Today's postings

  1. [Baren 38173] Re: This is too good not to pass on ... ("Murilo Pereira")
  2. [Baren 38174] Responses to Recent Topics (Annie Bissett)
  3. [Baren 38175] Re: Support for transparency (Dave Bull)
  4. [Baren 38176] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V46 #4714 (Feb 19, 2009) (Gayle Wohlken)
  5. [Baren 38177] Re: Artist patronage ("Maria Arango")
  6. [Baren 38178] Re: Good Post (reneeaugrin #
  7. [Baren 38179] sort of on topic but I digress... (Shelley Hagan)
  8. [Baren 38180] Re: Good Post (carol Montgomery)
  9. [Baren 38181] Baren Ox exchange/Pottery lesson (Rosposfe #
  10. [Baren 38182] making work (Barbara Mason)
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Message 1
From: "Murilo Pereira"
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 14:51:14 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38173] Re: This is too good not to pass on ...
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hello all of you
well, if anyone would like to send this book
for me I will apreciate that.
thank you very much

Murilo Pereira
Rua almirante Lamego, 870/405
Florianópolis SC BRAZIL
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Message 2
From: Annie Bissett
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 15:15:37 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38174] Responses to Recent Topics
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So much to respond to in the past few Baren Digests!

Dave, thanks for the plug for the book "Art and Fear." I've seen it
but not actually read it, so have ordered a copy. Fear is an ever-
present companion (as is delight!) in my own making of art, so it's a
good thing to befriend.

As for financial disclosure, I love it. I'm a New Englander and we
studiously avoid talking about money, but I like to shake that up
when I can. It's especially important to talk frankly about money in
these recessionary (depressionary?) times. I'm heartened to know that
there are printmakers who make a living just making prints. I'm not
there yet, but it's a goal. (My print sales were up 700% in 2008!
Sounds impressive, but my sales in 2007 were so paltry that they
could only go up.) I'd be shy about posting my own detailed numbers,
but I understand, given Dave's subscriber business model why it makes
sense for him to do so.

Maria, great point that beyond growing one's business lies
*maintaining* one's business, which is every bit as difficult. I know
that very well from my illustration career, and I expect it to be
just as true in my work as a printmaker. A portion of an artist's
energies simply has to be spent on business and promotional tasks.
One of the quotes form "Art & Fear" that I really liked was this:
"Basically, those who continue to make art are those who have learned
how to continue - or more precisely, have learned how to not quit."
Not to quit no matter the economy, no matter the tremendous amount of
time required to make and market art, no matter how afraid we feel.
You and Dave are both inspiring in that regard, as well as in your
generous sharing of knowledge and resources. Many thanks to you both.
(And a pox on the people who have stolen from you!!!)

And welcome to Karma!

best, Annie
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Message 3
From: Dave Bull
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 15:15:49 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38175] Re: Support for transparency
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> A far more useful discussion would be, faced with this
> openness, to discuss how it is that one who clearly manages
> to create beautiful work, carefully crafted and thoughtfully
> marketed still has but a modest income for so much work?

Interesting that you phrase that as a _question_. Couldn't it just as
easily be a _statement_?

"It's nice to see that because he creates beautiful work, carefully
crafted and thoughtfully marketed, he is able to earn a modest income."

But that's cheating a bit, isn't it. I left out the part about 'so much
work ...' :-)

> What is too cheap. What is too expensive?

Impossible to answer. I struggle with this every time I set up a new
series. As I have explained before, when working out my prices, I do
the calculations from the bottom up; I count up all the costs of
production, add in what I know it will cost me to live in my current
situation during that period, divide the total by the quantity of
prints I expect to make, and call that the price.

When this works, it works well. During the Treasure Chest year - for
the best example - my calculations were accurate, the series was
popular, and it was a 'good' year. In the case of the current series -
My Solitudes - it has gone wrong in a few ways.

First is that I grossly underestimated how long it would take me to
make the prints. I figured two months each, so worked out the price
based on taking two years to create the 12 books. It's actually taking
around 3 months each, and will thus stretch to around three years. So
the same income has to be stretched over a 50% longer period.

Another problem is the cost of manufacturing the books. The print run
is so small that we can't take advantage of mass production methods
here - each book is printed out on my laser printer, then folded and
collated by hand (by me), then sewn together by part timer
Ichikawa-san, using simple jigs I prepared for her. But it's very
labour intensive, and not efficient at all. (A major problem is the
special thin laid paper that I ordered for the books - it jams inside
the printer, and the sheets have to be fed one by one ... a ridiculous
waste of time!)

