The Applause Factor: Why Do We Need People’s Seal Of Approval To Create Great Art?

Picture of a Perfume Bottle

Bottle Landscape: Composition 1. digital photography. For more examples of my photography please visit http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

Perhaps it is deeply ingrained in us to want and seek approval from our peers.

As tiny children many of us learned that our artistic talents would inevitably serve as a vehicle to generate the response from others that we felt, at least at some point, we badly needed, but do we still require public adulation in order to create meaningful art in a landscape of mass produced, simulated authenticity?

While constructive criticism is meant to be productive, often leading us to question the how, why and where we create art, do we always have to remain in comfortable agreement with the dictates of our present generation of thinkers?

Indeed, great art has been created during the most turbulent times.

The willing participants of a variety of art movements throughout the decades have often encountered intense opposition to their candid interpretation of the historical era in which they lived.

We all know that a great deal of growth involves risk.

The courage to take that risk in an often hostile, cutthroat environment leads many aspiring artists to despair as they try to predict what popular art critics will esteem.

Some artists value sustained attention on their artwork to such a degree, that they unapologetically hand over all control of their creative output to what they perceive is the reigning art intelligentsia.

While these artists may initially experience the attention that they desire (their Warholian fifteen minutes), eventually, they regret trading their unique artistic vision for the limited creative expression that they are allowed to have in order to maintain representation.

The galleries will sell what the market will bear; when that market does not currently include the work that certain artists produce, these particular artists find themselves confused, overwhelmed and unable to financially back the work that they are passionate about producing.

Not all art stories end the same way though, some artists are able to address their niche audience successfully while earning a decent living.

However, no matter how much artists wish to take mass consumer culture out of the mix, we are still forced to deal with the bottom line.

When we are young, naive, and fresh out of art school, we dream that we can “have it all”, without compromise, but the real world shows us that art is as much a business as real estate.

If this fact leaves you disenchanted with the idea of sharing your art with a public that may or may not always be ready to receive it, you’re in good company.

If artist’s wish to survive professionally, they will often find themselves compromising at some level in order to adapt to the current art market.

When considering these factors, artists feel like applause equals sales which results in a thriving business, yet this is not always the case.

Some works are critically acclaimed, but they do not sell well in the marketplace because they are unable to generate the kind of mass appeal that results in a sustainable income.

However, these works are considered great because they immediately address issues that are relevant socially, politically and historically.

On the other hand, some artists produce decorative art that the general population can easily appreciate; therefore, people are more likely to purchase work that reminds them of things that hold a special place of importance in their lives.

Work that reminds people of family, friends, beloved pets or special travel locations that they wish to visit or have visited in the past receive a different kind of applause which does in fact result in sales.

The natural birth and death of art trends will facilitate the opening and closing of small galleries hoping to ride the temporary wave of “latest discoveries”.

Should you create art exclusively for fabulous yet fickle collectors who are often highly influenced by well-established art world agents and gallery owners?

Will you join the ranks of decorative artists who produce design oriented works with the sole purpose of beautifying homes and offices?

Could you produce thought-provoking works that challenge the prevailing opinions, lifestyles, and attitudes of the current culture in which we live?

If your expression is not authentic, is the brief period of admiration you experience really worth it?

Whatever artist that you decide to become, (whether you make the majority of your money from art production or you choose to rely on another profession for additional income), you will never feel completely satisfied with your artwork or your role as an artist until you have enough guts to pursue the type of art that you have always wanted to create.

In time, you will find your audience, it may not always be big, but it will be a genuine.

7 Ways To Stop Living In The Past Before It Kills Your Future Art Career

Pigment Landscape 3-Wave Copy 2

Marisa D. Aceves. Pigment Landscape 3: Wave

For more digital photography and painting check out my site at acevesart.com

You know that feeling when you desperately want to move forward with your art career, but you just can’t seem to push those nagging insecurities, irrational fears and unsavory past events out of your mind.

