In January I wrote a piece suggesting twelve bad habits the art world should break in the coming year. September ushers in a new art season, so what better time to examine whether these bad art habits are still holding you back from making great art?
Of course, I can admit I didn't follow my own words. (Oh, if you have to pile on the hypocrite!, by all means pile on.) I said artists needed to end the habit of consigning art work to galleries (in favor of straight, discounted artist-to-dealer sales) and also needed to challenge the art world to end it's associations with China until free artistic expression could be guaranteed there. That all sounded nice and easy... and then in April I opened a retail contemporary art gallery selling consigned artworks and located in L.A.'s Chinatown. Oops.
Well, as a mea culpa, I recently pranced around the semi-unchanged facades of old Chinatown with filmmaker Juri Koll to discuss the bad habits that the art world has come to accept as the way things are. Obviously there is a reason these methods have become standard -- at some point in time they were the effective solution to an existing problem. But as time goes on, these standards don't work flawlessly and may no longer really be the correct solutions for the challenge of making and exhibiting art. About that time, though, advocacy of these mannerisms begins to harden until they become really bad habits that work against both the creative process and the pursuit of audience.
Here is the intro to the series, explaining why the lack of creativity within the art world manifests itself as bad habits packaged as good advice:
In the first video, I revisited the bad habit of privileging academic credentials as a qualifier to curating art shows. Here I avoided discussing good/bad judgement of art exhibitions as the result of their curating; so many academic endeavors refuse to embrace qualitative judgements that I felt it was more important to break down the mythology surrounding credentialed curators than to discuss applying standards.
In the second video, the habit that needs to be broken is artists thinking they need to hire marketing people to push their career. The advice you get from people who are not even in the art world is laughable.
Next is a quick discussion about writing for free.
Artists are blessed with society's agreement that they may pursue their craft without compensation, but writers are expected to have a client involved in their every keyboard stroke. I write about art because it moves me; to be hired to do so inevitably destroys the bloom. In my original habit-breaking essay, I aimed specifically at art critics who are hired to write catalogue essays about artists. If I like an artist I am going to write about this person and their art with no marching orders from that person's studio.
Now we are rolling, and it is time to take on the bad habit of artists giving away their art to charity auctions. I'm reminded of the awful pop hit "Build Me Up Buttercup," which asked "Why do you build me up, just to let me down?" This is in regards to artists who let their work be devalued in the delusion that they are getting promotional value for their efforts.
For a deeper discussion on this particular topic, read the essay that over 4,000 Huffington Post readers have "liked," The Benefits of Boycotting Charity Art Auctions.
Juri is editing and posting these each week, so visit Juri's YouTube page and see what other habits of yours need breaking in the quest to make and display great art.