I say “working in the studio” you think “he’s not doing anything important”

Most creatives reading this understand that title. Below are some actual quotes from family, friends and strangers offering me unsolicited advice and insights. Some of them are actually nice, others …. part of the job I suppose.

– “I’ve never seen anyone work so hard in order not to work”

– “What are you going to be when you grow up?”

– “If it’s important to you then it’s worth it.”

– “Must be nice.”

– “Do you sell your stuff online?”

– “Do you want to go to [some event] with me instead? I have an extra ticket.”

– “Can I stop by? I need to talk to you.”

– “What kind of art do you do?”

– “Let me tell you about the kind of art I like / don’t like.”

– “My [somebody] was a really good artist. You must of heard of [whoever]? No!? Hmmm.”

– “That’s super.”

– “Is there an admission fee to your show?”

– “You should sell calendars of your work.”

– “I like everything up to the Impressionists.”

– “Do you actually sell your work?”

– “Call me if you do anything in blue.”

– “I can draw a horse.”

– “Maybe you can get a job teaching art.”

– “We should have a party in your space.”

– “You know, painting celebrity heads on funny bodies would sell really well.”

– “You’re very lucky. Most people can’t afford to be an artist.”

– “I know a really talented artist. She’s also a Bio-Engineer Scientist, scratch golfer and Rhodes Scholar.”

– “There’s already too many artists.”

– “You went to school for that?”

– “I’m a photographer.”

– “Did you hear about that painting in the news that sold for [lots of money]?”

– “I believe art should look like something.”

– “I have an idea for a children’s book, and need an illustrator….”

– “Ever design a logo?”

– “What is art?”

– “Did you see that [huge exhibit] at the [huge museum] last year?”

– “I like your earlier work.”

– “I have a painting at home that I don’t know who did it”

Ways print and web are different for Magazines



print magazines must be made all at once and perfectly as possible web magazines can be launched with one page and grow gradually and imperfectly
if you slander somebody in print, it is considered permanent if you slander somebody on the web, you can remove it immediately or be removed
you can hold a print magazine you can only view a web magazine
print has thousands of colours web has millions of colours
print can display text and images web can display text, images and movies
print magazines depend on subscribers web magazines depend on subscribers
print magazines are bought to measure value web magazines are visited to measure value
being on the cover of a print magazine is an achievement being on the front page of web magazine is helpful
who owns a copy of a print magazine is never in dispute from where you arrive at the content is a dispute of ownership
less spelling mistakes more spelling mistakes
articles are deliberate posts are timely
genius art directors genius content managers
design every page based on the content design one page that fits all content
writers and editors writers, editors and producers
text is set and space measured text is poured into a container
staffs are overworked and underpaid staffs are overworked and underpaid
send printed reminders to subscribe to subscribers – annoying send email newsletters to subscribers with news and content – value added
fewer mistakes more mistakes
impossible to fix mistakes easy to fix
print magazines are expensive, so they are precious objects
web pages are inexpensive, so a website is not a precious object

A glib list of the top 10 cliches in Contemporary Art right now

So, I figure I have seen about 5,000 works of art in the last year (most of it online, mind you) and have been to about 500 exhibitions (no word of a lie) so of course I notice trends and directions. However, there are some cliches and degraded mimicry going on that needs to be pointed out. Not that some people doing some of the stuff below is not very cool or worthy, but unfortunatly most of it is not. Some of the cliches below have been haunting rental galleries for decades, others are propoganda of the trendiest galleries in Toronto.

10. Grainy polaroid photographs of skinny girls with tabbit masks. goddamn hipster douchebags. urgh.
9. Nude in a landscape somewhere. watch out for the cheeseball avalanche. blerk.
8. Drama masks on a canvas with paint splatterd on it…. burn after seeing. bwah.
7. Photo transfer on canvas …are you trying to be the new Robert Bateman? idiots producing and buying this shit.
6. Neon lighting words – proof some can be just as bad writers as artists. pfft.
5. Hudson Bay blanket & colours – try to stand out on Queen Street West, not blend in. whatev.
4. Vinyl cartoony flowers and characters on walls. pokemon is hokey art.
3. Victorian era style images of animal and people … but… omg.. with surreal elements! oh no!…. yawn….
2. Architects doing site specific work. Golly, would you like more whitespace? Could you possibly be more boring?More de-humanizing? More mini-institutional… yes you can.
1. black and white photographs of your damn family history. oh look! here’s my mom and dad on vacation somewhere! here’s a locket of hair! it’s in a lightbox! …. please shoot me in the foot so I can feel alive again.

The Pledge: to visit every gallery in Toronto during 2010

Casey and I are back in the galleries and video reviewing art shows. I realize many of the videos are in the proximity of where I live, so we have decided to visit every gallery in greater Toronto and do a review and all within this year.

We developed ALP with the idea in mind that anyone anywhere could submit a video review of an art exhibit or event. Anyone can post a video to ArtListPro at http://artlistpro.tumblr.com/submit and so I was doing some to get the ball rolling. One hundred and fifty video reviews later, I am actually starting to enjoy it and very excited by the possibility of getting to know the scene more intimately.

