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Maine Media Workshop in August

I'm thrilled to be included on Maine Media Workshops' roster of instructors this summer. Come to this gorgeous spot in August for my workshop, Create Demand for Your Art! Workshop description:

Create Demand for Your Art empowers photographers to strategically and effectively cultivate audiences for their work. This workshop focuses on how to launch a body of work through both traditional and non-traditional avenues and teaches photographers how to create innovative programs that engage people with their images in meaningful and memorable ways.

This workshop is geared toward intermediate and advanced students who want to explore creative ways to get exposure and build collectors. Photographers should bring a portfolio of images from a single body of work to share with the group. The class will explore different avenues for exhibition, publication, and online opportunities. Each participant will meet with the instructor one-on-one to develop a 12-month plan specific to their work.

August 17-23, for intermediate and advanced photographers. More info and register here.

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FOCAL POINT Q1.14 Interview: Dorothy O'Connor

FOCAL POINT surveys the landscape of emerging photographers and selects three talented, driven, and noteworthy artists to highlight each quarter.  Each FOCAL POINT photographer receives mentoring from Crusade for Art to think about their work, their target audience, and how to best engage them.  In this interview series, every FOCAL POINT photographer gets asked the same three questions, and their answers become a jumping off point for the mentorship.

Describe the arc of your photography career so far.

My photography career up to now has felt like a series of very small steps forward. I went back to school for photography when I hit thirty, deciding it was finally time to try to make a living doing something I really wanted to do. After graduation, I spent years assisting commercial photographers and working in various roles in the commercial realm, all the while knowing that shooting commercially just wasn’t where my heart was. I continued to do my own work on the side - while constantly learning as much as I could from those I was working for and with. Slowly I began to work less and less for others and more on my own projects. In 2008, I began to open my house and my studio to the general public for a live showcase of the worlds I had been creating in my garage. It felt pretty scary and vulnerable, but overcoming those feelings was an extremely positive and rewarding experience. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, I received grants from Possible Futures to put towards my own work and continuing to open my pieces as tableau vivants for Atlanta Celebrates Photography. I received a Flux grant in 2012 giving me the opportunity to have one of my projects included in Flux Night. This experience allowed me to move beyond my garage and for a much larger audience to view my work. In 2013, I had my first artist residency in Nashville, at The Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art. Being given this residency was a very pivotal moment for me, not only did I have the acknowledgement of a respected institution but I proved to myself that I could create my work outside of my studio and far away from home. It did wonders for my confidence and opened up all sorts of possibilities for me and my work.

If you were exactly where you wanted to be in your fine art photography career, what would that look like?

Less struggle, more funding. I would love to have work appear in more publications and galleries and to grow my audience from a regional one to one more national and International. I would also like to be involved in more public art projects and continue to grow my projects, broadening their concepts and their scope.

What are your goals for 2014?

My goals for 2014 are to take more risks, be as creative as possible, concept like crazy, end the year with less debt than I started it, win a grant to do at least one public art project, AND keep moving forward!

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Visuality. Transversal. Imbricate. Are we speaking your language?

Humans communicate with each other through a variety of means; touch, glances, visual art, music, language, and a host of other forms. Communication, in one form or another, is the backbone of society and culture. Language especially, is so heavily embroiled in the shaping of our lives, we hardly give it a second thought. Lera Boroditsky, Associate Professor of Psychology at UCSD, says, “When we study language, we are uncovering in part what makes us human, getting a peek at the very nature of human nature.”  If we can understand human nature through language, it follows that we can then gain insights into social groups, organizations, and even families.

