A trailer for my new work. I think this is the way I’ll do everything now its a lot more fun. What do you think?
“The full monty“ is a British slang phrase of uncertain origin. It is generally used to mean “everything which is necessary, appropriate, or possible; ‘the works’”. It has been in common usage in the north of England at least since the early 1980s. A US equivalent might be the phrase “the whole nine yards”, “the whole ball of wax”, “the whole enchilada”, “the whole shebang” or “the whole hog”.
See what I’m talking about here is “The Full Monty” in the context of Art.
These days, say, since 2007/8 where the mass of the population signed up to the likes of Facebook, and in 2011/12 the rise of the business pages artists have found themselves looking increasingly & in some case exclusively, to these social media platforms as a way to get work exposure, popularity and ideally sales. The initial burn of the 2011/12 “I like you, like me back” culture is thankfully fading as people realize the futile nature of that path… well slowly. Ha ha ha
Trouble is the procedure of sharing your new work on these platforms really only translates to ‘likes’, maybe a comment, maybe a share. All good things I don’t dispute as a ‘like’ will show up in extended circles thus leading to potential new page ‘likers’ or fans bla bla bla…. Hell maybe even a sale if the buzz is that good.
But what we are feeding and cultivating is this is how art is consumed and digested by the general populous, and if our goal is to get that massive 97% of people that have never bought original art or will likely ever go to an opening or into commercial gallery, to get those people into buying art, sharing all your work on Facebook is not the way to do it. If anything its vastly detrimental.
The first thing artists do at a exhibition is take a photo of their display. At the market stall they take a shot of the set up. Uploaded, the come and see me plea.. Well if I have seen everything where is the impetus to go? There is no surprise left. I have already seen all your work anyway. (Well that is debatable as only a tiny fraction, say 15%, of your page fans will see your average post so chances are they missed your last 3 paintings).
The excitement an artist feels when they complete a new work is immense. And naturally you want to instantly share this with everyone you know, through social media we can do that. Getting that picture back from the framer is such a joy. And the next day waking up and seeing your new fine work hanging on the wall. The winter sun highlighting a color you get to see for the first time. Its all amazing.
So its photographed and shared.
And if it makes it through the post restrictions and filtering maybe you reach a fifth of your audience. Maybe out of that 100 a couple likes, maybe a couple comments.
And then its flat. Later that afternoon, even 20 minutes later its old news.
But later that week, even month, your room is still fresh with the wood stain smell. The picture has revealed new dimensions, even to you the creator. So you gonna share it again? How does that passion translate to the digital world. Re-share?
As artists we need to stop with the Full Monty. We need to give a teaser, a seductive glimpse of whats available. We need to give the viewer a reason to get off Facebook and onto that webpage you spent a LOT of money on, the web page you spend a LOT of time updating.
Then they will see not only your new work that you are sooooo stoked about, but the picture you did last week that they never even saw. The picture you did last summer which you still have.
Stop giving it all away.
Then you might see more interaction, more excitement around your opening. More reason to visit your market, your pop up shop. More of the same excitement you felt when that new work was completed.
It goes against the grain of how things are done. I know. And why change, everyone else does it this way, and it works for some. What I am saying is we need to think bigger picture here. We are trying to change a ingrained cultural set of patterns and programs. Its huge. It is a problem. And the starting point of turning this ship around is by not revealing your hand straight off the bat.
Create some mystery damn it.
This is now the closing moments of 2014 and I look back on the year by a rain soaked window in South Glasgow, with that cold grey light of a November Tuesday morning making me feel shivery. I started the year with one promise for myself in mind, this year was not to be as damn hard as the last or at least come out of it with some radical changes.
January was good, I was pretty tired but had spent a relaxing and enjoyable christmas & was feeling positive after the surprise trip to the Basque Country in December. I had in mind a plan for the year and launched straight into it.
A house exhibition in March of Sumi Ink drawings. Working on pine branches and some leafy tree impressions. I put together around 7 works for this produced over Jan/Feb.
The exhibit was really fun, and a bit odd opening up my house for the purposes of an exhibition, but it went well. I was really charged with the creative buzz from the ink drawings. In the final 2 weeks before the show I had also stumbled into producing a set of waterfall paintings. That really changed everything and more than the ink drawings I think shaped the year to come. Although I have some plans in mind still to investigate further Sumi Ink painting.
