pay for space is it worth it?

The on-line ‘competitions, to my mind, are simply a money gathering exercise, full stop.

 ‘Spike’ the resident critic of painters Tubes magazine take a stab at the vanity galler painters Tubes magazine , art critic, Spike, talks about pay for galleries (vanity)ies and the ‘pay for’ to enter competitions and art fairs.
 

Vanity  and pay for exhibition spaces or Galleries, are they worth it?

 

 

 

” So, what is an alternative to the favoured High Street galleries for the artists who cannot break the cycle of rejection, (however reluctant that may be, from a Galleries viewpoint). The so called ‘Vanity’ galleries have been around for decades and over the last two decades they have sprouted up everywhere, in one form or another. It is rarely they that are bothered or (overly) concerned about the quality of the artists work, the ones who wish to pay them for their space.

This type of gallery is in the business of renting ‘the space only,’ usually in a well located high street shop, for a profit. They use a branded banner on the outside and send out invitations of ‘applications,’  usually from commercially acquired mass emailing lists of artists, ones that are gleaned from, you guessed it, Social Media platforms. Some advertise directly on mass media or other social media with attractive wording that will entice the Artist to go one step further and start a conversation with their ‘curator’ (read Salesman). It’s only when you actually read the ‘deal’ that you discover that it will cost a ‘shit-load’ of your own money, that you begin to temper the ego and dreams of exhibiting in a gallery with that of your own financial reality.

Those who are brave and drown out the ‘money’ objection, one being screamed at them for all corners, convince themselves that they will ‘break even’ financially – if only given the chance to show their work, but usually they have either, miscalculated the cost, or are unaware of what it takes to ensure a reasonably successful ‘selling’ exhibition. Or they simply cannot get past the artistic  ‘blue-sky’ thinking syndrome. Not so long a go I did a cost analysis of exhibiting in a ‘pay-for-space’  gallery. This was based on an out of City centre location, (in the UK) with reasonably accurate costs for space, marketing, transportation and so on. The final figure came out at a cost for a 5 to 6 day solo exhibition of around £3500 ($4,800). Major City centre space was nearer double that price, when I looked further into it. That’s a lot of painting to sell, based on the market average price for a half decent sized canvas for an unknown painter, at the lower (attractive) ‘stip-end’ market price level of around £350 each (circa $500), So is it worth it? Just for friends and family to rub ones ego and confirm you are a good artist?

How about selling on the web and creating a virtual reality exhibitions on your own website?

Sure, but I would suggest for that to be really successful, (i.e. selling on a regular basis for a consistent period of time) the artist will need a very good e-commerce enabled website (i.e. one that is not cheap to acquire and maintain) – And spend a great deal of time making strategic posts on social media – Or hire someone to do that specific task, and with a regular advertising budget. In this case I would suggest an annual budget for Marketing and PR of in excess £3000 per annum, for doing it all yourself, or £5000 to £8,000 annually, to hand this ‘job’ over to a professional full time SEO and art marketeer to do it for you. Who will no doubt, not give you any guarantee of a return for your money.

painters Tubes magazine - what do you benefit from by entering art competitions?
cartoon by ©ARNY- Sweden

How about entering Art Competitions to gain recognition?

Why not, if you can live with the rejection element, nine out of ten times of entering the ones that, according to their pre-publicity, ‘give You the chance of lifetime’ to be internationally famous. Let’s be honest here, it’s a bit of lottery. The important thing to remember is, who does the judging – Usually there is an academic, a curator, another well known person who knows (not a lot) about art and the winner from the previous years competition. So the winning entries are somewhat vacuous in their preferences because of their own bias to one form of art or another. There again, if you actually ‘Win’ or come second or third, what does it bring you? – Well if it’s a National Competition’ then about 15 minutes of fame and a commission from the sponsors of the Competition, and loads of Facebook likes and messages of congratulations (ego gratification again). Plus, maybe 3 minutes on a You Tube video interview or a feature in your local newspaper.  The rest of the smaller comp’s are really a bit like Vanity Galleries, except they don’t make as much money out of the ‘customer’.  It can cost around £30 to enter three paintings to an ‘average’ competition – And if you are short listed you have to physically take your paintings to a central point – for ‘further judging’ and then schlep them back again (when rejected), which can cost you up to ‘whatever’-  depending how far away you live form the nominated place of ‘drop-off’. The on-line ‘competitions, to my mind, are simply a money gathering exercise, full stop. And, again only in my opinion, are really not worth bothering with – unless they are free to enter of course.

