I recently mentioned my partnership with Skillshare as they develop a rigorous Creative Arts Program for artsy professionals. I’ve called on a handful of artists and art professionals that I admire and asked them to teach a class. THIS SATURDAY artists Colette Robbins and Micah Ganske will be teaching you on the subject of networking in the artworld and learning the basics of photoshop relevant to your artwork. Their the most charming power art couple I’ve ever met and I’ve interviewed them as they prepare for their classes.
Micah: Can you name 3 of the 10 things artists should know in Photoshop?
Well one of the most important things is how to properly resize images for different purposes. You would not believe how often artists send poorly formatted images for applications or for printing. Another would be how to compensate for poor lighting conditions after you’ve photographed your work. And a third would be how to squeeze the maximum amount of detail out of a source image. The better your source photos, the better your work will be.
Colette: What is the #1 RULE in networking in the art world if there ever was one?
The number one rule is having confidence. Whenever you are in any situation where networking is involved, which is almost all art related scenarios, believe in yourself and your art, because that confidence will come across to those who you are speaking with. People in the art world at all levels want to support someone who believes in themselves.
Micah: How would you photograph and photoshop an artwork that is a 3D hologram. Just as an example.
Well, >adjusts glasses< it depends on the type of 3D hologram. The difficulty with something like that is going to be the way light is projecting or reflecting off of the hologram. It’s not going to be a normal lighting situation because of the way the hologram is distorting the light so compensating in Photoshop after the fact could really help.
Colette: Why is networking in the art world important in advancing your art career?
There is so much talent in the world one begins to think to themselves why are those artists getting these opportunities or press while these others are not getting anything. I realized along the way, that your talent is only part of it, and if you want to find opportunities and ultimately success, you have to build trusting relationships with people in the art world.
Micah: How beneficial is it, really, to just auto tone and auto color your images? How does that relate when the subject of the image is a painting as opposed to a picture of my mom?
Absolute worst thing you can do. The auto-adjustments in Photoshop are designed to give you the same amount of level of lights and darks every time. If you apply that to the image of a low-contrast painting the color goes haywire. Also, you have to be careful with the adjustments you pile on because every single thing you do destroys precious information in the photo. Every Level adjustment crushes valuable color information. Proper adjustments will make your work look better, but they have to be the right adjustments and applied properly.
Colette: How is conjuring a conversation with a gallerist as opposed to a collector different?
If you are just meeting them for the first time, they are not that different. In both scenarios, in a new meeting with a gallerist or collector, you do not want to come off as someone who is pushing your work on them. They want the finding of an artist to work with, to be their idea. This is similar to the way that artist’s want to come up with their own ideas for their work, and do not want gallerists or collectors to push an idea upon them. With that said, artists always need to be prepared with how they want to discuss their work, in case the question comes up.
Micah: Can you go into differences between manipulation vs. maintaining integrity of an image, especially when the image is the actual work (photograph)?
Well, it depends on what the final use of the photo is going to be but the idea with any sort of retouching is to make it as invisible as possible. You can enhance the shadows and the highlights, but you want to hide any artifacts that give away the fact that you applied a digital process to the image as it sort of breaks the viewer’s suspension of disbelief. It’s always a balancing act.
Colette: Artists often shy away from talking about themselves and their artwork. Or, artists often talk about nothing else but themselves and their artwork. How can artists find a happy medium?
This is a great question! I highly recommend from time to time, honestly asking yourself and asking a trusted friend how you are coming across to others at openings. Are you being too pushy or are you pushing yourself and work aside to talk about others. We are all works in progress, and I am constantly fine tuning how I speak about my art, and when I choose to discuss it. You can find a happy medium, by being honest with yourself about where there is room for growth in your behavior at networking events. However, you do not have to change your personality in order to be a good networker. Nobody wants to talk to a phony! It is best just to modify the area that is not working so that you can more effectively achieve your goals as an artist in the art world.
Micah: Would you / How would you treat images differently when the purpose differs: photograph vs. documenting an artwork vs. using images as a component to the artwork (collage)?
Well if the photograph is the artwork, it just depends on what the artist wants to achieve so sky’s the limit. For documenting artwork you need to make sure the color is as close as possible to the real thing, but you also might need to “enhance” the work a little for it to read its best in photographic form. Adding just a bit more contrast or isolating specific colors can do wonders and help the work stand out in review. If you’re using the photo to work from, you’re going to want to over-amplify the detail a bit so that it’s easier to see when printed out. This can make a big difference and help in creating one’s work.
Colette: Does success at networking coincide with success as an admirable artist?
Absolutely! Being an artist does not stop with your studio practice, and there is no Prince Charming in the art world that is going to swoop down from above and do all of your self- promotional activities for you. This is similar how no one but yourself, can use time effectively in the studio for you.
Colette: What are the worst networking spoofs you’ve encountered in your art career?
There are a lot of bloopers that happen at openings that I will be discussing in the course. Being overly pushy is a huge turn off to all people in the art world. At a couple openings the same artist, who I barely knew, inappropriately interrupted a conversation, and pretended to be a part of it and that we were good friends. They proceeded to talk about their art, drop big art world names and promote their art work. This is someone I would not build a trusting relationship with, because they do not respect my time or connections.
Colette: Do you and Micah often network together? Does it help to have a sidekick?
Having a wing person for going to events can be extremely powerful when networking. It can be really hard to meet new people when you are by yourself. When you have a wing person, it takes the one on one pressure off of many conversations with new people, because they do not have to conjure up as strong of a conversation on their end. Micah and I always have new topics of discussion which we want to discuss.
Micah & Colette: What’s it like being an artist couple? Do you guys fight over whose work goes above the fireplace and couch?
Ha. We don’t really put too much of our own work up at home. We see enough of own stuff all day! In general, we like to showcase the work of our peers we have been collecting over the years which we both like.
Micah & Colette: As the art couple power duo, what are some questions you’ve had to field through?
People look at us in horror and disbelief when we tell them we share a studio. It was… a challenge at first. But now I love it and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The other thing we get a lot is “Do you collaborate?” and the answer to that is a resounding NO! That would cause fights. We need our own quiet time making our work while listening to our respective audiobooks, since every other part of our world is connected.
Micah & Colette: What are some tips you can provide for folks inspiring to be artists and are too afraid to admit it? (Think adults who’ve spent 20 years of their lives miserable in a cubicle who lost their job and wants to pursue their painting more seriously).
Well, most artists have day jobs so if we can work and make our art, so can anyone! The important thing is to be consistent with making your art every day/week, so that can build a body of work you are proud of that you ultimately want to present to other art world professionals. Colette’s Networking in the Artworld class might help too. 😉