InFocus 2017 opens to the public in one week, on February 7, with the opening reception on Thursday, February 9, followed by portfolio reviews on February 10. In the building anticipation of the show, I am pleased to introduce Jared Tabler in today’s special guest blog post. Jared is the Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of MCQUEEN Inc., Agency Director and Principal Dealer at McQueen Agency, and Editor-in-Chief of ARTperspective. Like me, Jared believes in photography as an art form and the importance of investing in it just like any other medium. On that note, I am honoured to hand this post over to Jared.
PHOTOGRAPHY. WHY IT IS WORTH THE INVESTMENT.
In a time when nearly everyone has access to a camera, there are few true artistic photographers, yet an abundance of people who take photos. It has become common practice to share any inane image you might capture with your smart phone, apply a couple of filters, and then post it to the social media sharing platform of your choosing; instant gratification in the form of likes from friends, family members, and even strangers. How then do we value an art form that has been reduced to idle activity undertaken by the masses on a daily basis?
Looking back over history, it is easy to conclude that in fact, it has always been this way for photographers pursuing photographic art. The earliest of photographs were experiments, accidental, at best, used to document events, places or things. And that diversity still exists today; photography has many uses from commercial, to editorial, to fine art.
It is that flexibility that has drawn so many to pursue photography in one-way or another. It is through the creation of something new that we begin to understand that a camera is simply a tool, and that possessing one does not make you any more qualified than owning a car makes you a race car driver. A camera is then, a medium, used by an artist to express themselves, and from which to create.
Great photography is no different than a great painting. The artist had a vision for the work, and was able to capture it and share their perspective through their lens, rather than with a brush. It is easy to recognize the greats in a field once they are no longer with us, we can look back at their careers in their entirety and appreciate the skill and dedication it takes to achieve such mastery in ones craft. Ansel Adams (1902-1984), capturing landscapes in breathtaking ways we had not previously experienced before; Diane Arbus (1923-1971) capturing the quirks of the human condition; and Robert Mapplethorpe (1946-1989) pushing the boundaries with his evocative images of the male form, while exploring sexuality. These early photographers paved the way for photographic art, and pushed the conversation about art and self-expression forward.
Today we have great Canadian photographic artists like Jeff Wall (b.1946) who pioneered modern artistic photography in Vancouver’s gritty east side, or Danny Singer (b. 1945) who captures the vast skies of the prairies juxtaposed through small town life. On the emerging side, two Canadian photographers you should be looking to invest in are Curtis Trent who will be featured at the upcoming InFocus Photo exhibit from February 7th – 28th, 2017 at The Front Gallery and Canada’s 2016 Photographer of the Year (PPOC), and Master Photographer of the Year (PPOC), Allan Bailey. While both artists have very different styles, they each represent the skill, precision and mastery of their craft that places them in a league of their own when it comes to photographic art.
Putting aside the debate on why photographic art is different, if we look back through the history of photography we can see what was good versus what was great art. Great art has the ability to transcend the obvious, to challenge us, to make us think. When we surround ourselves with it, our lives become richer, more colourful, and inspired. So when considering acquiring a piece of art, don’t allow yourself to be limited to the tools used to create it. Good art is good art no matter the medium. And good art is always worth investing in.
Chief Executive Officer & Creative Director | MCQUEEN Inc.
Agency Director & Principal Dealer | McQueen Agency
Editor-in-Chief | ARTperspective
As the CEO of MCQUEEN Jared provides executive leadership to it’s many divisions, including CREATIVE, their marketing and communications firm, SEARCH, their professional and executive placement agency, LEARN, their training and development division, as well as the McQueen Agency, an art advisory and talent management group for emerging artists. Jared’s extensive background in human resources, and business strategy allow his clients to translate ideas into realities. His passion also extends to his work in the community as a mentor, leader, and lending his time to philanthropic endeavours, including Board roles in the arts, culture and human services sectors, and as co-founder and Chair of the #NotAChoice campaign to end LGBTQ youth homelessness in partnership with the True Colors Fund in New York City, and Virgin Mobile worldwide.
1) The Tetons and the Snake River – Ansel Adams
2) The Weird and Wonderful Identical Twins – Diane Arbus
3) Arnold – Robert Mapplethorpe
4) A Sudden Gust of Wind – Jeff Wall
5) Saco Storm Sky – Danny Singer
6) Wolfgang & Viola – Curtis Trent
7) Stray – Allan Bailey
Bridge Songs has always been an exciting event. I LOVE how it merges different creative mediums together. It has music. It has visual art. It has poetry.
Bridge Songs has run an entire decade! This year, Bridge Songs Ten, is the grand finale. What a ride!
