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The weak link in the virtuous circle

January 25, 2013

Dear Artist,

"Virtuous circle" is a term used mainly in economics. It refers to a chain of events that reinforces itself through a feedback loop with positive results. When results are negative it's called a "vicious circle." In both systems each iteration of the circle reinforces the previous one. When the circles are extreme in either direction they may have the prefix "hyper," as in hyperinflation.

These circles can also be applied in sociology, warfare, politics and art.

A typical virtuous circle in the art vocation is (1) quality work, (2) proper marketing and distribution, (3) collectorship, acceptance and recognition, (4) artist happiness and productivity, and (5) quality work. Get the idea?

On the other hand, many artists are stuck in a vicious circle: (1) substandard work, (2) inadequate, local or inconsequential distribution, (3) poor collectorship and recognition, (4) artist disappointment, frustration and torpor, and (5) substandard work.

Widely available programs offer systems and information to build artistic success. Well-meaning non-artist counsellors can omit or gloss over the part of the virtuous circle that deals with product quality. While art is one of the few vocations where it's possible to successfully market incompetence, our vocation is rendered more fulfilling when the product being marketed is of esteemed value and perceived quality.

Seeing as I've identified quality work as the frequent weak link in the circle, I'd better give you some definitions: Competence and ability, consistent or periodic style, unique sensibility, first-class materials, facility in composition, drawing, colour and form are all certainly part of what many of us mean by quality. Other factors might include sufficient volume of work brought about by regular effort and stubborn persistence. Artist agreeability, perennial studenthood, interesting lifestyle and an exploratory personality might also be part of it. Fact is, the quality of the work often depends on what dealers, galleries and curators see as the total package. In my experience, competence is very often at the top of that package.

Often mistaken for genius, self-education and hard work can cause one to flourish. A few of the ultra-dedicated may find themselves in a state of hyper-flourish.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: "Eventually everything connects--people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality." (Charles Eames)

Esoterica: Everything hinges on the quality of one's working. This means the total personality--attitude, knowledge, passion, work habits, and the resulting work. It is indeed a package. Is there one thing that leads to this broader understanding of quality? As far as I can see, it's the acquired habit of studenthood--the simple need for learning. "There are no absolutes in painting," said the American painter and demonstrator Rex Brandt. "All is measured by that relative term, quality. It is in this search for quality that the artist is, of necessity, the eternal student." A genius may find this an easy job, but most of us have to work at it. "Quality," said John Ruskin, "is always the result of intelligent effort."





Another vicious circle
by Anonymous


Another vicious circle is the grant machine. Artist needs money. Artist prepares a plan and a project to get the Artist needs money by Anonymous Artist needs money money and makes a grant application. Waits a long time in self-doubt and disillusionment for the powers-that-be to pass on his project. After finally taking a day job, artist gets some but not enough money. Blows money mostly on project. Artist needs money.


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Gallery effort
by Art Gallery Owner


As a gallery owner, our public stance is, "We are not taking on any new artists right now." This is mainly our Separating the wheat from the chaff by Art Gallery Owner Separating the wheat from the chaff ploy to reduce the five to ten artists who, unannounced, bring their work into our gallery every week, and others who phone and email. Quality is often hard to detect in these artists who come by, although while they are all on their way and sometimes produce interesting work, quality and finish is often lacking. We actually look for many of the kind of "qualities" that Robert is talking about. In truth, we are always on the lookout for work that will make our life easier. If you think that means sitting back and letting the work sell itself, you’d be wrong. We spend a lot on advertising our artists and we keep the gallery open for long hours, are warm and receptive and try hard to service well the people who pass through our doors.


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Ear removal
by Frustrated artist


High priced art mentioned several times in the forum is a function of the collecting of "scarcity" and "story" Vincent Van Gogh<br>Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear by Frustrated artist Vincent Van Gogh
Self-portrait with Bandaged Ear
(part of the "package" Robert is talking about). These days "High priced art" has little to do with connoisseurship but rather a lot to do with boosterism, investment, and conspicuous consumption. I have several galleries that have my work but my paintings are seldom taken out of the back room because other more packaged higher priced artists are out front and center all the time. What do I do? Cut off my ear?


