Queens Open Engagement and the Power of Art Activism

On May 11th-13th, 2018, the Queens Museum held their 10th annual Open Engagement event. Hundreds of artists, activists, educators, creatives, and students alike attended the program to explore this year’s theme of Sustainability. The Open Engagement consisted of numerous activities, speakers, and various other ways for artists and activists to marry their mediums of expression to deliver a powerful message of sustainability.

There were several different interactive activity stations, based in the visual arts. One station was hosted by Mobile Print Power, a printmaking collective based in Corona, Queens. At the station, they had a printmaker on site who taught visitors how to silk-screen while going more in depth about their mission. This particular site focused on making tote bags addressing the question “What does a community of trust, compassion, and inclusion look like and how do we build relationships to make that real?” They host workshops every week, and their collective is compiled of both artists and activists who seek to unpack social and cultural issues through printmaking. You can learn more about Mobile Print Power and their workshops here.

Mobile Print Power station Photo credit: Netanel Saso

Another station was hosted by Greenspace NYC, a non-profit organization that organizes and creates free programs, workshops, and design projects to educate the public about issues surrounding sustainability in NYC and across the globe. For the past three years, they have created an event called the Civic Art Lab, which is a pop-up gallery and workshop space that takes place every October. The Civic Art Lab explores topics ranging from climate change to sustainable architecture to urban agriculture. Their station at the Open Engagement included a pop-up gallery that exhibited works covering these topics. Here you can find information about last year’s Civic Art Lab, and stay updated with information about next year’s gallery.

A company called PulpMobile hosted a station, where mixed-media artist Rejin Leys created a mobile cart that showcased how paper is made, and allowed community members to make paper as well. In this interactive station, visitors could make their own page or use a pre-made page, and even learn how to make paper out of recycled materials. You can learn more about PulpMobile here, and further explore Leys’ work here.

There was also an Open Platform that allowed various speakers to give lectures and talks on the theme of sustainability. Sculptures That Talk gave a speech on protection of public land, and specifically on the protection of the land of Oak Flat, Arizona, which is sacred to the San Carlos Apache. Sculptures That Talk is a collaborative work and public sculpture that seeks to educate and engage members of the community. Erin Turner, one of the presenters, is working to create an Oak Flat interactive sculpture that will involve both the natives and the landscape to construct this collaborative piece.  Turner discussed the history of San Carlos Apache concentration camps in the United States, as well as Native American removal practices. Her piece aims to educate the public about the protection of this sacred land, and with it the advocating for emotional and spiritual safety for the indigenous people of this area. It is a powerful project, revealing how identity and environment are so interwoven, and exhibiting this idea through a sculpture that illustrates identity and landscape through art.

The Open Platform where guest speakers presented. Photo credit: Netanel Saso

Speaker Grace Lynne Haynes came to discuss the topic of Social Impact and Design. Haynes is an LA based social impact artist, using her art to bring awareness to social justice and underrepresented communities. She is mainly an illustration artist who uses social media to promote her work. She discussed how to use art and design as a tool for the community, and mentions a community of color in LA that runs and performs in their own theater company. Haynes explains the deep run issues within the education system, and how it benefits very few people. Her work seeks to engage the community with family oriented interactive themes, like creating workshops for children that lets them channel their creativity and use the power of image to tell stories. She is also involved in travel-based projects, and had recently returned from a trip to Egypt where she created a mural. The mural was a wall painting that focused on themes of women’s empowerment, and was a collaboration project with Egyptian women artists who all currently work in Egypt. She mentioned that this experience was unusual as the area is typically a male dominated area with high rates of sexual assault, but she participated in an exclusively woman-based project.

The Queens Open Engagement is an excellent way to bring artists and activists together under a uniting theme. Witnessing the powerful projects that so many artist-activists are working on and the communities that they foster reveals how inspiring art can be, and how it can manifest in so many different areas of life. There are so many different avenues your art can make an impact on a community or an issue. Art is truly one of the most powerful vehicles to spread your message.

Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain, and the Vulnerability of Creative Entrepreneurs to Mental Illness

by Isabel Lamont and Baruni Sharma

The other week, the world was devastated with the news of fashion designer and creative entrepreneur Kate Spade’s passing. Only three days later, we found out that another creative entrepreneur, renowned chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain, had also died. And what is even more devastating is that both of these deaths were caused by suicide.