Here is some info about this year’s exhibition and show:
June 18, 2016 – 7PM to 10PM
St.Faith’s Anglican, 11725-93 Street, Edmonton, AB
#15 advance tickets, $20 at the door
The Visual Artists
Lori Anne Youngman
Check out Bridge Songs Ten online by clicking here.
There are all kinds of unique spaces that need art. For me, one of those places is a government constituency office. And that just happens to be where you can find my work! For the last two months I have had two of my abstracted landscape paintings gracing the political scene.
Art doesn’t just belong in a gallery.
Up on display until June 4, 2016, these paintings have been welcoming guests, politicians and the community at the constituency office of the Honourable Richard Feehan.
To visit the constituency office:
Constituency Office of Honourable Richard Feehan
308 Saddleback Road, Edmonton AB T6J 4R7
*** Both of these paintings are for sale, so if you’re interested, contact me.
To see more of my paintings, please click here.
Something unique about these paintings is how they were made – and with what materials. I painted on unprimed canvas, which allowed lovely saturation of the colours into the fabric. At the same time as I painted with acrylic paint, I also collaged with paper and used the acrylic gel as another layer in the work.
When I am painting, I work intuitively and follow my creative instincts. It is a process of passion and freedom.
I have so enjoyed getting to know the folks that work at this office and am curious what they will choose to hang on their walls next. I commend their vision to display original art in their office and to work with local artists. We need more of this in our culture. Forget the mass printed IKEA prints. There are an incredible number of creative people making work that is captivating and communicates deeply with viewers.
Where are unique places you have shown your artwork?
Where is your dream exhibition space?
As always, thanks for reading!
Happy art-making everyone!
– Alexis Marie Chute
We all need to be aware of the scams going around that take advantage of hard-working, honest creative people. Working as a professional artist for the last fifteen years has taught me something:
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
I don’t mean to say this in a pessimistic way, but I do think it is prudent to be cautious when opportunity knocks on your door. Please read this article and share it with other creative entrepreneurs you know. It is important that we spread the word and protect ourselves and others. Our work, time, and talent are too valuable to be scammed.
TIPS TO AVOID SCAMS
TIP 1: Run opportunities through the below 4 criteria before signing on the dotted line
The legitimate opportunities that have come my way have been:
- Through hard work on my part
- By some initiative of my own making, either recently or traceable from a seed planted a while back
- Through someone I know or by a mutual connection (a friend of a friend or a coleague of a coleague, for example)
- Tried by someone I know and respect who vouches for it
I distinctly remember being contacted by Agora Gallery in New York who **found my work online and loved it.** I had never heard of them before, but was so excited that a New York gallery had contacted me. Unfortunately, when I asked some of my artist friends whether they had heard of the gallery, which they had, the reviews were not positive. I researched extensively online. There were may forum discussions about this and other vanity galleries. I gathered that Agora contacts A LOT of artists they find from combing the internet.
One red flag right off the bat: they charge artists $5,450 USD to show in their gallery!!
Artists: You should not have to pay a legitimate gallery to show your work.
As beautiful as the dream is to show my art in the Big Apple, I want to earn my way there, not pay for it. Plus, when you dish out the dough to get your work shown, those “in-the-know” in the art community will spot that immediately on your CV. Is it worth it? The decision is up to you.
TIP 2: Do Your Homework
If someone emails or phones you about a **big opportunity** that you **simply must participate in** – BEWARE.
I continuously receive emails telling me to buy a page in an art catalog or photography book that will be sent out to agents, galleries, reps, and so on. They go on and on about what an amazing opportunity it is. The fee for one of these is $500 for a page in a photo book, for example. They lay it all out: at $500 for a page, with the book sent to thousands of agents, your actual investment is $X per agent.
They are doing the hard sell. If you are desperate, maybe their offer sounds appealing. But again, I say BEWARE. Are these thousands of agents asking for this product? Likely not. Is there any way of knowing that these books actually get sent out and seen?
First check out the person and business these offers represent. Does this person knows someone you know? Or are you connected through a business network? Do they have a concrete location? Are you familiar with this company or the individual within the broader community you work in?
Search for reviews on the internet. Online reviews and forums can be a LIFESAVER.
TIP 3: Trust your gut
You may have been found (or targeted) because your online presence is doing its job. The scammer found you because you are promoting yourself as an artist or a writer or a sculptor. It’s great to be found, but there are far too many people/scams out there that try to take advantage of creative people.
