Sunday, December 30, 2007

Planning my Art career for 2008 Obstacles to art career success

This is from Alyson B. Stanfield's ArtBizblog, I'm posting her interesting questions and my meandering answers.

Unofficial survey:
Obstacles to art career success

Here are two big questions for you. The answers will also benefit me and the services I provide at ArtBizCoach

1.What is the biggest obstacle you face in promoting your art?(examples: time to make art, time for the business stuff, lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, space, negative people, . . . )
2. What change could you make in 2008 that would have the biggest positive impact on your art career?

1. obstacle you face in promoting your art? I still try to sell both my styles, fine art and illustration, bouncing back and forth, which I have always said goes nicely with my ADD. As time goes by I continue to focus much more on the "Fine Art" gallery side.
I still love my children's book and whimsical stuff, but the sales have become increasing hard as I find folks aren’t willing to pay the same for work that could be called Fantasy even though many times it takes much longer to design and paint.
I also still have the problem from a gallery representation side and from developing a bigger collector base, I love art. I love walking thru galleries looking at books and magazines, and when I see something that gets my excited heart rate up, a part of my brain says “I want to learn how to do that now; I like those colors, that mood and that brush work.” I know from all the reading and classes that I need to start developing MY style so that people are going to know when they are looking at a Michael Orwick before they read the signature.

Also I love painting landscapes and people in landscapes, so into part 2 of the questions change could you make in 2008. This is the year I move 90% (can't give up my more imaginative work completely) into the gallery side and dare I say stage of my career.
I have signed up for an amazing 10 day art intensive in the Teton Mountains with Scott L. Christensen I plan to apply for bigger competitions and shows.
I really need to start a new more focused client list, and start to give all my support the love and time they deserve.

Thank you Alyson B. Stanfield for keeping us all on our toes, and for so much great art business information throughout 2007. Best of luck on your new book I'd Rather Be in the Studio, I look forward to reading it.

All the best, and a happy and highly successful 2008 to all of you.

Michael Orwick

Fall's Falling light

18x24 oils on board

by Michael Orwick

Friday, December 28, 2007

CITY ARTS: Please join us for our New Year First Thursday reception

To all of my friends in Portland Oregon

Happy Holidays,
The holiday season is almost over (whew!). It has been hectic, but lucrative for all of us. The City Arts crew never rests, and are gearing up for our New Year First Thursday Reception.

902 SW Morrison St.
Portland, OR 97205
Bowl of Apples by Michael Orwick Oils on canvas 14x11"
Please join us for our New Year First Thursday reception to be held January 3, 2008 from 5:00 –8:00 pm. Come meet and mingle with artists, enjoy live music, libations, and celebrate the New Year!

Our featured artists for the month of January are Joe Pogan (metal sculpture), Daniel Dinges (photography) and Michelle Purvis (acrylics).

Hope to see some of you there.

All the best,

Michael Orwick

Oregon Landscape Painter
http://www.michaelorwick/ Lots of new work up on the site

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

artists have written to complain that offshore painters

I may be being a wee bit lazy here, but again another thoughtful article and I just have not been home much over the last week (our 10 year wedding anniversary, many great Christmas celebrations and so much fantastic family).

I hope you have all had a great Holiday and I promise to actual write my own blog entries soon.

All the best,

Michael Orwick

by Robert Genn

Dear Michael Orwick,

Several artists have written to complain that offshore painters, mainly Chinese, are doing such excellent knockoffs that they present a real threat to our livelihood. The phenomenon, they point out, may eventually destroy hard-won lifestyles in the Western world. "Free trade be damned," they say, "we need tariffs."

