/2011/08/okorok-ili-grudinka/. I can say that trying translations through Google and Yahoo Babel Fish produced different results, each being a bit off. So, I do have the original interview in English to post here (minus the introduction written by Mr. Rakov, since I don’t have that in English):
1. How did you start making art? Maybe there are any funny stories that were associated with it? Tell us about it.
I started drawing as soon as I could hold a crayon. On occasion I would be allowed to use more “advanced” (which also meant messy) art supplies such as oil pastels. I was fascinated by their richness and the colors produced. I would draw all the time and literally produced so many drawings my mother had to throw some of them out. I would go through an entire package of typing paper in a week. As I got older, I was interested in other media such as graphite, pen and ink, and charcoal. My work became more detailed so I utilized more pen and ink and sometimes charcoal pencils since they allowed for more precision than sticks of charcoal.
As a child, I was always creating through various means, so it was something that came to me naturally. I knew even at a young age that I wanted to be an artist professionally one day. I was about eight years old when I decided that my “job” would be to paint for museums, not realizing that museums do not actually pay you to paint all day and then just stick your work on their walls. By the time I was in college, I decided that I needed to study graphic design and work in the more commercial realm of art. I, like many artists, believed that it was impossible to earn a living as an artist unless you worked in the design field. I did this for over eleven years, but eventually I could not deny my initial desire to paint. I started reading anything I could find regarding running a business, marketing, sales, etc. I devised a plan to reach my goals and followed a timeline to keep myself on target which is how I became a full-time artist. I think about art constantly- from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep- I think of paintings that I’m working on, or paintings that I will do in the future, or I’m thinking about exhibitions I have coming up. It’s a lot of work, but I love what I do.
2. What is the basic idea in your works? May be there is philosophy or anything like that? For example, Impressionists wanted to stop impression of moment this was them basic idea. What do you want to tell people with your work?
I tend to work in series, so that each is a collective body of work pertaining to a particular subject matter. That being said, each series serves as a platform for tackling social or political issues. Some series are broad in scope, while others hone in on one issue. Art is my way of communicating with the world, raising questions, and presenting ideas. Though I can’t tell people what to do, I hope that my work will at least inspire them or encourage them to reflect on what they can do to help make a difference in the world.
3. Your creativity looks like Surrealism, Am I right? But Surrealism is play of senses, meanings etc. What meanings do you play with?
Yes, I have been influenced by Surrealism from a very young age. In addition to art, psychology was another interest of mine so I gravitated to Surrealism quite naturally since it was the grand marriage of the two. My style has become progressively more surreal, and I am always looking to challenge myself both technically and conceptually. As a result, with my latest series “In Our Veins,” I have been working with ideas that come from my dreams and free-association exercises, which were both utilized by the original Surrealists.
“In Our Veins” explores the connections between all life forms and the cycle of life through a surreal, psychologically-charged narrative. Many of the concepts included in the series deal with life and death, survival and the exploitation of other species for one’s own survival, the connections between all life forms, and the delicate balance of nature. This includes the interdependence of the human race to each other and to the rest of the animal kingdom, as well as the planet itself. One cannot exist without the other, therefore it is of the utmost importance that we care for each and every living thing.
4. What day was the most crazy of your life? What were you doing during that day?
Well, if this is art-related, I do have one story. I was working on a rather complex painting in hopes of including it in an exhibition I had coming up. The painting took me longer than expected, so the day before I had to bring my work to the gallery, I was still working on it. As the hours wore on, I started to realize I was going to have to stay up to finish. I was exhausted, so I drank two Diet Cokes (which I never have caffeine, so these had a strong effect on me) in order to stay awake and paint until 3am. Then I went to sleep for about four hours, got up and finished the painting a matter of hours before going to the gallery. Luckily they are acrylic, which dries quickly. My paintbrushes were in horrible shape by the time I finished.
5. Do you do sketches? If you do, What kind of notebooks or special paper do you prefer for that?
I do a lot of thumbnail sketches, which are roughly 1-inch square sketches giving the basic idea of a concept with just a few lines and shapes, no detail. I tend to do these types of sketches as an idea comes to mind, so some of them are done on scraps of paper, while others are in a journal or a standard sketchbook. I will sketch on anything in order to remember my ideas at the time. When I do larger sketches, I like to use newsprint paper because it’s cheap and also tracing paper. The tracing paper is useful because I sometimes only want to change one thing in my sketch, so I trace what I’ve already drawn, minus the part I want to change. Then I can compare the two and see what I like best. Sometimes I may have to draw the same sketch three or four more times because of all the changes.