A couple of years ago, art critic Alix Rule and New York and Berlin based artist David Levine wrote an essay about artspeak, titled “International Art English”, in which they reveal the intricacies contained in the pervading language of the art world today, particularly in reference to the press release.  They argue that International Art English, or IAE, is not only quite real, but taken very seriously in the art world, even though many artists can feel beleaguered by its presence.

image by Jim Starr
image by Jim Starr

IAE has a specific grammar, tone, vocabulary, and community that proves it stands above being mere technical jargon, and instead qualifies it as a language in and of itself.  Rule and Levine write “the language we use for writing about art is oddly pornographic: We know it when we see it. No one would deny its distinctiveness,” yet as distinctive as the language is, think of how many people walk away completely befuddled after reading a press release or artist statement written in IAE.

We as humans create languages to communicate better with one another, to hone specific ideas and thoughts, and to construct our social lives, but artspeak is used not to elucidate the viewer/subject, but rather to keep the meaning somewhat vague and muddled by verbiage that seems to be mostly directed toward academia. Such is the nature of a language, one might argue.  Language is used to communicate, of course, but it is also used to distinguish and set apart those who you wish to communicate with.  Claire Kramsch, Director of the Berkeley Language Center and author of the Language and Culture (is this a book, magazine, blog?), states “Language expresses cultural reality.  Speakers identify themselves and others through their use of language; they view their language as a symbol of their social identity.”

A benefit of artspeak may be to recognize one’s own – when you read a press release written in IAE, you immediately know the author to be one of a certain caliber who shares your education level and even interests, to some degree. It serves as a metric used to identify someone who should be well versed in the art world.

On the other hand, those who have not been educated in artspeak can feel intimidated by the elitism that such language carries.  There are many people heavily involved in the art world who are still confused by IAE and would rather it not be used. Those who champion art education find they frequently have to switch between IAE and regular English, depending on who they’re talking to, even inside the art world.  Artspeak can be pompous and far from welcoming, which can play a major role in inhibiting would-be art supporters and collectors.

So, is cultivating artspeak worth it? The demonstration of knowing and using such vernacular can play a practical role, signaling an art connoisseur to pay heed. Levine admits, "The more you can muddy the waters around the meaning of a work, the more you can keep the value high."  But is this in the best interest for a market already viewed as being inaccessible to the general public?

Boston gallery owner Steven Zevitas writes, “When the public now thinks about the art world - if they think about the art world at all - the first thing that will likely come to mind is the unfathomable sums of money spent for a painting at the latest auction. I don't think there is any way to overstate the exclusion that this narrative creates. It moves art closer to commodity status in the collective consciousness, and in doing so, effectively tells the 99 percent that there is no point in thinking about the art world, or art itself for that matter.”

It seems there are already so many barriers to understanding and appreciating art outside of academia that surely developing an entire language devoted keeping outsiders out would be unnecessary.  But I have to admit, when I read IAE, I find it to be entertaining, thought provoking, and even whimsical. Instead of asking if IAE is worth it, maybe the portals through which it is used should be re-examined.  Instead of using IAE to communicate with the general public through a press release, maybe it should solely be used internally, between those who you know will already have a better chance of understanding, thereby increasing its efficacy.  Or maybe artspeak should be opened up and formally studied, bringing even more insight into the culture and world of art. After all, the world is replete with languages and the great Charlemagne, Father of Europe, believes, “to have a second language is to have a second soul."

- Serena Jetelina

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Lenscratch

Jennifer Schwartz and the Crusade Engagement Grant by Aline Smithson March 20, 2014

With the April 1st deadline on the horizon, I thought it was time to check in with Jennifer Schwartz to find out more about The Crusade Engagement Grant. It’s a unique approach to grant giving and inspires photographers to consider taking the reigns of their own trajectory and inspires out-of-the-box thinking.

As Jennifer states, “Prodigious effort is going into programs and initiatives that create supply – opportunities to educate artists and help them create and exhibit work – which is resulting in a dramatic increase in the number of fine art photographers and huge volumes of their art. Little support focuses on creating a demand for this art. Demand is not keeping up with supply, and if not corrected, will create a huge imbalance where there is an abundance of art but no audience for it. Crusade for Art is dedicated to cultivating demand for art.”

