Amy S. Turner - AckLfee Artworks - Art Licensing, Graphic Design, Illustration, Colored Pencil Art, Childrens Book Illustration, Art Blog

Friday, May 13, 2011

To make a statement or play it safe with your art?

Take it from one who has learned the hard matter how passionate or how determined you are to make art that expresses a “statement,” don't expect that artwork to be readily accepted, encouraged or lauded. And there is a BIG difference between creating for public consumption versus creating for personal catharsis. That being said, I still encourage any and all artists to make their statement pieces, but only for their own edification. You might get lucky and find a niche collector/buyer that is on your wavelength for this area of your portfolio, but chances are this kind of work will be too edgy for those with more sensible tastes. LOL

Case in point was my entry for the 2011 Colored Pencil Society of America's International Exhibition. This year, my cathartic side won out and I created a piece called “They Stand, Resolute....” I was following a muse that told me that my last entry to make it into the International, called “Summoning The Ancestors,” paved the way, with it's eery use of skull and offering bowl, for a further testing of the jurying boundaries. One takes a big chance with “statement” pieces (especially ones with a slightly morbid theme) as the judge changes year to year and one can never be quite sure what their tastes and temperament will bear. Needless to say, the bloodied dove and the impending doom must have been a bit too much! LOL I didn't make it in to this year's show in Dallas.  Dagnabbit...but what can you do?

Well...from what I've observed from my short time at the CPSA International shows, it seems the high quality works that win most of the awards are, in large part, photographic realism-type renderings of traditional (what I would call “safe”) subjects – people, animals, landscape, still life, flowers and the like. There are a few artists that stand out, of course, for focusing their design around plays on words or a specific “style” that they've mastered, but I really haven't seen any where personal statements were made...mood yes, allegory yes, self-effacing humor yes, but statements not so much.

So here's what I've learned from this in the short time I've been showing in these shows (and my other artistic endeavors) – namely that your best bet to gain any recognition is to play it safe, stick to the status quo as far as subject matter, realism (or as close as you can get) is king and, if you're going to attempt to add a miniscule statement, make sure it's done with humor or it won't pass muster. The sight of blood in a piece will probably lose you an invite and, in the end, the judge is god! LOL Taste is subjective and sometimes there's no accounting for what he/she might like...dying, bloody birds included!!! ROFL Also...know your territory...that is, conservative judges, older crowd, traditional mindset – stick to the “safe” subjects and styles; younger crowd, “hip” judges, edgy mindset – they're more inclined to click with your statement stuff. Remember, you attract what you put out there so put out the right stuff for that venue if you want to receive any recognition for your work!

Anyway, I suppose I've learned my lesson, huh? A little weird is OK but blood is a no-no. So take a guess what I'll be drawing for next year. Flowers...portraits...still lifes (without dead or dying things I suppose).  Boring? Mostly. Tedious? Most probably. But you do what you have to do if you want to be included, yes? All this also goes for selling, licensing, marketing your art too, ya know. A painting of a smiley face is gonna go over a lot better with the crowd than your save-the-Earth drawing of garbage along the curb or a photo montage of starving, indigenous peoples. You have to decide what your priorities are for that moment in time and save the commentary for your personal work. Who knows...when you get famous (after you die – LOL), your edgy, personal stuff will be worth a bundle! :)

Don't sell out – just know your intended audience and play to it when need be. Hope this little bit of advice helps! Now go do some creating!!!

~ Amy


Monday, January 3, 2011

Welcome to 2011!

I hope everyone had a fun but safe holiday season. Now it’s onward and upward into the new year!

It’s amazing what one year can bring, even if you think that you weren’t accomplishing much. Looking back, I’m so grateful to have made some important strides this past year...made it into the 2010 International Exhibition in Los Gatos, CA for the Colored Pencil Society of America; created and published my first children’s book from scratch; signed contracts with ABC/Disney Studios - Desperate Housewives, Season 7 to use some of my artwork on set (although I’m not sure where or when they’ll pop up), and so many more small things that all add up. It amazes me and I wonder how much more could happen if I had more time to devote to my personal artwork endeavors. Wow! I can only hope that 2011 will be bigger and better!

A few things I have in the hopper for 2011 right now? Well, I’m currently working on a larger format piece (12" x 24"P) which will hopefully be juried into the 2011 International CPSA Exhibition in Dallas, TX. If I am accepted, it will be my 3rd International show in 4 years and my induction as a Signature Member of CPSA (which means that I am allowed to use the CPSA designation after my name - a high honor in my book).

I also have another children’s book in the works which I hope to have out before summer. As of today, all the illustrations are penciled and are ready for color, but that’s just the first step. Then I must design the book, which I do digitally in my design programs. It just becomes a question of time allocation to get everything wrapped up and uploaded, so I’m hopeful that I’ll have it done and on Amazon (and in bookstores) ASAP.

One more thing to add to my “To-Do” list was to sign up to help out at the Art League a bit more. I had been asked to be on the Board before but was never sure of scheduling conflicts. I owe them some quality time, so I’ll be seeing what they need me to do...possibly signing up as the exhibit coordinator. We’ll see what they recruit me to do this coming Wednesday meeting. LOL Hope the rest of the Board can stand my goofy sense of humor!!! :)

So...that’s it for now. We’ll see what surprises 2011 brings. I wish you all much love, success, health and happiness in the new year!!!

Dream BIG!!! ~ Amy


About Me

I am a self-employed graphic artist of 18+ years, working mainly in the print and specialty events areas of design.