At this stage there were 7 waterfalls and I have since added a few more to the collection. The brush technique used in these paintings was a follow on from 2013’s blossom paintings. Wet paint, highly buffed in a very quick brush process. Worked over several times till the areas took shape. At the end of producing these 7 waterfalls my arms was over strained & I had to not paint for a few weeks.
April was spent in front of a computer organizing the Art Exhibition “Art On The Hill” which was to be held during the Southside Fringe Festival. It was a full on operation and I am not quite sure how I got through that one. But it all came together and the show opened in May. 100 artists. Around 470 art works. Bang.
During June I was mentally & physically exhausted. Nothing got done, July also. After the total full output of everything I had to put that show together I was totally shattered. I was a rather disappointed at the end I had hoped to secure the venue and continue with a studio gallery project but it fell through. I was also a bit unsatisfied with the shows results, I wanted to do more, could I of done more. It was by no ways a failure, we took in several grand for the artists with 0% commission. I did what I intended. But I guess I had set myself this unreachable bar, maybe I guess I had to, so it forced me to keep going beyond certain level otherwise I would have given up at so many stages. Its odd but even in success I found it hard to get past that.
August I got phoned up by a restoration studio who needed extra hands, it could not of come at a better time. So a solid 2 months paid work was welcome. The weather was beautiful, the commonwealth games and the build up to the years big event of the Referendum. It was nice getting back into proper leading up church windows after several years out of it.
I wont really go into the Referendum. It was a crushing disappointment. I kind of knew there was no way in the first place the establishment would actually allow it to happen regardless of how the vote went. Not a chance in hell. I was completely disgusted by the tactics used in the final stages. It was low. And as I became more immersed in it and began following more people on twitter I became more aware of things going on that deeply disturbed me.
I kind of wish I never knew, once you have seen inside the box how can you close it and forget that it’s there. So in October I was really bummed out.
So I’m not sure where I am with that. I kind of feel I cant invest any more rage at it, I just don’t have the strength to push into it and its kinda hard to paint trees and waterfalls and peaceful things keeping your creative mind in a certain place when its all horror and the darkest of gloom everywhere around you.
I’m glad the momentum has not lowered, if anything my FB feed is even more charged with political chat. Sadly I am also aware of the many who are just glad its over and can go back to normal and its totally not a problem when the government shreds all the expenses data. I can however look back on those final moments when the energy in Glasgow was off the charts. It was wildly exciting.
I was even interviewed by a French journalist, I invited her round to the house and we sat out on the roof for a few beers and spoke about the changes for a couple hours. Stark contrast to the results for her efforts to speak to someone from the No side. But there you go eh. November I had a meeting with a new company called Art Retail Network, who have set up a Artist to Gallery link up system. They have hired me as Artist engagement and its been my job for the last month to recruit artists for the site, given my position in the Glasgow Art community, the big show and my FB group which now has 1000 members I’m well placed to do that.
Its long been my attitude that the gallery world was deeply flawed, I was going to have nothing to do with it and put my efforts into bypassing to directly reach the people I want to see and buy my art. That’s been trialed though street trading, markets, fairs, house exhibits, solo shows, group shows, trying to build a following. Trying to share as much as possible everything I am working on, the techniques the progression, the journey. Since my time in Glasgow that has become a process working with other artists that hold the same feelings as myself, together maybe we can find that which we seek.
10 years in and its not really working, financially, for me. Creatively I feel I am working better than ever! So maybe I should re-evaluate my position with galleries? I will never be “someone that used to paint”. I do paint. I painted yesterday, I’ve got varnish drying right now. This is how it is, but increasingly as I get older and life changes with responsibilities I am finding it harder to stick to the plan. So I have to find a solution to making the art work for me. I cant give the art up.
When I met the Network guys I thought as its something I have been so against & I’m pretty cynical, its probably exactly what I should be directly involved with. And over the last 2yrs I have become increasingly involved with working with other artists I wanted to make sure this was not a ‘scam’ or another situations of the artists getting the short end of the stick so often the case in the art world.