“It’s ridiculous,” you tell yourself.

There is no apparent reason why the past should get in the way of the present, but inevitably it does.

Cleverly covering up your pessimistic view of the world, your art and the people in your life, you naively push your discomfort and general dissatisfaction down so that no one sees that you are effected by a crippling career killing enigma that few people understand, yet many experience, getting stuck in the past.

The daily pattern generally begins with comparing your present earnings with those of other artists working in the same medium.

You then bemoan the fact that they have probably finished their series before you have; yours is taking so much time to complete that you are not really sure exactly when it’s going to get done.

 Breathing heavily as you sigh with the passing of each ego deflating thought, you finally begin to give your precious studio time to mentally reliving all the career mistakes you have made and all the negative interactions  you’ve had with past clients, professors, friends family and acquaintances.

Does your future have to look like your past?

Can you ever gain the respect and recognition you want so badly.

Will you ever move beyond the vicious cycle of negativity that keeps you trapped in a way back machine with no exit door in sight?

There is a door that leads to the present, if you choose to dwell here, but you have to make an honest effort to leave past land behind.

Stepping into the present after you have mentally lived in the past is never easy, but by strategically addressing those areas that steal your peace, sleep and overall confidence, you can learn to stay focused on the things that you need to do to make your career happen.

1) Don’t Marinate In The Past, Plan For The Present So You Can Have a Future – There are few things that can make you more anxious then not knowing which activities you need to finish first.  Lack of structure can cause you to feel confused and hurried. As a result, you can’t enjoy the art you love to do or gain the exposure that you desire because you have never made a decision to write down the goals that you wish to reach in each area of your art business. There are some areas you will need to address immediately before you decide to tackle larger more complicated projects. An added bonus to making a list of all of the goals that you will need to meet to give your art business a better chance at success, is that after you reach a goal, you can check it off your list. This will give you a feeling of satisfaction as you can see in real time that you actually are moving forward.

2) Stop Hiding And Go Seek – While you might prefer to spend all of your time creating art, you need to reach out to your local arts community as well as looking for appropriate venues to showcase your art.  It is easy to worry about not having the skills to take the opportunities that you see around you.  Don’t aim for the opportunities for which you are not yet qualified, but do seek out those opportunities that are within or appropriate to you specific level of ability and experience. Remind yourself this will change as you grow in skills and experience.

3) Move It Or Lose The Day To Negativity – An overabundance of negativity can eventually lead to procrastination and inactivity.  Instead of beating up on yourself every time you feel that you are not moving fast enough or planning is taking too long, consider the things that you can get done at the moment.  For instance, if one of your paintings is taking a long time to dry because of stormy weather, you could tweak your artist statement, research current art world trends, or prepare packages to ship to galleries. What you are working on at the moment may not be what you want to be doing, but at least you are taking care of other important areas of your art business.

4) Study Don’t Worry – Spending hours worrying about whether or not you are good enough to have your own art business wastes time. All the worry in the world won’t improve your skills only diligent study and preparation. There is no easy way to do this, but you can encourage yourself by realizing that over time you will improve your style and technique.

5) Meditate On Criticism That Is Constructive Not Destructive – None of us like to be criticized, but when it gets downright nasty, the sting is often hard to forget. While you may not like people telling you how and in what way you need to improve, it’s necessary for growth.  Focus on positive constructive criticism, the kind where the people that are giving the critique have you best interest at heart not the destructive type in which people tear you apart and berate your artwork  just to make themselves feel better. Clearly, in these particular cases it is the art bullies own insecurities that result in vicious behavior.

6) Eat Your Humble Pie, But Don’t Undervalue Your Abilities- One of the quickest ways to become resentful is to undervalue you abilities and your artwork.  When you make a practice of constantly giving away or undercharging for you work, people will get the impression that you don’t place much value on what you do. Unscrupulous people will gleefully take advantage, while nicer folks will scratch their heads in disbelief and then either forget about what you do or question your credibility.