What puts creative entrepreneurs at such a high risk for anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses? At first glance, it seems as though these two individuals had it all: they were famous, successful, and had made meaningful impacts on countless people around the world. Yet, while on paper they appeared to live a picture-perfect life, the reality of a creative entrepreneur is wildly different from what the public sees, and the reality of a person with depression is vastly different from what any other person sees.

The Unique Journey of a Creative Entrepreneur

The journey of a creative entrepreneur is unique to that of any other field. While many entrepreneurs strive to develop something to better the world, as a creative entrepreneur you do this in a way that is intrinsically connected to yourself– through your craft. A regular entrepreneur has a vision, but the creative entrepreneur possesses a unique artistic vision inseparable from their own personality and character. Art is an expression of the self– it is one of the most vulnerable things someone can put out into the world. This is the difference between creative entrepreneurs and the rest: while a typical entrepreneur can remove themself from the product to a certain degree, creative entrepreneurs simply cannot. You are offering a part of yourself to the world, which makes the highs and lows of your journey far more extreme.

Courtesy of The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/05/fashion/kate-spade-dead.html

And that’s the thing about being an entrepreneur: the nature of the profession calls for a rollercoaster ride that doesn’t seem to end. It’s incredibly exciting, but also painfully unstable at times. The side most people don’t see of entrepreneurship is that you are constantly pitching your vision to just about everyone, from friends to major companies. And you are constantly getting rejected.

When someone enthusiastically hops on board with your vision, it gives you an insurmountable feeling of joy and acceptance. But when those rejections start coming in, it creates a deep cut. When creative entrepreneurs experience rejection, it is so much more than a rejection of vision– it is a rejection of the self. And that’s an extreme emotion to experience time and time again. It eventually will wear you down.

Mental Health Research Shows Creatives are at Higher Risk

A study published by the Felix Post in 1996 suggested that most creative personalities around the world had more distinguishable personality traits and problems with substance abuse than the general population. The prevalence of mental disorders, particularly depression, are alarmingly common amongst famous personalities in the creative arts fields. It is, however, debatable whether the depression is a cause or an effect of such creativity.

Anthony Bourdain, courtesy of NBC News.
https://www.nbcnews.com/pop-culture/celebrity/anthony-bourdain-celebrity-chef-parts-unknown-host-dies-61-n881251

It has been commonly said that, in order to perform or create, one must feel. A writer, a painter and an actor alike must have felt some sort of pain to project their emotions onto their work. But even further, the underappreciation of such creative geniuses can be a major cause of depression, and thereafter, suicide; which we have seen even centuries before.

Depressive disorders, especially since the 1960’s, have been largely ignored or misdiagnosed. Those with depression are usually given negative labels, such as lazy or dramatic, and proper care is rarely given to these people. The lack of attention given to mental health has been a cause of an alarmingly high number of suicides all over the world.

The aforementioned study also highlights a higher prevalence of bipolar disorder amongst poets than other playwrights and writers. However, poets were otherwise least affected by other common problems such as alcoholism, depression,and other conflicts in personal life. In another study by a Swedish group of researchers from the Karolinska Institute found that persons in the creative arts field such as dancers, photographers and authors were 8% more likely to suffer from bipolar disorder than the average population. Writers, in fact, were 50% more likely to commit suicide than the general population. Furthermore, men in the creative arts fields are less exposed to depression and other mental illnesses than women in the same fields.

Another very vulnerable group of people are those who have had the courage to start their own businesses. Entrepreneurs, due to the consistent rejection and failure in the initial months of their business, are found more susceptible to giving in to the thought of commiting suicide. To exacerbate these situations, it is also harder for entrepreneurs to ask for help in fear of hearing the “I told you so’s”. It was only after Brad Feld, an established entrepreneur, started talking about the shame associated with his depression, did a conversation start revolving around entrepreneurial mental health.

Ultimately, while research reveals the higher association of mental illness with both creatives and entrepreneurs, the effect that working in a field that is both entrepreneurial and creative has on an individual is compounded.

How Do We Create a Better Future for Creative Entrepreneurs?

I wish that the answer was as simple as suggesting a diet change, or telling people to exercise, or something like practicing mindfulness. I wish it was even as simple as checking in on your friends and loved ones, as we have been reminded to do incessantly these past couple of weeks. Sadly, it’s not as straightforward as that. Because the truth is, depression is such a serious disease, and while these aforementioned things may alleviate someone’s struggle or symptoms, in order for things to get better, changes need to happen at a much larger scale.