I know that it may seem wonderful to be contacted. We all want to hear how great our work is, that we are wanted and valued. Hear it from me: YOUR WORK IS GREAT! YOU ARE VALUABLE! YOUR CONTRIBUTION IS MEANINGFUL! YOUR LIFE MATTERS! KEEP DOING WHAT YOU ARE DOING! (I mean it. I believe in creative people pursuing their passions. It is inspiring. And I know we all need to hear these encouraging words sometimes… okay, often. The best part? You don’t have to pay me to say this to you. Take the encouragement for free : )
With unsolicited **opportunities** flattery can be a cover for the scam. They will say:
- Your writing is so great, please write for our site? (For free of course)
- Your art is amazing, I’d like to buy, can I pay online? (They may pay with stolen funds, demand a refund, you may never see your work again, causing you all kinds of stress)
- Your drawings are so captivating, can we show them in our gallery? (For a huge sum of money)
If something doesn’t feel right, if your sixth sense is tingling, TRUST YOUR GUT! This is probably one of the best pieces of advice, not only for avoiding scams, but in every area of life.
TIP 4: Read carefully and with discernment
If you get an email about your work, look closely at the email address it is being sent from. Strange looking email addresses are a good clue that the sender may not be legit.
Here is an example of a suspicious email address (from the scam email below):
Also, if the email is vague and asks for prices and payment options – BEWARE.
Here is a screen shot of two scam emails I received this year. Two different senders. Basically the same wording – although not perfect grammar (another clue!). Here is exactly what to look out for:
At first, in January, I wondered if this was a real email inquiry. I even responded. I continued to get vague responses. It was fishy!!! I didn’t pursue the conversation. Then just today I received almost the exact same message. What perfect confirmation of the SCAM that it is. Watch out!
TIP 5: If the **big opportunity** asks for money, run the other direction
I am so frustrated with all the great/wonderful/fabulous opportunities that come my way – that of course cost an arm and a leg! It is incredibly disappointing that so many scams rip off creative people, many of whom are doing their absolute best to scrape a living from the pursuit of their dreams.
This seems obvious, but we all need a good reminder every now and then:
People should pay YOU for your work, not the other way around.
NOTE: There are many legitimate opportunities out there that do ask for an entry fee. Many competitions and group exhibitions are volunteer run and need the funds to put on the show or award a prize. Still, do your homework.
For example, I run InFocus Photo Exhibit and Award: www.InFocusPhoto.ca (which soon will be hosted on it’s own site, yay!) As a part of the submission process for InFocus, we charge an entry fee. I will be very transparent: my first year running InFocus we charged $10/entry of 3 images – and I still ended up paying about $600 out of my own pocket to host the exhibition, promote it, get wine for the opening reception, list the event in Exposure Photography Festival’s printed program, etc. The second year I charged a bit more ($25/3 images) and found some sponsorship and through this, broke pretty close to even.
I am using InFocus Photo as an example that modest amounts of money are reasonable – but still only when you know that the organizer or organization is reputable. Even a small amount of money is too much to lose on a scam.
TIP 6: Consider twice if they contact you
I am sure we all want to get to the place where opportunity knocks on our door, instead of us having to seek it out. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of us, that is not the case.
Consider the above example of a big gallery contacting you. In all reality, legitimate galleries are probably far too swamped with submissions from artists to spend a huge amount of time searching out new talent. It probably does happen, but not that often.
When real opportunities do knock, as I hope they will for you, if you check them out by going through the above tips, you can feel more confident in their validity.
There are always exceptions to the above. There are many wonderful people in the world along with many great opportunities. Be discerning. Good luck on all your creative adventures!
Thank you so much for reading! If you know about any scams that the public should be aware of, please share them below in the comments.
Buying my daughter’s school supplies made me jealous. Her brand new pencil crayons, felts, erasers, paint, paper… There is something exciting about new art materials! They make my fingers dance eagerly while my mind imagines the dust of charcoal and my paint-covered apron.
Back to school marks a time to get focused and resume routines long forgotten over the summer.
- It’s a time to buy the books on the book list.
- Stock the backpack.
- Pull on the new shoes.
- Fill the binders with paper.
- Organize the calendar.
- Get on track with work and life…
Oops! I may have mixed my own back to school list with my kids’ just now – but adults tend to get back into the swing of things in September just like children. The vacation is over. The sleep bank has been filled (hopefully) and soon the tan has already faded.
I think September is an excellent time to make resolutions; maybe an even better time than New Years.
Over the summer I love to read as many books as possible, daydream about my art and plan how my work will move forward.
It’s almost the end of September, baby!
For me, I am excited to reestablish regular art-making and writing routines this autumn. There are a lot of big projects coming up that were hard to focus on over the summer when my kids were calling me to play.
Now is the time.
I also have a plethora of book projects I’m working on and am eager to stretch some canvases and get painting…
Truly, September is a time of invigoration and new energy!
What will be keeping you busy this fall?