Satisfied with the business plan and those in charge of the ‘ARN’ I’m putting my efforts into helping shape this. So its been a very interesting October/November. Having real in-depth discussions with people really coming from the business world has been insightful. Artists actually cover a lot of this stuff, although as we don’t have business training, we don’t actually know the reasons why certain things are the way they are. Its interesting when you understand the theory behind retail a little more.
And that takes me to now, Im writing this up with a massive roll of bubble wrap at my feet as I am about to pack everything for going up to Ullapool on the 4th.
Exhibit opening on the 5th in the Ceilidh Place. My friend Jock is kindly driving down, we are loading up the car with a whole load of paintings and heading back up. I’m torn between whether I should be based back up North, here in Glasgow or somewhere completely different. The highlands, its what I paint, its where I should be no? Would I find more people interested in my work there? Its been in my mind a lot over the last few years. I do enjoy Glasgow, but as I am very aware I have created something of a sand timer in my mind. A clock by which I have given myself a deadline to see some results. I’m not sure that’s at all productive. But at the same time perhaps its entirely necessary.
So I end the year looking back at where I started. It has been a hard year, equally tough as the last which was what I said I didn’t want. But not through lack of effort, and creatively I have produced loads of new work. The most I have done in years and in a direction I am really very pleased with.
“Tomioka“ 20×30″ Acrylic On Board
I have currently 60 paintings and at least 20 drawings stashed away. But its no good if I am the only person seeing them, I have to get these out and seen. The process that has been followed over the last 2 yrs of producing work and photographing and uploading on face book is so damaging and I have noticed other artists feeling the same way. I get so excited by a work, I finish it and love it, I get it framed and rush home. I take a photo and share it. Look at what I just did! I’m charged with everything good, and the post gets seen by 34 people out of 500 followers. Flatness.
A week later I am still buzzed and loving it the smell of the frame wood stain still fresh in my room. But something has been taken away. Its just another picture, its old news. I don’t know how to keep that buzz and get people excited by something I am so freaking pleased with. Facebook is not the forum for that clearly. There is no point showing someone the full completed image, that is the interest gone.
They have seen it, all.
Best explained with the image you went past last paragraph, my new painting “Tomioka”. Did you notice it? Even if you did its just a scroll past that can not possible relate to how pleased I am with the work.
A 600×375 pixel 72dpi jpeg on a un-calibrated laptop screen in a scrolling Facebook news feed has quenched the viewers desire for art, if thye see it at all! ‘Like’. No, no, no.
A week later I’m still buzzing about the smell of the wood frame and the cool way the light is this morning making part of the mountain look really cool. How do take that energy and transfer that to people? Ugh! But if I abandon it altogether do I have a presence in the social media world. But why try to maintain one if I feel it causes so much damage.
But hey its not all sadness. I did buy my first bit of Art this week. Check this out….
A painting by artist & friend Michelle Campbell. I was round at her house for a flat warming and saw it stashed away, I’m looking at this painting and its just so cool. I bloody want that. So I got it. Picked it up yesterday and Its huge, way bigger than I remember it being at the party….. now to move everything around in the flat to make room for it.
Really looking forward to the journey up the road. Ullapool is getting landed with the full produce of my years work. Lets hope someone there is receptive to what I have created. The inks, the waterfalls, the night skies, the blossom’s.
Did I find my 2014 radical changes, or rather I should say did I succeed in making them? Cause as my spiritual mentor Gil says..
“since change is inevitable, we should direct the change
rather than simply continue to go through the change…” – Gil Scott-Heron
I’d say yes. The year is not over yet, and there has been a few things that indicate there is room for further action. I am by far not satisfied and there is much work to do. Giving the Art Retail Network my efforts, I would like to see my work out there. I think its good enough, its real. My whole world is creating images and this year I have put together a solid collection. If I can’t turn this around well I just don’t know. The sand timer is there, and its falling quickly. 2015 is upon me.
So a few months ago I launched my ‘Print Box’. This was under wraps for months as I prepared the concept, it was dubbed ‘The Masterplan’ originally. When I got the first box made I was really pleased to see the idea in the flesh, and it was every bit as good as I hoped it would be.