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Perennial Studenthood
by June Rose, Bowling Green, KY, USA


Long have I been convinced that almost everything said or written about composition in one field applies with Abraham Lincoln by June Rose Abraham Lincoln almost equal force to composition in other fields. Many of the terms which you employ regarding quality in the painterly arts I have always aimed to employ and to demonstrate regarding quality in the fields of research, reviewing, and writing in several genre: quality work, ability and confidence, first-class materials, facility in composition and (appropriate) forms, sufficient volume of work brought about by regular effort and stubborn persistence, and perennial studenthood.

Regarding "perennial studenthood," I read decades ago that Abraham Lincoln had said that no one should consider any day well spent unless that person had helped someone else or had learned something new. Mr. Lincoln was a wise man, one whose counsel about effective, worthwhile living I have endeavored to follow.



There is 1 comment for Perennial Studenthood by June Rose

From: Linda Harbison -- Jan 29, 2013

Thank you for that insight. What a great attitude to cultivate.


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Good Medicine
by Nyla Witmore, Boulder, CO, USA


I smiled as I realized when reading the list of five characteristics of a "Virtuous Cycle" that the Waiting To Cruise The Canal <br>oil painting<br>12 x 12 inches by Nyla Witmore Waiting To Cruise The Canal
oil painting
12 x 12 inches
first and the fifth were the same. Quality Work! Artists who get there are not lucky--they worked at it.

The majority of us would be termed "self-taught." So, what makes the difference in becoming part of that positive cycle? It is not because we are lucky. It is not just having hope that we will get better. I got a late start in my 50's. Having the drive to learn as much as I could from the best teachers I could afford, was also key. The biggest thing was showing up at my easel more than 4 days a week for starters. (Now I paint 6 or 7 days because it is good medicine for the soul as well as satisfying. I can hardly wait each day to see what is going to come out of me.)

Robert, your topic made me analyze why I have been so successful. First because I showed up in the learning phases even though teachers initially praised others’ work far more than they praised mine. (Face it--the ego is what causes most of us to give up.) Speaking of teachers, seeking out teachers who could do things I did not know how to do, teachers who could take me to the next step was key--not just sticking with the same teacher forever. Seek out the teachers who have the reputation for being really GOOD at teaching and inspiring students. Just ask around, or find artists whose work you admire in galleries and ask whether they teach. Buy your teacher's work if you can afford it, to keep on your walls to learn from now and in the future. There are secrets imbedded in their work.

Just don't give up... and as they used to say in my grade school... "Good, Better, Best.... never let it rest... till your GOOD is BETTER... and your BETTER is you BEST." Now go for it!



There are 2 comments for Good Medicine by Nyla Witmore

From: Rose -- Jan 29, 2013

I have been letting it rest too long...Thank you...

From: Margaret Bobb -- Jan 29, 2013

BRAVO! ...I agree with you 100%, Nyla! ...however, I can't afford to build an art collection of master artists ~ I wish I could! But, I CAN study art online and in books, and I've been trying to do that. When I was in Basic Training for the US Air Force oh-so-many years ago, our training instructor often hammered us with, "Persevere people! ...keep on keepin' on!" I still hear her in my mind sometimes when things get a little rough now and then. It is good advice for many things in life.


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Quality is an expression of soul
by Robert Sesco, Charlottesville, VA, USA


All my life I have enjoyed learning, mostly about what makes humans different from animals, or No Reservations <br>oil painting by Robert Sesco No Reservations
oil painting
what makes me different from a jungle beast, but also how an engine works or how to use a new software program and on and on. Painting provides me with an avenue for exhaustless learning; moreover, I indulge myself with the idea of making a living selling my increasingly quality paintings, using my brain to decipher marketing, but truth be told that is merely an indulgence, a sidebar, to what is really going on: my soul enjoys the creativity. Whoever I am decides what is quality work and what is not. The public convention of signing one's work is an act in which I frankly have no emotional investment. I do it because that is what we seem to do. I would paint likely for the sheer challenge and enjoyment of it, and in fact this is exactly what I did when a small child. Perhaps I got a lot of encouragement from my parents with each crayon on newsprint submission, but perhaps there were many scribblings that were wadded up and tossed as I experimented with color and composition. The Buddhists spend many hours creating beautiful colored sand mandalas, exacting work that requires concentration, only to blow the work into oblivion and start another. Goldsworthy creates from nature, has a photo taken, and leaves the work in the deep woods, or by the seashore, to an unknown, but inexorable, fate. Our works, regardless of quality, will return eventually to a state of potential. Quality is an aspect of the expression of one's soul. And I'm told that the soul is perfect.