Summer's Song Triptych by Michael Orwick 3 panels of 12x24" landscape oil painting on canvases

The Painter's Keys has been active in preventing offshore shops from cloning some of our works (in 2006 we removed the work of some 800 Western painters from Chinese clone sites, and closed down two of them completely). Copyright laws and tariffs won't work on those guys. While cheap art in parking lots has always been with us, the Western artist who wants to stay the course has to realize that a name is also an asset. Art is not like shirts, for example, where buyers may not care about name or brand as much as quality and price. Art is not like accountancy either, which is now delivered over long distances by anonymous accountants in India. In art, name is the name of the game. Artists and the art they make are "personalities within communities." These communities may be the whole world, or "The Trail Riders of Podunk County." It's a fact of life that one competently painted horse doesn't sell for the same amount as another competently painted horse. Reasonably decent prices are all about context and perception. Anonymous and "in the style of" work has little context and consequently low valuations. As an outsourcing candidate, art suffers from Baumol's Disease, named for the economist who first described the condition. Some goods and services, he found, resist outsourcing because of their individualistic nature. Further, works by personalities, when they meet certain criteria, are condemned to grow ever more expensive. No matter the idealism or the art-maker's joy, investment is part of our game. Just as common stocks are no fun when they don't go up, art needs to at least pretend. Pitching art down to a price only fills college dorms. A professional artist who puts his DNA into his work need not fear the offshore cloners. Even if the Chinese wizards succeed handily, a fake is still a fake. Art is not just art, it's a life, lived by an individualist with a personality, verve, and a deep respect for human relationships. Best regards,Robert PS: "A lotta cats copy the Mona Lisa, but people still line up to see the original." (Louis Armstrong) Esoterica: Artists who would make their way need to see themselves as individualists, sovereign islands and unique brands. Beside the art, what is known about the individual can also be loved. The artist can make his life a work of art. Apart from all the predictions to the contrary, individualism is the key, and individualism will be with us for a while yet. "Like a snowflake we are the beauty of one." (Kathleen Arnason)

Copyright 2007 - Robert Genn.To get more of Robert Genn's insight and inspiration for your artistic career, sign up for his twice-weekly newsletter at:The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter:

This article appears courtesy of by Clint Watson, a free email newsletter about art, marketing, inspiration and fine living for artists, collectors and galleries (and anyone else who loves art) .

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Our job as professional creators is to filter our own efforts

by Robert Genn

(Some of you may have seen this article posted at the Fantastic Robert Genn Twice-Weekly website if not, please consider this link my little gift to you. I have been reading his essays for a few years now and they always seem to motivate and and start great dialogues. )

Dear Michael Orwick,

In 1847, Karl Marx wrote that working for wages would be superseded by what he called "self-activity." With the economy humming along, surplus time would free people to study, privately create and generally improve themselves. He suggested they might also hunt, fish, or even become critics in their spare time. Of course, this was going to happen under the Communist system. It didn't. But Marx's prophetic vision continues to prove him right. What Marx did not foresee was the remarkable variety of interests that folks would pursue. Only a few years ago a person who painted on the heads of pins would be considered an eccentric oddball.

The Photographer

18x24" Figurative Oil painting

by Michael Orwick

Available Soon

Today's Internet can bring a world of pinhead painters together to share techniques, one-hair brushes, magnifying devices, exhibition ploys, pinhead history and pinhead lore. A pinhead society is formed and a pinhead president is elected. Chris Anderson's "The Long Tail," while essentially a book on economics, talks about these sorts of esoteric pursuits and issues that will affect the lives and livelihoods of artists. The long tail is a graph that describes the vast variety of niches now available beyond the more standard fare. Amazon, for example, by offering more than 800,000 CD titles as compared with the average Wal-Mart at 4500, is an example of the retail long tail in action. Without "the tyranny of the shelf," and with its ability to tolerate a great deal of what they call "noise," Amazon offers stuff that is otherwise hard to find. Niches rule. We've put long tail graphs and their implications at the top of the current clickback. See URL below. With the remarkable democratization of human activity, older attitudes of scarcity may be waning. The bonanza of choice is affecting the ways people buy art. The "Star system" may be on its way out. Not only will people make art for their own consumption and those of their friends, but they will buy locally and value individuality and connectivity rather than name. "Young people today," says media mogul Rupert Murdoch, "don't want to be told what's good and bad, they want control over their media, instead of being controlled by it." The growing presence of large Internet art sites where art is arranged by genre and niche is part of this phenomenon. "Are you looking for a pinhead landscape or a pinhead portrait?"

