May 23, 2024

My recent failures to fit in have had be reflecting on my art, my self, and existing with this art scene. I have been trying to find answers for what I want for my art? What I want is for it not to be created then just shoved into a drawer, as it is now. I want it to be shared with people who will gain something from it. It was a small thing, and still very social media focused, but someone reblogged a recent print with the tag "fav art", and if one person thinks one of my pieces are their favorite pieces of art, then I connected with someone and I did something right.

I've been thinking about how I opened my art up to rejection, and I've been thinking about how I went the easy route and sibmitted to a gallery that would just accept anything that was submitted. I feel like I want better for something that matters so much to me. I've been taking recent struggles as a sign that art was not meant for me, and I have wasted my whole life hoping to be something that I am not. But what if I have got it backwards, and what if my art is not meant for where I am trying to place it?

My paertner has said the artists they know around here are very into hustle culture. I don't feel like I am not putting in the effort to make art, it's just the means by which I make it are time consuming and physically painful, so it takes time I sometimes don't have to create a piece, and I do need to make sure I take care of my body if I want my body to make art. The problems with prints is they often look like charcoal sketches to someone who can't pick out the signs of a print, so the effort isn't always appreciated. Another problem is, even the smaller pieces, the practice pieces, I try to care about a little bit more. I don't want to create to fulfill a demand for content. Can I exist in an art world that wants that?

The city I live likes to advertise itself as promoting an arts community, but really we live in an up and coming tech city. One thing I noticed when I first moved out here is how polished everything is. There are pockets, if you search, but that is not the overwhelming personality of this city. I am not polished and my art is not polished. And I don't want it to be.

I have also almost given up on my comic, because I thought one creative endevor was distracting from the other, but it's been hard, because I need these two projects to bounce between. I need moments away from one to clear my head, but I like to have something I can do. Is this spreading myself too thin?

I don't know how to do it, but I want to find a place where I can fit. I have been looking over the galleries and the artists I follow, thinking we have something in common, but it takes more than just making art to have a connection. I think I will continue to do this, I will narrow my focus, I will not try to fit in a town that I don't fit it. I had a dream once that I set up a secret gallery of my own behind a dumpster. Maybe I will do that.

Whatever I do, I want it to be true to my art, and maybe these sleek, neon colored galleries, and pop-up art markets with endless supplies of creations aren't where it belongs. Maybe these are no better than hiding my pieces away in a drawer, because I am still hinding them behind something.


May 20, 2024

I was rejected from the art show I submitted work too, my larger press is broken, and I am feel lost. It's hard to find open calls around here, it seems to me shows just pop up fully formed with no warning. There have been a few shows that had I know about I would have liked to have tried to be a part of. Some advice I've been given is to make myself known, get out there, go to gallery openings and all that. But I have done that and it doesn't really get me seen as an artist. I am just another person at the opening night. And that is fine and all, I like to see what other people dp, but I also wish I could be a part of it too.

A local gallery did recently announced a call for artists, and they are looking to fill their schedule for the year 2025. They are looking for solo, duo, group exihibitions. I don't feel ready for a solo show of a big enough scale to fill a gallery, but I thought, I have tried to network, I do follow artists on social media and they follow me. What if I put out my own call for art? Someone who, maybe like me, what's to put on a show, but not by themselves. Or maybe some of the more experienced people in town who follow me might see that, and maybe they will see it as an oppertunity to help out an artist who is trying to make something of their art. It felt weird to do, but I made a post asking for this. No one knows what you want unless you say so, right? So I asked. And because I have switched my instagram to a professional account, analytics are on, so I could see that several people saw my post, many of them are in town, and not a single one responded or reacted in any way. It's been a few days, and there still hasn't been anything. I don't get a lot of notes on my works, but it lead me into looking into how much my work is getting seen. And unfortunately it is a lot. I got one or two likes and a lot fo views. I know likes aren't everything, but this discrepancy didn't feel good.

I put myself out there and maybe no one even actually likes my art. Maybe they followed me out of some professional obligation they felt. I also know it is a technique some use to get followers. You follow an account you aren't personally intrested in just to get them to follow you back. I had a co-worker who did this, and she explained this to me. I've also had large account follow me, then send me messages asking for follows for their friend's equally large account, which made it very clear exactly what they were trying to get out of follwoing me in the first place. So what if I think I am keeping up a public pressence, when really I just exist as follow fodder for these other accounts? I like to think that's not the case, but I haven't had very many wins lately.