7) Take A Realistic Not Surrealistic Perspective On The Things That Are Holding You Back- If you are prone to negativity, you probably catch yourself blowing everyday frustrations our of proportion. Throughout the course of your career, you will always find some things that you will need to work on. Make an honest effort to view these daily frustrations and occasional setbacks as they really are not as you feel they are. When you learn to separate your feelings from the actual events that are taking place, you can then come up with a plan to work on and eventually overcome these areas of difficulty.

 The past is called the past because it happened before this moment; it is not happening in this moment unless you decide you want to live there. While the past, although sometimes miserable, is familiar, the present offers new chances to establish better more productive practices that can change the way you function and view your role as an artist.

The Key To Finding Inspiration In Unexpected Places Part 2

DSCN5322 copy

Marisa D. Aceves. Bubble Landscape III (Red). digital photography http://www.acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

I am sure that you have heard the tried but always true saying, “Inspiration is were you find it”, but what if you’re having trouble finding a source of inspiration.

Everywhere around you, popular culture conditions you to believe that if you don’t do it “BIG” it isn’t worth doing.

If you don’t capture some huge monumental event or make a historical breakthrough, then the art you produce isn’t worth doing.

While we all would like to give into the “I’m not doing it “BIGGER” yet so therefore it’s not better” despair, we need to remember that life is not full of “BIG” events, it’s full of many “small” ones.

These small events like spare change in your pocket may not seem like much at first, but they quickly add up to make the “BIGGEST” event you will ever experience, your life.

You can gain both inspiration and insight if you pay attention to the “little” things that surround you.

It’s these “little” things that people cherish, though they are often overlooked even forgotten.

The story behind the picture featured above is a simple one.

A family excursion to the local Dollar Store led to the search for a familiar object to photograph.

Initially, we had decided to pick up some plastic sandwich bags and various other items we would need for the weeks chores.

When we walked in, we headed for the far left of the store.

Measuring cups, plastic ladles, and chip clips lined the isle.

Nothing really struck me as interesting until “it” popped up right in front of me.

The small transparent plastic napkin holder sat on the bottom shelf.

I picked it up instantly examining the many colors shining through it’s beaded surface.

This was the object I was going to photograph.

To the undiscerning eye it was just a cheap picnic napkin holder, but I knew it had potential.

I could choose to see it as a napkin holder and pass it by, but I decided to make it my subject.

The napkin holder would represent more than just a napkin holder, it would serve to deliver a message about the beauty and wonder in common objects and everyday life.

It was my personal challenge to make this common object interesting.

I had to give it life.

I had to help others see the aesthetic value of what would otherwise be considered disposable and forgettable, because if they could do this with a common object, they could learn to approach their lives and the people that they met with appreciation and gratitude.

A fellow artist and photographer, Misty Dreamer 10, tweeted a picture of a beautiful sunset with the message that everyday was beautiful you just had to choose to see it.

Artistic inspiration is all around us; it is in common objects, our relationships, nature, our pets etc.

We just have to choose to see it.

Why Your Differences Are The Hidden Blessings That Can Help Your Art Stand Out

DSCN5251

Marisa D. Aceves. Distant Memory. digital photography http://acevesart.com/

article by Marisa D. Aceves

In a sea of artists producing similar work and selling it successfully, it is easy for artists that create work outside the accepted status quo to feel both bewildered and distressed about their future.

Many of us know there are few certainties in life and yet we crave stability; We often seek it out even if it means that we give up pursuing our latest innovations.

The fear of failure is alive today as it has been for centuries.

It’s not going away.

We have to battle it one piece of artwork at a time.

Despite the overwhelming feelings some of us face as we force ourselves to push forward into unchartered artistic territory, the very things that make us different are the important elements (if used correctly) that can help us stand out.