Best regards,Robert

PS: "Noise can also be a huge problem in the long tail market. Indeed, if left unchecked, noise--random content or products of poor quality--can kill a market. Too much noise and people don't buy." (Chris Anderson)

Esoterica: Not everyone sees the long tail as a good thing. "Sturgeon's Law," named after science fiction writer Theodore Sturgeon, states, "Ninety percent of everything is crud." Galleries, museums and even websites are in the business of filtering out what they consider to be crud. Part of our job as professional creators is to filter our own efforts. By the way, are standards rising? Maybe the democratization of art can only go so far.

------------To get more of Robert Genn's insight and inspiration for your artistic career, sign up for his twice-weekly newsletter at:

The Robert Genn Twice-Weekly Letter: Add Image

Thank you all and Happy Holidays.
All the Best,

Michael Orwick

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Learn About Art, Learn About What You Like, Learn About Yourself!

11x14" Landscape Oil Painting by Michael Orwick


Looking at art fills your life with visual stimulation.

The people you meet - artists, dealers, collectors - are fascinating, passionate, and often eccentric. Typically they are generous with their time and anxious to help you learn.

The art world reflects a hotbed of intellectual issues. Contemporary art deals with personal poetry, politics, philosophy, and sociology. To attempt to understand it, is to grapple with the main issues of the day.
Being a part of the art world can be one of the greatest joys of your life

You Can Become a Collector.

Just think about buying two or three things a year - perhaps on an annual basis - a birthday or Valentine's Day. This adds up. Perhaps you want to specialize in a category of art. Something that expresses your own vision such as art by women, minorities, outsider art, impressionistic paintings, landscape, etc. So often, by developing a coherent vision and point of view, a collector can create a collection that is more than the sum of its parts, and actually enhances the objects in it.

"With the brush loaded with light"

24x18" landscape oil painting on board
by Michael Orwick available

To help promote your blog, you can sign up here for free, put a small widget on your blog, and get free traffic right away: When you put it on your blog, a little panel displays links to five other blogs in your selected topic area (for example, Art and Design). And other blogs in that same topic area display links to posts on your blog. So the people who see the links are likely to click and visit your blog. That is not a scam. It was started by one of most highly respected names in Internet marketing, John Reese. You will not receive unsolicited emails, and your address will not be sold. I've been using it on my blog, and it is dynamite! Orwick Arts Sign up for my daily paintings, art related musings and tips and techniques.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How the value of art is determined? Sometimes we covet and ascribe great value to art

Guest Writer

Art's true value (Part Four)

Money: the supreme icon

by Duane Snider

Even before I started collecting, I wondered how the value of art was determined. I wondered why some art became priceless and some was ignored or even reviled. It still puzzles me how some people feel so strongly about art that they become obsessed over it, while others seem indifferent.
Both the production and appreciation of art involves the search for unique, personal identity and a connection with the infinite. During this process art serves as the perfect vehicle for intensifying individual experience. Art offers an endless array of symbols that foster an understanding of life and the inner self.


Landscape painting

by Michael Orwick

12x24" oils on canvas


It injects life into mundane experience. Art gives us stable, idealized images of all that is fragile and transitory, all that is timeless and permanent. The process of ascribing value to art has always been disjointed and messy. The subjective nature inherent in buying and selling art creates this mess. Art dealers, museum curators and art critics exploit this mess as a means to justify the monetary value they ascribe to the art and artists they happen to like. All too often selling art is a convoluted process in the most stylish wrapping. This is especially true in the blue-chip galleries.
The production of art brings into the world an endless variety of unique objects of beauty, pleasure and meaning. It also brings us images and ideas that disturb us and cause great discomfort.
Sometimes we covet and ascribe great value to art. Other times we chastise particular works of art as decadent and worthless. The judgments we make reflect the values and virtues we want to see in ourselves as well as the sins and transgressions within ourselves that we fear facing.
The time has come to tear away the fixation our culture has on the art business and rediscover the true value of art.

