Sunday, March 08, 2009

Fucked In The Art, Part Two

Yesterday was a very bad day.
For one thing, it was if every other conversation I had was with someone whose agenda did not include doing the right thing by me. I got told nasty tidbits of gossip about myself, by people who've only ever pretended to be friends. One of them implied I had a sugar-daddy paying my way – a tired male chauvinist dig reserved for any woman who makes her own way, on her own terms, except this time it was delivered by a middle-aged woman. I got threatened with unrealistic, un-doable and entirely arbitrary deadlines. I was told at least a dozen obvious lies.
Then
I snapped. I decided I'd tell the very next person who pissed me off exactly how things really stood.
I know I'm not always easy to deal with. I don't clock into and out of work at regular times and I don't set, let alone respect, deadlines. The only thing I guarantee is good work. The collectors and curators who commit to the expensive, drawn-out, sometimes difficult process of working with me on a commission are rewarded with getting exactly what they'd been hoping for. In that, I don't disappoint.
As far as I'm concerned, my only job as an artist is to do my art well. I'm not a decorator or a tradesman. I'm not in a service business. I don't do house calls, estimates, plans for approvals or timelines. I don't match the colour of my work to the drapes. I sure as hell don't sell it to people I don't like.
And you know something? It works. I'm independent entirely of a tired, creaky system run by socially aspirational middlemen with no real care for art or the artist. I was one of the first Australian artists to opt of this system, thanks to the web, broadband and a bunch of smart advisors (many of them women) whose strategies I was foolhardy enough to implement.
These strategies weren't some 'last resort' because I couldn't find the right gallery to represent me. Quite the opposite: I chose to cut ties with two of the very best Australian galleries in order to have my freedom. The old ways of selling art and artists – some of which are so archaic they were established even before the Renaissance – are dying. A new generation of artists – and musicians, writers, film-makers, and performers – are showing themselves to be smarter, more media-savvy and better organised than the smug, self-promoting 10-percenters (or rather, in the art world, 50-percenters) who used to 'represent' or 'manage' us and 'deal' on our behalf.
I make the best art that I can. I make it with as much thought, emotion, and sheer bloody craft as I can. It takes time. So if I don't want to deliver a work until it is ready –
I might be the harshest judge of my own work but I've rarely been proven to be wrong – then that's the way it has to be. Even if it takes a lot longer than was expected.
Most fashion designers, art directors and interior decorators are forgotten in the month or so between one issue of Vogue Living and the next, but artists' reputations are affected by their worst work for generations.
I
've lost patience with the occasional collector who infers from a delayed delivery that the work is flawed or, worse, not going to get to them at all – as if it's controlled by some mysterious, mystical force rather than my own blood, sweat, tears and intellect.
My most recent works are now valued in the tens of thousands of dollars but I've had to pour in a lot more money, time, effort, and emotion than I've earned back yet in order to make this so. When I fall behind on a commission, it's not because I'm tired or lazy but because I'm just trying to get it right.
I understand collectors' fears, frustration and frugality when it comes art and money, especially in these bad times. But I've proven my commitment to the value of my work, over and over again. I've never let anyone down over the long haul, never promised anything I couldn't or wouldn't deliver, never delivered a disappointing work, never not delivered.
There are those who get it – who get all this – then there are those who don't. I won't deal with the latter at all, no matter how much money or fame is on of
fer.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

noli illegitimi carborundum – don't let the bastards grind you down.

Mona said...

...and that is why I really admire the path that you are on.
Regards/

David McCauley said...

keep at it... you are on both a necessary & inspirational path... you've done the hard work and have earned where you are (i appreciate you sharing this journey, by the way)... it is fear, jealousy, and low self-esteem that causes folks to behave this way - dont let them get to you either way - piss you off or suck you in - people will be who they are...

Red Shoe Artist said...

I always say that people's opinion of me is non of my business. They're the ones with the problem, I'm just living here... I admire your strength and I know that in the short time I have been reading your blogs, I have learnt more from you than I have from all my Lecturers at Uni.
Thank you for sharing

Patrice said...

When people stab and jibe at you with their words, it is actually a compliment. You have attained what they can't and the only way they can touch you is with negativity.