What to do with my art seems moot when my press is broken. I have never had terribly high quality presses, but they were what I could afford and they let me make prints. I have signed up for a membership at a local printing studio, but that has made me feel anxious about money, and anxious about fitting in. Can I afford to sustain a membership? Can I afford to sustain a membership if I am not making art anybody wants to see? But I have been working with under performing presses for a while, and maybe this will make a difference. Maybe this will be the way I can meet the art community here. We'll find out, I guess.

And of course something that always comes up is that you should be making art for you, and all that matters is that you like what you make, but for all my life I have always torn my pieces to shreads, seeing mistakes I have to convince myself no one else sees. They don't know what my work was supposed to look like, so they could never know I didn't see it turning out like this. But I honestly can't be sure they can't see that. I just have to convince myself they can't, and that it is normal for creative types to feel this way.

am I making sense?

April 13, 2024

I am opening myself up for rejection, but I have applied for an artistic opportunity, and I am thinking about submitting my works for a show. I have to write about it, and it has to be under 150 words. The theme is about Authorship and Gender with a focus on feminist and queer art. I have two piece that are companion pieces that I think might fit, and were made during my time working on my BFA. During the semester they were created I was in a group study about that Hot Buzz Terminology "imposter syndrome" while working with my advisor on my feelings surrounding queer art and making art as a queer artist.

While working in the group study, one thing that kept coming up for me in all the readings was this emphasis on the feelings of imposter syndrome being driven by internal factors, and indeed many of my peers talked about their marginalized identities as factors in their feelings of not being good enough. But good enough at what? I feel within the art world marginalized voices are being given a space to speak, but the way in which they are often being given a space to speak sometimes comes off exploitative. Like we are not fully realized people who happen to be a part of this group, but that we are entirely this group, and we are put on display for the watchers to feel progressive for watching. I think about some collections of art I’ve come across, and one piece by one family has stuck with me when I first saw it. The painting was of a black woman, standing in a small bedroom. The description alluded to her being poor or working class. I saw this piece in a catalog that was showing off pieces of a collection owned by a very wealthy family. They are a white family, they are land developers, they have no small part in gentrification of poorer neighborhoods. This catalog included many pieces by marginalized artists, and the catalog is presented as a collection of great, diverse works, and a lot of talk about the owners of the collections progressive ideals, or at least progressive taste in art. but I can’t help but think of that woman in the painting being like so many people who are priced out of their homes, or who live in neglected neighborhoods, that are victims of these larger structural powers that this family is a part of perpetuating.

Perhaps this is why I feel so awful about selling my art as I mentioned last time. The people who deserve it can’t afford it, and the people who can afford it don’t deserve it.

Back to the topic of the artist’s voice, I really can’t speak too much on racial issues, as I am also white, but I am poor and I am queer, so I can talk about that. While this group study I was in had a lot of focus on internal causes for imposter syndrome, I ended up feeling we were ignoring external forces. When you face discrimination it is more than just hurt feelings, opportunities are not always present to you. And if you are already poor, it’s hard to never not become poor. The things I had found that were holding me back from making my art at the time were all external forces. I had my own printing press, but it was a small and cheap press. For intaglio prints, like I do, you need a very high pressure press to be able to get consistently good prints. I hade been making due with what I had, but I did struggle more with my own cheap press than I ever had in my classes where I had access to higher end equipment. Equipment that I could not afford access to on my own. I also had a very erratic work schedule that did not leave me with the time to work on my art. I was making just enough to pay rent, my bills, groceries, but I couldn’t afford to work less. I needed to work less to have time to make my art. I think often something people are in awe of when it comes to work is the time they imagine it must take to make some grand pieces. I see highly detailed, hyper-realistic works, huge paintings on canvases, but who can afford to make these works? Is it talent alone that got these artists to where they are? If I was talented enough, would I be able to make pieces this grand, despite my financial situation?