There is 1 comment for Quality is an expression of soul by Robert Sesco

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- Jan 29, 2013

I saw the Buddhist monks make one of their beautiful mandalas in Washington and was told that when they finished it, the sand was carried to the Potomac and let go into the river. Not quite oblivion, more poetic, I think.


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The satisfaction of dogged persistence
by Tom Henderson Smith, Penzance, Cornwall, UK


While there is pleasing logic to the virtuous / vicious circle way of seeing artistic success that A walk along the beach at Sennen<br>charcoal drawing by Tom Henderson Smith A walk along the beach at Sennen
charcoal drawing
you write about, aren't there some well known examples of success in spite of lack of recognition. Some of the best known come from the beginnings of the modern movement i.e., the work of Van Gogh, Cezanne and many others of their generation.

Wasn't the ability, certainly in Vincent's case, to persist in his unique vision, in spite of being largely ignored by established galleries in his lifetime, part of his greatness?

Commercial and critical success can sometimes be driven by fashion so that a sense of alienation is hard to resist among those of us for whom fashion is not a major consideration. Perhaps we have to content ourselves with the satisfactions that come from dogged persistence. Then the appreciation of a relatively small audience becomes all the more encouraging to us. Yes, there's certainly value in that!

(RG note) Thanks, Tom. Vincent was one of the most successful painters of all time. Trouble is, all of his success came after he turned in his brushes. Unless he has a way of peeking back at all the coffee cups that are being sold in Gallery gift shops, his current high approval rating doesn’t do him much good.



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Tony van Hasselt workshops Held in Amelia Island, FL, USA.  <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>The Workshop Calendar</a> provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look <a href='http://clicks.robertgenn.com/workshops/workshop.php'>here</a>.
Tony van Hasselt workshops
Held in Amelia Island, FL, USA.

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. Please take a look here.



World of Art Featured artist Hope Barton, St. Augustine, FL, USA



You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Julian Kirstiuk of Vancouver, BC, Canada, who wrote, "The virtuous and the vicious circle apply to so many other aspects of life."

And also Han Xeno who wrote, "There is not room for anything but intelligent application now."

And also Sarah Townes Godfrey of Facebook who wrote, "No art is bad art, IMO, if it makes the artist and his audience happy."


If you think a friend or fellow artist may find value in this material please feel free to forward it. This does not mean that they will automatically be subscribed to the Twice-Weekly Letter. They have to do it voluntarily and can find out about it by reading our Welcome Letter.



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for The weak link in the virtuous circle...

From: Marvin Humphrey -- Jan 24, 2013

Quality, or the lack thereof, is difficult to explain, but I know it when I see it. In life, relationships, and art, everything hinges on it.

From: Hermit With A Brush -- Jan 25, 2013

If there is anything I have gleaned from the history of art, it is:

1) There are so many variables, that generalities and absolutes break down.

2) "Genius is ... 98% perspiration." Practice-practice-practice.

3) Today's formula is tomorrow's "ho-hum", and contemporary "left outs" often become the next "great discovery". (More often than not, it's after the artist is no longer around, and only the industry "makers" can benefit from his output.)

4) As in the publishing business, the artistic establishment too often will not "take a chance" on the unknown / non- established. Very good thing (and "bad"), the internet has opened the doors for everyone to put his or her possibilities onto the table. Let the buyers decide, and the "market makers" be left to wait their turn.

5) The establishment has lost its monopoly in almost every venue, and it turns out, there is room for more possibilities than previously allowed. So much of what hangs in museums all over the world, once again, would not be allowed an audience by the "opportunity makers", just as those "substandard" works were ignored, during the lifetimes of the artists.

