Skip to main content

On why I do this



I was having dinner with a friend who follows this blog regularly. He said he really enjoys reading it, but he felt that he had to ask: “What do you get out of it?” Specifically he meant, what reward do I get out of it in terms of my career?
It’s true that when I started this blog, at the end of 2009, I did so as part of an overhaul of how I marketed myself and my art. I had bought a book by art consultant Alyson Stanfield, ‘I’d Rather Be In the Studio’, and one of the many useful things she included in her book was a lot of convincing advice on why artists should start a blog, and use other social media such as Facebook and Twitter. So, after reading blogs online for years but somewhat disdaining the idea of the personal artist’s blog, I dipped a toe in the water, setting up this blog and vowing to write just a few posts a week.
After a couple of months, I decided that if I was going to do this, I might as well put some effort into it. So I started posting daily. I bought a book about how to write, update, and improve a blog. But I didn’t set it up as a pure marketing vehicle at all – in fact, most of the time I was talking about other art, and other artists, living and dead. I posted interviews that I conducted with other artists. I started the ‘Meditations’ series of weekly videos on art. When I had something of my own to talk about, such as the public art project that ran from July to November last year, I wrote posts about that. A few opportunities have come about as a result of some of the things on this blog, but generally what I get out of writing this blog is not counted in terms of direct career opportunities or financial rewards.
Writing a daily post is something that keeps my mind engaged with art, even when I’m not in the studio. It’s a way of making mental connections between the things and people that interest me, that may or may not lead to artistic opportunities for me. It’s a way of broadcasting my work to an audience, of course. It keeps me writing. It connects to the teaching that I am doing more of, year by year, as I talk about ideas that have come up in the classroom, or I share pictures of great student work. Ultimately, it would be nice if my blog led to a gallery or collector giving me a big pay-day. But until then, I hope to use it as a reasonably well-written and well-presented journal/diary, which just happens to be read by a hundred people or so each day.

 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

The Brant Hardware and Implement Company, by Jeanne Locke Johnson

I taught a day long journal and sketchbook class recently, at the Interlochen College of Creative Arts in northern Michigan. One of the activities was called Writing in Place, devised by my writerwife Patricia Ann McNair. A participant in the class, Jeanne, wrote the piece I'm reprinting below. As soon as she began reading it back in the class, I knew straight away I was hearing a really good piece of writing. The image was also by Jeanne, made in the collage class the day before the journal and sketchbook class.



I

I remember going to the Hardware after school. The bus dropped us off at the house. If I was feeling the need to make money, or Dad needed work done, I walked to the store. If Mom or Dad were in sight, I checked in while clocking in on the old time clock punch card. Usually, I needed to dust displays or clean the bathrooms, or wash windows. My favorite was filling the old pop machine. I had to get the keys, check inventory for flavors, empty the change bucket, clean the…