Saturday, March 21, 2020

How will these times affect your art?

Those of you who do art for a living have many different kinds of jobs, such as art teachers, animators, game designers, gallery painters, illustrators, comic artists, and plein-air painters.

Gallery opening, before the asteroid hit. Governor Cuomo's new rules eliminate (at least for the next few months)
all non-essential travel, non-essential business, and large gatherings, even if they used social distancing
I'm wondering if you can share in the comments how you expect these current conditions are going to change your art and how you make it, temporarily or permanently. For example,

  • Are there conventions, gatherings, group dinners, or other social encounters that you really need to do for your art business?
  • What can't you do any more (at least for the next weeks or months) that used to be routine?
  • If you work for a studio (such as animation, VFX, or game design), how has working remotely affected what you create? Does collaborating virtually makes some things harder and other things easier?
  • Teachers: what happens to your workshops, your classes, your students, and your school? 
  • If you've already been teaching online, how has your work volume changed?
  • What new skills will you rapidly need to acquire? Do you face losing a job or will you have to let someone go?
  • Is your access to subject matter affected by travel restrictions?  
  • Which markets will likely be closing for you, and which might be opening?
  • Lastly, there are surely some positives and opportunities here for some. I notice some popular musicians such as Chris Martin and John Legend have made up for cancelled concert shows by recording live YouTube videos with the #TogetherAtHome hashtag. Can anyone share their grounds for guarded optimism?


Kathleen said...

Our public school, as most others, has closed down for the time being. Teachers, including art teachers, are now teaching remotely. This all happened so quickly that we had little time to prepare. We are making the best of it and learning as we go. Many of us are now creating video tutorials at home for our students and all of us are getting very creative in our approach to the projects we assign. Most of our students do not have a wide array of art supplies at home, so we are creating many projects that utilize materials they can access, such as cardboard and other recycled materials. Keeping the students engaged in their art through this stressful period is so crucial. Art can help them escape from the stresses of the moment, at least temporarily. Creating art also gives them an opportunity to give shape to their feelings and express their thoughts and voice during this time. As teachers, we are learning to be flexible and expand our means of communication and instruction. Being artists ourselves means we are flexible and able to think of new ways to address problems. This attitude will help us not only get through this, but I believe we will grow as we develop new skills and explore new ideas, methods and materials.

Zoungy said...

My teaching was contractor work, and so much of it was canceled, some postponed, other things postponed but then it became a cancellation. Some things were shifted to virtual events.

I am looking at some new online teaching options in other subjects besides art, using the time to study and develop lessons and materials too. I have taken advantage of some art resources offering discounted or free materials for the quarantine.

One more silver lining...maybe I'll finally build my sketch easel!

Geoff Watson said...

I'm a plein air oil painter, and I've just started on the plein air competition "circuit" -- and now I'm worried that those events will be postponed or cancelled. The painting itself takes place outdoors, where social distancing is possible. But the competition events -- the exhibition, parties with collectors, the judge's speech, etc -- may be less amenable to social distancing. I've been looking forward on sales at such events as a source of income, and I'll be bummed if they dry up.

On the other hand, I've been pleasantly surprised to see that classes and workshops may remain viable. Yesterday I participated in the last day of a workshop/class, and the instructor used Zoom to great effect. She did critiques of our paintings, and she used Photoshop to suggest changes to paintings. She also did a demo on her studio easel, in real time, and it was quite easy to follow. In fact, easier -- she permitted us to record and re-watch at our leisure.

My impression, too, is that digital artists may actually prosper in this environment. People are spending more time playing video games, reading memes, enjoying web comics, etc.

On the whole, I'm actually optimistic about the pandemic. South Korea and China have demonstrated that infection rates can be controlled within a few months of the first outbreak. We may not take measures as Draconian as China, but South Korea's approach doesn't seem far removed from ours. I'm hopeful that the major disruption will last weeks or at most months, not years.

Tyler J said...

I'm an animator at a video game studio and we are working remotely. For the most part, this doesn't change my daily tasks much other than slow some process down since my internet is slightly slower than our studio's.
I do miss talking with my fellow game dev's in person, but Slack and email let us stay in contact. It's early yet so I don't have cabin fever.
I appreciate your posts and have been following your blog since 2007 and visit it nearly every day. I've been fortunate enough to meet you a couple times in person, too. I hope you and Jeanine are staying happy and healthy!

Kathleen said...

