Sunday, January 10, 2016

Why Landscape Photography Has Relevance within This Complex World of Art

Let's be clear about this, I am a fan of landscape photography. So, I am partial to this style of photography. But, then again, I am partial to art in general, so this is not too much of a stretch for me. I enjoy and respect all the arts. I may not always agree with some art out there, just like others may not agree with my vision. I may not like all the art out there, just as may very well be the case with others and my art. However, all art is valuable. All art conveys a vision of some kind. Vision, in this day and age, is something very valuable, I think. Artists should, and usually are, innovative thinkers. We need people who see the world in different ways and want to share their vision with us. 

So, what does vision have to do with landscape photography? A lot, if you stop and think about it. That is also the same with any art. You have to stop and think and contemplate it for a bit to understand your connection with it. You see, the connection between each viewer and the piece of art itself is what drives art. If there is no connection, then the art really has not achieved what it should. Now, I say this from my humble point of view, but I think it is valid. What I strive for, and what my family strives for, is to have our art make a connection with each viewer. Part of this is making our work accessible in multiple ways. That accessibility is part of making the connection with our audience. That is the first step in making our art relevant, and making any art relevant. 

Once we connect, we can inspire. Isn't that the goal of most art? The purpose of it is to inspire as well as tell a story. The level of complexity of a piece of art should not be dictated by a select few magazines or critics. Art should be driven by the artist and the people. I know a lot of artists who love landscape photography. They are outstanding at it and find visions in nature that often go unnoticed if not for their recordings of it. I thank them for inspiring me and making Gina and I want to share our vision of the world around us with others. They also have inspired us because they connected with us and made their art more meaningful. I look for inspirations in other artists. It is what I base my model of operation on as I work. 

Sometimes that connection comes just through the image, but it always helps if we can connect with the artist as well. I am a fan of art and love working with other artists. I like to hear their vision, their motivation. That is why this second job I do of making art and working with artists is not even a job to me. It is way of life because art is about life. The photographers I am thinking of have made a connection in my life, so I use them as an example to work from as I work.

Furthermore, landscape photography in this day and age is of particular importance because of what is happening to the ecology of our planet. If we do not take care of what we have, do we have even a hope of recovering it? Artists are more aware than ever of the beauty of our planet, and with the internet, these ideas can be shared and raise awareness. Beautiful images have more than aesthetic value, they can carry heavy meaning in multiple ways, depending on the way the artist uses the image. 

I bring this up because I feel like images that are easily recognizable and beautiful get a bad rap in the art world for not carrying enough content sometimes, and that is simply not the case. When I was at the university, I would often see images that were dark, brooding, and confusing. Those are fine as well. They have their place, just like a beautiful landscape can have its place. It depends on the artist's interpretation for the academic weight that can be found in each piece. 

Ultimately, what separates your piece from the generic piece that has no content is simply your drive as an artist and what you intend and communicate. I realize that there are those who may disagree with this, and that is fine. That is art. There is no one answer with art. But, I kind of like to think that what we are trying to do as a family at Brown Artworks is trying to offer multiple layers of the art world and make it very accessible to every person. When art is accessible, we can communicate that vision more. That, in turn, makes our art more relevant for the viewer. 

One of the great things about being an artist is that we can give our art as a gift. We did this this Christmas with a good friend of ours. I had forgotten to write up my statement to go with the piece. I told her I would write it up and send it to her so she could have it to go with the drawing. Of course, she immediately appreciated that offer. That statement by the artist makes the piece more special and more unique, and every person wants that when they hang it up in their house. They are hanging part of your life because they connect with your life and bring it into their life. Whether we are a landscape photographer, an abstract painter, or some other type of artist, it would greatly benefit us if we shared part of our story and vision with each piece that we produce. 

An example of this, and someone who has inspired me as well, is Jon Klein. Jon has great attention to detail and he includes information about each of his images that he sells. Even if it is just in the form of a greeting card, he shares information about each of his images so the viewer can have more of a connection than just the image itself. Jon is a landscape photographer and his work hangs in my house. The reason his work hangs in my house is because he is outstanding and he took the time to make a personal connection with me and Gina. 

So, next time you see a photograph of a landscape, don't assume it is just a pretty picture. There is a story behind it that wants to inspire you. That is the goal of our work - we want to inspire our viewers and share our story and vision with them so their lives are more enriched and maybe our vision brings something a little extra to their lives. 

Thanks for reading and be sure to check back for more posts and new work! If you like any of these photos, or want to see more photos like them, they can be found here:

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Being Diverse and Consistent in Your Art Business

I do not think I could have every imagined art being so complicated way back when I was studying at the university. One of the biggest problems with the degree training that I received as an artist was the complete lack of preparation by my university to prepare me for the art world in terms of the business aspect of art. However, I have had the good fortune to land a good teaching job while I practice my art, and I have developed to skills for independent research to learn how to make art in a way that I can set myself on a successful path, or at least a path that gives me a chance for success. 

