my chat with an art snob



On my iChat buddy list, I have a person listed as “Leigh (art snob)”. It’s been listed that way for as long as I can remember, and I’m not sure what first gave me that impression, but ohhh damn did she ever solidify that shit. Here’s the bulk of our conversation from the other day:

Joseph: Where can I (or anyone) see your work, and purchase it if I like?
Leigh: haha it isn’t for sale… i don’t DO art just to sell it… I do conceptual art, I don’t do stuff that belongs on a wall in a bar…
Joseph: Where does it belong?
Leigh: in shows, on display… I don’t take pleasure out of pawning my work off
Joseph: I don’t take pleasure in hoarding my own work to stare at. I make what I make for all the reasons that inspire that particular piece. Someone out there connects with it when they see it on a wall in a show, in a bar, in a doctors office, pasted on a building, or on the web… and if they want to pay me to own it, great. Part of my whole… whatever it is that makes someone an artist, has to do with the idea that “art” is supposed to be bigger than the sterile limited view of it that says “art belongs on a white wall in a gallery, and you have to be nice to the right person to get a show in a gallery”. I just don’t buy that. I know some of those fancy pants artists that show their stuff in galleries in old city, and other cities… and they are apparently not reaching half the audience I am because they still own all thier own shit. Its really easy to say “Oh thats nice, I like it”. But its something else to say “I like that SO fucking much that I am willing to reach into my wallet and pay you a bunch of my hard earned money so I can own it”.
Leigh: it all depends on who you are catering to
Joseph: Thats just it, I dont cater to anyone. Every piece is made 100% on my terms.
Leigh: I cater to an audience that understand a piece of work, people that can read it and see if for more than surface value. not just people who like the look of it or the shape that is made
Joseph: It’s impossible to say what certain people see or dont see in my work, or yours, or anyones.
Leigh: ok
Joseph: Shit, maybe they see something in my work that I dont even see. I’ve heard tons of people get all crazy about some famous “deep” work of art… and I would rather hang up a random page of the newspaper than that thing.
Leigh: ok
Joseph: But how can you cater to that deep audience, if they cant see your art anywhere?
Leigh: haha they see it in art shows….honest to god juried are shows… you know, the things that you put on your resume
Joseph: You have shows? Where? When? I would love to see.
Leigh: I’m not anywhere close in my art career to be pimping myself out for a solo show, because I still have alot to learn…. people jump into that too prematurely because someone offeres then a space in their closet
Joseph: See, I think your deal is that you have been overly impressed with the gallery scene. And that happens to people pretty easily I wuold guess. But really, thats like saying people can only fall in love in a park by a stream in Paris. It’s bullshit. Real life and real art are so much deeper and more varied than that.
Leigh: yeah… and people think Thomas Kincaide is a really great painter. NOT the crowd I cater to
Joseph: Some people think that, and some people think the same things that you think. Some people cry at the site of the Pieta, and some people would rather own a screenprint from Shepard Fairey.
Leigh: my mom buys thomas kincaide cause she thinks it is pretty… is that what you want? do you want to have stores around the world to hawk your work to housewives?
Joseph: There are 2 answers. Would I do work that I think “would sell in stores around the world”? No, absolutely not. But if I did the kind of work that I have in my heart and do naturally, and people around the world wanted to look at it and buy it… thats great. One is selling out, and one is good fortune.
Leigh: uh huh
Joseph: I mean, the most work I’ve ever sold at once was at my first show. Before that opening I had no experience or expectations as to who, if anyone, would like anything I did. So I surely couldnt have catered to them
Leigh: i told you we’d just disagreeeeeeee
Joseph: What is it you disagree with?
Leigh: for me, it is like… if in your heart of hearts you truely think your work challanges yourself… and you look at it and the journey was just as wonderful as the outcome… then bravo
Joseph: Well help me understand. What would the other option be… that I don’t enjoy the journey and I make what I think will sell?
Leigh: do what it is your heart… thats all I’m saying…
Joseph: Sure. I just can’t imagine what else it could be. I’m not exactly workin at the button factory here.
Leigh: if you think you are challanging youself my drawing heart shapes on linoleum, then so be it- keep making your art!
Joseph: Expressing is surely not the same thing as challenging. If I want something to be difficult, I’ll do math, since I suck at math. To me, the process is often as important as the image. Stroll through one of those shiny white museums that you love and you’ll see tons of work from people that agree with that. Do I run into difficulties and challenges while working sometimes? Of course, but that isn’t my goal. Life is the hard part, art is just for expressing it. I would love to watch you reproduce some of my work with the tools I used to do it. I wonder if you’d have the same opinion of it afterwards.
Leigh: hey, i wasn’t knocking it… I’m just saying it that is what makes you keep going…then do it
Joseph: Well, what you said was “drawing heart shapes on linoleum”. Which surely is not very representative of what I do or what I’m about. You do photography right? So its the same as saying, “So you push one button with your finger, wow”. Really now.
Leigh: Wait, timeout! FYI overnightprints.com makes decent cheap business cards… I just ordered from them
Joseph: I handprint my own.
Leigh: and then you give them out for free like club flyers
Joseph: You charge for someone to take your card?
Leigh: you are giving out art for free, and then you are selling a dollar bill for 50 dollars MR KINCAIDE!
Joseph: Is it a dollar bill?
Leigh: what is the difference between screening a dollar bill and selling it for 50 dollars or screening hand done business cards and giving them out for free>
Joseph: Roughly $50.
Leigh: haha
Joseph: if one of the “masters” bought some paint for $15 and painted a breathtaking image of something amazing, is he wrong to sell it for more than the $15 that it cost him?
Leigh: haha. a) are you a master b) the dollar bill piece isn’t breathtaking and didn’t/shouldn’t taken for than a hour to make
Joseph: a) Yes. I am the very best in the world at making Joseph Rose’s art. b) In your opinion it isn’t. And I surely hope that you don’t think the importance of art is relative to the time it took to capture the image. Otherwise photos are bottom of the barrel. Thats a split second.
Leigh: there is an extream difference between a photographer and a painter/printmaker
Joseph: Indeed.
Leigh: yeah- so you can’t compare them. it isn’t sound
Joseph: I’m not comparing the processes, but the idea of “how long did it take?” is universal and applies to all art. And it is equally silly for all of them.
Leigh: no it doesn’t. because it is like apples and oranges, you can’t compare it
Joseph: Time and art are apple and oranges. I’ve never met a printmaker or artist of any kind who judged their abilities by hours spent on a piece. What if I just suck and move really slow, does that make the piece more worthwhile because it took longer? That’s silly.
Leigh: it is quality we are talking about
Joseph: And quality has no connection to time, and is always relative. If you ever get lucky enough to have your work shown to large numbers of people, it will be only a matter of time before someone comes up to you with a tale of how one of your pieces touched them, or means something to them or something like that. At that very same moment, someone, somewhere, will think you’re a hack. Guaranteed. It’s all relative.
Leigh: I hate you.

She totally doesn’t.

And here’s a really nice new record you should get:

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