The Crusade Engagement Grant looks really exciting. How did the idea come about?

Crusade for Art is about creating demand for art, specifically fine art photography. Last year I drove around the country in a VW bus for the Crusade for Collecting Tour – a crazy idea I had to build new audiences for photography. I gave talks in almost all of the ten cities I visited, and after I would finish, several people would always come up to me and say that no one else was talking about how to connect people to their art. Now I don’t know if this is true, but it was true enough. And how could this be? We talk so much about making the art, but what about building collectors and connecting to audiences? Isn’t that a huge reason we make art in the first place?

As I was driving around the country (slowly, since driving above 50mph was not recommended for this particularly temperamental vehicle), I thought about how to get a lot of photographers thinking about cultivating demand for art. It’s a tough nut to crack, but I thought if we could get our creative force – our artists – behind this problem, we may have a decent chance at creating real systemic change that would benefit the entire arts ecology. More art lovers, more art collectors, more thriving artists, more stable galleries, more supported museums. . . a win for everyone.

So how to get a large volume of photographers to brainstorm? Offer them a lot of money. It seemed simple enough, and hopefully it will work. We are looking for projects that focus on creating demand for photography and provide a concrete plan to create one-to-one connections between the photographer, the viewer, and the audience. So start thinking people! Ten thousand dollars is a nice chunk of change for being creative and doing something to make the art world a more viable place for everyone.

Are you going to share the winning idea with the world?

We will absolutely share the winning idea. The Crusade Engagement Grant will be awarded to an individual photographer or group of photographers with the most innovative plan for increasing their audience and collector base. The unrestricted grant is created both to generate and highlight these innovations, and to underwrite the execution of the best idea. The top ideas may inspire other artists to create their own. I have gotten a lot of feedback like this: “It’s just a very different type of “application” and project focus, which as artists, we don’t always think about.”

Which is the point. Many of the applications so far have been photographers submitting artist statements, not a project idea or plan to engage people with their work. It seems to be stumping people and making them think about creating demand for their work for possibly the first time – which is exactly what we’re trying to do.

You, yourself, have been hard at work finding new ways to connect with an audience over the years–your programs Crusade for Collecting and The Ten were innovations on connecting with a bigger audience. Can you share your experience with that?

I am passionate about finding audiences for photography, and that interest started when I opened Jennifer Schwartz Gallery five years ago (the gallery closed at the end of 2013, so I could run the non-profit full time). I hung photographs on the wall, opened the doors, and then said to myself, “Where is everyone?” And the people who did come, weren’t necessarily the people I wanted. I needed buyers, and I needed to figure out how to find them. I thought a lot about who exactly I was trying to attract to the gallery and how to get them there. I began developing programs like Walk Away With ArtArtFeastArt Circle, and others to get new people in Atlanta excited about photography, and specifically the photographers I was showing. Eventually, I wanted to engage new audiences beyond Atlanta, which is what prompted the Crusade for Collecting Tour and The Ten project.

What propelled you to close your gallery doors and become a not-for-profit entity?

The ideas, successes, and experiences of Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, The Ten, and the Crusade for Collecting Tour have informed the mission and direction of Crusade for Art. Ultimately, I felt I could make a larger impact by focusing full-time on the non-profit. I have been able to take the parts of the gallery I most enjoyed – promoting and developing the careers of photographers and creating programs to cultivate collectors – and establish an organization whose mission is dedicated to those very things.

I can only imagine what else you have up your sleeve…anything you’d care to share?

We just published a book, Crusade For Your Art: Best Practices for Fine Art Photographers, an accessible guide to help photographers navigate and demystify the fine art photography world. It’s an exciting resource, with contributions from more than 25 industry leaders. All of the proceeds go to Crusade for Art, so you can get some knowledge and help fund our programming!

