August: American Artist Appreciation Month

Seems there’s an “appreciation/awareness” month for everyone/thing. For American artists, there’s August. For Canadian artists, there’s nothing. Sorry Canada.

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ABOVE: Stephen Andrews, Auditorium, 2009-2015, oil on canvas, 72 x 95.75 inches, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Sandwiched between National Ice Cream Month (yummy) and Orthostatic Tremor Awareness Month (oh my) sits American Artist Appreciation Month. As a Canadian, I’ve decided to co-opt this, and write about fellow Canuck, Stephen Andrews.

Writing a blog post every week is sometimes a challenge, so this past weekend, I went in search of shows to write about. My first stop was the Art Gallery of Ontario. I’d originally planned on reviewing “Picturing the Americas,” or “Camera Atomica,” but waiting on a friend, I wandered deeper into the museum, and discovered the work of Stephen Andrews. Although Toronto based, I’d never heard of him before.

As an artist, I love ambiguity, and there is often a huge difference between the aesthetics of my work, and their intended meaning. The same can be said for Stephen Andrews – where it not for the descriptions beside each piece, one would have no idea what they represent. While many of them reference major events, a few deal with personal loss. Having addressed the same theme in works past, I can relate.

A lot of Andrews art is quite beautiful; almost all of it is very dark. I’m not sure I’d want to hang out with him (too much of a downer), but I will definitely follow from afar. It’s amazing what you can discover when killing time.

Happy American Artist Appreciation Month everyone.

Social Networks Reviewed

As every artists should, I promote myself and my blog via social networks. While I’ve yet to try them all (or even utilize them properly), here are some that I have used.

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Behance: Resource for artists to display their work and network for creative jobs

Less customizable than it used to be, but still offers more control over images than anyone else. Catering exclusively to creatives, it lacks the reach of mainstream sites.

Facebook: World’s largest social networking site

Its fan/business pages aren’t really set up for artists (not enough control over image order/organization), but most of the art worlds heavy hitters are here – along with everyone else.

Flickr: Image and video hosting

If image quality is your thing, then this site is for you. Not much of a social network, but a great place to store your photos.

Google+: Interest-based social media

Short on serious arts journalism and heavy on bad art, this is one of the least intuitive networks around – try posting to your business page while away from your desktop to see what I mean. Slick interface though.

Instagram: Mobile photo/video sharing

The perfect complement to an artist’s website, and one of the most important mobile apps around. Use it to show off your creative side.

LinkedIN: Business-orientated social networking

More art professors and professionals than anywhere else, the group discussions on this site are often quite good – especially when it comes to art marketing.

Pinterest: Photo sharing

Not just for your art, this site is a great way to show your other interests. Unleash your inner curator.

Reddit: An entertainment, social networking, and news website

Despite its reputation, there are a lot of intelligent discussions about art taking place here. It blocks you from posting comments /links way too much. Way. Too. Much.

Stumbleupon: A web search engine that finds content based on user preferences

One of the biggest time sucks around, this site is a must for all bloggers.

Twitter: Microblogging service

An excellent source of information for any one of your interests, and another must for all bloggers. Some people ‘tweet’ far too often. Unfollow them.

Tips and Tricks for Artists: Part 2

Last week, I wrote about websites and social media. This week, I’m going to talk about creating a portfolio, and submitting to juries. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

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ABOVE: David McDonough, Nightwatch, mixed media, 16 x 20 x 2.5 inches

Creating a Portfolio

  • Your images are important. If you can’t shoot them properly, hire someone who can.
  • If you do shoot your own work, make sure you always do so with a tripod.
  • Shoot in natural light if you can. Play around with other light sources if you can’t.
  • If possible, shoot with an external flash. Your camera’s built in flash will not do.
  • Shoot each piece many times with many (if not all) your camera’s settings. Pick the best ones.
  • Get Photoshop (or an equivalent) and learn how to use it.
  • The order in which you place your images matters.

Submitting to Juries

  • Juried shows and fairs are a great way to build your resume. When starting out, they are obligatory.
  • You should apply to many, but be weary of online competitions. I only apply to them if they’re free.
  • Pay close attention to a show’s theme/subject matter (if they have one).
  • A standard application includes: bio, statement, resume and 5-10 images. Have someone proof-read your written materials, and make sure your images are sized according to the juries’ requirements.
  • Artistry is subjective, consistency is not. Ten good images of a similar theme are better then ten excellent images of different themes.
  • Accept rejection. It will happen.

Tips and Tricks for Artists: Part 1

I have been producing and promoting my art for a few years now and in doing so, I’ve learned a lot. Here are a few tips and tricks I thought I’d share. More to come.

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ABOVE: The home page of my website, www.david-mcdonough.com

Website

  • Have a website. This is obligatory.
  • Make your name your address (e.g. sarahsmith.com).
  • Keep it simple. It’s best to assume everyone visiting has ADD.
  • Pages to include: bio, artist statement (optional), resume, gallery and contact page.
  • Don’t show everything in your gallery. Include your 20 best images and add and subtract as you produce more work.
  • Include prices or at least a range. Would you contact anyone to ask?
  • Include links to various social networks. These will help your search engine results.
  • Embed your blog (if you have one).
  • Provide some contact information (at a minimum, your city and email address, but preferably your phone number too). You’ll appear shady otherwise.
  • View everything on multiple browsers and devices. They’re not all the same.

Social Media

  • Research each network. Pick the right ones for you.
  • Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Take your time and do it right.
  • Post your passion.
  • No one likes a complainer.
  • Be social. You need to engage with others in order for them to engage with you.
  • Set a posting schedule and stick to it.
  • Don’t buy followers

Next week: Creating a Portfolio & Submitting to Juries’

Advice For New Bloggers

I’ve been blogging for a couple of years, and two weeks ago, I published my 100th post. If you’re thinking about starting your own blog, here’s what I’ve learned…so far.

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  • If you’re passionate about what you write, nothing else matters (e.g. likes, followers).
  • Use the opportunity to learn. Blogs are great for digging deeper into your passion.
  • Accentuate the positive, even when being critical.
  • Befriend a thesaurus.
  • Befriend your fellow bloggers.
  • Make a posting schedule and stick to it. Consistency is key.
  • Read articles on blog promotion. Do what you read.
  • At a minimum, set up a Facebook page, tweet and stumble your posts.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Have fun.

Andy Warhol: Revisited

This summer and fall, Canada’s largest exhibition of Warhol prints and paintings can be seen in an empty storefront in Toronto’s midtown. I recently took a look.

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Last week, I was walking down Bloor Street, when I came across the exhibition Andy Warhol: Revisited. I had planned on going a week or two later, but once there, I couldn’t resist.

Located in a disused store front (formerly occupied by Guess Clothing), the show is the brainchild of Ron Rivlin, a Canadian raised, LA-based talent manager. Clearly, this guy is obsessed with Warhol.

While the majority of the works on display appear to be prints from larger editions, there are 120 of them, and, even better, many of the artists most iconic images are included.

Warhol is known for many things (consumerism, celebrity worship), but what truly sets him apart is his use of color. No book or poster comes close to replicating the pieces in this exhibition, many of which include metallics and diamond dust.

While the $10 admission may be a bit much for some people, this show is a must see for any Warhol fan.

Andy Warhol: Revisited runs at 77 Bloor Street West from July 1 to December 31, 2015.