10,000 hours later…. now what?

I’ve been captivated by the 10,000 rule since hearing about it a few years ago. Simply put, if you put 10,000 hours into something you’ll become an expert on it.

Well, since I’ve been launched Art PR Wire (4,732) and Art Listings Professional (7,245) since 2009, I have posted over 10,000 posts. I’ve been aiming for this metric consciously and now must decide what to do next.

But is 10,000 posts equal to 10,000 hours? Yes, especially if you consider the posts that did not get posted, which I would estimate at about 5 for every 1.

Also consider the time, especially in the earlier days of Art Listings Professional, of going to galleries and interviewing artists and curators. Think of the time editing video, reviewing photos, formatting HTML pages and writing analysis of what I was seeing.  Three years in a row at Art Toronto also accounts for a large chunk of hours.

To reach 10,000 hours I don’t think I even need to include my time spent on gigs since 2009 at places like Canadian Art, Culturshoc Gallery or Hamilton Artists Inc. This amount does not include my exhibits, performances and even studio time since 2009. Maybe it should. It is also does not include the entirety of this blog’s 387 posts since 2009. Having over a million visitors to my online network over these last four years is irrelevant but brag-worthy to mention here as well.

I think I have seen no less than 20,000 art works in the last four years. I don’t mean running through a room stuffed with paintings – I mean really looked at 20,000 works of art. At times it depressed me and other times invigorated me, as you might imagine it would.

Note that I am not referring to hours before 2009 to add to my art expert metric. It’s not like I just started an interest in art, new media and communications at that point – I have a BFA in Studio from Concordia in Montreal. I have worked as an instructor at an art college and curated / administered several galleries and been involved with several artist collectives.

Even now, I am enrolled in a grad program that focuses on art, new media and communications. Next term I am taking a sound art class, a digital image class and have designed my own independent study to research how artists how using social media as a medium for their practice.  My MRP is a multi-media based installation. I am taking this program in no small part in order to improve my thinking, writing and methodology. I have read over 5,000 pages of philosophy and communication theory texts.

I have finally launched my “pocket gallery” project in the space at the front of my house, and have several exhibits programmed over the next four months. The media is the jist of my interest in constructing this project.

Am I an expert yet?

Is this what I am trying to prove with all this? Why 2009 – did something happen to cause this re-focusing of my passion for art? Was I successful?

What now?

Well, yes, I believe I am an “expert” now. I started ALP and Art PR Wire because I felt I was lacking in a comprehensive understanding of the contemporary art world and current trends. I now understand that I always will.

I also started this projects in 2009 because I fled from Ottawa, where I languished while raising my son. Who is your favourite Ottawa contemporary artist? Where do they live now? That’s what I thought.

So I ended up in Toronto but without a network of people. I had been thinking for awhile that the art world would benefit from videos on YouTube and social media in general. Seem obvious? It is now, but I was one of the very first to do this and was becoming quite successful with this early on. Then I moved to Hamilton, out of financial necessity, and being removed from “the scene” in Toronto proved to be a detriment to ALP’s consistency and popularity. I just did not have the foundation of contacts in Toronto (or Hamilton) to continue with the model I originally envisioned. As I am now undeniably an expert, I can state with all certainty that it is your real life social network that provides the momentum needed to make your virtual projects a popular success.

But it did establish my credibility. This was my foot in the door, my calling card to sincerely learn, observe and discuss art.

I want my life to be meaningfully surrounded by art and I wanted to be an innovator in arts communications. In 2009, I realized these were passions and I did have insight and energy to contribute, and I have.  That was the insight into myself I had as I fled a shattered life of unscrupulous business partners, an abusive partner and series of health issues. I ended up living in the storage room of a Toronto friend’s apartment and realized I had nothing left to lose. I had no computer, no camera and no web presence. I might as well dive head first into the art world! So I went out and got a crappy job and bought a “flip camera” for $100 and started prowling Queen Street West. There was no one to ask how to do this stuff, so I learned as I went and much of the earlier posts reflect this roughness. Various 10,000s later and here we are.

Being a pioneer of contemporary art online and social media based curation provides me with an irrefutable expertise and relevance – something previously impossible in the fuzzy world of art without a university degree. Four years later, perhaps once again simply re-blogging art work is not enough to establish yourself as a leader in this industry.

Something else happened – I reached an audience beyond the local and into international realms. Especially from the US.  I enjoy measuring and reflecting what content is popular with who and where.