According to your rules, it cannot be acceptable art, unless the artist also has connections in the industry, or the time and money to promote himself into "juried exhibitions" and mailing out hundreds of DVD's full of JPEG's to gallery owners, who won't even look at them, before filing them in "bucket thirteen".

In other words, "don't sell the art, sell the pedigree". "Where'd you go to school?" "Where have you shown?" "How many dollars have you spent at workshops, studying other's methods?" "You're not an artist, until WE say you are!"

“Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.”
-- Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard"
It may be, neither the promotional, nor the instructional "professions" are qualified to judge by any standards other than their own self indulgent interests. I have visited so many galleries and street art fairs, and even some museums with walls filled with cliche and claptrap. (Just to look, not to offer my art.) A major problem with the promotional link in your assessment is that hardly any gallery owners have any talent of discernment. They don't know "art", until someone else explains it to them. That goes in multiples, for the "collectors".
For the many of my fellow producers, who aren't in this "for the bucks and the recognition" I want to say again, just keep on keeping on. We produce because we have to, not because someone else tells us we are or are not up the their standards. We produce, because if we didn't, our souls would break. Who knows? In fifteen or twenty years -- or after you're dead, and no longer a threat to the establishment -- you, too, might become an "overnight success".
"Until they pull the brush from my cold, dead hands!"

From: Damar Minyak -- Jan 25, 2013

Robert:
The concepts expressed in this posting hit very close to the "why" I am sitting on almost fifty years of unpublished poetry, and "why" I refuse to show my artistic endeavors to a "democratized" public. Perhaps, our grandchildren's generation will be ready for my little contributions to the cultural heritage. That is, if freedom of expression is still a viable option. That's looking very very doubtful, these days.
~DM

From: Mark -- Jan 25, 2013

I see this cycle all the time in my town. Those who have very little real art knowledge, try to sell their art secrets or marketing strategies to hyper eager novice/hobbyist painters. I see so many beginning painters who are middle aged or older, who have some money, being sold a - be an artist quickly- scheme. I believe these folks who tell painters they have the one and only secret to success in the art world- are scams and this encourages the vicious circle by putting more substandard art in front of the public and hurts all hard working, professional artists.

From: Tom Henderson Smith -- Jan 25, 2013

While there is pleasing logic to the virtuous / vicious circle way of seeing artistic success that you write about aren't there some well known examples of success in spite of lack of recognition. Some of the best known come from the beginnings of the modern movement ie the work of Van Gogh, Cezanne and many others of their generation.
Wasn't the ability, certainly in Vincent's case, to persist in his unique vision in spite of being largely ignored by established galleries in his lifetime, part of his greatness?
Commercial and critical success can sometimes be driven by fashion so that a sense of alienation is hard to resist among those of us for whom fashion is not a major consideration. Perhaps we have to content ourselves with the satisfactions that come from dogged persistence. Then the appreciation of a relatively small audience becomes all the more encouraging to us. Yes, there's certainly value in that!

From: Robert Sesco -- Jan 25, 2013

Very nice article, Robert. All my life I have enjoyed learning, mostly about what makes humans different from animals, or what makes me different from a jungle beast, but also how an engine works or how to use a new software program and on and on. Painting provides me with an avenue for exhaustless learning; moreover, I indulge myself with the idea of making a living selling my increasingly quality paintings, using my brain to decipher marketing, but truth be told that is merely an indulgence, a sidebar, to what is really going on: my soul enjoys the creativity. Whoever I am decides what is quality work and what is not. The public convention of signing one's work is an act in which I frankly have no emotional investment. I do it because that is what we seem to do. I would paint likely for the sheer challenge and enjoyment of it, and in fact this is exactly what I did when a small child. Perhaps I got a lot of encouragement from my parents with each crayon on newsprint submission, but perhaps there were many scribblings that were wadded up and tossed as I experimented with color and composition. The Bhuddists spend many hours creating beautiful colored sand mandalas, exacting work that requires concentration, only to blow the work into oblivion and start another. Goldsworthy creates from nature, has a photo taken, and leaves the work in the deep woods, or by the seashore, to an unknown, but inexorable, fate. Our works, regardless of quality, will return eventually to a state of potential. Quality is an aspect of the expression of one's soul. And I'm told that the soul is perfect.