A more serious problem is that the number of subscribers has turned out
to be quite lower than I expected. I make around 200 copies of each
print, and was figuring to reach about half that number in
subscriptions while the series was under way. (The remaining 100 or so
will sit in stock, and go out as 'back-numbers' over the years to
come.) But even now, with the series 2/3 done, I'm still 'only' at 78
subscribers (with another ten 'comp' subscriptions on top of that.)

And that leads to an interesting question. Why 78? Out of all the
millions of potential subscribers out there, why 78? That makes
absolutely no sense. If _nobody_ subscribed, I could understand that
easily - the product I was presenting to the world was just too
esoteric (or whatever) to be of interest. Or if it went the other way -
huge numbers of people were interested - that would be understandable
too; after all, what one person would like, similar people would like.
(There are few of us who are so unique that our interests don't overlap
with many other people.)

But the idea that, out of a potential base of millions of people,
exactly 78 would latch onto this as a good idea - just enough to barely
make a living, but not enough to be comfortable - simply doesn't make
sense to me. A dozen less, and I wouldn't make it ... a couple of dozen
more, and I'd be laughing! The gods are teasing me, I'm sure! It's all
a test; to see if I have 'what it takes' ...

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Message 4
From: Gayle Wohlken
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 15:48:17 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38176] Re: New Baren Digest (HTML) V46 #4714 (Feb 19, 2009)
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> (A major problem is the
> special thin laid paper that I ordered for the books - it jams inside
> the printer, and the sheets have to be fed one by one ... a ridiculous
> waste of time!)

Dave, I know that problem well. When I made the edition of "Vampyr"
illustrated poetry books, I used Mohawk paper, but had to get the
heaviest and still had to hand feed each sheet. It was a huge job and
not cost effective one bit, but I wanted to do the project badly so I
didn't argue with what had to be done. I guess it was a labor of love
for me at that point. I sold a lot of them, but never got back what I
put into the project.

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Message 5
From: "Maria Arango"
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 17:04:48 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38177] Re: Artist patronage
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With any level of patronage comes "control", the dirty word of the art world
nobody wants to talk about.

Even customers and collectors after they get to know you start suggesting
"what you should do next".
Galleries always try to dictate your direction in work, according to what
"they" can sell, demand your presence at openings and galas and other events
that mostly take you away from the studio. Peer art groups and co-ops and
art organizations have more rules than the IRS regarding what you need to do
and what you ought to do and what you (oh heavens) must NOT do.
Grants and patrons come with strings, no, a frikin' rope attached, most
times. Barbara's offer to Dave is a one-of-a-kind instance (with KIND in
every sense of the word).
When we take free money, we give up control over our art every time. Only
when there is a fair exchange of goods (art for money) can artists regard
themselves free.

In Spain I grew up in a very Catholic environment. The Catholic character
"stuck" with me through adulthood, probably because I find the premises
simple and very black and white, without complicated gray areas. One of the
premises we live by: free is evil, there is simply nothing in life that is
truly free. Someone pays and eventually, we all pay (e.g. grants come from
the NEA, which comes from taxpayers, me and you).

We Spaniards tend to regard humility and hard, back-breaking work as the
highest virtues and, despite popular belief, we do not work for the eventual
rewards of a heaven, we simply work. The journey itself is the reward, as
long as we're moving we tend to be happy, and the tougher the going, the
more content. Easy is also evil. I know, I know, my husband doesn't
understand it either.

Here in Nevada, it is grant applying season and everyone is in a frenzy
"working hard" on their grants (read: on their butts at their computers).
Two art festivals would net me the highest amount given to a single artist,
the coveted Artist's Fellowship. And I would feel much better about earning
the money in the wind and torrid sun. And here I am applying anyway...sigh,
that Catholic character perfection is so hard to achieve...

Anyhow, I've oversimplified everything.
Want to be a famous and wealthy artist? Forget about "wanting" anything and
get to work! Hard, back-breaking work...


       Maria Arango
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Message 6
From: reneeaugrin #
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 17:08:11 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38178] Re: Good Post
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Good Morning all,

Carol, you might try "Americans for the Arts" website. They are an
advocacy group for the Arts and may have the information you are
looking for.

Thank you Dave for the references to 'Art & Fear ...' I have been
talking to my class about the value in practicing their skills in
drawing and painting. The story about the pottery class came just in
time and will give them something good to chew on for awhile. The
other statement about making art is also helpful, as many of my
students are retired, and have had those kind of careers which demanded
from them a 'product' and the process was not important. Getting them
to see the value of process is a wonderful gift. Thank you! I'll have
to add this to my library as soon as I get a chance.

Good Springtime weather has been flirting with us in the Pacific
Northwest. It promises to be a very pleasant 68 F today!