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FStoppers

$10,000 to Build An Audience for Your Photography by Joseph Gamble March 4, 2014

Atlanta-based Jennifer Schwartz, creator of Crusade for Art, wants to help fine art photographers build and grow their audience. To that end, Schwartz, whose bicoastal Crusade for Collecting bus tour was profiled in September, has launched the Crusade Engagement Grant. The award is a $10,000 prize aimed at assisting a photographer or photo collective in building and engaging an audience.

The money is being sourced through fundraising, largely through the contributions of individual donors. Guidelines include writing a 500-word pitch and can be viewed here. There is a $20 submission fee that covers the cost of administering the grant for the workshop.

“We tried to make this fee as low as possible (it is below average for an application fee), so that the fee would not deter people from applying, while still covering our administrative costs,” said Schwartz.

Photographers tend to view the opportunity as a means of raising capital to execute projects or offset expenses involved with exhibitions or book printing but Schwartz is quick to caution against these proposals. The grant specifically states that the jurors are “looking for the most creative and original ideas to create and foster demand for fine art photography.”

The Crusade for Engagement grant seeks to break down the barriers that often keep art from a general audience and make it inaccessible and exclusive. As the call for entries makes clear, a key to success is the development of “an aesthetic experience – one that actively involves the viewer’s senses, emotion, and intellect.”

“I have gotten a lot of feedback like this ‑  ’It’s just a very different type of application and project focus, which as artists, we don’t always think about,’” said Schwartz. “It seems to be stumping people and making them think about creating demand for their work for possibly the first time – which is exactly what we’re trying to do.”

Schwartz, who directs the non-profit Crusade for Art, and the assistant director will do the initial screening of applicants. Five to ten finalists will then submit a larger application that will be reviewed by a selection committee of three. These photographic industry leaders will select the grant award recipient based on “the proposed project’s creativity, originality, and probability for success as well as the applicant’s credibility and references.”  Committee members are Whitney Johnson, Director of Photography at The New Yorker, Karen Irvine, Curator and Associate Director at Museum of Contemporary Photography, Rupert Jenkins, Executive Director at Colorado Photographic Arts Center.

“It was very important to us that the selection committee be made up of industry people who were forward-thinking, open-minded, and had an interest in photographers at all levels,” said Schwartz. “These three are also geographically diverse, which I think is beneficial as well.”

You can learn more about Jennifer’s Crusade for Art as well as the grant online here. Applications are due on April 1 with finalists announced on May 15, 2014.

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#CCPNext - The Next Conversation Is a Meeting of the (Photo) Minds

To say that participating in Center for Creative Photography's Next Conversation in Tucson was an honor would be a gross understatement. The event was described this way:

Andy Adam's Instagram photo
Andy Adam's Instagram photo

The Next Conversation brings together colleagues from all facets of the world of photography to talk about issues important to the field and to CCP. There are no keynote speeches or panel presentations. Instead, there are a series of focused discussions in which you bring your expertise and your voice to the conversation.

Participants from all across the photography industry were invited to attend and engage in conversations on topics such as the role of technology, the photobook, photography's place in the museum and academy, the state of photojournalism, the photography market, the definition of an archive, conservation. . . The choices were staggering.  Almost as staggering as the attendees - some of the most recognizable names in the museum, editorial, curatorial, publishing, educational, and gallery worlds.  And working photographers too!

photo by Tanja Hollander
photo by Tanja Hollander

There were many nuggets of wisdom to take away from the event, as well as questions raised that will take me a while to fully absorb and determine my position on.  But I do want to talk about one session that definitely stuck with me.

Julia Dolan (Portland Art Museum) and Mitra Abbaspour (Museum of Modern Art) moderated a discussion titled, "What is the place of photography in museums and the academy?".  This was a particularly engaged group, and it was interesting to hear opinions of both curators and educators.  At one point, someone implied through a comment that he did not feel curators needed to accommodate people who are unfamiliar with photography (I believe "dumb it down" was used) and instead should focus on creating shows for the people who know what they are looking at.  I should say, this felt very out of line with the spirit of the conference, and as you can imagine (if you have ever heard me speak or read anything I have written), my head just about exploded.