From: Stuff and Balderdash -- Jan 25, 2013

Robert, didn't you once mention that one of your instructors told you you'd never make it as an artist?

Probably, more than a few of your contemporaries are glad you didn't take that option to heart.

I hope that more than a few struggling painters will not be discouraged by your seeming insensitivity toward their own attempts. Since you have achieved some standing in the "courts of artistic relevance", your words can help to encourage or discourage those who aren't up to contemporary marketable commodity.

And, I have no sympathy for those winey "professional artists", who feel threatened by the untried, untutored "folk artists", who are "damaging the marketplace" with their low value products. If your art can't even compete with the "substandard", perhaps you are not so talented nor "professional" as your pompous suppositions might proclaim.

From: SSmith -- Jan 25, 2013

Well said Stuff and Balderdash.

From: Robert Sesco -- Jan 25, 2013

StuffandBalderdash,
Regarding your last paragraph, another context to be considered is the market to which one 'markets their commodity', the premise implied being that the market is arbiter of quality. One who is clever at marketing and whose goal is sales might degrade the quality in order to sell. Given our current high ratings for reality TV, factoid news, staged drama, etc. in the Nielsen ratings one might legitimately question 'the market's' ability to judge or desire quality from an artist. Competition for sales dollars requires all kinds of compromise, from painting for decor, for current fad, for the lowest common denominator, for specific niches, etc. Yes, there is relative quality among trash, so I'm not sure who is best suited to identify and proclaim a work of quality. Probably needs a definition that satisfies, but for the same reason there is no consensus as to the definition of art, I doubt there will soon be a definition of quality that satisfies all contexts. Whiny professionals may not be solely bumping into the competition from "folk artists", but also bumping into a marketplace that has no desire or wherewithal to own fine art.

From: Mark -- Jan 25, 2013

I believe there have been and always will be some definite requirements for quality art...they are simply- composition, knowledge of color harmonies, quality mediums, to name a few. When an artist breaks these traditions, it should be done with an underlying understanding of the basic concepts of art.

In my previous response, I was discussing fine art, not folk art, which another discussion altogether. I have seen fine art in galleries that call themselves folk art galleries and folk art in fine art galleries. My point is that this is confusing and does not help the public understand art in general.
P.S.- I have nothing against folk art !

From: Susan Kellogg, Austin, TX -- Jan 25, 2013

Good art is what the old judge said about pornography...You know it when you see it. No link, though.

From: i. nonimus -- Jan 25, 2013

ok, i'm going to print this and put it up in my workshop.
regardless of what others may call quality, i know i can always strive for more of it.

From: Peter Brown -- Jan 25, 2013

I like this idea of using economic theory and applying it to art and artists. What need do I have to go up to the studio? I will just let the Invisible Hand do my painting for me!

From: Barbara -- Jan 25, 2013

I found today's entry very helpful. I immediately grabbed my notepad and wrote down your examples of quality. They have helped me define my goals, allowed me a few pats on my back, and given me some things to contemplate. I feel I have achieved enough on the list to be begin showing my work, now I just need to do it.

From: Donna Arnold -- Jan 25, 2013

I have worked and taught as an artist for 25 years, and the link in the circle that continues to evade me is the marketing link. Sales of original paintings are few and far between in northern Indiana. I have work in two galleries, exhibit in regional and state-wide jury shows which would seem to indicate a competent level of quality. What can be done to create better marketing opportunities?

From: Janet Mace -- Jan 25, 2013

Dedication, practice, hard work – these are less fashionable virtues I think – and to equate them with ‘genius’…… wow! It makes the possibility of being a genius within the grasp of each of us who is willing to hang in there, learning, and participating in ‘intelligent effort’ - we are all capable of this!

From: Russ Hogger -- Jan 25, 2013

I am not a commercial artist, I don't paint to sell, I sell what I paint. An artist must be true unto his or herself no matter what the trend of the day happens to be.