First, there needs to be more mental health professionals working with creative entrepreneurs, and giving them the help that they specifically need. This means that there needs to be an increase in therapists and psychologists who specialize in mental health for creatives. Even further, these specialists should be asking creative entrepreneurs what it is they specifically need or struggle with, and coming up with creative solutions to help them.

Also, we unfortunately live in a world where how much you produce is considered the most important thing about you. Especially with creative entrepreneurs, and even more so when they become widely successful, the pressure to produce increases. They are told that if they take time to recuperate that they will lose out on major sales. Especially for creative entrepreneurs, where their brand is so interconnected with themselves, they feel as though their work is their entire life. Taking the time to heal is absolutely crucial, especially as a creative entrepreneur. If you experience burn out, your creativity will fall and your mental health with suffer. For business owners and business coaches, understanding the need for these mental health breaks is necessary. Taking care of your health is more important than any profit or gain, and this is constantly ignored in the business world. Creatives also tend to be more emotionally sensitive people, which makes them more prone to creative and emotional burnout. If you are someone who works with creative individuals, I urge that you take this into consideration, because you never know what someone is going through. And if you are a creative person yourself, or someone who is personally struggling with your mental health, I strongly encourage you to take as much time and space that you need to heal, because your health is far more valuable than your brand or your art.

What Kate Spade Means to Me

by Netanel Saso

VAR Fellow Netanel Saso explores what Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain’s brands mean to her, and interviews 15 women on the streets of Manhattan to find out how Kate Spade impacted them as well.

Visual Arts Reimagined was designed to focus on creative entrepreneurship, and as a current fellow at VAR with a plan to start my own business embedded in the arts, the loss of entrepreneurs Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain really hit home. What always catches my attention are the stories of how small brands rise to success, and the fact that Kate Spade as a brand grew after the creation of just one handbag, and that Anthony Bourdain turned his passion into his job much later on in his life, is truly inspirational. Once I heard about the loss of Kate Spade, I immediately contacted my friends, and stopped any woman that I could on the streets of New York with a Kate Spade item, and asked them to share their story about why they love the brand. A lot of the responses that I received reminded me that Kate Spade goes beyond a tactile object, as most of the women I talked to associated the brand with the first designer bag they ever got from their mothers. The fact that the brand has the ability to shapeshift from being a staple piece in a woman’s closet, to being a symbol or memory of a significant point of a woman’s development and relationship to their mother at an early age, is truly what a brand should strive to do. 

What I love about Kate Spade as a brand, is how it is multigenerational. Growing up, I always saw my mother with Kate Spade bags, and because of her, I slowly started getting into the brand my senior year of high school too. I remember that I was juggling homework, college applications, and a part time job that seemed like a full time job all at once, and my mother wanted to get me a gift that would remind me to slow down. She was well aware that Kate Spade made novelty bags, but when she saw that one of their novelty bags was a wicker snail, she did everything she could to find it because it was no longer in stores. She looked at every resale website possible until she tracked down one of the snail bags on Poshmark, and later on gifted it to me. Little did my mom know that the sweetest gift she ever gave me would make me obsessed with Kate Spade. I never thought that I would be able to walk around with a snail bag and feel comfortable, but boy was I wrong! There is a certain kind of confidence that Kate Spade as a brand exudes, and at a time where I was worried about getting into colleges, I needed to have a bit of humor literally on my side to take me away from being stuck inside of my head. The fact that a brand represents this piercing side to every personality, is perhaps why so many women are drawn to Kate Spade.

A collection of Netenal’s Kate Spade accessories.

 

Many of the women I stopped on the street told me that they were actually not into flashy brands. As an arts major, I have always been interested in why the Kate Spade logo has no capital letters in it. At first, I figured that though Kate Spade was the mastermind behind the brand, she did not want her name to overpower the name of the woman who would purchase an item from her. The logo might have even been aimed at women feeling as though they could be one of Kate Spade’s friends or literally just like Kate Spade when they grow up. After a bit of research, myself and a colleague discovered that lowercase letters go hand in hand with depression. This secret message that is ingrained into every single one of her bags could only be deciphered after her death. As the full story was right in front of her consumer’s eyes all along, fans might now feel a little uneasy. Though the brand now carries much more of a weight with it, there is a sort of beauty and sense of closure that

Netenal’s own Kate Spade purse collection.f my head. The fact that a brand represents this piercing side to every personality, is perhaps why so many women are drawn to Kate Spade.

can be placed in how even though Kate Spade sold her brand, she never truly gave it all away.

