Collectors Wanted, Students in Excess, Pulling the Line
The comments by Bill Dolan, Newbie and others on The Shark's previous post may have swerved away from his point, but they raised an intriguing issue — the pressure on artists caused by simply having to make a living. This discussion reminded me of a fascinating blogsite, and a post on it. The site is called "The Intrepid Art Collector." It is by Lisa Hunter. Her mission is to create, encourage and assist new collectors. A worthy cause and she does it with panache on her enjoyable and readable site.
Lisa Hunter describes herself, saying, "I'm a former New Yorker now based in Montreal. My theory is that the day you realize everything in your wardrobe is black and everything in your apartment is white, it's time to leave Manhattan." She continues, " Have questions about the art market? Email me!" A brave statement, if there ever was one.
In my opinion, there are more than enough artists, there are many, many struggling galleries, what we need are far more collectors — and perhaps thereby a whole new world of more varied support for the arts, encouraging individualism instead of consensus in curators. Lisa has written a recently released book also titled The Intrepid Art Collector, about how to collect art. As she says of it " I wrote this book because when I was first starting to collect, I couldn't find any books to help me. Each type of art has its own quirky criteria that determine authenticity and value, and each has its own notorious fakes. I hope that with this book, you can learn in a couple of hours what took me a decade to learn. Art collecting is one of the most rewarding hobbies you can have. I'd like to help you get started."
There is a short interview with Hunter at another blogsite called Kate's Studio. One statement from Hunter will intrigue Chicago artists, especially of the Shark variety. Discussing the "hot" art scene in LA, she says " What LA artists did brilliantly was cultivate local collectors and not worry about the East Coast. In so many other cities, artists and collectors fail to connect because they're both too focused on New York as the only "real" art market." Some words to study closely, especially for my grade-B--NYC-copyist "friends."
The post through which I first became aware of Hunter's site and the one which has bearing on the comments mentioned above, is titled "Where does all the money go?" It makes a breakdown of the typical expenses of a recent art school graduate, beginning with the "cost of a Yale MFA — (tuition plus the “average student budget” for housing and expenses): $92,000. IF you finish in the minimum two-year timetable" — continuing through the cost of health insurance, (oh, that's right due to the infinite wisdom of our compassionate Neo-Cons, the US has almost no health system, I forgot,) — all the way to the cost of a business class ticket to the Venice Biennale — $5,900. Fun reading, ending with the "Schadenfreude that "non-hot" artists feel when collectors lose big money chasing art stars: priceless."
Of course, this last comment must be taken in context, for Hunter is absolutely pro-collector, simply having a little fun at the expense of those who neither think for themselves nor follow their own passions.
Check out her site and her book. They are worthwhile.
A few other facts about art-graduate life, not from Hunter's blog:
A degree in an arts subject reduces average earnings, a study shows. Graduates in these subjects - including art and literature - can expect to make between 2% and 10% less than those who quit education at 18, researchers at Warwick University found.
It is only the art professors who make out okay in the world of higher education, with jobs that give them the flexibility to engage in their own creative pursuits while enjoying the advantage of a reliable income and benefits. The students who do not become teachers fare far worse, with a miniscule percentage still making art 5 years after graduation. Don't forget that I, your Ex-Pat Shark, am, from time to time, one of these professor-types, thus am not decrying the job, everybody's got to have one — however, these facts mean the art education system exists primarily to create art students, not artists, even though more MFAs leave US art schools per year than there were artists as a whole in Renaissance Florence.
Within 10 years after graduation, on the average more than 99% of art graduates no longer make art at all — not just are not successful, but do not make art at all.
What are we creating here? Where should it go? Is it any surprise that there is a hidden classism in the artworld? Do we really need so many people trained in (the theory of possibly producing) art?