Some of my students will be using cardboard to create imaginary environments, and I've been posting links to many of your blogposts for inspiration.

nordsol said...

I am a freelance illustrator so nothing really changed for me in terms of jobs except that one bunch of works was postponed for a month. But I'm used to work being fluid so it didn't worry me. I'm even happy to have a little time off to spend working on my personal sruff and learning. I'm more worried about the economical consequences of it and how it influences my clients. Let's see!

Stephen and Nyree said...

While I don't make a living as an artist, I did create a fun blog post to encourage painting/ art.

Lori Fontaine said...

Elbow bumps to everyone from Canada! As a plein air artist, this current reality of isolation is what I'm used to when working. However, I also belong to a group of artists that have a small local atelier where we meet and encourage one another and that has unfortunately been forced to close. It also means a probable cancellation of workshops in the same location. All of our galleries are closed, so the options for showing my art in my "usual" galleries are gone. That being said, on an infinitely positive note, the Federation of Canadian Artists is having an online show of work that has been produced during this chaos. It's a world wide invitational and I hope the paintings produced will be ones of serenity and joy. Thankfully the Internet can keep us communicating...and sending virtual hugs. Take Care Everyone.

Christian Schlierkamp said...

I'm working as an illustrator. Throughout the last few years I specialised in "Graphic Recording", which means illustrating live on workshops, world caf├ęs and conferences. From one day to the other I lost all of my comissions... e.G. I was asked to accompany a huge event in Estonia and another one for the Kleist museum in Frankfurt Oder...everything is cancelled now.
Nevertheless I'm not afraid so much: I am now focussing more on building up a youtube channel and continue to work on my book projects which I had to neglect due to travelling a lot from event to event.
I found a bunch of interesting artists who are already active as a youtube network and we are now experimenting with themes and formats as for example short whiteboard explainatory films and such (via skype and zoom of course...).
Although the situation is scary (a cousin of mine works as a doctor in a hospital and is working 24 hour shifts right now) I find the experience on the other hand thrilling and unique.
It feels so surreal; the world is slowing down...

Anonymous said...

"Drawing & Painting - The Virtual Instructor" on YT is opening a few of its classes up for free on their website. No need of membership.
For example:
This generous offer will last for 4 weeks, and then will be reassessed.
You can watch the video from March 16th where Mat makes the announcement. Search for "Drawing & Painting The Virtual Instructor" on YouTube.
That's a wonderful gesture that contrasts with those trying to make a buck off quarantine people by push/selling more art instruction videos, with no consideration for all those who won't be able to pay their rent or mortgage.
Really a generous, kind, gesture that is appreciated by so many !

arturoquimico said...

Regarding your last statement on guarded optimism as a musician (who does art as a hobby)... This is not the first time I've had to go on hiatus... I made executive pay in the 60's with a Rock Band... when the bottom fell out in the 70's... I used the money to get a degree in a science and managed a commercial lab... partners showed up 10 years later and terminated me... so I took another job out of state and started playing guitar again while my wife sang... 10 years later lost her to cancer and amassed 6 figure medical debt... I then worked overseas 5 years to pay it off and learned to play all that classical music I had been putting off for the last 30 years... came back and started playing classical beach weddings and taking art lessons at the Jr College... Today I'm on hiatus again, so I am spending time between trying new art supplies and honing my digital software skills making guitar solo recordings. Colleagues, keep practicing, keep praying... Providence is our friend.

James Gurney said...

Arturoquimico, wow, what an amazing survivor's story! Thank you for telling it. And it proves that it's really the love of art (or music) that endures, not the career channel. Career paths have never been solid and constant, even in years before the current dislocations. As a visual artist for 40+ years, I've told many art school classes that we can expect to reinvent our entire business model at least once a decade as things change around us. We should never be too proud to pound the pavement again looking for work or learning new skills.

Hannah said...

I'm the Scenic Charge Artist for a good sized Midwestern theatrical company, which means I paint backdrops and large scale scenery for up to 20 productions per season across three stages. All of our upcoming shows have now been postponed and without audiences coming in, our revenue has basically dropped to zero. My shop team and I tried plugging along for a week or so, doing maintenance projects and working on finishing the set for the show that was supposed to open days later, but as of Friday, we've been effectively laid off until things improve.