Not only has Kate Spade projected herself onto objects that will outlive her, but so has Anthony Bourdain, through filming every person he has gotten to interact with throughout different regions. All across the world cultural food is revered, however in America a relatively young country, our food is merely adopted. Anthony Bourdain traveled to multiple different countries throughout his tv show series Parts Unknown, and never refused a single dish that was offered to him. He traveled to each location, open to anything, which is critical for an entrepreneur. Because he said yes to anything and everything that came his way, he played a major role for many of his young viewers, as he was an advocate for trying new foods, and learning about other cultures. Not only did Anthony show viewers what he learned, but he took them on the journey with him, and because of that, just as kate spade took a back seat alongside her branding, both entrepreneurs became humanitarians.

Below is a slide show of 15 women with their Kate Spade bags and their statements on what they love about her brand.

  • "I believe that Kate Spade has created bags that are timeless, and that all women, even if they don’t own an item from the brand, can identify with the brand." Mariana Scaff Instagram - Mariscaff Photo Credit - Netanel Saso Instagram @netanelsaso

What It Takes for Women to Lead in the Workplace– and What This Means for Artists

by Isabel Lamont

Even in the wake of the twenty-first century, with women nearing equality more so than ever before, we still face much discrimination in our daily lives. One place where this inequity is still clearly apparent is in the workplace. In the grander scheme of the professional world, women experience a significant wage gap: on average, women only make 78 cents to the man’s dollar, though they represent 47% of the workforce. Further, in the United States, Asian women only make 87 cents to the dollar, Black women make 62 cents, Native women make 57 cents, and Latina women make 54 cents. Women also do not get exposure to career-making jobs as much as men, lack female role models in the workplace, and experience double-standards that inform how their male coworkers perceive their competence and likability. Women of color and LGBT+ women experience further biases in the workplace due to their race and sexual orientation. With so many hurdles stacked against women in their professional life, becoming leaders in their place of work may seem like an exhausting and frustrating task. And truthfully, it is an extremely difficult task that requires extensive mental and emotional energy.

However, for professional women, especially artists, becoming the leader of your own career is crucial for establishing your professional success. For the modern artist and creative, adopting an entrepreneurial mindset and taking agency over the direction of your career is what the modern art market demands. For many artists, this may be somewhat out of their comfort zone– many creatives pursue a professional path in art to avoid the pressures and cutthroat tendencies of the business world. We are constantly being divided into leaders and followers– the term “natural born leader” is one that is constantly tossed around in the professional sphere. However, this term is more often than not attributed to charismatic and extroverted men. What does it mean to be a leader for quieter, more compassionate, and more feminine personalities– especially since these traits are often attributed to women? I advise that you discard whatever notion you have of what a leader looks like, and especially the idea that leaders are born, not made.

Women possess many strong, but more subdued, skills that make them powerful leaders. One skill to note is that of self-awareness. Self-awareness is knowing where your strengths and weaknesses lie, and has been cited as one of the most important qualities in successful leaders. It is also a skill that is found significantly more in female leaders than their male counterparts. Women are also able to adapt more to different environments, situations, and colleagues, which allows them a clear mind in making decisions. Women clearly possess the expertise and emotional intelligence to become outstanding leaders. However, finding a way to employ these skills in a male-dominated workplace is still a considerable hurdle. The key to establishing an effective leadership style as a woman involves both the self-awareness and emotional intelligence that women already tend to have.  

As women, we cannot simply imitate the leadership styles of men– the gender-based biases and double-standards prevent us from being able to do this, as we would be labelled as “too aggressive” or “too bossy,” though unfairly so. Instead, women must create their own unique and different approach to leadership. This will vary with different personalities, but each style will incorporate elements that are characteristic of typical leaders while accentuating the more feminine qualities– which are so powerful in and of themselves.