The other aspect was my queer identity and art. I was, at the time, very resistant to making pieces about being queer. As I mentioned, there were feelings of exploitation. Like this was something that was expected of me, but I was not making my art as a true expression of myself, but as something for the spectator. You know, a lot of trans people looking sadly into mirrors while crying, images of nicely symmetrical and fully healed over surgical scars. Men holding men, and women holding women, in a loving but chaste embrace. Queer art for a straight audience. I didn’t want to make that.

And with those two factors, the limited materials with which I could make my art, and the expectation of what my art should be, and how this was reflected in the art that I did make. Ultimately my senior thesis a few semesters later would focus on Bad Art, which covered many different ways in which art could be considered bad, who gets to deem art as bad, and what agendas could be the motivators behind labeling art as such. I talked about queer art, but not queer art as in art represented being queer, but the art being queer itself. There are acceptable ways to be a person: white, male, cisgender, heterosexual, financially stable. Any deviation will result in varying degrees of risk and hardship. Likewise, with art, there are acceptable ways to be a work of art. I made works that highlighted the flaws in the materials, I made prints that looked messy and uneven, I used cheap craft materials from a drug store to adorn images I had drawn of classical sculptures. Some of these pieces I think could fit into this call for art I've seen. I already have the work created, I just need to sumbit it.

So, anyway. I need to write a reason why my work belongs in this show, and I need it to be under 150 words. I wrote all this to try to condense my thoughts and have something written down somewhere, so I can condense it down more. I hope they like me.

the art of the deal

April 4, 2024

I've been trying to find my place in the art world for a while. I'm not quite sure how to go about it, and I am wondering if what I want exists. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone, hoping for personal growth, but it left me feeling a kind of empty. This is really more of a personal commentary, not really a judgement on others. To each there own, but a negative experience that is all internal is still a negative experience.

I've always been very protective of my art, historically I've been very hesitant to sell my work. This was part of what brought my to printmaking. I thought it I could create multiples of a single image, it would be easier for me to part with my art. I would not need to give up anything I created, not really. I do still view every print I make as it's own fully fledged work of art, not as a copy of an original. This is why I don't number my editions anymore. I don't want people to focus on having the lowest numbers print, I want them to focus on the print itself, and how many come into existence will depend on how many I feel like making.

I have been submitting my works in galleries recently. I've been in a few, and I've tried to settle on a price range for my work. It's hard for me to say what it a fair price. Art really is a useless object, and it's also so important that I think everyone should have art. How do you price something that does not serve a practical purpose? How do you price something that everyone has a right to have access to? I've been told many times I've under priced my works, but I've happily given works away to people who I felt connected with my work. I think about a quote from Picabia, a Dadaist painter who had said "Art is useless, nothing can justify it", but he continued to paint.

Galleries also need to make money to stay open, I know this. If artists want an avenue for their art to find it's way tinto the public, galleries are a nessecity, and galleries have rent to pay. So I do try to price my works for what I think they could sell for, and considering the the galleries will want a cut. I am not a business person, though, and that has become clear to me. I do not know what it takes to make sales, and I do not know what it takes to run a business.

In my journey to try to find my place, I have submitted my works to a few different galleries and one show has left me reflecting on what I really want out of my art. Again, I'm not saying anyone is going about things the wrong way, I just do not believe this art scene is the right one for myself or my art. Something was said to me as I was dropping off my art for a show, while being told yet again I was underselling myself (it is hard for me to believe this, I do not sell much art at any price anyway and I don't see how I can be underselling myself without any sales) there was also a comment made "we are here to sell art, not show art".

This comment struck me as very strange, and I kept thinking about it as I left. Obviously I knew the gallery was to sell art, most galleries do sell art, but isn't showing art a part of that process? Why make this distinction? But I decided not to dwell. The commenter probably did not think that much of their comment anyway, and was only trying to encourage me to raise my prices to what they thought would be fair. Making sales was only one part of my goal, though. I hoped maybe my works would find their audience here. Maybe I would sell something to a kindred artist and maybe I would even find a work that resonated with me. Maybe I would find my community even if not here, though here. I tried to push down feelings of doubt and hoped that during the opening I could find someone with similar sensibilities to my own. This was me trying to put myself out there, and work through some feelings of reservations I had over letting my works go. I thought this is just how it's done. Selling art is one part of the equation, but only one.

