The alternative art school movement

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“Back to school” sounds good to children (who get to see their friends every day again) and to their parents (who get to not see their children for a number of hours every week day), but adults often find that their own schooling – say, earning a Master of Fine Arts degree – can be a hassle, what with the job, the kids, the cost of tuition, moving. Tuition for an MFA in sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art currently runs $43,760 for a full year (and it is a two-and-a-half year program), and then there are a range of required and optional fees, and we haven’t even gotten to food and accommodations. The low-residency MFA in studio art at the college is exactly half the cost of the full-time rate, which may be more palatable but still a big chunk of change. Continue reading

Is That an Insult?

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It sometimes seems as though being an artist gives the rest of the world a license to be insulting, if unintentionally. Can you really make a living from this? Is that a cat? Could you do that in yellow? Wouldn’t it look better flipped on its side? Artists who sell directly to the public regularly face those and other questions and comments that seemingly denigrate their professionalism and their art. What’s more, the same questions get asked repeatedly by different people at exhibitions and fairs, which could turn sensitive souls sarcastic and mocking, hardly a good way to engender sales. Continue reading

Pet Portraiture

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William Nedham’s A Toy Spaniel and a Springer Spaniel in a Landscape

Let’s talk about pet portraiture, a memorial in paint or metal of that other member of the family. The most common subject is a horse, followed closely by dogs and far behind is a wide range of creatures – cats, canaries, snakes, fish and whatever else people want in their homes. “Someone once painted a lizard, and we had a painting with a frog in it,” said Jaynie Spector, owner of the Charleston, South Carolina-based Dog and Horse Fine Art & Portraiture gallery, which represents “more than 30 artists across the United States and Europe” who specialize in animal art and take commissions for pet portraits. Most of those artists are painters, but some are sculptors who are asked to create a bronze of some animal that has passed away. Continue reading

When Artists Divorce

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How much more enjoyable it is to speak of love and marriage than of splitting up, but divorce happens, and it happens to artists at probably the same rate as for everyone else. Marital property – everything acquired during the marriage – needs to be divided in some way: the cars, the house, the bank account, the furniture. So, too, the artwork created by the artist-spouse, and along with the physical objects are current and future revenues from licensing as well as the copyright. Continue reading

Using Social Media to Market your Work

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Perhaps, you associate social media with Kim and Kanye, with beer pong videos and thumbs-at-the-ready politicians and gossip that comes with a hashtag, or maybe you just want to remind friends of your existence through uploaded images, Tweets (or retweets) and Likes and texted messages. Shannon Wilkinson, chief executive officer of the New York City-based Reputation Communications, wants you to think of social media as a career-building tool. Continue reading

Starving to Successful

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By way of justifying his art college’s lack of business of art courses, the former chair of the fine arts department at Ringling School of Art & Design, once told me that “our faculty are all practicing, exhibiting artists who know very well what it takes to make it in the art world.” Presumably, just the presence of these teaching artists and the example they set would provide their students all the information they needed. However, that claim is difficult to test. Certainly, art faculty don’t lose their jobs if they haven’t had a show or sold a work of art in many years, and no one would want that to be the criteria for evaluating an instructor. Continue reading

What artists should know about privacy

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It seemed creepy. Photographer Arne Swenson aimed his camera with its telephoto lens towards the windows of adjacent apartment buildings in New York City, taking pictures of people going about their normal business and exhibiting them in 2013 at New York City’s Julie Saul gallery. One family that found itself in those photographs, which included a mother and her one year-old son in a diaper and her three year-old daughter in a bathing suit, brought a lawsuit, claiming a violation of the family’s privacy under the state’s civil rights law. That law prohibits the use of someone’s name or image for the purpose of advertising or trade. However, in 2015, a New York appellate court found for the artist, who claimed that his images did not constitute advertising but were protected works of creative expression. Continue reading