We also want to make sure we stick with the approach to videos that we enjoy the most – conversations and banter in the gallery space, with a feel of being with friends at a gallery and having some fun.

And we want more interviews with gallery directors, coordinators and arts professionals to talk about the industry of arts and culture.

Finally, part of this Pledge for me is to communicate more successfully that Art Listings Professional is a free broadcast and promotion tool for professional contemporary artists and galleries. It should be a place to browse for the latest interesting exhibits and articles and on every PR list to post announcements and press releases on.

With Casey working on our new Toronto art map, we mulled many approaches on how to define “every gallery in Toronto” – the answer was to list every gallery that has made an effort to be found. Thus, we are looking in the listings of NOW, Eye Weekly, MAG, Slate as well as Akimbo and will always add those who post to our site, of course.

Very exciting! See you out there – if you want to contact us (and to invite us to something!) please email us at artlistpro@gmail.com. We are always looking for more video review contributors.

Public Realm @ Propeller

guest curator … Christopher Hume
The exhibit looks at the demarcation lines between public and private space. Until Jan 31, 2010.

Propeller Gallery
984 Queen Street West
Phone: 416.504.714

Top ten myths about art exhibits

10. Myth: “How much does it cost to go?” Reality: Unless it is a major museum or a specific fundraiser, art openings are free. If I put “free admission” on an invite, the numbers of attendees almost doubles. I think people assume there is an admission fee to your art show because they are used to museums and large galleries will charge, though I think they should be free as well.

9. Myth: “I went to the opening and saw the art” Reality: The opening is the worst time to look at the art. So many people and noise and distractions.

8. Myth: “There are no prices, these must not be for sale” Reality: Not everyone likes to have big red dots and dollars and cents pasted beside their work. Ask if you are really interested! The person in charge at the space has that information. Many like me prefer to not clutter or compromise a serious exhibit with that sort of stuff – it’s respect for the work and the viewer. Others won’t  agree with me.

7. Myth: “You are going to be at the gallery during the course of the show?” Reality: No. In a rental gallery space maybe yes, the artist will have to be there to babysit the space but it’s a special kind of hell to sit in a fishbowl of sorts watching people looking at your art who are aware you are watching them. Art is great because it works without the artist having to be there. Well, most art anyways. Just go see the show – it’s about the art, not getting points by being seen being there. That’s like expecting a director to be attending every screening of his film, or an architect sitting in the lobby of his new building for a month.

6. Myth: “Your work should be doing this and that and it would work/sell better.” Reality: Ok. If you can imagine art that the artist should be doing, it actually means you have a budding artist inside you and you should go home and make that series of work which seems so easy and obvious to you. Go on, git, go make it. Shoo.

5. Myth: “Don’t take pictures! Someone will steal the ideas.” Reality: This is a prevalent and persistent phobia many people and artists have. This will be an entire post on this blog soon, but in the meantime let me just say this – if you are making art that can be reproduced by someone from a photo and sold to other people, it means you are making bad art in the first place or more likely you have a overinflated and fantasy-based sense of yourself in relation to the world. If you want to get known, encourage the dissemination of your images whenever and however possible. The more accurate term for people “stealing” other people’s work is “Art History”.

4. Myth: “We use chains so as to not damage the walls.” Reality: Looks awful, impossible to hang nicely lined up and the corners of the work will damage the stupid walls anyways. If you the admin of a space that wants to show art but are that concerned about a hole or two in your drywall, then you should not be showing art, period. If you are an artist, stay away from these scenario – the artists who hang there are willing to compromise their work obviously, probably with a eye to selling.

3. Myth: “I don’t know much about art, so I won’t go.” Reality: Going and seeing art is the only way to develop a taste for it. See the oxy moron?

2. Myth: “This art is expensive.” Reality: It takes an average of  a year, probably two, to complete a series of work that is worthy of public display, and usually many many hours of applications and documenting and writing to arrange a show. Framing, invites, food and drink for the opening – if the artist is paying for it all, then it is in the thousands of dollars. Even if the artist sells a couple of works, that may just barely cover some of the costs. It is a remarkable amount of work and time, and this not fully appreciated the average person I find. There are only a very few artists who make a living making art outside of the decorative and commercial realms.

1. Myth: “I don’t get it.” Reality: When people say “I don’t get it” it is probably because they have the mistaken notion that art is entertainment, that somehow it is the responsibility of the artist to make sure that person “gets” it. Many people (if not most) expect to be pandered to, entertained and dummied down to and looking at art that requires contemplation, reflection and raises questions has somehow failed. It’s a sign of insecurity and often text about the work (in plain language) nearby on the wall goes a long way to addressing this. Otherwise, these people cannot see the benefit of the doubt about people’s intelligence that art really is and are conditioned by the lowest common denominator communications of advertising and TV shows. Good art has a strong first impression but great art has many layers to it that reveal themselves the more you look it. What is wrong with a riddle anyways?