Read ‘Spike’ in painters TUBES magazines issues on line subscribe here

Denis Taylor Artist

The exhibition “defining the elemental is an exhibition of painting in the UK.

Photograph below: Contemporary Artist, Denis Taylor in front of the installation at Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough, Halifax, UK 

Denis Taylor Artist and Writer. painters Tubes magazine
Denis Taylor with his work at Crossley Gallery, Dean Clough. Left: ‘Acid Trip’ (1985) Middle: ‘Life Began in Water’ (2018) Right: Cellular Abstraction (2014)

The exhibition “defining the elemental is an exhibition of painting in the UK. The ten artists participating are showing authentic work that covers contemporary landscape, portraits and new abstract painting. The extensive venue is the Crossley Gallery which is within the extremely large Dean Clough business  and culture complex in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

The exhibition began in October and ran through to 12th January 2019.
Many of the artists were renown throughout the North of England and beyond for their progressive, dynamic, semi-realist and abstract new work, such as, Denis Taylor, Ian Norris and Jeanette Barnes along with major project painters such as Shaun Smyth and original impasto styled (inspired by Kossoff/Auerbach) portraiture work  created by Richard Fitton and Barry De Moore.

reviews appeared in issue #10 of painters Tubes magazine.

painters Tubes

extract from the review in the magazine….

This is a show that has ten painters and writer who has created poems for the works on exhibition at the Crossley Gallery venue inside the expansive Dean Clough complex.

In the introduction David Traves points out the inspiation of British 20th century painters such as David Bomberg, Leon Kossof and Frank Auerbach, that some of the participating artists may have been inspired by, although that is referring to paint application, more than it is to the subjects.

The selected the group of artists was mostly chosen by Shaun Smyth.

The original concept and title for the exhibition. “Defining the Elemental” was his original idea and it conjures up a whole range of meanings behind it. Essentially the artwork to be shown is primarly based in nature subject matter, although one or two of the artists have expanded that to include the human figure and pure abstraction, work that perhaps have broader and more expansive meaning, as far as the human race is concerned. i.e. “initium aquam”  (Latin: Life began in Water) by Denis Taylor and “Rebuilding ground zero” by Jeanette Barnes. Richard Fitton, another fine painter, shows some new work, one in particular that is removed away from the impasto paintings he is known for, to a more delicate surface finish and his growing concern for the drawing content in his creative output (e.g: “Amy” mixed media- on loan from a private collector). Ian Norris exhibits his highly developed semi-abstract work with his accomplished and fabulous handling of paint, work that is always backed up by dedicated charcoal sketch works.

The Art Game

“painting is a dead art”

painters TUBES favourite art critic and muse, known to all unsundry as Spike, returns to the latest issue with a pragmatic look at the back side of Art – business and selling. What follows is a extract from the full article that you can read free on the latest issue of painters Tubes magazine…

Showing paintings on line, is now the main stream for the dissemination of an artists work. Even though real life exhibitions are still relevant for many artists, an on line presence is essential (if only for street cred). That “painting is a dead art” conversation has faded away as fast as padded shoulders did in the middle 1980’s. There has been a major change in attitude to painting in the last few years. In part, this may be entirely due to the need for the high street galleries to survive the financial crisis, the one that started in earnest in 2009 and is still having an effect now, not to mention adding to the problem with (thinking here about) Donald Trump and the European Union on the brink of collapse helped along by French Riots, and No Deal Brexit.

Today, more than ever, high street galleries need to sell ‘more-stuff’ and earn extra profit to pay those stupidly high ‘business rates’ in the major Cities – And lets be honest, paintings sell much quicker than sculpture or worse those ‘cool’ avant-garde installations of nonsense that rely on high brow art academics to authenticate the cultural importance of something that most people wouldn’t actually install in their homes (even if they don’t say so publicly). And usually there is a heavy price tag for that sort of contemporary bull-shit art. Consequently the contemporary ‘arty farty’ marketplace is tiny compared to the ‘popular paintings’ art market. Even though there are only so many landscapes that anyone can put in their homes. That market will also run dry soon unless some risk taking by galleries start, pretty damn quick.