After a couple months I have reviewed the idea. Originally I had made the prints to be a Limited Edition, and the whole collection was sold as one unit with all 21 prints contained with the space for a further 50 released in the future.
Given it some thought and I have decided to firstly loose the Limited Edition element. For the person that was to put together, over time, a full box in the end they would have a pretty special item. But does the element of there only being ‘X’ number of them in existence make a difference? Not as far as I am concerned. Its still made by me, still signed and titled by me, wrapped up and posted by me.
(in case I need to explain for those out with the art world that have perhaps never considered this, if I limited the number of prints I could make of a picture the overall sale total for a particular picture’s print run would be have to be high enough to warrant not being able to sell it ever again.. or I make it lower price and have the option to print whatever I need to with no restrictions. These images are after-all effectively my pension, so its a hard call).
The second change is instead of all 21 prints coming with the frame I have divided all my work into sets. Currently there are 7 sets, each comes with 5 prints.
As I produce new work I will release new sets for the box. Remember the capacity of this frame is 70 prints. That’s quite a collection, all within this little box sitting on your shelf.
At the moment I have created sets for Blossom Paintings / Tree Paintings / Tree Drawings / Landscapes / Waterfall Paintings.
So that’s the updates, looking forward to get the new sets printed up next.
There are a few drawings I have never issued before in this. And certain paintings I have done, like square formats, obviously don’t fit in this portrait rectangular frame so a few of these are special cuts where I have cropped the original paintings to fit. I really enjoy this as cutting into one area can create a totally new feeling for a work.
Going to get a few of these made up for sending up to Ullapool in a couple weeks for my new exhibition. I’m keen to see what the public thinks of them as no-one has really seen this yet, outside of Facebook. I think its something that becomes so much more when you are holding it. Like most handmade items really, a promo shoot photograph can never capture the reality and beauty of an item.
So a reminder this is on my web page to order you can be the first to own one, and all my recent night time paintings are greatly reduced in price as I raise funds to put on this exhibit.
To give you an idea of what happens pre-show – ALL the paintings have to be securely and safely bubble wrapped and that stuff ain’t cheap. I have to pay to get all the paintings, equipment & myself 270 miles north, print flyers and posters, buy business cards, personal travel expenses, I’ve outlaid nearly £500 in the last month framing & materials alone and still have work to have framed hopefully before the show.
Artists don’t get paid to display work, it costs hundreds of pounds aside from all the time and physical effort.. I put the exhibitions on just to get the work seen and to make something nice happen. I try make judgments on where best to show it, where best to find the people I think would like & hopefully buy it.
Of course I hope its a financial success and I try build up a inner positive energy to motivate myself through this process…. but there is every chance I’ll not sell anything. Would all that financial outlay of been a waste? Hundreds of pounds, time and effort….
I don’t think so. This is what I do and if I worried about the risk & return on every penny art cost me I’d never paint again. So we don’t think about that. I make the judgments and calls as far as my current experience tells me is the best move. So we’re heading north.
http://www.gilliesart.com/ for the special offers see the Night Time Paintings section.
I guess its like that ‘new book smell’, but for artists. When you get a picture back fresh from the framers and the aroma of cut wood, the wood stains fills your room. I love it.
Whether this adds to the enjoyment of the picture, or how good you feel about the framing results perhaps there is something psychological in there…..
This picture was one of my most ambitious requests yet, but the guys down at Kelvin Framers once again come through with the results and finished this picture perfectly.
3 wood panels to be framed as a single unit with slim divider bars between the panels.
So I was very pleased with the results. The widths worked perfectly, a frame should not just balance the painting I think it should complete it. And since I started this work way back in May 2013 and it was finished sometime around October that year, I am glad now in October 2014 its no longer wrapped up hidden away.
Framed and completed!!
“Blossom & The Mountains Beyond” – Acrylic On Board
This was the 4th in this series, mainly based around a brush technique I have been working on and the color ‘Prussian Blue’ which I used for the backgrounds of the set. The style of the actual Blossom’s changed through the set, it started off very loose and as I experimented with layers and techniques I tried to do something different for each picture and develop the look. This picture was the last and a combination of all the others.