To give a better idea of what this hybrid leadership looks like for women, I will outline several examples of how leadership differs from woman to woman. One type of leadership style is the “Female Pioneer,” a term coined by Steve Tappin and Ana Marinovic. These women tend to be older and have paved the way for younger female leaders. Because of this, their leadership type is the most similar to that of the traditional male leadership style: no-nonsense and down to business. In contrast to this leadership type, there are the women who will place more emphasis on the feminine qualities in their leadership. These types of leaders will work more towards open communication, listening to all parties involved, and offering care and support to their employees. Another type of female leader is somewhere in between the previous two examples: they use their own ambition and drive to succeed, but adopt their own unique philosophies on leadership that they have developed throughout their own life. Lastly, there are women who lead through inspiration and a greater global purpose. These are the women who want to change the world for the better– they use their inspiring lives, stories, and personalities to lead the next generation.

While these are some examples of how women have created their own path in leadership, they are in no way confines to how all women should lead. The beauty, but also the challenge, in women finding their leadership style is that 

there is no template for them to go off of– we must carve out our own space in the professional world as leaders. How does this apply to artists and creatives? Since many artists need to start adopting an entrepreneurial mindset, and since both artists and entrepreneurs share many of the same qualities, they are going to also have to become leaders– leaders of their own business, leaders of creativity and innovation, and leaders of their own career. For many artists, conforming to the typical extroverted and masculine leader would be unnatural to their personality and ultimately futile. For female artists especially, developing your own distinguished type of leadership will not only make it easier to work with colleagues and clients, it will be crucial in succeeding in your career while staying true to who you are.

 

 

What Should You Add To Your Schedule?: Healthy Scheduling That Will Help You Build Your Brand And Grow As An Entrepreneur

by Danielle Dyen-Shapiro

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
Stephen Covey (American Educator and Author)

Everyone has a busy schedule, but it is what you do with the time you have that matters. Becoming a successful entrepreneur requires a lot of time, and sometimes there isn’t enough time in the day to just relax. By choosing specific events to attend and planning your day accordingly, you can find new things to enjoy other than the monotonous day-to-day activities.

Choose Events To Go To For Fun

As a society, we are always running around and never give ourselves a break. The little voices in our heads say that because of all of the work that we have to do we are not allowed to have fun. While that may be true, if you are continuously working, and there isn’t a time for fun or a break, the quality of your work will suffer.

Go out and attend a yoga class, go out with friends, visit a museum or gallery opening, or watch a movie. After your break, you will feel refreshed and you can return to your work. Even if you only have 15 minutes, you can still watch a short film or take a walk. The break will help you think.

 

2. Choose Events To Help Network Yourself And Your Brand

While taking a break for fun is always a good thing to do, choosing events to help network yourself is just as important. You can go out for fun and network yourself at the same time. For example, if you are an artist and you go and see other artist’s work at a gallery opening, you can be inspired by their work and create your own masterpiece. In this same situation, you can meet other artists in the city and give them your information. If they like your work, they will tell their friends and when you have a gallery opening of your own, you will have people that you recognize there. This does not only have to be about art as you can establish your network in any field, for any interest, by putting yourself out there.

3. Choose Events To Go To Learn More About The Field That You Are In

There is always something going on in the area that you live in. You just have to find it. Get out of your comfort zone. Take classes and learn about what others in your field focus on. Always go back to the basics.You’re probably wondering why you should take a class in the basics when you are proficient in your craft. By going back to the basics you may learn a new technique or way of doing something that you have never heard of before. This can influence your work.

Everyone needs a break, without them, how will we succeed?

5 Personality Traits That Both Artists and Entrepreneurs Share

At first, entrepreneurs and artists seem like they would occupy opposite ends of the personality spectrum. You may think of entrepreneurs as type-A, outgoing opportunity-seekers while artists are sensitive, dreamy introverts. However, those who choose to pursue an artistic or entrepreneurial career tend to actually possess many of the same personality traits, meaning that the title of “artist” and “entrepreneur” may not be so vastly different from each other. While there is no standard personality type for either profession, here are five characteristics that both artists and entrepreneurs tend to possess.

  1. Creativity

While creativity is the most obvious trait of an artist, it is also a crucial skill for entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs need to see the world through a different lens than everyone else– that is how they envision and innovate new ideas that inspire their businesses. Entrepreneurs are always thinking about how to create something that makes the world better or makes something that already exists better. Just like artists create artwork that is original and unique to their creative self, entrepreneurs create big ideas that are unique to their own perception of the world.