Take, for example, the simple picture above. It is a picture that is simple, yet has a degree of complexity in enough of a way to capture some of the imagination and what it is about, etc. Yet, without the right tools operating behind any picture, it will never go anywhere and it will never reach anyone. This painting, even though I consider it one of my more successful pieces of the last few years, still sits in my portfolio. Why, because I have chosen to let it sit. That is ok. Some pieces will sit in your portfolio while others fly out of your portfolio like they are going out of style. There are two factors I consider extremely important in trying to get your art out there and making any art business successful. 

The first word is diversity. A diverse approach to art and your art business can only make you stronger. It makes you appeal to a wider audience, and it gives you more tools to operate with, it gives the viewer more to look at, and of course it can give the customer more to talk about. Diversity is key to making you successful. It makes you relevant, and it keeps you relevant. In such a vast world as that of art, it is a struggle to stay relevant, so diversity is a great ally. I also like diversity as a business owner, because it gives my customers a variety of things, ideas, and services to choose from. Customers like variety. If you are a shoe salesman and all you have are rows and rows of black boots for sale, I think you customer base is going to be a little sparse. It is the same concept here. Diversify your approach and you will find greater success. I do this for myself and I do this for my customers. 

The other word is consistency. Consistency means reliability. Reliability is also stability. These are very valuable in the business world, because customers want someone they can rely. Maybe it is about meeting a production date. Maybe it is about consistent customer service. If you operate consistently at a high level in both your art and the management of your business, you will get repeat customers, and those are the best kinds of customers. Also, consistency of effort and trusting a consistent plan will help you get through tough times and find the financial success. It is not about boom or bust, it is about a steady and consistent effort. You owe to yourself and your customers. I owe it to myself and my customers. Consistency cannot be undervalued in business or art. Sometimes this common sense things are missing from many artists' tool boxes because we operate on such an emotional and peaks and valley type of operating system. But, if you can get these two concepts worked into your overall routine for business and/or art, you will find a higher degree of customer satisfaction and success.

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Art of Business in the Art World

This has been something I have been thinking about a great deal lately. We are in the final stages of setting up everything in an official way. It amazes me how much work and planning go into creating something that is well conceived, valuable, and interesting for both yourself and the public at large. Art is wonderful, but some of the most important aspects of art have nothing to do with art and more to do with your determination about how much you want to share what you do and what you have with an audience. This is what I have come to realize over the last few years. Art for art's sake is kind of a myth. Take, for example, the following scenario. You create this amazing piece of art. It is truly a masterpiece. You finish it and it is sitting in your living room. You share it with a few friends, but then it just sits, for months and months. What is the true value of it if nobody sees it? Now, I understand that there are some pieces that artists just want to keep for themselves, and that is fine. That is not what I am talking about, however. What I am talking about is if there is art created, but nobody really is able to appreciate it because you did not share it with an audience. Art just to make art is more about a personal journey if you are not sharing it with anyone. What good does our art do for the world or the people around us if we do not share our talent and our products? Not everyone will always like what we do, and that is ok. But many people will greatly appreciate what we do and be so appreciative that we put ourselves out there to share it. 

What, then, does this have anything to do with business? Well, it goes back to the question, "Why do artists go into business? " There are a variety of reasons for this. Some just want to be able to keep making art. Some want to get the message out. Some want to make money. I have come to a conclusion that there is no right or wrong answers, only informed answers and uninformed answers. My informed answer is the following. Art is so much. I want to make somewhat of a living at it, but what drives me is the ability to have my art and my art skills be able to affect people. If people want to value the message, then that is wonderful! If people want to value my creations, that is great too! But, for me, art is about people. All art is a form of service to me, no matter how you do it. The intent will determine your drive, and the effect you and your art can have around you. If I do art with the people in mind, I feel I can't go wrong. I have skills, I have images, I have ideas, and many more things that are of value. It is for this reason that I want to do art as a business. It is a chance to interact with people and make a difference in some small way. It might be through a painting. It could be through a photography session. It could be just sharing ideas. Whatever the case is, it is an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Because I work a full time job in addition to making art, I always have the ability offer everything I do and make at such a discounted price that I can make it accessible to nearly everyone who is interested. For me, that is what truly excites me about art. It is about making connections. Art, for most, if not all, of human history, has been the story of people. So, for me, it makes perfect sense to make people the priority when making art. Some people think that if you make art for the masses, your work could become cliche or less valuable. Let's stop and think for a minute. If we could make every person a fan of art, wouldn't that be better for all of us as artists? I think so. Our family and the company we are creating has one main thing we think about before all the other things. "Art for everyone." It is that simple. Whether it is a product, and service, or just a friendly person helping out - art is for everyone. You should not have to pay exorbitant amounts of money every time you want a quality, original piece of art work that is professionally done. 

Making people about your art and your business will only be good for everyone in long run and it will be just good business sense. 

Thanks for reading, as always!! The work at the top is one of my pieces that I have sold previously.

Have a great day and come again soon!

-Jesse Brown, Owner of Brown Artworks,