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robertpulley 07-01-2006 05:00 PM

What is success?
 
While reviewing some posts yesterday I noticed one that stated in order to really make a reputation you need to do so in New York. And there were comments about "recieving one's deserved recognition". Several years ago I found a web site where Mark Kostabi was holding forth and he was telling a guy that it didn't matter what your art was like, if it was not recognized in New York it didn't exist. That seemed kind of extreme. I know what he was saying, but to say that all the human emotion and thought that passes between an artist and his/her audience is meaningless unless certain important people see it seemed awfully arrogant.

I also thought about years ago when I was trucking my work to Chicago area art fairs and was just starting to approach serious art galleries. I was feeling a little self conscious. I had a day job teaching. While I felt my work was strong, would people take me seriously since I didn't pursue my work full time? One weekend my old truck broke down on the Dan Ryan Freeway and I pulled out a phone number of a guy I had befriended at various Chicago fairs. I had always admired him and his work. He was 20 years older than me, did very nice, large paintings and always sold a couple. I thought of him as a one of the real pros. I called him and told him of my problem. He immediately drove over, had my truck towed to a place he knew, put me up in his home and ran me back and forth to the fair. What I learned though was that at age 65 he was still working a nearly full time job as a printing salesman. He said his friends asked him why he didn't retire and paint full time. He said,"You know, I don't know if I would want to paint full time. I've done it in my spare time all my adult life. Maybe I would have grown faster or differently if I had been able to paint full time, but I'm happy with what I do. Who is to say what success is?"

I guess I would say to those youngsters out there that you have to define what success is to you. My goals have been pretty modest and though I try to get my work out (but not hard enough) my main goals have always been:

1. Make life decisions that allow me to keep working.
2. Try to make work that continually grows and offers excitement to me.
3. Try to sell enough to pay for my art habit.

I've chosen to do this from rural Southern Indiana, a tough place to sell art from and not a good place to relate to other artists or keep pace with the cutting edge. But my yard is beautiful, the traffic is thin, I can see the stars at night and I have family and friends close by.

http://www.robertpulley.com

Bob

mark pilato 07-01-2006 07:17 PM

Re: What is success?
 
Hi Robert, I really like your sculpture, When I look at it on your web site I can imagine them huge. They reflect nature and at the same time have a humanistic feeling in them. Very cool- congratulations!.
I think success has to do with how you feel about your art and it seems that you are in a great place when it comes to that so i would say your successful. As far as New York I sell there and have my work in collections and in public places there as well. But I was as successful before I took the leap into the world of New York. I am successful because I love what I do. I find that when others say things like in order to be successful you must do New York it is a reflection of their own insecurity or ego or lack there of. Try not to get down about it because its a waist of time, stay positive and take every advantage to show your work. I live in the catskills a lake in my back yard and I pay 1/4 the cost of what I was paying in the city and I have 10 times the space plus I own instead of rent. It was tuff when I was in the city but I also love it- with all it's grit, galleries, shows and there is also real opportunity. I have made some great contacts and my work lives in some really cool collections with artist that inspire me. A lot of Galleries in the city actually like dealing with artist who are not from the area. and I think that the city houses some great living artist. So i do believe that if you get a chance to show in New york it can only be good for your career.
Mark
http://www.pilatostudios.com/pages/home.html

Merlion 07-01-2006 07:18 PM

Re: What is success?
 
I agree with you, Robert, and I would go for this attitude. On the other hand, I would call it 'contentment'.

toyholic 07-01-2006 08:43 PM

Re: What is success?
 
I think success is for everyone to decide and not to worry about everyone else. I live in the worse area of the world for art in alabama, but have sold and displayed work all over the country. As far as New York , When I lived in Savannah, GA or SCAD area for 2 years I saw work that was ten fold better than that of artists coming or living in NewYork. Of course many of them where coming to SCAD to learn their craft.
In other words success is what you make it. I use to worry about selling everything and being a household name but I really don;t want that type of success. I don't want to be an artist , like many famous ones , that have others do and finish their work for them. They create the idea and then they have " would be artists work for free" paint or sculpt it for them and they get the credit.
I enjoy your work Robert , I remember spending two weeks in Gatlinburg, Tn at Arrowmont years ago and meeting several great wooden bowl carvers . I was amazed at the process and the craft itself. Looking through wooden bowl books I now see fellow artists and some of the teachers throughout the book and wish I had talked with them more.
for me success came on Oct. 15, 2004 when my son was born. I make great money at my " real job" and create art more as side money now instead of a career. I never grow old of art because of that. with a BFA in graphic design and ceramics , I have passed over getting a MAsters at this point.
Would I want to move to New York and pay too much for rent and studio space to sell a few pieces, No..never would I . I enjoy the idea of living somewhere with reall grass in my yard without stepping over a fellow artist that came to be successful....or to be content.