2. Openness to Experience

Out of the “Big Five” personality traits, the one that both entrepreneurs and creatives share alike is openness to experience. The openness to experience personality trait entails originality, imagination, daringness, having a broad range of interests, and preferring variety in the day to day instead of fixed routines. Recent research has found that openness to experience is the number one predictor of creative achievement. This is because those who are more open to experience are seeking the positive rewards found in new experiences, instead of fearing failure, humiliation, and rejection that can also come with new experiences. Those who are more open to experience are simply exposed to a greater amount and variety of stimuli, which results in higher brain plasticity. Researchers have also found that entrepreneurs are consistently more open to experience than managers. They hypothesize that entrepreneurs are more attracted to constantly changing experiences and novel challenges, which ultimately leads to more creative business decisions and more original business models.

 

3. Passion

Both entrepreneurs must have passion in order to succeed in their career. As both professions are unconventional jobs that require long hours, many rejections, and long periods of failure. These conditions make it extremely difficult to put in the work it takes to be an artist or entrepreneur, especially if it doesn’t appear to be paying off. That is why passion is so important– it motivates entrepreneurs and artists to do the work they need to do. Passion is the quality that fuels the drive, patience, and persistence that is crucial for the long-term success.

 

4. Vision

Both artists and entrepreneurs must have a vision– it is their vision that ultimately motivates their passion and their drive. Some of the most successful entrepreneurial startups, such as Google, Facebook, and Tesla, were birthed from a clear, yet highly ambitious, vision. Their entrepreneurial vision gave them something to be passionate about, which drove them to their success in the end. Similar to entrepreneurial vision, artistic vision is equally important to a successful career in art. Research have found that creative people actually visually perceive the world differently than others, which leads to the originality and uniqueness of their artwork. The artist’s own creative vision, like the entrepreneur’s, gives them something to be passionate and driven about.

5. Risk-takers

Risk-taking is a necessity for entrepreneurs. The whole process of starting a new business entails business risks, but also deeper risks. When entrepreneurs put their vision and ideas out into the world, they are running the risk of failure, rejection, and humiliation. However, no successful entrepreneur has ever made it by playing it safe. Big ideas come with big risks– it is simply the nature of entrepreneurship. Risk-taking is vital to a career in art, as well. The profession of art naturally comes with risks, as the field is fiercely competitive and the risk of not becoming successful is omnipresent. Further, artists do not make a steady or stable income, which brings about financial risks. But even within the process of creating, artists run a high potential for failure. Art is so personal and subjective that the potential for risk is higher, and the painfulness of failure is more intense. Many artists have different relationships with failure, yet it is something that all artists must overcome in order to be successful.

Why is it important that these two groups are not so different after all? Research has shown that the direction the art world is moving in is an entrepreneurial one, which makes it all the more necessary for artists and creatives to develop their entrepreneurial and business skills. Since the title of “entrepreneur” is often one artists reject– as they believe business and art should not mix– traditional art schools fail to prepare their students with the necessary skills they need. Luckily, organizations such as Visual Arts Reimagined provide consulting and training services for young, emerging artists that are looking to further develop these crucial skills. And, after all, artists and entrepreneurs are not so different– the two titles go together naturally, just in time for the age of the artist-entrepreneur.

 

Is the Age of Creative Entrepreneurship the Enemy to Artists?

In a recent article on The Atlantic’s website, William Deresiewicz criticizes the modern push towards entrepreneurial art, claiming that it’s putting an end to art as we know it. He outlines the previous labels associated with artists: from the “artisan”, whose art revolved around notions of tradition and craftmanship, to the “genius” that evolved from the individualism of the Romantic Era, and ultimately arriving to the institutionalization of art in the mid-nineteenth century. During this culture boom, the artist became institutionalized as well– from the genius to the “professional”. In the age of modern capitalism, however, the artist has moved from the professional to the entrepreneur. Now, artists no longer need to rely on the mediating nature of institutions of art for their careers. We have moved on the the age of the self-employed, where everyone is their own boss and everyone is in charge of their own brand. We are in the age of self-motivated opportunity, where every artist has complete agency over their own career.

This shift in the nature of how we create and consume art undoubtedly calls into question the future of art itself. According to Deresiewicz, the entrepreneurial movement brings about a bleak future for the artist. He predicts shallower connections within networking; weaker practice within their discipline, due to the rise of a more multifarious artistic identity; and the commodification of artwork itself. Instead of dutifully working to master their single craft, modern artists are striving to be multidisciplinary, and at the expense of gaining skill in a single discipline. Artists are now creating a larger quantity of art, for the consumption of more people, and in turn compromising their potential single masterpiece. Deresiewicz deems this culture shift as the death of the artist. However, is this future really so dire? Do we need to presume every change in art as a downfall? Or should we merely accept it as a change, and take advantage of this exciting and transitional time?