The opening night came, and I still felt completely out of place. I now knew what that comment meant about selling art and not showing it. I felt it more so here than I had anywhere else I had shown before, that we were running a business. It's hard for me to criticize though, as long as we live under a capitalist structure we will all need to find our own ways to survive. So this is not a critism, again, this is more about me. But in trying to locate my own pieces, I could see how they were swallowed up by everything else there. There wasn't anything indicating these works were made by the artists, just sales to be made. All the works seemed to blend together in the crowded walls. Every possible space where something could hang, something was hung. This left no roomfor a work to stand on it's own, or even a label for the pieces on display. Still, I hung around hoping for that person, someone who saw my art and wanted to see more. I was waiting for that connection. It didn't come. Many people there didn't seem to focus on the art. The art that was there alongside mine did not really strike me in any particular way, and so I had to wonder if my art would do this for anyone else. Since the opening night this gallery has been sharing pieces that are still for sale in it's Instagram stories, with bright flashy GIFs over the artworks, declaring they were still for sale. My pieces haven't made it into those stories yet, and I don't really want them too. I don't want to see my art like that. Maybe it is unrealistic and maybe it is juvinile, but it feels so tacky to me.

What is the differences between making art as a product and art to be experienced? I don't think I am making any groundbreaking statements with my works, but I realized I could not experience the works at this gallery as art, they were products. The way they were all crammed together, with QR codes next to each where the first thing you see is the price of the piece. To make art that is experienced as art, I think, is something much harder to achieve, and I barely am succeeding at making art as a product. As of the moment, my pieces still haven't sold. My pieces rarely sell. But it's not the lack of sales that is bothering me. It does not feel good to me, trying to fit myself into the mindset that I am running a production line, just creating things for consumption. Right now I feel very far removed from my pieces. I almost do not want them to sell, because I am disconnected from them now. I am not the one selling them, but have passed them off as a product to someone else to sell. I feel like I have abandoned my works and what they meant to me. I think if I am to sell my art, I want to me more involved. I did this hoping to work through my feelings over letting go of my art, but now I am wondering why I have to. Of course, this will make it much harder for me to find my community. The only way I know to get out there is through gallery shows. But does it have to feel so alienating? I do not know where to go from here, but I do have a new path to think about. Maybe as long as we all need to make money to live I won't find my place for my art.

do androids dream of electric sleep?

March 8, 2024

I want to talk about the inspiration for two of my prints, Can You See It, and Strange New Worlds. The images in those prints were referenced from some older AI generated images I had made, years ago, before AI was the dominating force it is now. Back when people were aware of it, some were a little nervous about it, but mostly did not take it seriously as a means to create art. It posed no threat, because the images it made were weird, undefinable blogs.

My view on AI is neutral. It is a tool and it's how the tool is used that should be judged, not the tool itself. I think with AI I see people responding to it in reactionary ways, where they kind of are missing the point or making no point at all. AI has been accused of not being art because it just collects art that already exists and combines it for its own images, but that is what collage does. AI is not art because it doesn't take effort to create, but that ignores several notable works of art through the centuries that are low effort, but highly conceptual (John Cage’s 4’33, the Fountain, many works by Fluxus all come to mind). AI isn't art because it lacks soul, but who does have a soul? how do we know? Do we have souls? Do computers not? On the other hand, AI has been used as reasoning to lay off workers and lower wages as we saw with the strike in Hollywood a little while back. As it gets better at creating realistic images, it could be used as a tool in misinformation. Its indiscriminate sourcing of images could have implications regarding personal privacy, while we can’t prevent someone or something from being inspired by an image we create, its reasonable to not want your images gathered into a database without some control.

I think any one of these issues is worth digging into, and I want to acknowledge them, but I don’t want to focus on them right now, because something else has my attention that I only ever see briefly mentioned. I want to talk about the aesthetics of generative AI art. This is tricky, because so much in art is subjective. How can I really say what makes something good or bad? My effort to not fall into reactionary beliefs surrounded AI is in part my understanding that defining art as either "good art" or "bad art" is complicated. But I do think the direction AI is heading has lost something that could have made it an interesting new medium for creating art.