Landseer 07-01-2006 08:46 PM

Re: What is success?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by robertpulley
While reviewing some posts yesterday I noticed one that stated in order to really make a reputation you need to do so in New York.

It may be prestigious to do New York, but I don't believe that one MUST show/sell/be recognized there.

Quote:

would people take me seriously since I didn't pursue my work full time? One weekend my old truck broke down on the Dan Ryan Freeway and I

What I learned though was that at age 65 he was still working a nearly full time job as a printing salesman.
Great story! nice to have people you can call for help when stuck in a stange place far away like that- I have a very similar story in fact.
It seems he liked his day job I guess, but I suppose with most people a day job is strictly for a paycheck and if they hit the lottery they wouldn't even show up for work the next day.
The 45 hours I spend on the job are 45 hours I could be spending on my sculpting, mold making and selling to enrich MY bank account and self instead of some boss' bank account.
As it is, that 45 hour week is so long it hardly leaves time for everything else which then piles up on the weekend- lawn or snow, home repairs/improvement etc, shopping, errands, house cleaning, laundry.

Quote:

1. Make life decisions that allow me to keep working.
2. Try to make work that continually grows and offers excitement to me.
3. Try to sell enough to pay for my art habit.


I've chosen to do this from rural Southern Indiana, a tough place to sell art from and not a good place to relate to other artists or keep pace with the cutting edge. But my yard is beautiful, the traffic is thin, I can see the stars at night and I have family and friends close by.
Ditto here! in my case I have no mortgage, no car payments and I can stash $100-$200 a week into an "Adios amigos" slush fund for maybe 3 years from now when I hopefully can QUIT the day job and work for myself.

fused 07-01-2006 10:31 PM

Re: What is success?
 
It's interesting that you mention Mark Kostabi "telling a guy that it didn't matter what your art was like" since his success is as an entrepreneur who's marketing has generated a name for himself in the art world. Kostabi will never even be known as a good artist, since his reputation is the ability to promote and sell the crap he produces. For him success is about making good money and not about making good art.

If your goal as an artist is financial success, New York City is saturated with the most millionares and as such is the vortex of the art market. There is a maximum density of art/artists, galleries, press and culture there like no other place in the world. Most of the news you read about art has to do with cost/price and for that reason alone, NYC is the center of the artworld. If your key to success as an artist is selling a lot of art, then you should probably move there or at least find gallery representation there.

All big cities offer more opportunities for artists to be acknowledged and the internet makes anywhere more accessible to those willing to take a little time to see what's out there.

However you define success as an artist, make it your terms and not someone elses. After you've made art for many years, your definition of success will change, much like any goals you secretly set for yourself.

mark pilato 07-01-2006 10:35 PM

Re: What is success?
 
well said - Fused - "However you define success as an artist, make it your terms and not someone elses. After you've made art for many years, your definition of success will change, much like any goals you secretly set for yourself."

oscar 07-02-2006 09:44 AM

Re: What is success?
 
My definition of success...

I remember sitting in modern art history classes in college. I thought then, and still do, that success is when you are brought up, mentioned, and studied in college classes.

mark pilato 07-02-2006 10:34 AM

Re: What is success?
 
I like your definition Osar, and when I think of the artist that inspire me they hold true to what you describe. I hope one day to be successful in the art world but I am also successful in that I support my family as an artist and love my life. There are many forms of Success I guess it's in how one feels that is important,
All the best,
Mark

Merlion 07-02-2006 10:57 AM

Re: What is success?
 
The word 'successful' is already taken by society to mean achieving commercial success. As this is not my main purpose in being an artist, I do not ask the question if I am successful.

Instead I ask if I have achieved contentment trying my best to do what I love.

mark pilato 07-02-2006 11:12 AM

Re: What is success?
 
I think we all agree with this- but it is nice to sell what we do and it is also nice to have our art live with people who truly love it. You can be content and successful and still be an artist as well. I spend 50 hours a week creating thanks to the sales of my art. I live in a world of my making and I do not compromise my art for anyone. I also have many friends who do the same.
I think that people in the art world/ artist sometimes make the mistake in calling people who are making a living commercial artist. Here is a story I wrote about a show and I think it explains what I am talking about.
http://www.catskillregionguide.com/a...?id=694&page=1
All the best,
Mark

JasonGillespie 07-02-2006 05:28 PM

Re: What is success?
 
My own observations on success are, not suprisingly, formed from looking back at the history of art. My own goal is to create work that will hold up over time in terms of quality, craftsmanship, and hopefully a certain degree of originality....and have a connection to these artists of the past I admire and emulate. Also, for me creating work that will reach others in a positive/illuminating way is of importance.