From: Bert -- Jan 25, 2013

The thing that keeps bugging me is something that relates to what I read about Van Gogh’s life but still translates to our time and rings a red alarm to me. Vincent defined real art as something that would enhance life of common people. He attempted on several occasion to produce prints that would be affordable to people who are not rich. He has little interest to place his art with the rich, except to make his brother dealer happy. Today as well art is defined as something that enhances human condition. So then why is it that most artists define art as stuff that gets into museums or gets sold for huge bucks to rich collectors. The reality is that 99% of people never step into museums or buy high priced art. Most common exposure to art is through public media and decorations. But we say that is not real art. So how can our mission to enhance people’s lives with our art be accomplished? If we don’t accomplish that, how can we say that we are making art? Is our stuff just a luxurious commodity which we deny to the 99% of people? I would be interested to hear if anyone else has thoughts about this topic.

From: John L Brown -- Jan 25, 2013

Robert,
Thank you for another insightful article. All of your points are well taken, though I continue to explore the meaning of quality. One might suggest, as in science, that a skilled and faithful reproduction of an experiment (or work of art) is necessary to convince ones’ peers that a product is viable. Of course art is not a science, let alone an exact science. If I cannot reproduce a piece of work of similar ‘quality,’ what does that mean? For example, if I can play a piano sonata consistently well, but cannot recreate a painting of a quality deemed similar to a previous work, does that put into question my ability to produce quality paintings. I’m tempted to ask if painting is a performance art, subject to the same or similar criteria as performance art. No doubt, a serious artist must work consistently to develop their skills, and achieve reliable techniques. Yet the goals of one artist, for example realism, can be materially different from another artist, for example impressionism. Both artists may produce respectable results, yet neither could readily produce worthy paintings in both genres. In short, the standards of quality that characterize one genre are not necessarily applicable to other genres.

It’s true, a lot of worthy art is conditional, if not provisional, and cannot be subject to the same standards, of the ‘public,’ or even the artist. As well, some art is transitional, leading into new areas of creativity. Perhaps that justifies a decision not to show every work that significantly deviates from a previous body of work. If quality is to be judged, it should be grounded with a complete understanding of, not only the goals of the artist, but also the often ‘illusive’ process that is art. I cannot fault the professional artist trying to make a living that necessitates a degree of conformity they would otherwise disregard. Perhaps there is a place for such. The problem, as I view it arises, when said artist, or critics/supporters pretend that this art is somehow representative, unique and a special example of modern artistic achievement. The issue is also the fact that quality is as subjective as objective in the context sited. A highly respectable painting in an academic setting may be judged as average by an international body of judges. What is one to think in a field of differing opinions about ones work with respect to quality, if you are an accomplished artist by most measures? Clearly one must choose to either ‘follow their bliss,’ and therefore work, and create in terms that fit their artistic instincts, or to whatever degree, conform to some convention so as to remain acceptable, or even in some cases employable. I offer this opinion for your serious consideration. Thank you for allowing me to participate.

From: George David -- Jan 26, 2013

Dear Balderdash;
Genn is only urging artists at all levels and all genres to become inspired to do work of higher quality. Fair enough?

From: Declan Brady -- Jan 26, 2013

An artist’s forum like this that encourages artists to think more about what they are doing, what they are putting out is good for the Universe. Thanks to all the wise and experienced ones who contribute. UK

From: Gallery -- Jan 26, 2013

If being brilliant was easy there would be a lot more brilliance around. As a gallery owner I have to say that most of the work that is regularly offered to us is quite ordinary.

From: Associated artist -- Jan 26, 2013

Artists who think their weak link is marketing are often wrong. The commonest weak link is quality. Robert spends zero time on marketing because his work has a degree of quality. The galleries that handle his work are inspired to do the marketing for him. When someone shows some interest in his work the dealer goes to bat for him.