In my opinion, there is nothing "dumb" about not having an arts education.  It is increasingly not being taught in schools, which is causing not only a lack of knowledge, but a lack of appreciation for art.  It is not about being smart or dumb, it is about having exposure or not having exposure.  He asked me if I thought museums should be held responsible for picking up this slack, and I feel that everyone needs to pitch in to fill this huge gap in art knowledge and appreciation.  Otherwise, we will be left with an increasingly aging crop of arts lovers, patrons, and collectors without younger generations to replace them.

I believe, and there is research to support this, that in order to engage new audiences with art, we need to create opportunities for them to engage with art in multiple ways (visually, intellectually, emotionally) and in a manner that is not intimidating.

Nate Larson, a photographer and educator based in Baltimore (and all-around great person), shared a fantastic program he helped facilitate at the Baltimore Museum of Art.  The museum was putting on an exhibition called SEEING NOW: Photography Since 1960, and they reached out to Nate to collaborate.  Nate created the QR Code Project, where he invited his students to write personal essays about their reactions to certain photographs in the exhibit.  People who viewed the exhibit could go beyond the wall text and (using their smartphones) read another person's personal reaction to the image they were viewing.  This is a great example of how to engage viewers on multiple levels and break down some barriers to entry to appreciating art.  Go team!

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One Hour Photo Show: Talkin' About $10K

One Hour Photo
One Hour Photo

Yesterday I co-hosted the One Hour Photo Show with Anderson Smith, which I LOVED, since my not-so-secret dream job is to be a talk radio host.  We had a great time, and spent a lot of the hour talking about the Crusade Engagement Grant and what we are looking for in a project proposal.  We also discussed the best practices book, Crusade For Your Art, that will be coming out in a couple of weeks, and some of the gems of info you will find inside. So take a listen here!

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Art Subscription Programs Deliver Financial Support, New Audiences for Artists

By offering collectors an opportunity to subscribe in advance to receive a certain number of artworks, art subscription programs are helping to fund the work of photographers and connect them with new audiences of collectors.

By Jennifer Schwartz

Finding ways to engage new collectors and give artists the freedom and funding to create new work is no easy task. But art subscription services, which deliver new work to subscribers on a prearranged schedule, are popping up all over the country to do just that. They are a win-win for artists and collectors alike, and photography seems to be a perfect match for this platform, because photographers can easily produce multiples of their work for subscribers.

Finding ways to engage new collectors and give artists the freedom and funding to create new work is no easy task. But art subscription services, which deliver new work to subscribers on a prearranged schedule, are popping up all over the country to do just that. They are a win-win for artists and collectors alike, and photography seems to be a perfect match for this platform because photographers can easily produce multiples of their work for subscribers.

Andy Sturdevant, the director of Minnesota’s Springboard for the Arts and project coordinator for Minnesota’s CSA (Community Supported Art) says their program was inspired by a desire to provide an entry point to art for people who may be interested in collecting but felt intimidated by the process. “It was a way to put local artists directly in contact with people who were interested in getting their feet wet with collecting art,” Sturdevant says. These subscription programs are inspired by agricultural share programs (also called CSAs – Community Supported Agriculture), where shares of a local farm are purchased in exchange for regular deliveries of produce. 

While similarly structured art programs already existed, Minnesota’s program was the first to use the term CSA.  They have since created a replication kit to encourage other organizations to adopt the CSA model, and to date there are approximately 30 in existence around the country, according to Sturdevant.

In a typical Community Supported Art program, fifty shares are available for purchase for around $300 per share (Sturdevant has seen the range go from $75 to $500, and the number of shares available can also vary).  Artists are paid in advance to create work for each shareholder, and shareholders receive original works several times per year. On average, organizations run one or two CSA cycles per year and include nine artists in each.