This isn't ignoring the reality of making a living though...as well as the other day to day considerations. They aren't, however, chief motivators in my journey. I think there is much to recommended Robert Pulley's way of thinking too.


Quote:

Several years ago I found a web site where Mark Kostabi was holding forth and he was telling a guy that it didn't matter what your art was like, if it was not recognized in New York it didn't exist.
Having been studying in New York for a short time, I have observed that while New York is a mecca of sorts for things artistic, it is operating on a type of circular logic in regard to its own self importance. You must subscribe to the notion of New York being the dominating force in American art for it to be so. Of course, here that is a prevailing belief. Obviously Mark Kostabi and those like him want that belief to be perpetuated because they are on the inside of the system looking out. The truthfuness of the concept is relative.

Merlion 07-02-2006 05:59 PM

Re: What is success?
 
This question is directed at anybody. What do you think of taking Damien Hirst as your role model for being successful ?

mark pilato 07-02-2006 09:26 PM

Re: What is success?
 
What do you think about Tom Otterness is he successful? here is a link if you do not know his work.
http://www.tomostudio.com/

anatomist1 07-02-2006 09:47 PM

Re: What is success?
 
I, for one, don't care what is going on in New York. I'm independently wealthy and I don't feel like I can afford to even stay at a motel there. Too much pollution, congestion, hurry, anger, and - once again - way too expensive for me. Most of the people I knew in art school dreamed of and planned on moving there, living in a closet for $1000 per month, and trying to get famous in the cutting edge conceptual art scene by tacking a slice of lunch meat on the wall or something. I never understood it. Hearing that kind of solipsistic statement from Mr Kostabi doesn't surprise me. I have met more than a few ex-New Yorkers in other parts of the country who couldn't stop putting the rest of the world down in relation to NYC on virtually every subject. Bleah. None of them ever took me up on an offer to by them a one-way bus ticket back for some reason...


I have recently started thinking about getting ambitious about art. I don't need to make any money from it at all, and I'm certainly not aiming for the history books. I guess success to me will be when I've gotten enough recognition to be considered legit by normal people, as opposed to just a crazy guy with no job who makes strage things in his garage. I get my own satisfaction out of what I make and don't need external approval to think I'm 'good' or whatever. Mostly I'd just like to have some entre into not being a complete societal outcast.

I think the idea of measuring one's success by inclusion in art history classes is a bit silly. To start with, I always thought art history classes were boring, and it seemed clear that most of my fellow students agreed, aside from an artist or two and art history geeks. It's not a very appreciative or involved audience, and one you'll never have any direct contact with - especially since you'll likely be dead by then. The worst problem with the idea is that almost no one will ever attain that kind of considered historical importance. It's a nearly unattainable goal. By this measure, most likely you and every other artist you've ever known are failures.

As for the shark guy, I wouldn't hold him up as a role model because I had to look him up in Wikipedia. I just vaguely knew of him as the shark guy. He sounds like he's more show business than art.

JasonGillespie 07-02-2006 10:13 PM

Re: What is success?
 
Merlion,

I personally do not think Mr. Hirst is a good role model for anybody,but I am biased. He has shown himself, in my opinion, to be all too willing to use showmanship instead of talent or ideas(worthwhile ideas) to further his career. This is, in my book, a choice that has everything to do with greed...for money and prestige, and little to do with creating something of artistic value. I am sure that his name and place are securely fixed in art history tomes for future generations, but the tenuous relationship his work has to art is another thing entirely. That being said, I have known many over the years in the arts that have a similar mercenary approach to their careers. So the obvious truth is that many do agree with Mr. Hirst's paradigm for success.

I am not familiar with Tom Otterness, but it seems from his site that he has had a pretty good amount of success. His work is appealing in a cartoonishly oriented way.

mark pilato 07-02-2006 10:13 PM

Re: What is success?
 
Hi Anatomist1, I went to your home page, I really like your work, the sculpture speaks to me, the flowers are very cool and crisp. I wanted to be in a couple of your photographs. It must be nice to be rich and be able to create without that pressure. I admire you, sometimes I think if I were rich that I would live the rest of my days with my family in Italy looking at art instead of creating it. I have dreamed about this more than once. I would hope I would continue to work like you. congratulations on your work.
All the best,
Mark

mark pilato 07-02-2006 10:32 PM

Re: What is success?
 
Hi Jason Yea Tom is definitely cartoonish thats his charm. When I am at Tallix foundry finishing my work I see a lot of his sculpture. The last time I was there he must have had 30 works going through, ranging in size from 3 feet to over 30 feet.

anatomist1 07-03-2006 01:59 AM

Re: What is success?
 
