Equal Parts

Equal Parts_Panorama

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I’m always so late to updating my blog about these things, but last month I had some work up in a lovely group show focusing on gender-related art called  Equal Parts at Frontal Lobe Gallery in Phoenix. It was a wonderful experience. Not only did I get to have my work up in a really well-curated show alongside some very talented artists, I also even got some of my first real “press” reviews of my work. Thankfully, it was positive!

Equal Parts (1)

I had two “Fixation” pieces up: Fixation: Lip and Fixation: Eye, which were also used as the advertisements/press images for the show:

equal parts ad

I also had my Lipstick triptych on display, since the only other time they were shown was at my solo BFA show, so they needed some more lovin’:

equal parts lipsticks

I think I may have taken it a bit for granted how much easier it was to find open calls for art when I was in an art program; It can be pretty difficult to find those opportunities outside of that supportive environment. Obviously, I’ve learned that it’s worth putting in the effort. I often have to remind myself that just making the work itself is only part of the equation in being an artist you have to actually show your work as well! The experience of showing your work, although always nerve-wracking, can often be incredibly affirming, and I’m happy to say that my experience being in Equal Parts was that and more.

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How NOT to Approach an Artist

This past month,  I had work in a group show in downtown Phoenix. It was a great experience, and I was happy to show my work for the first time since my solo BFA show. Even more awesome- I had some interest from buyers in a large triptych of mine that I honestly never thought of selling. Not so awesome, one person who approached me did it in a, quite frankly, insulting way.

Now, these being large oil paintings, the price on them was appropriately set. I’m no dummy, I understand that not everyone, hell, most everyone, can afford a rather pricey triptych. Regardless, the price is what it is. Basically, I encountered an individual who had no respect for my (more than reasonable and competitive!) pricing.

Now, If someone is really, truly interested, I’m willing to be as accommodating as I can in offering a payment plan, a smaller commission, or even a small (SMALL!) discount on the purchase of multiple works. If they’re  nice.

This individual wasn’t mean, per se, they just had a very entitled attitude. Basically,  they offered to pay me 40% of the asking price. Yes, less than HALF of what I was asking for. They said that affordability was an issue for them, of course, and asked for my thoughts. I offered them all of my accommodations listed above,  including the small discount. I also explained that I could not offer such a deep discount as I had to keep my pricing consistent with my gallery (as giving buyers a disincentive from buying from your gallery is a GREAT way to ruin a gallery relationship.) They curtly message me back offering 50% of my original asking price. Um, no.

I mean, you encounter so many things in life that you may want but can’t afford. One of those things may be my art – and that’s incredibly flattering.  But it’s also not my job to cut into my own wage – my payment for my work, to make what in many ways amounts to a luxury item affordable to you. This person’s attitude just reflects an entitlement and an ignorance of the fact that being an artist and producing great artwork that people actually want to buy in the first place  involves incredible skill and  expertise, time, equipment, and  accompanying financial risk. Artists don’t pull their prices out of their ass.

The worst part is so many artists don’t realize this, especially emerging ones like me. Thus, they may feel pressured into caving to lowballers out of desperation to make a sale. And that’s a supremely shitty situation to put someone who is already financially struggling in. Asking an already struggling artist for a discount most would reserve only to their closest friends comes across as incredibly arrogant.

So, inexperienced art buyers, please respect the prices of artwork,  ESPECIALLY those of emerging artists. Understand what you can and can’t afford. And if you do see someone’s  pricy magnum opus and fall in love, it never hurts to ask an artist if they have any more affordable work, like small paintings or sketches, available. In fact, most emerging artists would probably love that. Simply respect the artist and the value their work over the shallow desire for a “bargain.” If the latter is what you want, I’d suggest avoiding art galleries and instead taking your business to the local swap meet.

Phx Art Museum’s “The Art of Videogames” – Lots of Games, Not so Much Art

Banner videogames exhibit

We all have passionate interests that we begrudgingly realize will likely never converge into one explosion of awesomeness. Ice-cream and prime rib. B-movies and ballet. Two of mine are art museums and video games. So, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard about the Art of Video Games exhibit curated by Chris Melissinos at the Phoenix Art Museum. As a longtime lover of video games, I was really excited to see an entire exhibition that would highlight the incredible artistry that goes into making games. I expected to see rare concept art, maybe some beautiful screenshots, details of the creative processes of designers, and probably some playable  demos. Unfortunately, I was actually a bit disappointed with what it ended up being.

I think a more appropriate title of the show would have been “The History of Video games.” It felt more like an informational exhibit you’d find in a place like the Smithsonian (which is, I think, what the exhibit was originally for), aiming at an audience of people entirely unfamiliar with games. Most of the exhibit was comprised of individual TV screens  representing each generation of game systems spanning 40 years, adding up to over 20 systems. With each system is a TV screen showcasing 4 games, showing gameplay footage with an audio commentary about the game’s mechanics, story line, developers etc. If you’re already a gamer, the information presented is mostly common knowledge, but it was really cool seeing it all presented in such an organized, chronological way, and seeing some of the footage made me all nostalgic. But the commentary never really went into much about the development of the game itself, which I would have been more interested in.

As predicted (and promised) there were also some playable games, one of which being indie-darling Flower on a generously sized screen. There was also a short film of interviews with developers and industry insiders. There were only a handful of pieces of concept art. Which was disappointing, because you’d think that an exhibition in an art museum focusing on the “artistry of videogames” would show more of, you know, the artistry of the people who make a huge volume of beautiful art to make these games possible:

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2013’s The Last Of Us concept art

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Concept art for Mirror’s Edge

I mean, I understand and respect that Melissinos would want to present the games themselves as the “art” of the exhibition, but why not show people who may not realize just how much “traditional” art making techniques go into making these games so striking and beautiful  some concept work or sketches? Or show us famed Silent Hill composer Akira Yamaoka doing his thing, for instance. Overall, there wasn’t really anything in the exhibit that you couldn’t find on YouTube or Wikipedia, or that most gamers wouldn’t already know. But if you’re unfamiliar with the medium, it’s certainly a good place to start! Or, if you’re a gamer in the mood for some nostalgia-fuzzy feelings, it’ll be a real treat. Hopefully Melissinos expands his “baby” to include more of what I had been itching to see. All the great designers, concept artists, character artists- they all deserve to be singled out and recognized for their talent and vision, which in the end mostly gets “lost” in the final product.

For Phoenix natives, the exhibit is up until September 29th. 

Undergraduate Juried Exhibition

This is oldish news, but back in December (and through to January) I had a piece in ASU’s Herberger School of Art’s Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition!

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The inside of ASU’s Harry Wood Gallery.

Here’s a closer view of my piece titled, bluntly, Lipstick:

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Megan Koth, Lipstick, Oil on Canvas, 2012. Better pic in my portfolio.

This was my first time really submitting to a serious group gallery exhibition. As artists, sometimes we take for granted the positive reinforcement that can come from other people’s approval of our work. We tend to get so absorbed in our own (often hyper-critical) head space that we forget that there are people out there who really like what you do. Unsurprisingly, it feels really good to have a successful, knowledgeable person in your field deem your work worthy of some special recognition. And there’s nothing wrong with that!