Here are some helpful tips for overcoming the perceived mental blocks that keep us from confidence in our creativity:

1) Research Your Niche 

Carefully study what other people in your niche are creating.  How are they marketing their work? Who is their target audience?  What works for them? What doesn’t? Add your own personal voice and style to differentiate yourself from artists producing similar work. We all would like to do our own thing. We should produce the artwork that holds the most interest for us, but sometimes when the general population have difficulty with accepting the type of work we are producing, we may also have to look at what does appeal to people and why? When you complete this exercise, you are able to get outside of yourself. You begin to get valuable insights into how others view things.

2) Create Your Brand Around Your Unique Vision

Branding is a necessity, because it helps others to both know and trust you.  If an audience doesn’t know you, than trust will be difficult if not impossible.  As you market your work across different social media platforms, make sure that you are consistent with your overall message. Generally people are more likely to respond to new and different art when you reach them through your message. If your message resonates with them, then your art business has a much better chance of survival. The art then is a symbol for that message. Each time people see your work, they will think about that message because you have given them something to relate to.

3) Network With Other Artists 

Make friends and business connections with other artists.  Some may have similar interests; others may not.  When you have similar interests with other artists you may share what works and what does not. If you are in contact with artists that may not have similar interests, sometimes they can help you to view your niche from a unique perspective. Connections are key to building a successful art business.  When you reach out to others for support and encouragement, don’t forget to provide it.

4) Become A Storyteller

People want to know the story behind your art.  Share both obstacles and inspiration, but be careful not to divulge inappropriate or personal information that could hurt you and your business. When writing about your story, consider these questions:

a) What are you trying to say with your work?

b) What is important to you and why?

c) How does your world view effect the type of work you produce?

5) Share Your Success Stories

When people like and trust you, they are more likely to buy from you and promote your work.  There is nothing wrong with letting people know about a sale that you have made, a contest you have won, your latest commission or a show that features your work as long as you do this appropriately and politely. Simply informing your audience about peoples’ appreciation of your products and services is acceptable. Constantly boasting about your abilities or how much money you make can eventually irritate your audience and keep them from visiting your website so practice discretion.

While researching or creating your niche is a challenge, remember this: No thing worth doing is ever easy. The healthiest approach to tackling difficult aspects of your art business is to view them as both learning opportunities and teaching moments. If you apply the same mixture of discovery and discipline to your marketing efforts, finding your niche will be more enjoyable and less intimidating.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact me.  I’d love to hear from you.

Till Death Do Us Art: How To Say Goodbye to your Old Work

Till Death Do Us Art: How To Say Goodbye to your Old Work

Yes, you gave birth to that baby gathering dust in your closet back in high school. Your dying to get rid of it, but somehow it speaks to you from beneath mounds of dust bunnies and dead crickets. Suddenly you feel both love and hate for your long lost creation, yet you just can’t bare to let it go. Why?

Perhaps this work is a link to your past, reminding you of a time when you cared less about your creative outcome and more about the process of creating. You feel that you need to keep it because someday, it may inspire you to do something different, something great, something awesome and inspirational. The roaches and the doodle bugs need culture, you muse. So you cling to the art blast from your distant past that doesn’t love you back. When you finally wake up and smell the oily, yellowed college ruled paper that you sketched it on, you begin to realize what deep inside you have known all along. It probably never will. You will fail to find it’s hidden brilliance; it simply has no brilliance. It will fail at every angle from which it is viewed because at the time you produced it, you knew nothing about composition. Failing is part of success; it is a part of growth. Letting go of old art that has nothing to do with the work that you are producing now and will offer no real source of inspiration for future work is also a part of growth.

When it’s time to make that fateful decision whether to keep a work or to lose it, consider these suggestions that have helped me to clear my studio space.

1. Confidently pitch dated class projects-
Many people in the fine arts fondly refer to class projects as “student work.” Unless the outcome of a project was unusually brilliant (ex a strong, solid work that has influenced the style or subject matter of your present work or has won you an award from it’s entry into a well know publication) it is probably safe to assume you won’t be using it as a well of perpetual inspiration. Instead let it gently sail into one of those handsome black hefty bags that you keep in the kitchen cabinet.