Thanks Mark. It may seem like nitpicking but I wouldn't say I'm rich. I could afford to live with relatives and go to museums in perpetuity, or go backpacking through hostels, or just live in most ways like and average wage earner, but I can't really live extravagantly. I've marshalled what I have toward the single extravagance of not having a job. Working for somebody else just isn't the right environment for me.

You'd probably find something engaging and creative to apply yourself to if you didn't have to work. Most people would. It's one of the reasons everyone except the truly wealth are required to work such long hours or suffer the consequences in our current scheme. Give people a few more hours per day or another day or two per week to do what they want and you'll have anarchy in no time.

Merlion 07-03-2006 05:22 AM

Re: What is success?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Merlion
What do you think of taking Damien Hirst as your role model for being successful ?

I am being the devil's advocate here (so don't flame me). If we put aside his occasional personal behavior problems, and put aside what we think is the definition of 'art', I don't see what's really wrong in this day and age with having Damien Hirst as role model in art and business for being very successful.

mark pilato 07-03-2006 07:32 AM

Re: What is success?
 
I don't find a problem with that, It's cool to look up to someone and Hurst is on a high perch. I look up to a lot of people. It may be corny but the person I look up to the most is my father. His art is for himself and when he draws he is at peace and his work sings. last year when on vacation in Vermont I had the chance to sculpt next to him as he sketched - it was heaven. One day I hope to be just like him, to create art for art sake without the pressure of the day to day.
All the best Mark

robertpulley 07-03-2006 11:42 AM

Re: What is success?
 
I've never thought of it in a disciplined way,(or anything else in a disciplined way), but I know my motivations for making art are complex. Something about identity, discovery, ego, challenge, who knows? I vascilate between states of relative contentment and discontent. The term success might have in it a sense of having reached a goal. I think my discontent and the feeling that I can do better and I can discover more is one of the big things that keeps me going. I hope it never stops.

As to Damien Hurst and others of the conceptual and media manipulating band: Some of it I just don't get, but then when I think of visual art in general sometimes I feel that one of a kind, hand crafted paintings and objects are pretty antiquated. Sometimes. Other times I see all of us as small parts of the big hive putting out our little bits of information into the group mind, the group consciousness for others who find resonance in it to chew on and use in what ever way they might. The ideas flow on many levels, from the visual pun or joke, to the conceptually astringent, from the mundane to the profound. Not every idea is aimed at everybody. We serve different functions and complexity is good. All of it is part of the big hum.

mark pilato 07-03-2006 12:59 PM

Re: What is success?
 
The big Hum, I like this a lot. When I sculpt and I am one with my self I can feal the big Hum and I do feel as if I am on a stream a drift with it all.

Berinje' 07-29-2006 05:02 PM

Re: What is success?
 
Robert, I like your definition of success. The definition of success is as individual as we each are. For me it has always been to support myself being an artist full-time, and support myself well or at least decently. I am able to do that now. However, for many many years as a painter I needed to work part time at other jobs off and on and lived more like a starving artist. I knew I wanted to be an "artist" since I was in third grade, now I really am getting to be one, so I have achieved that childhood dream.

Being known in New York or having my sculptural work taught in college classes would certainly be frosting on the cake and something great to shoot for. But being able to regulate my own hours (I'm a habitual night-owl), and pay my bills while doing art, is success to me. I think that kind of contentment can free up a lot of energy that could otherwise be used in struggling and mild depression, so that maybe even more "success" is possible.

By the way, Kostabi and I went to Cal State Fullerton University together. We knew each other quite well as he was in a couple of my art classes. I remember him as always on the go! Running from this class to that class, always running and in his own head, very motivated. While we were at Fullerton he self-published a little book of about 50 of his ink sketches in black and white, simply named KOSTABI in bold letters. I bought a copy of it from him for $5.00 just to be supportive of his art (little did I know he would actually become "successful" with his art). He autographed my copy of his book "To Paula The rope broke and the basketball fell, Mark Kostabi 11-5-80. I've hung onto it all these years--maybe it's now worth something?

iron ant 07-30-2006 09:16 AM

Re: What is success?
 
It is time for NY to realize there are great artist all over the world,and one no longer has to be on the "NY" sceen to be sucessful.I think Butterfield hit it big in Chicago,but she works out west and and has a crib on an island too,that sounds pretty sucessful to me.I am a southern artist,and I have shown and sold around the country.I have several works in private collections in NY,but I have never shown there,so does that mean I am not sucessful?Todays artist are hyped up and tweeked by pr people to create an image of sucess,and that usually takes money to do that.At the end of the day we will be judged on are bank account, not are work,sad but true.I imagine artist in LA,New Mexico,Miami,Atlanta,ect dont feel they will only be sucessful if they are shown in NY,or part of that water down sceen.Jepers jed,we make good art too...........IA


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