I was reading aΒ post on Nigel Featherstone’s excellent blog Under The Counter Or A Flutter In The Dovecot earlier in the week. Titled The confidence of the threadbare, the post provided a short examination of how our society values the work of it’s artists. In this particular story Nigel, a writer, was asked what he considered the dread question whilst perusing in a shop “What do you do for a living?” … the question, perhaps innocuously asked by somebody wishing to make conversation stirred in our protagonist a dark reflection and mumbled reply. What it did set off was a train of thought upon how confidence and value affect not only our artistic or cultural contributions but about how we are perceived as artists.

Confidence and Value indeed. I struggle with these daily in the creation of my work. There’s the dread moment when someone asks, generally well-meaningly or at least with some interest, ‘what sort of pictures do you take?’ … I have answered ‘bloody good ones’ if I’m in a great mood and ‘lots of mediocre ones with a few flukes that people seem to like…’ if not so but that’s demeaning to myself and my art. It’s not a fluke that this creative passion nourishes me, gives me some measure of meaning and direction in this otherwise confusing world. It’s not that I don’t take a fair share of mediocre pictures either.
Putting on a show of your individual artistic works is another matter. Unlike a stage show with a duration of two hours, your work is on public display for weeks at a time. Will people like it? Will people like me as a result is perhaps a more self-accurate question. Do I care? If I’m asking the question then perhaps yes I do… if I were to stop to ask myself why I’m doing it I don’t believe there’d be an answer – not one that would be intellectually coherent anyways. “I just have to.” is the best I can come up with…

I have spent some 15 years as a semi-professional musician, dressing up on stage and taking people on musical and story-based journeys … mostly for the love of it … there’s little in the way remuneration(!) and for that magical feeling of walking both on stage (that delicious tingly nervous buzz) and walking off stage feeling that you’ve been somewhere yourself … that your exertions; physical, mental and spiritual have been nourished and refueled. I guess that takes confidence but funnily enough I’ve never considered myself overly so.

Having got back into exhibiting my work again this year (after a break of several years), running two concurrent and greatly different shows in July (all I can say in my defence was that it seemed a good idea at the time) and currently shortlisting images for my third and final 2014 show in September, I feel I’m almost too busy in prep to be concerned with confidence … almost πŸ˜‰

As for value … that’s a tricky one … well, I find it tricky anyways. I’ve not yet found the best quantitative measure to assess it. In an instagram world where everyone’s a photographer, it’s hard to see the artists sometimes. I find pricing the work on show particularly difficult. Too high and it becomes inaccessible, too low and and it loses value quickly … the pricing I find most interesting is to ask a prospective purchaser what they think is a fair price for the work and then we negotiate from there.

What about you? Do you battle with these notions of confidence and value? Do you price your work? How do you do it?

In other news … shortlisting and preparations for my solo show Through A Glass Clearly progress apace … will post separately about this soonly πŸ™‚

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