Depending on the economic setup of the subscription program, artists can be paid well or negligibly for their work. But there are benefits to artists beyond the paycheck. For one, it puts the artist directly in touch with 50 people who are interested in buying art, creating an opportunity for relationship building. Sturdevant feels this format allows artists to try out a new project or smaller idea that may not fit into their regular practice.

Subscription services also give artists incentive and support to work. “I think artists… have to work so hard to make ends meet that it leaves very little time for studio practice,” says Chandi Kelley, co-founder and artist-member of Project Dispatch, an art subscription program based in Washington, D. C. that allows subscribers to select an artist and opt to receive monthly works for either three-, six-, or nine-month periods. Subscriptions are available for $30, $60 or $90 monthly. “If I can do something to encourage the process of art making while helping artists gain exposure and sell work, then I feel my efforts are worthwhile,” Kelley says.

Kristoffer Tripplaar, who is part of the Project Dispatch roster, is a news photographer by day and says the subscriptions encourage him to spend time creating art.  “It is motivating to keep working on your personal work knowing you will be sending an image to someone,” Tripplaar says. “It is validating after a few weeks of working on press conference photos to get an email saying someone subscribed. I can switch gears and be creative and print an image I’m proud of to send to someone who is really interested.”

“Knowing that someone has specifically chosen you as an artist they would like to subscribe to is incredibly empowering and motivating,” says Jerry Skiscim, another Project Dispatch artist.  Skiscim is a Washington, D.C.-based photographer who had been intimidated to try to break into the art world prior to joining Project Dispatch. “Being a part of this group of talented and accomplished artists pushed me way ahead of what I could have done on my own,” Skiscim says.

TBW Books is an independent photography book publishing company that also uses a subscription model.  Each year, TBW Books invites four photographers to create a body of work for book publication in that year’s subscription set.  Artists are encouraged by TBW to experiment and think in a new way.  “These publications are not intended to be full-blown monographs,” says Paul Schiek, founder and publisher.  “They are intended to be experimental capsules to allow the artist to go outside their normal practice and try something new.” According to the TBW website, “The books provide an unparalleled glimpse into the thinking processes of who we consider to be four of today's most exciting image-makers.”  Beyond the creative output, the entry-point pricing is also appealing (previous subscriptions cost $100, the most-recent is priced at $150).

A huge part of the draw for subscribers seems to be the element of surprise. “People like the surprise and the mystery of not knowing what will come in the mail.  Maybe it’s not even about collecting art for some people, but the experience of the surprise and supporting the creative process for the artists who are involved,” Kelley says.  The idea for Project Dispatch came from her long-distance friendship with Rachel England (Project Dispatch’s other co-creator who no longer runs the program but is still a participating artist).  Kelley and England would send each other packages of artwork in the mail, and they loved the excitement of receiving artful surprises in the mail, so they decided to create a model to share this experience on a wider scale.

“Anticipation is a great motivator,” says Schiek. “With TBW Books’ subscription service, you don’t know what you have paid for, but you trust the publisher and the photographer, and you are willing to put your money on the table and see what comes your way. Consuming photography this way is surprisingly unique because we live in such a screen world, and getting tangible books in the mail is exciting.”

Sturdevant agrees that surprise is important. For their CSA pick-up events, they have begun creating staging areas where shareholders can sit and open their box of art goodies.  “Dramatizing that moment has enhanced the enjoyment of the experience,” he says. But he also stresses the importance of getting artists and shareholders in the same room so the artists have an opportunity to talk about the work. “In a lot of ways that’s what people are paying for – not just the art, but the social element of connecting to other people interested in art and having opportunities to meet the artists,” Sturdevant says.