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Message 7
From: Shelley Hagan
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 17:21:21 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38179] sort of on topic but I digress...
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Sorry for chiming in late, I get the digest as well so I feel like my
replies are always a day behind the topic. For what it is worth, I -love- it
that Dave is so open about his income and wish more people were. My husband
is a 'professional' artist (meaning that he makes money at it, as opposed to
myself who pursues it for personal reasons) and salary has always been a
closely guarded secret, especially in the video game industry in which he
has worked for 10+ years. Now that he is in upper management and in a
position to give reviews, raises, etc. we have both noticed how unfairly
salary is awarded.

Not unlike other industries, it is common practice to get a 'kid' fresh out
of art school, pay him a small pittance and then work him as hard as his
fellow teammates, some of whom are making 3x the money. Now granted, art is
like anything else - as illustrated by the wonderful pottery class book
excerpt (thank you for sharing, I found the excerpts very interesting) - the
more you do it the better you get at it. Theoretically the folks making
larger salaries are faster, better, etc. than the kids right out of
school. Sometimes true, sometimes not.

What is true though is that this practice seems to punish loyalty. My
husband more than doubled his salary in two years by moving from company to
company and basically lying about his 'current salary.' This was a
legitimate tactic as his skills had improved to a point that far exceeded
the starting salary plus raises that he had been pulling down. His friends
and coworkers that remained loyal to their employer were rewarded with
annual 5% raises - sometimes even less. Guys that had been in the industry
for the same length of time (and theoretically had similar skill sets) were
making vastly different salaries mostly based on how long they remained at
any one company. It hardly seems fair.

I know this has gone off topic but to tie it all back together, I think it
is wonderful to have such openness and honesty about income. We are all in
this together. I know a fine art business is different from a commercial art
business in respect to how money is made. Still, a more open accounting of
who makes what would go a long way in maintaining a fair wage for all.

Maria - I think it is wonderful that you contacted the company and did seek
some compensation even if it wasn't in the form of legal action. My mother
was a civil litigator for many years and if there is one thing I've learned
it is that in many cases civil suits take dogged pursuit and an endless
amount of time, conviction and money before any resolution is made. It
sounds like your method got fast results that were acceptable to you.

Happy printing,

ps - I hope no one from the game industry is reading this post.
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Message 8
From: carol Montgomery
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 17:43:57 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38180] Re: Good Post
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Hi, Renee - I'm on to that one and Artlynx, too. Carol
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Message 9
From: Rosposfe #
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 18:08:41 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38181] Baren Ox exchange/Pottery lesson
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Well, I just came back from the post office and feel pretty smug after
dropping 53 envelopes in the little slot, "ALL MAIL".
Just like the casual reader who feels uplifted saying out loud the names
of all the classics/great books I've still never managed to read, I feel so
worldly to have oh-so-casually posted letters to Brazil, India, Puerto Rico,
Tasmania(!) and places in the US I have never visited but now feel improved by
having posted to. Who couldn't feel poetically improved sending a letter to
Haiku, Hawaii?
Thanks, again to this forum for providing this opportunity. I made cards
the last two years but missed the cutoff so sent them to friends and
relatives. This has been a real treat.

P.S. Re: the pottery lesson; to paraphrase a comment I wrote recently
"...geniuses are born so and not often. Draughtmanship and composition
however can be learned and many non-genius artists have produced in their
lifetimes great and lasting works."

The way for all us non-genius artists to produce works of value is to
just produce work, lots of work with the editing and internal criticism coming
afterwords. Most of it will be crap and losing the fear of creating for the
dumpster is important. Occasionally, sometimes intentially but often not,
something pops out that is better than the rest.
My watercolor teacher in college estimated 5% of all of your output will be
I think I'm often well below that figure.
__andrew-of the posted ox-stone
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Message 10
From: Barbara Mason
Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 18:17:32 GMT
Subject: [Baren 38182] making work
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Dr Gordon Gilkey was a much loved and respected printmaker and educator.
I once asked him what he admired most about students and artists he knew and he said "to be a good printmaker you need to go out and make prints, lots and lots of prints. The rest will follow.

So like our feisty little Spaniard, Maria, (who sets a terrific example of an over achiever) we should all work for the joy of working and make prints, lots and lots of prints.

I am off to the studio to reprint my exchange 39 that seems to have been lost in the US Mail system somewhere. At least I have worked out all the kinks and it should go very smoothly this time but I sure hate to do it over. I trusted the mail, big mistake not to insure it. Rats. It has been 14 days, I think the chance of it arriving is slight but I have hope I will get them back. I can at least use them for demo samples to give away if they show up. I think I can do two colors a day so should have them done by the weekend.
Best to all