My special thanks again go out to Duane Snider

All the Best, Michael Orwick

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Art's true value Part three purchase of art for placement in our homes

Guest Writer

Art's true value

(Part Three)

Money: the supreme icon

by Duane Snider
Old Coastal Tree 3
Oils painting on Canvas
14x11" By Michael Orwick

Long ago I had the fantasy of buying a painting at a modest price only to find out years later that the dollar value of the piece had multiplied beyond reason. I'm ashamed to admit this was part of what lured me to buying my first piece.
Now that I've lived with numerous works of art for 20 years, the idea of selling any of my treasured icons seems crazy. They're like family to me. They've become a significant part of who I am, how I view the world and in what I believe.
Each piece of art I discovered and purchased became a building block in the growth and nurturing of my own unique identity.
The culture we live in today has evolved into an Orwellian nightmare of commercial and political homogenization. Fox Broadcasting has transformed news into propaganda and polluted the entire mainstream news distribution process. Madison Avenue bombards us with manipulative advertising with the sole purpose of brainwashing us into buying any and all junk they throw our way. We look out on the world through our media, our institutions and the places we work to find powerful forces bent on stifling the search for individual identity.
Consider that the selection and purchase of art for placement in our homes and work spaces is one of the few venues we have for exploring the unique aspects of our personalities. Our society has lost touch with this spiritual treasure that owning art offers. We have traded it for an obsession with the dollar value we place on any and all artifacts we choose to own.

My special thanks again goes out to Duane Snider
Part four and the final chapter in this fine essay tomorrow.

All the Best,

Monday, December 10, 2007

Art's true value part 2 Money: the supreme icon by Duane Snider

Guest Writer

Art's true value

(Part Two)

Money: the supreme icon

by Duane Snider

The early-20th-century philosopher Irwin Edman gives a remarkably simple bit of insight into what art offers us in everyday life:
"Painters speak of dead spots in a painting: areas where the color is wan or uninteresting, or the forms irrelevant and cold. Life is full of dead spots. Art gives it life. A comprehensive art would render the whole of life alive."
The history of art includes the history of icons in every imaginable variation. It's a history that goes back as far as the cave drawings at Lascaux.
Examples of iconic images range from Christ and the Virgin Mary to Warhol's Campbell's Tomato Soup Cans.
Icons help connect us with not only religion, but also with culture, nature, human events and the inner self. Icons form a language of symbols we use to connect with and find meaning in our lives. The greater the meaning a symbol or image can convey the greater the value we place on that image or icon.
It's easy to understand how iconic imagery becomes an artistic commodity in the commercial side of art. The term "value" takes an entirely different meaning when we talk of the business of art. In this context the dollar is the supreme icon. Imagery becomes a means to a profit rather than a symbolic dialogue on the meaning of things.
PBS recently aired a 90-minute biography of Frida Kahlo. After detailing her life, her art and the intensity of the imagery in her paintings, the credits rolled over a video of an auction for one of her simple self-portraits. The bidding closed at $1.2 million. That's a strong statement, but I wonder about the message it sends to the average person who will never see that kind of money and doesn't have much knowledge of art.
Why are people so eager to lay down such a huge sum for a single painting?
The desire for ownership of famous works by famous artists is the common way of rationalizing such purchases. We covet cultural icons familiar to us and to society at large.
On a deeper level it's about the desire to own anything that is the product of genius. Owning the work of a genius offers a material connection with the artist, maybe even a window into the mind of the artist.
For the artist and the collector the artistic process is about making a commitment to an idea and an ideal as a means of defining personal identity. The artist creates and the collector adopts as both follow a path of self-discovery. With the discovery of a unique identity comes the creation of a bridge between the self and the rest of the world.
When, as an aspiring musician, I adopted Picasso's "The Old Guitarist" as a personal symbol, I had unconsciously started down a path that lead me to a greater understanding of who I was at a particular time. That enhanced consciousness helped me let go of one phase of my life and move on to another. The end result was personal growth.
We are faced with the duality of the commerce of esthetics. The art business is the production, marketing and sales of artistic windows into the mind, heart and spirit.

Part 3 from Duane Snider's essay Art's True Value coming tomorrow.

All the best,

Michael Orwick

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Art's true value; Aesthetics vs. commerceby Duane Snider

Guest Writer
Art's true value (Part One)Aesthetics vs. commerce

by Duane Snider

That's when I started learning that the real value of art is not determined by the price on the sticker, but by the strength of the connection between the viewer and the object of interest.