This and more available from http://www.gilliesart.com/
“Since change is inevitable, we should direct the change
rather than simply continue to go through the change…” – Gil Scott-Heron
So, we’re crashing towards the ‘festive’ season. Usual procedure?
First, we start seeing images like this.
What’s next? You know what….
The C word. Craft shows. I hate ‘craft’ shows. They make me weep. Now until Christmas there will be loads of them, every weekend, and your artist friends will be making desperate pleas to ‘pop down and see me’ if you are in town.
I have tried over many years to describe the issues of quality craft over slick (or not so slick) mass production, and the shows a maker of today has the option to participate in.
These mostly sell hobby work and low value work. Low end prices for low end objects.
Nothing of real value is made in 2 minutes. And that’s how the public view it. Hobby.
As a maker you should spend the same hours making one awesome product. And it will take you all day, or two days or even a week or a month of labour, skill and consideration. So it’s not going to be a £1 felt badge or a £5 print. And that’s the point.
When people walk into a Craft Fair they make immediate judgments. About art, about value, about what they want on their walls and in the home.
A show must aim for a certain level of quality. Sadly there is no shortage of hobby makers who clamor to take a table at such event as the quality makers fall away unable to sustain another wasted weekend, or buckle and focus on the low end which invariably becomes the whole focus.
We need a society that artists/craftsmen can make a full time living in.
We will have that when work sells – and work will only sell when the public values it.
If ‘value’ – cultural worth – is established people will embrace the worth of art and gladly spend money on it. We need a cultural shift. We need a new approach and sustainability.
Because right now as far as ‘art’ and especially ‘craft’ goes we are, as a mass, totally culturally inept and valueless. Contented with the high street, mass produced, low quality, high price, branded tat.
Yet outside of the village halls and the dirty tables of craft, where the real art is, established galleries only involve a small clientele of artist ‘names’ to display and people to buy (investments). Everyone else outside of this clique has been conditioned into a total disengagement with art.
I agree, many younger people don’t go to traditional galleries but look for work online. I appreciate the concept with prints which allows someone previously unable to afford an original, the opportunity to have a art piece. It’s a Good Thing.
But on the other hand we have, in the pursuit of a cheaper price, cheaper paper, mass production, and cheaper frames…
What are we? Ikea?
The land of Society6, artfinder etc etc hundreds of them. Some say its better than nothing. It isn’t. It will saturate and implode, leaving us even worse off.
If you are making cash on these… great – you need to eat. But we have got to foster an alternative.
We need to actually sort the reasons behind why the high st is packed and no-one, as I found out this afternoon, notices the art in a cafe in for 4 yrs.
Which prompted writing this. 4yrs. And then I walk through town seeing total consumption.
The machine does not want art. What power do we have to fight it?
What we have as a collective, is mass power. That is where our power lies.
We need to create artist unity, foster the perception of a scene, a myth that can be seen.
Because when people arrive at a party that seems really cool they have, maybe no idea, or maybe a preconceived assumption… but they walk away now not with a perception, but with a reality.
Let’s make the party seen and plant the seeds of that reality that will grow.
Peter Gillies, 8th October, 2014
If you are an artist you can join the revolution on one of these groups.
Glasgow Independent Artists
The same group in Edinburgh / Dundee / Aberdeen / Highland & Islands / Ayrshire / Dumfrice & Galloway
A group for (wherever you are) Artists at various career levels who want to participate in exhibitions, organize events, share ideas and generally make things happen.
This is NOT for sharing your work so please don’t it will just get deleted.
I love music, my thirst for charity shop vinyl finds (especially 3 for a pound) I somehow just manage to keep under control. I try to just get things I know I really like, and not just get something for the sake of it.
When the records are not spinning I have a french radio station on, like all the time. Its the only reason I got a smart phone, so I could install the app and listen to the station without the computer being on. Its awesome, and they play so much good music I find myself constantly writing down track names… so another app discovery called Shazam alleviates the need for hundreds of bits of paper, I tag the track and every now and then go back through the list to see what I liked.
You know the really good ones when you had to shazam it on more than one occasion.
So from the last few weeks here is a wee 20 track selection of music that for whatever reason grabbed my attention. Its a total mix bag, so there is no theme. Just music. If you can make it through the 20 maybe you will find something you want to dig a little more into……