Marketing and art
Edgar: Okay, you touched on marketing, so let’s talk about that.
E: You said, that because you had supplemental income, you feel less constrained than somebody that feels strictly dependent on the market… [Dependence on the market] creates a conflict…
E: … that I guess many of us are dealing with. Some of us are quite comfortable with the idea of making art which is strictly for the pleasure of some audience. So, there’s a question of the relationship between the artist and the audience.
Let me give you some background on myself: I have a [perspective] in that area. I started out in theatre, the performing arts, and there, the feedback from the audience is instantaneous, immediate. Recently, I submitted for a show for the Dinnerware, and I went to the opening and kind of went (frowning), “There’s no applause here!”
M: Yeah… (laughter)
E: So, I have a very different perspective on it than most visual artists would. But there is a relationship, intentional or not, between an artist and an audience. And I, personally, would dispute anyone who says, “I only make art for myself.” I think they’re just hiding something [from themselves].
M: Well, everybody’s got an ego. And you either stroke it yourself – and you know what that’s called (ahem)… “denying.”
Picasso is a good example of someone who continually reinvented him self. Because you can get stuck in a rut of fame or a market that’s accessible, and you can only go so far. And we all know artists like that.
M: But the luxury I have currently is that I can afford to make lots of mistakes, because time’s not money to me, so I don’t ever just think, “What’s going to sell?” And that’s good, especially the last six months– ‘cause nothing’s selling. (laughter) On the other hand, I think I am more aware of the commercial market as well, because of the rent on the studio. ‘Cause I was like, “Well, let’s at least break even. Instead of being an expensive hobby.” Especially with all the technology—which is expensive—... rent, and all your stuff. So, for a while I was saying, “Okay, everybody’s working big, and everybody’s working abstract for the most part. I’m going to work small and be affordable. And I’m going to work with techniques that allow me to work fast, and because I can be efficient, I don’t have to put two, three thousand dollars on each of my paintings to compensate for my time. So, finding a niche market is helpful but that’s not (unintelligible) ,’cause you know, sometimes I think about market forces, sometimes I don’t.
Artist and audienceYou make images, and you get feedback from audiences, because we have open houses.
People come through and say, “Oh, what colors! You’re a colorist.”
“Yeah? What was your first clue?”
And what does that mean? [That] Most people are afraid of color, especially exaggerated color, because it’s one of the variables that starts to make things less recognizable to some people. So when you abstract, what you’re doing is taking shape or line or color or texture in a new way, sensing it in a new way.
I work with a couple things, one, I work with technology as underpainting and two I don’t limit myself to one medium. It always looks a bit different to the average person, but their attention to my work is sometimes captured a little longer than somebody else’s.
Some people come through your place pretty quick. Some want to look at each painting. And the way in which people go around, some are ‘flies’ and some are ‘ants’ and they march around in circles. Some people come up and look at something and study one thing and leave. So, it’s kind of fun to watch audience, and how they take in information.
And then their questions. (unintelligible) You’ve got wannabe artists, who wanna know how you do it. They want to come in and steal some secrets. You got people who collect—
E: …Maybe they want to come in and learn.
M: Maybe they do!
E: [I say,] In self-defense.
M: A lot of them do want to learn. And most of them want to get inspired, because you get a rush. You see something and think “I won’t buy that, but I think I could do something like that.” And run back to the studio and try it out. So, when you think [about] markets: When are you going to be an art teacher? When are you going to be an artist? When are you going to hold back information? When are you going to give away trade secrets?
The dialog that results from [the thought of] “audience” is very interesting, because it’s not one audience. There are as many different audiences as there are people. There are different degrees of sophistication. Your questions are different than the average beginner, looking for a couple of paintings for their lavender bedroom.
[Edgar's note: I'll be posting the final portion of our conversation, in which Dr. Sevigny discusses artistic integrity, in a few days.]