I had played around with some older generative AI programs before it became the entity that it is today, back when it was still a weird novelty that didn't draw much attention or concern. there was one from 2012, where you told the computer to "dream". The images were sourced from somewhere, a few I could make out clinical drawings or pages with writing on it underneath the pixels, so this AI wasn't creating from scratch, but that wasn't the appeal of these images. It was what the AI found and how it chose to edit these images to dream. Calling it dreaming was probably accurate. I've heard we can't dream of faces we haven't seen in real life, so aren't our dreams just a collection of images we've gather that we edit in our sleep? The thing that struck me about these images is that even though I could occasionally see the reference underneath the edits that had been made, the final product was nearly incomprehensible. These images looked nothing like what I would think the prompts should look like.

I continued to play with computers every now and then, talking to them and asking them to make art. I remember showing a room mate some images the computer and I had created and there response even though it may have meant little to them at the time. When they saw these images they asked "why do we need to make art anymore?"

There does seem to be, underneath the controversy, a fear that computers will replace us in this way. I think this is where the argument of the soul comes in. People fear that if a computer can make art, and if art making is completely automated, than there will be no need for human artists anymore. I had even seen recently another friend express concern over learning AI can now compose music. If computers can compose, then why would a human need to? In some forums I frequent, these fears occasionally emerged.

As a printmaker, I don't really have these same fears. I've been practicing an artform that has long been outdated. We see these fears come up every now and then. With the invention of the camera, it was seen as a threat to painting. When digital art became more commonplace, there were fears it would replace traditional art. And now AI art threatens human art. But I don't think that's the case. I am still a printmaker, even though the world doesn't need printmakers. I am a printmaker, because I want to be and because I like creating this way. I don't think the desire to create can be replaced. The same way another artist making art doesn't prevent other artists from existing, I don't think generative AI will prevent us from wanting to continue to create either.

But I digress, I wanted to talk about the AI aesthetic. I found early AI images inspiring. They were imperfect and bizarre. I enjoyed seeing the world through the machine's eyes. I felt like it was creating something that only AI could create.

It's worth mentioning my taste in art leans more minimal or abstract or messy, and I know those are not always the most valued properties in art. But I do still feel like there is something off putting about the current presence of AI art. Maybe the problem is who do not consider themselves art, and who did not care about art before they could generate it with AI, have gotten a hold of a means to make art, but we are seeing a push in AI art to create images quicker, with more precision. Society tried to catch AI images by counting fingers, and so AI was pushed to learn how to create a perfect hand. Things are becoming more glossy, and there are fewer and fewer errors to catch. In this push to make AI better, we have made it more boring. We have removed anything that could have made it stand out on it's own

Everything now has this sanguine look to it. It's beautiful and shallow. I was trying to locate an image recently of an early AI image and my search results were filled with fake gorgeous women, standing in beams of sunlight, poreless and anatomy bordering on impossible. But not ugly anymore, not impossible in the "count the fingers" sort of way, but the idealized sort of way. Impossible in the perfect sort of way. I miss when it was ugly.

I feel that social media would push for more shallow art, the mechanisms of how social media functions are more inlign with quick, easy to digest content, rather than anything to linger on. You are meant to take in contant quickly, not dwell on it, and keep scrolling. Maybe focus just long enough for an ad. AI has now made it all the easier for people to create works that have about as much depth as a Thomas Kincade painting or an Old Navy ad. The reason I find AI art bad is not the lack of effort in that a human did not painstakingly create this image. I find it bad in that I could not tell you what these AI artists’ visions are. The only thing that seems important enough for them to convey is the world with a shiny sheen on top and nothing underneath. I guess I really wish that more people would talk about the fact that it doesn't matter if AI can make a picture of a pretty anime woman, but why we need to quickly create as many pictures of pretty anime women as possible.

I'm not trying to make any grand thesis here. I'm just reflecting on the trajectory I've seen AI art. Having been someone who had worked with very early AI to create image over a decade ago, I do miss those telltale signs that something else had created this image. I suppose part of the thought process behind my prints is also, as we are forcing computers to see the world through our eyes, I wanted to make these images as a way to see it through their eyes. I wanted to go back to the time were you had to find beauty in something you couldn't quite understand yet, and if AI now is making images of beautiful naked women that mean nothing at all, then I wanted to try to make images from an old computer’s dreams. It is about finding the connection between the natural world and the artificial, and about understanding that which we don't understand.

hello world

March 3, 2024

test post. I made this site to host my artwork, but I would also like somewhere to write down my thoughts relating to my art and art in general. Maybe it will be interesting to someone.