“Pride Swallowing Seige”

KPCC
Artprof.org has been out there for a month, and we are slowly gaining traction. Milestones like the KPCC article (above) were very exciting to see!

You would think with the site launched it would be time to step back and rest a bit?  Not at all.  In fact, if anything, I am feeling an even stronger urgency to keep moving forward.

Right now, it seems like publicity is what will make or break us. The people who know about Art Prof love it, we’ve gotten some very thoughtful and poignant messages from people across that world that have convinced me that we are doing something right.

Although we have made incredible strides, working on publicity, I still feel like Tom Cruise in this clip when he talks about an “up at dawn, pride swallowing seige.”

Over the past few years, when I have done publicity for my own studio work, I certainly had to go around asking (begging) to have my work shown. Art Prof is an ocean of asking compared to that drop of water.

I’m at the point where over the past 3 years, I have had to reach out to such an immense number of people who I have no relationship with that I am actually GRATEFUL when I get a rejection. “Wow, you took 1 minute to write me a rejection?  I’m that valuable?!?”  For a project like this to function, you have to be okay with being ignored.  All. The. Time.

I leave my pride at the door, and just keep asking.  Hopefully we’ll find that “yes” we are looking for very soon…


ART PROF is a free, online educational platform for visual arts for people of all ages and means. artprof.org features video courses, art critiques, an encyclopedia of art supplies, and more.

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PORTFOLIO VIDEO CRITIQUES
Prof Lieu offers video critiques on portfolios for students applying to art school and working artists. More info.


ART DARES
Every month, we assign a topic for you to respond to with an artwork. We give out prizes in several categories!  More info.


ASK THE ART PROF was a written column in the Huffington Post from about art related topics. Visit our Pro Development page.

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Linoleum Block Printing

Treadmill

This morning I was reading the New York Times and I came across an article, “With ‘Stay Lit,’ Writers Persevere in a Hostile World.” One of the writers mentioned in the article is Russell Rowland, who recently wrote an essay about continuing to write, despite difficult circumstances, disappointments, and failures. Both of these articles are about professional writers, but I found the content to be just as relevant to my experience as a visual artist.  One of my favorite excerpts from Rowland’s essay is below:

“But the desire to write, it seems, is a sickness for which there is no cure. Except writing.”

I feel the same way about making visual art. As time goes on, I find that I am asking myself more and more why I do this to myself. Lately it seems like being creative has become a compulsion that I resent a lot of the time. I can’t help but think that I would be a happier, healthier person if I didn’t have this drive to create.

You would think that with more years of experience that working as an artist gets easier, but in my experience it just seems to be getting harder. I was talking to one of my former students the other day, and we were discussing the difference between working in art school and working professionally. When I was an art student, I worked hellish hours, with much more intensity than I ever do today. I did marathon work sessions that lasted 8-10 hours into the morning hours. Today I rarely get to work more than 3 hours at a time because of constraints in my schedule. Yet somehow, those hellish hours were easier. Art school was like running a 2 minute sprint where you run as fast as you possibly can, can’t even pause to think, but then you finish and get to take a solid break before starting up again. Now, I feel like I’m on a treadmill that won’t turn off. The treadmill is not going very fast, and I finally have time to think, but there are no breaks and pacing myself is critical to survival.

Online Visibility

Lately, I’ve been researching popular visual artist blogs online, in an effort to increase traffic to my blog.  I have realized that I am one of the very few visual artists in academia who blogs and is highly active in social media.  You would think being unique in this way would be an automatic advantage. However, I still get the feeling that most of the academic art world looks down on social media and blogs. Although I have no intention of stopping,  I’ll admit that I am sometimes embarrassed by my active web presence for this reason.

On the other hand, I have to remember that accessibility is really important to me, and being active online is a big part of that. The problem is, that accessibility can sometimes be seen by experts in the field as dumbing down the content. At the same time, if I sacrifice that accessibility, I risk shrinking my audience to the few who are educated in my field. I’m constantly working to maintain a delicate balance so that I can present sophisticated content that is also understandable to the layman.

Knocking on Doors

Some of you have probably noticed that my posts have been relatively sparse for this month. The main reason is because at the beginning of April, I caught a nasty cold, lost my voice, and was completely out of commission for a good week and a half. I spent the following week recovering, and this week I am just now starting to catch up. Since getting sick basically forced me to go on hiatus from the studio, I decided to use this time to work on some promotional tasks. These tasks can be done mostly online, so I’ve been able to just work on my laptop while also physically resting these past few weeks. Spending time on publicity makes me feel a little less guilty about not being in the studio.

Since giving a lecture based on my book for the RISD graduate program in Teaching + Learning in Art + Design a few weeks ago, I’ve been inspired to try and bring the lecture to other places. (I did have that lecture videotaped, so that video will be coming soon)

I strongly believe in taking the initiative to knock on doors. In the past, I’ve had success securing exhibitions and teaching positions simply by contacting people and telling them that I was available and interested.  So I have concrete proof that knocking on doors does work. The tough part is that you have to put in an immense amount of labor and time to actually get results.

I sent out over 80 emails to specific people at schools, museums, and artist associations throughout New England. Out of those 80+ emails, I heard back from 23 people who expressed interest. Whether those responses will turn into actual invitations remains to be seen, but it’s a good start.

Open Studios this weekend!

Come visit my studio this weekend during Waltham Mills Open Studios: Saturday, Nov. 2, 12-6pm and Sunday, Nov. 3, 12-5pm. I will be having a clearance sale, with drawings, prints, plush dolls, and sculpture priced $15-$40.   My studio is at 144 Moody Street, Building #18, Waltham, MA, 02453. Looking forward to seeing you there!

Clearance Sale

Studio View

I’ve been frustrated by how long the etching ink has been taking to dry.  I suspect that it’s the anti-skin spray that I used on the etching ink. Anti-skin spray prevents a skin of dry ink from forming in the can of etching ink, so you’re not wasting large quantities of ink all the time. Basically the anti-skin spray adds a bit of oil to the etching ink, which is probably what’s keeping it from drying more quickly.

I’m excited for open studios this coming weekend, but it’s definitely disrupting my work pattern. I have to physically work around everything that is set up for open studios, so it doesn’t feel nearly as fluid as usual.

Initially for open studios I was going to limit what work was available for sale.  I changed my mind and I nearly emptied my Etsy shop and will have everything available for sale. This even includes my plush dolls from my failed Claradolly children’s book series. It’s going to be a total clearance sale, with most work priced between $5-$25. Stop by and check it out!