We take for granted that fine art holds great value for us as individuals and for all cultures of the world. However, determining the hows and whys has always been an elusive task.
On the one hand we have the aesthetic aspects that encompass beauty, symbolism, communication of ideas and a spiritual sensibility. On the other hand we have the commerce of distributing all the objects that contain these lofty attributes.
In an ideal world commerce and aesthetics could be separated into two different sets of values that functioned independently from one another. But this is the real world, so art and business are forever joined at the hip.
I offer a story of how one particular painting affected my life.
A 20-year-old Pablo Picasso painted "The Old Guitarist" during his Blue Period. A friend gave me a poster print of this painting when I was 20 during the time I call my Blue Period. I'd been playing the guitar for about five years and was starting to have fantasies about becoming a musician.
I hung that poster in my apartment and felt the presence of the image every time I picked up my instrument to practice. The image of that old man in ragged clothes, hump-backed and hunched over his guitar, became a metaphor for my own toil and struggle. I had talent, but I wasn't gifted.
After five more years of reaching for mastery of the instrument, I gave up playing and steered my life in a different direction. I put down my guitar, gave away that poster and suffered the pain that was the natural consequence of a shattered dream. Through the pain came the beginning of a lesson about the power and value of symbols and icons.
A museum poster that probably only cost $30 became a defining element in my belief and understanding of who I was, what I wanted and the path of life I was traveling. That's when I started to understand the value of how a visual image can communicate such broad and deep meaning.
When I gave up the guitar I couldn't give up my need for a place to put my passion. It seems natural that my passion migrated toward the visual arts. Giving up playing music meant letting go of a sizable part of what I thought was my identity. My search for a new sense of self played a major roll in pushing me toward the idea of collecting.
In the beginning art seemed like a keen interest which evolved into an all-consuming passion. This kept me on a path toward a lifelong passion that became my personal salvation, a path with a dark side that offered me some vital lessons.
For me, the money and business of art occupies a large part of that dark side.
When I first started collecting, I was caught up in what I call the "Antique Road Show" fantasy: the idea of buying a piece for a little money just to watch its value skyrocket with the passage of time. After several decades of collecting I have come to view this get-rich obsession as a cultural perversion. This attitude draws attention away from the deeply personal meaning and aesthetic inherent in art.
However, since I've never had much money, I've always obsessed over the price of art.
There are standard guidelines and practices galleries use when pricing art. However, unless you are part of the process as a dealer, artist or collector, transparency is non-existent. The basic pricing guidelines focus on: 1) how successfully the artist has been promoted in the past; 2) how many shows the artist has been given; 3) what galleries the artist has shown in; and 4) the range of prices in their last successful show.
Works by artists just beginning to show are given bargain-basement prices; this is the norm no matter how much time and effort the artist puts in, or how good the work might be.
Artists have fantasies of striking the cultural mother lode of profit. Andy Warhol once said to an interviewer, "The greatest art is business." Warhol was arguably the supreme self-promoting artist of the 20th century.
Of course, brokers and dealers are in it to make a living and the most successful are marketing geniuses. Museum directors and curators spend vast amounts of time and resources courting contributions from wealthy collectors and corporations. Blockbuster exhibitions underwritten by huge corporations and newspaper announcements of huge art donations from wealthy families stand as monuments to successful institutional promotion.
The struggling, unknown artist just wants to eat and pay the rent.
To outsiders these statements may seem brash, but these dealings are documented in detail by cultural historians like Alice Goldfarb Marquis. Her book, "The Art Biz," is the most enlightening and disillusioning book about the art world I have ever read. I strongly recommend it.

The gallery from which I bought my first artwork made the sale because the gallery owner made an effort to make the pricing and sales process as transparent as possible.
She gave me a short but thorough explanation on how galleries set prices. She explained that great art comes in all price ranges, as does mediocre art.
That's when I started learning that the real value of art is not determined by the price on the sticker, but by the strength of the connection between the viewer and the object of interest.
Money intertwines with the arts and culture business like blackberry vines in an untended garden. The fruit might be sweet, but the picking can be painful. It's easy to forget that even through a tangled mess, some flowers bloom above the thorns.
So where are the blossoms among the thorns? Where is the value in buying original art?

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All the best

Michael Orwick