From: Jackie Knott -- Jan 26, 2013

In general terms the virtuous cycle should prove itself as a true theory. But to an increasing extent marketing interrupts the loop and skewers the desired result of quality. The lowest appetites are fed while the higher are ignored. Examples:
1) Television has sunk to such depths I can surf through 400 channels and not find one program worth my interest or time. The medium may be the single greatest catalyst for bringing reading back in vogue.
2) Out of the hundreds of movies released every year maybe a dozen are the best of cinema. The rest simply make money.
3) Considering the EU, the US, and Asia's financial challenges leaders apparently missed this economics lesson. The desired "payback" is political strength of the party in power, and hang the solvency of the nation.
4) Industry purposely settled on programmed obsolescence long ago. Consumers are indifferent to replacing purchased goods shortly after the warranty expires while we've been indoctrinated to want the newest gadget on the market.
5) And art? One only has to visit the MOMA in any major city to see nonsense along side integrity. I've walked away bewildered more often than being moved. The many wrenches in the cog of the virtuous cycle are influence, serendipity, craze, and the worst, educated pretentiousness.
Having said that, the only thing an artist (or writer) can do is have a sense of direction. Your absolute goal is quality and you may never be compensated for that effort ... and you've got to be okay with that and press on regardless.

From: robert cunningham -- Jan 26, 2013

Very interesting read.so glad I happened to stumble onto it.I really like Ross joggers simple comment and can greatly relate.I am a painter.I don't paint to sell.I do sell wat I paint.I do believe my artwork qualifies as quality. I'm from a small town.no 1 in the" art world" knows who I am and maybe it shall remain.I spend all my time making art, not marketing my art.I am on the fineart America website.I'm just not getting enough traffic. I'd like to hook up with the person who posted the comment as gallery.who said they are not seeing really anything other than "ordinary " maybe its possible if I could network any kind of contact here.I know that some of my recent works are completely unique, quality fine art. If I am allowed I'd love to PST a link to my site and welcome any feedback.thank you. http://robert-cunningham.artistwebsites.com/

From: valerie norberry vanorden -- Jan 26, 2013

Quality, Quality, Quality, well, as we learn many of us earn, at art fairs, social settings, potluchs and such. I give away quite a bit of my art to a couple of people I knew from bible study years ago in another city, send it to them in the mail as I learn techniques. I don't usually send the original. I feel God blesses me for sharing with a person who will rarely get to an art gallery. Furthermore, my art is very religious in that it is usually scripture quotes or hymnal quotes, in calligraphy, along with some illustration and flourishes in penwork. Not a whole lot of demand for such as yet. However, I have in my possession 250 "placemats" or laminated 8.5 x 11" penwork pieces of flourished Spencerian penmanship. If I cannot offload it onto home-schoolers or religious people like myself, it will have to be given away after I die. I do hope it'll fetch a nice price. It takes me 1/2 hour to do a piece, usually, in black and white pen and ink, and then I sell for about 3.00. Maybe I'm stuck in a vicious cycle of not marketing well. But I am a novice penman and I do enjoy producing art and I am definitely flourishing, literally.

From: Romano Lupi -- Jan 27, 2013

Painters have been sold a pile of optimism. It's easier to sell optimism than pessimism. This blog of Robert's usually comes down on the side of realism--that is, realistic expectations when the artist has done the basics. Excellent message in an age of entitlement.

From: Mark -- Jan 27, 2013

One other point, in response to a comment about -whiney professional artists- someone talked about in an earlier post, that when the word professional is used, it means to me, that someone is trying to earn their living from art. This is not a judgement on quality or attractiveness or skill, it simple means that someones livelihood is solely based on selling their art. The word professional means they have to take the art they produce maybe a bit more seriously, than say the weekend painter but it isnt (at least not to me) a put down to other painters.

From: Martin leFleur -- Jan 27, 2013

This forum is what is now called an "open collaborative network," an entity that did not exist ten years ago except in large corporations and universities. In generally a non-didactic way the moderator opens subjects and participants interact in all manners from self-serving to altruistic. As an adjunct to other forms of art education this sort of thing is now essential. Beside the interaction of ideas that take place here, perhaps the workshop calendar is the most valuable. Academics and practicing artists offer their knowledge outside of normal academia and on terms agreeable to those who would be "perennial students".

From: anon. -- Jan 29, 2013

Years ago I asked an art teacher what it is to be 'professional' and she laughed and said she had been told that a 'professional artist' is one who can put paint back into the tube...





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