2. Shred artwork that is damaged beyond repair-
If the materials that you used to create your work are yellowed, musty, moth-eaten and foul smelling chances are your avid collectors won’t appreciate adding these pieces to their collections either. Do yourself a favor and save your reputation. Toss them. If you don’t respect your art, who will. If you don’t respect your collectors, that can be deadly.

3. Kill ancient abandoned experiments-
You know you’ll never get back to these pieces. You chiseled, your smeared, your dabbled. They conquered you. They beat you up in that dark alley between mediocrity and brilliance. If keeping these pieces doesn’t inspire or push you to fight to express your unique, personal vision, then why revisit them. If you must preserve some memory, snap a digital picture, it takes up less space.

4. Dump unsophisticated, problematic work that you love to hate-
Work that lacks a definite, style, composition, strong color scheme, has no redeeming qualities, and has been sitting in a dark damp closet or lonely cramped corner for years, doing it’s won thing deserves an unceremonious drop kick in to the trash compactor. If you can’t find a way out, a way in, a way through, or a clever way to recycle this particular artistic mess and you are not willing to, than you know that you have a decision to make.

While their is some secret part of us that wishes that everything that we produce or have produced is gold, the harsh reality is that we make a lot of mistakes along the way. Many of these mistakes over time, are not worth keeping, some are. As we bravely continue on our own individual artistic journeys, we slowly learn which ones to keep and which ones to discard. Still, the beauty lies in knowing that there are other artists that share our experiences and they too have to make difficult decisions such as these. We are not alone in our triumphs and our failures.
*SPECIAL NOTE: If you are a student, and you find yourself reading this article, you may want to modify these suggestions as you are probably still developing the style and subject matter that you will want to market later on in the future.

*If you have any comments or questions about this post feel free to share!
I’d love to hear from you.

Attack Of The Art Clones: Why Is It So Important To Be Your Own Artist?

Attack Of The Art Clones: Why Is It So Important To Be Your Own Artist?

You’ve probably heard this scenario a dozen times before.

An artist creates a certain style of work that really resonates with a certain group of people.  He or she independently creates a new niche market for their particular style of work.  The artist is able to license his or her work and consequently create various streams of income from their original creations.

Some artist see this. Visions of fame and fortune dance in their heads.  They too want to live that dream.  So they make the bold decision to copy this particular artist’s work because they half-heartedly believe that they can vicariously experience the same success.

Call it insecurity.

Call it desperation.

It happens more often then we’d like to think. When it does, millions of copycat, paintings, drawings etc. crop up all over the internet.  Sure, there are slight variations, but for the most part, the subject matter and compositions are exactly the same as the original artist. Yes, if you practice enough, and you are relatively good at coping someone else’s style, you may indeed sell paintings.  However, you will always be considered an inferior version of the artist that you’ve copied.  As if living with that truth is not enough, you also face the possibility of being taken to court for copyright infringement.  Even well known artists have encountered serious legal problems for using another artist’s work without their permission. Artist beware. This is not the way to go.

Although cultivating your own unique artistic style in a never-ending sea of sameness seems like a scary often difficult task, it is an important factor in setting your work apart from the millions of other artists whose works populate the internet. The truth, is that it takes time and considerable effort to figure out who you are and what you want to say with your art. Research to find out which galleries to approach and which social media to use in order to target the ideal audience for your work is also time consuming, but it is well worth your sincere efforts.

Don’t be a part of the art glut.  Don’t ride the coat tails of someone else’s genius, hoping that you will discover yours along the way. You are your own artist with your own unique voice. When you discover who you are, share your awesome talents with the world.  Compromise often leads to regret. You can only suppress you for so long before resentment sets in and the joy you used to gain from creating is gone.

Feel free to share your comments.  I’d love to hear from you!