The sheer size of the (art) market (because of the www) has outgrown all that ‘arty farty stuff’ by leaps and bounds – certainly as far as turnover is concerned. So the www has become the place to set up your stall. Major funded on-line art galleries and some not so well funded independent artists all have a go at selling direct to art collectors and art lovers. Even Tubes magazine are having a go (although they already know there is no money to be made so why bother trying – the space it is giving to artists is in keeping with the magazine policy – Art before Money at all cost).

Spike talks about the art game..painters Tubes mag

The one man art galleries start-ups fail quickly- some have a sort of ‘in the third year we will make money fiscal plan’ and obtain a bank loans. Most, in reality, loose much more money than they bargained for and are wrapped up prematurely by their investors (or more commonly the Bank) the ones that backed the idea (with solid security that could be recouped) in the first place.

Today it’s not a case of chasing huge profits for many galleries, on the contrary, it’s survival we are talking about here. Many on-line outfits are simply losing too much money, year in and year out.
“..there is no money in Art..” a very wise man once said back in 1989.

He may have been right but for the wrong reason, as far as I am concerned. Should Art really be treated as a commodity? And be sold as such? – Stack ’em high, sell ’em cheap is not an effective strategy, not for original art, so when times get tough, (in Art) the tough bottle it.

Can artists write about other artists much better than non-artists?

As the Editor of painters Tubes magazine and a full time artist, I have found that writing about other artists gives me a sort of insider knowledge…

Tubes magazine. Can artists write about other artists better than non-artists?
Giorgio Vasari

As the Editor of painters Tubes magazine and a full time artists for 30 years, I have found that writing about other artists (in my case painters) gives me a sort of insider knowledge of how artists process their work, from both intellectual and physical angles. When interviewing other artists this special understanding forms the basis of our conversation(s) and helps me to get to the ‘pip-of- the-poodle’, as they say in Sweden. Little time is wasted on talking about the contingencies of painting- say, the choice of paint, the type of base preferred (board, canvas etc). Nor do I waste interview-time making a list of their education background, academic or art competition gongs, or any other ‘list’ that are usually intended to impress prospective buyers or potential representation of galleries.

I find that four to five hours is required to fully examine and get to the bottom line of the artists real reasons for living life an artist. What it is that drives them and provides the impetus to continue with ‘needing’ to create something original and authentic – This is often more complex than most people realise. Total confusion on the ‘why’ to create at all, is always that empty space that manifests itself as the struggle felt, as is the overpowering ‘need’ to gain not only recognition of ones peers, but also from total strangers, art agents or art galleries who may wish to actually purchase or value the work. Separation of the conscious ego from the subconscious creative mind remains an issue, as it has always been.

My conversations with artists helps me to confront some ‘hidden-agendas’ head on. ‘How to survive as a full time time painter’, for example, is often talked about, or rather, how difficult that is to maintain in the 21st Century. “Too many artists, not enough space to exhibit”, frequently comes up in ‘chats’ as an irritation, as does the gallery bias for one type of art over another or the ‘lottery’ of being singled out on the www for acclaim. Social Media addiction is always a problem for artists, especially for those that post every single brush stroke they make for the world to admire, i.e. “here’s one I started this morning..” type of post- (unfinished ‘updates’ of art is one habit that I personally abhor). 
Some writers of art prefer to ramble on the aesthetics of this or that work of art, using words that simpler descriptions would suffice quite adequately. And whereas that ‘academic way’ is probably a very 20th century way of writing about Art, it is still utilised today to avoid discussing the real practical issues facing painters. Or indeed what their Art is really ‘all about.’

The other difference, I have found, as an artist interviewing another artist is, I am truly interested in how a work or series of work came about, not in any ‘journalistic’ way, but as a fellow artist who experienced similar ‘awakenings’ or insights. It is also not that difficult for an artist who interviews another artist to quickly spot an ‘image-maker’ from an artist who ‘works’ to develop their Art rather than simply live off it.
For me, as the Editor of an Art Magazine, one that is devoted to ‘paintings and painters’ it seems clear that I should be looking to encourage other Artists to start to write about other Artists. If I am lucky enough to achieve that aim – I honestly think Art in general will be the better for it.

Artist and editor of TUBES – Denis Taylor

Header image of Giorgio Vasari an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.