BLOG*May 13, 2010

Oil painting by Alex D.

I am slated to present an Artist As Brand workshop at the Los Angeles Academy of Figurative Art, next weekend May 21-23. The mindset of students in a colleges, universities and art institutions have always intrigued me. I remember my college years were akin to being tossed into a community pool. I then watched as different talents sank or swam. Teaching higher education for over 22 years has shown me that even though attitudes shift over generations there are principles that do not change. One timeless factor is artists want to be appreciated for their personal vision. LAAFA students Alex D. and Jonny H. answered some questions about what they are learning and what is important to them.

Greg Spalenka- What do you want to say with your art?

JonnyIdeally, I would love to reveal to people something about themselves. Something they hadn’t been conscious of; whether that be a reaction, new train of thought or opinion, or deep-seated feeling.

Alex- So far, as I am trying to figure out who I am as an artist and as a human being, my work has been a reflection of that search. I know that my work will go into many different directions, but I think it will always have that layer of ‘searching’

GS- What are the attributes that make up a great artist?

J- Some of the attributes that make up a great artist are the ability to make someone think or feel a certain way that wouldn’t otherwise be readily possible in the absence of the art. Someone who has suffered the hardships of self-denial and discipline. I think hard work always shines through in great art. Also, someone who has purpose. There’s a lot of really good (not great) artists out there who are extremely talented, and producing really nice stuff. I think the ones who have a purpose that drives them to make their art are the ones who make the push into really “great” art.

A- Meaning or content behind their work. Work that is original and not just following the times or trends for the sake of knowing what sells.

G.S Do you want to have a career as an artist?

J- I’d like to make a career as an artist more than anything else. I want it so bad I can taste it. Unfortunately, finding information that’s of use to assimilating an effective marketing strategy is near-impossible. Good, useful information just isn’t out there for someone who doesn’t have a successful group of friends or intimate contact with a successful artist.

A- I would love to have a career in art. I have no idea how I am going to market myself- blogs, websites and teachings, shows?

GS- This is where the Artist As Brand workshop can help! What do you feel you have most learned most from the classes at LAAFA?

J- The classes at laafa have given me a strong understanding of the fundamentals of drawing, painting, and composition. I’m just under two years into the program though, and I believe the third year will be more geared towards putting these three things together with my personal interests into a compelling body of work. I’ve also had some wonderful theory classes that have opened my mind to some of the more abstract concepts and ideas that go into making compelling art outside the realm of fundamentals and technique.

A- Besides learning the technical skills, LAAFA encouraged me to start thinking about what I wanted to say with my work.

GS- Can you name an artist you respect who is making a living from their art alone?

J- Jenny Saville, Stephen Douglas, David Choe, James Jean, Phil Hale, Jeremy Geddes, Antonio Lopez Garcia, Anne Gale

A- Jenny Saville, Lucien Freud

GS- I know David Choe, James Jean, Phil Hale. I have had a booth at Comic Con for two decades and see them there quite a bit. James Jean in particular understands the Artist As Brand principles and integrates them beautifully into his marketing template. You are mentioning some artists who have made a name in popular art culture and in the fine art worlds at the same time. The walls between these two industries are breaking down opening up new opportunities that were not there before.

J- I’m unfamiliar with “Artist As a Brand”. It sounds like something that would be incredibly useful to me, I’d love to know more.

A- I know it informs artists on how to market themselves which I know artist have a hard time doing.

Thank you Alex and Jonny for sharing your creative journey. Honing your personal vision and creating great art is important, but if no-one sees it, and you cannot make an income from doing it, the circle is not complete. I am on a quest to educate artists how to complete that circle with that last piece called prosperity.

To prosperity,

Greg