In the past, every artistic change has been met with pessimism. In the 18th century, when the novel became the popularized medium for literature, there was a moral and cultural panic, as they believed it was the degeneration of literature. Eventually, films became the mainstream medium for storytelling, and more recently, television has become a favored artistic medium for the storyteller. While these changes were all met with extreme skepticism from critics, they were all able to produce brilliant and beautiful works of art. I believe that creative entrepreneurialism will also result in truly amazing art.

The fear is that consumerism will cloud the agency of the artist, and they will only try to make art that people will want to consume– essentially, they will sell out. However, in this age, everyone will be able to pursue their artistic career. We will be flooded with media to consume– so much media, that it will become pointless for the artist to specifically cater to the masses. For example, look at the current music industry– twenty years ago, this number of musicians and bands would never be able to have the successful careers they have now. Through Soundcloud, Spotify, BandCamp, and other online mediums, the number of working musicians has skyrocketed. There is no way an individual person can consume all the music out there, so they pick and choose what specifically resonates with them. Instead of conforming to the masses, the creative entrepreneur will be even more unique to themselves. They will have a brand that is unique to them, they will have a message that is personal to them, and they will unapologetically create until someone connects to their work. Art is the expression of the self; this new age of artistic entrepreneurs will be an age of connection through art. It will be an age of truths meeting other truths. There will always be artists who sell out, and there will always be artists who remain true to themselves. With the dramatic increase of art production we are soon going to witness, we have an opportunity that is unique to this moment in time. It is an opportunity of individual artistic power, a time for more voices to be heard, and ultimately, a chance for widespread human connection to occur through artistic expression.

How the Growing Online Art Market is Inspiring a New Type of Artist

  A New Age of Selling

A universal challenge that many young artists face is that of initially jumping into the highly competitive and daunting art market. Every artist wants to sell their work, but with global art sales dwindling and traditional gallery exposure remaining cutthroat, selling seems more difficult than ever. However, the art world is shifting rapidly from the traditional auction houses and galleries, thanks to the rising popularity of online art sales. According to the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report, online art sales increased by 15% from 2015 to 2016, despite the slowing global art market. Here are some ways in which the online market is taking prominence in the art market:

 

Brick and click platforms

Traditional auction houses are now adjusting their sales strategies by taking advantage of the online art market. Companies like Sotheby’s, Artsy, and Christie’s now offer online auctions, and these types of sales accounted for 19% of all online art sales in 2016. This shows that even the traditional art businesses are gaining prominence in online art sales, suggesting a major shift in how we purchase and sell art.

 

Social Media

Social media is gaining much influence over both online and traditional art businesses. Instagram is the preferred social media platform for 57% of art buyers, with Facebook being the second most important platform. An overwhelming majority of galleries actively use social media to promote their galleries and art/artists. Further, auction houses such as Christie’s and Phillips, have found social media to be a powerful business and communications tool.

 Growing Confidence in Online Art Buyers 

Though some art buyers remain hesitant of buying art online, those who already purchase art online have been buying more art in the past year. 65% of existing online art buyers have bought more than one piece of art in the last year, which increased from 63% the year before. Half of existing online art buyers said that they would buy even more art and collectibles in the coming year, which is also an increase from the previous year.

 

 

What Does This Mean for Artists?

How does this affect you as an artist? The growing online art market is not only changing how people buy art, but how artists market and sell their art. Artists no longer need to rely on traditional galleries and auction houses as the only resource to sell your work. Now, you can take charge of your own career using the growing platform of online art trade. Becoming an entrepreneur for your art is the new key to success in this rapidly changing environment. Marketing your work through social media platforms, such as Instagram and Facebook, is a powerful and effective way to curate your own brand and gain exposure to potential buyers and galleries. Entrepreneurial development programs, such as Visual Arts Reimagined are specifically designed to help artists thrive in this new age, supporting young artists to launch their career using an innovative and nontraditional approach. Through helping develop business and leadership skills and a supportive environment of creative and business professionals, Visual Arts Reimagined gives artists the tools they need to succeed in the modern art world.