Do you love “back to school” time – or hate it? (No judgement!)
What art project did you put aside over the summer that you will be picking up again?
– Alexis Marie
Kids are curious – although my five-year-old just told me that she knows more than me. Apparently she has the answer to everything. I laugh to myself. It has begun already! She seems so young to think she knows it all…
Do you still find yourself curious? Or do you know everything? That’s a rhetorical question!
Let’s see what Leo Burnett, the famous American advertising executive, has to say about curiosity. Next in our series – quote #2:
“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people.” – Leo Burnett
Curiosity is important, not just for artists, photographers, musicians, designers, writers, and the creative-lot alike; everyone can benefit from curiosity.
- Is a path to learning new things
- Keeps you growing as a person
- Develops meaningful interests
- Makes your artwork more intriguing
- Causes you to ask the right questions
- Helps you get to know people better
Over the summer I read a great (and curious!) novel by Jonathan Safran Foer called Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. The main character is a young boy named Oskar…
… I just realized: it’s fitting that I am reflecting on this book today, since it is September 11. This was not intentional, but my subconscious is tuned-in to the date I suppose. Who can even say September 11 without remembering where they were when it happened? Today, and every day, my heart goes out to all those affected by the events that took place back in 2001. Not long ago I visited the site of the Twin Towers and my heart broke – there were so many names lining the fountain memorials. Too many names…)
Back to the novel: the story is about Oskar’s search for a lock to match the key he found in his father’s belongings. Oskar’s father died in the 911 tragedy.
The author has done a remarkable job of writing from Oskar’s perspective. Oskar’s mind never stops and one idea leads to another. He is the embodiment of curiosity. He wonders about everything… sometimes it can be a little exhausting, but because of his curiosity, he is such an interesting character and comes up with truly novel ideas.
If you have time to read Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, I’d recommend it. On a side note, it was a very gentle take on the 911 tragedy. It made me reflect on the heartache from a child’s perspective.
Artists – creative people in general – are and should be curious. I believe it is curiosity that prompts art in the first place. Art is curious because:
- It asks us questions of ourselves, the one who made it
- It asks questions about the world
- It asks questions about culture, society, race, religion
Change comes because of questions and questions come because of curiosity.
Have you gotten bored? If so, it’s time to get inspired! Visit an art gallery or museum, read something new, travel to a foreign destination, meet new people, take a class. Curiosity is within your control.
What are you curious about?
How do you feed your curiosity?
Best wishes to you as you pursue your creative passions!
– Alexis Marie
InFocus Photo Exhibit: Meet the Curator
Background of InFocus:
I came up with the idea for InFocus after learning that Exposure Photography Festival 2015 was going to be Alberta-wide. In previous years, the festival only included Calgary, Banff and Canmore. I saw this as an important opportunity to include Edmonton photographers into the celebration and conversation about contemporary photography. Thus, the InFocus Edmonton exhibition took place last February 2015, showcasing 30 image-makers from the city and area. Over 250 visitors took in the exhibit over its three day run.
After InFocus Edmonton, my organization and curatorial work for the exhibit was recognized at the annual Mayor’s Celebration of the Arts, in association with PACE Edmonton. I was honoured to accept the John Poole Award for Promotion of the Arts. InFocus was my labor of love, with my InFocus Team, and the exhibit was reward in and of itself. However, the award was a wonderful confirmation that InFocus met many of its important goals.
InFocus Photo 2016:
Moving forward, I want to ensure InFocus does not remain insular. New ideas and perspectives from across the province will come together in this year’s exhibit. Therefore, the call for submissions was extended to photographers from across Alberta for 2016. I believe this decision will set the bar high, allowing our province’s pivotal image-makers to unite in one exhibition. It will be a great statement to the photographic creativity in our province and allow us to comment on our place in the contemporary photography scene.
Why Submit to InFocus 2016:
If you are an Alberta photographer, I hope you consider submitting to InFocus. It is a great opportunity for many reasons:
- Recognition across Alberta and Canada as a top photographer
- Exhibition credit in the commercial gallery, DC3 Art Projects
- Promote and sell your work to a wide audience
- Become a member of the InFocus alumni, honoured at all InFocus exhibits
- Participation in Exposure Photography Festival
- Connect with other photographers and organizations
- Share your creative vision and the story behind your work
What I’m looking for:
As a curator, here is what I look for in the images that will make up the 2016 InFocus Exhibition. (I realize this list is vague, just as describing art itself is subjective and somewhat “in the eye of the beholder.” Still, I hope this list will cause a moment of pause as you consider which images to submit.)
- Technical skill
Thank you for getting to know a little bit more about me and InFocus. I look forward to your submissions and seeing you at the exhibit.