There's not much I can do at home other than price out materials and swatch colors for sets that may or may not get built. Can't really take home an 18' jigsawed tree! Though... specialty scenic paint is a lot like gouache (dries matte, thins well) so I may practice my foliage, faux texture and sign painting techniques with my gouache set and scale 'em up later.

The entire theatre community has been rocked by this. Broadway's been shut down, lots of touring shows have been cancelled. I worry that many smaller community theatres may not survive. But we're a stubborn bunch, I think we'll all find ways to adapt.

Anonymous said...

New Master Academy has offered their Beginning Drawing Course for free on their website
No membership required

Anonymous said...

I'm an illustrator and most of my commissions have been canceled/postponed, which feels scary enough.
But on the bright side I'm also teaching online sketching classes, which proves to be a lifesaver right now. I've changed my pricing to a low fee to make the classes available to as many people as I can. People want to stay active, and they need diversion and art. I'm also trying to be there for my small audience by posting videos and blog posts more often.
I try to focus on what's possible. I wanted to do more plein air painting and sketching outside this year, which is impossible right now where I live (Germany). So I'm working from photos and have rediscovered still life paintings. I find the most difficult thing right now is actually getting myself to the point where I can start working, and forget all that's happening outside.
All the best to everyone out there. Thank you James for this place!

Nerdyem said...

Being an artist and the mother of six (ages 6-17) is a bit crazy at present--trying to orchestrate daily chores, meal prep, and online schooling for elementary, middle school, and high school-aged kids, while trying to maintain a painting/writing schedule of my own. I'm pretending it's happening.

One thing I do love, there's now time to show my kids how to plant seedlings in pots for a victory garden of hope, there's time to pull saltwater taffy with them, and there's time to paint while my husband is home cooking. His schedule shifted from being 8-5 all day, to being on an earlier half day schedule (6a.m.-noon), and he now offers to cook (YEEHAH!) so that I can paint. We may need my extra art income in the coming months like at no other time as he's in the tech business and microchips are no longer being shipped to China. So his job security it worrisome at present. Adventures ahead! But, I have faith that being a mother and an artist is my purpose in life, and that the Lord has a plan for each of us and the use of our gifts. So, I'm moving forward to align my will with His to find out how I can help support my family and contribute to the good of society. I think more than ever, I want my art to be meaningful. Crises helps sift out the unnecessary. I have loved your work since I was in college two decades ago when I first picked up a copy of Dinotopia and thought, "Wow! This guy can paint like N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish!" Thanks for sharing your hope and joie de vivre!

Roberto Quintana said...

I am a semi-retired, free-lance Artist/Muralist, which means I am part of the ‘Gig’ economy. No employer. No unemployment. No safety net (except SSI, and my wife’s free-lance editing). I work project to project by commission, and I usually have several different projects going at one time, all at different phases of development: concept/proposal, sales, design, scheduling and pre-production, on-site production, documentation and post-production, billing and collections, promotion, research and development, and creative; which links back up to concept. The best part is right after sales.
I have had my current project, a mural for a school scheduled for spring-break, postponed until summer (?) and the three projects scheduled to follow have all moved into Design and pre-production. I have three projects in Concept-and-Proposal that Sales is anxious to revive and bring in-house.
My sales department and collections are freaking out right now. Concept-and-Proposal are in internal meetings all day. The entire Production department is moving over to Design, anticipating a surge in demand; scheduling (which is part of pre-production) have all called in sick, which means they are sending out resumes. Promotions is having a nervous break-down. They are having a hard time social distancing, but they are always so positive and optimistic, I’ll let them continue to work overtime for a while, with the hope they can pull something off.
The good news is my CCO (Chief Creative Officer) is overjoyed and has taken the entire research and development department out to the studio for an ‘all-hands’ motivational retreat. It’s always really, really hard to get them re-focused on business after their retreats.
Good luck to everyone, and don’t forget: WASH YOUR HANDS! -RQ

Richard Schnadig said...

My wife and I took our creative skills into the world of Custom Framing and fine print gallery. That was 40 years ago. We had a successful run with many ups and downs but stayed the course through multiple economic changes. During that time I always whittled out some time to be creative including drawing and puppet making. 3 years ago as the arts and galleries became less important and spiraled down we were lucky enough to sell to a larger concern and begin taking social security....Presently I paint daily and am learning to drum...All those years of hording art supplies is paying off....I am currently building up a body of work in hopes of showing when the economy and world health flourishes once again. Thank you James, I love following your posts you are so talented and thoughtful in sharing your vast knowledge