But this not success for me yet. My agenda throughout the last four years is undergirded by my desire for artistic success.

Underneath my mandate for my online activities has been a steady drum beat of making connections with galleries and curators. Underneath that is my own insecurity of the calibre of my studio practice. It wanes and waxes over these last 17 years since art school and it is a deep personal issue that I have never been in a MFA program. Underneath that is my absolute belief in my restless creativity crippled by my lack of meaningful exposure and interactivity with contemporary art. So these last four years have been kind of my own MFA program. By bolstering my exposure to excellent work from Toronto and from around the world I was hoping to influence and improve my own previously isolated studio practice. Being surrounded by high quality activities undeniably influences one’s own similar activities.

My expert insight informs me that it is the opportunities of space and resources that provide the realistic chance to create world class contemporary art that we think of for large gallery and museum exhibits. I believe I am at the point with my work where I can start more aggressively and comprehensively approach galleries and apply for exhibits, residencies and grants. With this precious beginning, it is my chance to start to the snowball of momentum that could end up in a well supported art installation in a prestigious institution that captures the attention of the art world. That is my dream and it is closer than ever.

So again – now what?

I think it is time, as I have been threatening, to wrap up up some current projects and allow for my career to evolve to the next level and 2014 seems as good a time as any to do that – and escape the mid-sized Canadian sprawl that I am currently languishing in.

Art Listings Professional, that many headed hydra of online art news and reviews, is to be retired and folded in with Art PR Wire. My blog posts like these are to stop as well. My own online self with be as an artist from now on, not a writer. You’ll see.

I enjoy the Art PR Wire network I built very much, but I am not interested in being a bulk PR distributor, a local art listings service or  another crappy paid directory service. So, I have already started curating the submissions and plan to continue being very selective on what exhibition announcements, from around the world, to accept and publish. It is the only space, with my available resources and time, I am able to compete in.

In a sense, Art PR Wire has been in a holding pattern and accruing good will and sound domain reputation while awaiting an angel partner. I have not attempted to “make money” with it yet and won’t until the time and opportunity is perfect to. I can wait, and in the meantime continue to post less posts but higher quality art news from around the world.

So this creates a lot more time for myself! It also keeps my hard-earned online audience intact for my own news, and provides me with the opportunity to create new art projects online – including a new online art magazine I have in the works *wink, nudge*

It provides me with motivation to complete 10,000 hours of studio time since 2009. And it provides me with a dream of achieving 10,000 hours of exhibition time throughout my life. Because I am now an art expert, I know that the real measurement of success is having your work displayed in Museums and discussed in art history texts for the next 10,000 years. In my immediate future, this graduate degree I am obtaining will help ensure more lucrative communications career opportunities (I will be an acknowledged expert) that, in my grand scheming, provides independent support for my own art production and exhibition.

Because I am an online communications expert, I now know that you become popular not by posting your work online but by other people posting your work online.

I must admit I grew weary of trying to support galleries and other artists but never really feeling I am receiving reciprocal support. Artist – all artists – are kinda shitty to work with. So are most gallery folk. They are an unreasonable, ungrateful and unrewarding herd of cats. In heat. Thus, I would rather be one of these incorrigible artists than the gallery owner or online blogger toiling towards assured historical obscurity and financial poverty. Does anyone care if the curator has 10,000 hours of expertise anymore? Perhaps artists care just enough to get the show or collectors just enough buy the show. I admit it delights me how “online curators” have disrupted this sacred status and economic relationship. And I would rather comment on it through my art from now on than simply write about it in some industry rag. I am able to contribute to important discussions through more ways than writing about it, and I feel in a deeper and more philosophical manner. That is my strength, my terrain of choosing. It is my chance to achieve immortality.

My expert insight now informs me even digital art needs to be material in the end.  My overall experience tells me that the most rewarding, the most genuine engagements about art occur as artist to artist or within an academic environment. My imagination informs me I have an ark of work ready to come out and that opportunities will be generated from it. My intellect tells me that I am now in a unique situation and armed with considerable tools to create something special.

And my gut tells me it’s time to change what I am doing online and stop trying to prove myself to myself by talking about myself – my art should suffice for that. If I keep doing what I am doing right now the way I am doing it then nothing special will result from it anymore.

I suppose this is a sign of confidence. Something I lacked four years ago.

One comment

  1. Arthur Black · December 18, 2013

    Congratulations! I look forward to seeing more of your work. I will miss the blogs though.

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