Kelley also notes that the physical shows Project Dispatch produce to give additional exposure to their artists always result in a spike in subscriptions.  She feels the opportunities to see the work firsthand and to engage directly with the artists are powerful motivators in attracting subscribers. The exhibitions are another advantage of participating – artists get the opportunity to have gallery shows and meet collectors first-hand, providing a platform to launch their careers.  Skiscim just had his first solo show in the same space as his work was exhibited in a Project Dispatch exhibition.  “Project Dispatch has allowed me to build an audience for my work, which was the thing I just could not figure out how to do on my own,” Skiscim says.

The reproducibility of photography makes it a natural fit for CSAs. For a CSA where 50 shares are sold, each artist has to create and send 50 unique works to shareholders.  Sturdevant says they do not want the final product to suffer because of the volume, so they tend to select artists whose work can easily be scaled (photographers, print-makers) or artists who are used to working in high volume (ceramic artists).

But many of the photographers participating in art subscription programs go beyond shooting an image and creating an edition of fifty single photographs. Areca Roe created stereographic images and sent a viewmaster and slides to each shareholder.  Stefanie Motta shot a tarot deck with herself as the model, and every shareholder received a full deck of the tarot cards.  Gene Pittman and Rebekah Yaker collaborated to create a photo-based fabric design. Each shareholder received some of the fabric and a sewing pattern.  “When I think about some of the projects I have really loved over the years, many of them have been photo-based”, Sturdevant says.

When Julia Vandenoever, a Boulder-based photographer, found out she had been selected as a participating artist for the 2014 CSArt Colorado, she knew she wanted to go beyond creating a single image for shareholders.  “I wanted to make work that told the story of the change in the boulder landscape, and so I have decided to create a small photobook to be able to better convey the entire story,” Vandenoever says.  “I really want to take the opportunity to explore another way to exhibit and show my photographs.”  Vandenoever is also looking forward to expanding her creative community, getting more exposure for her work, and connecting with 50 new collectors. Artists across the board seem to share these same hopes and successes, making subscription art programs sound like a dream come true.

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Flash Powder Projects Workshop in Orlando, March 2 & 3

Flash Powder lrThe Flash Powder Projects retreats are invite-only and limited to just four photographers, but there has been so much interest from photographers at all levels, that we have created the Flash Powder Workshop. The workshop is a one-day program to give fine art photographers valuable knowledge and guidance on how to move their careers forward, establish goals for their work, and develop plans to launch photographic projects.

We will be hosting the workshop in Orlando on March 2 and again on March 3.  Space is limited, and the fee to participate is $175.  Come to Orlando, and ignite your potential!

More information and registration here:  http://www.flashpowderprojects.com/workshops

 

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iPhones = Death of Photography?

A little dramatic, I think. I posted a link to this article from The Guardian on twitter and facebook, and it caused quite a stir.  And I can understand why.  When you are talking about certain types of photographers (wedding, portrait, photojournalists) increasingly being replaced by do-it-yourselfers, it is true that the democratization of photography has caused the market to shift.

#selfie
#selfie

I started a family portrait photography business nearly fourteen years ago (yes, seriously - what? you didn't think I had time for more?), and the market has changed dramatically in that time.  When I first started, it was all film.  I used two cameras - one loaded with color film, and the other loaded with black and white.  I charged by the roll of film.  I made darkroom prints.

Once the DSLR began to make sense (and the last for-hire darkroom in Atlanta closed), I had to restructure everything.  But the most significant shift has happened within the last four or five years.  Every mom has a DSLR.  They don't necessarily know how to use it, but with enough hours of pressing the shutter button, they can probably get one in focus picture with both kids looking that will work for a holiday card.  I used to make holiday cards.  Now a half million websites let you upload digital images to one of a gazillion designs.

In the Guardian Article, photographer Antonio Olmos says, "Increasingly we don't need photographers – we can do just as well ourselves."  I disagree.  You may be able to get away with doing something on your own, but most cannot do just as well.  Just because you have a camera, does not mean you can create the same things I can with mine.  So adjust your business model and move forward.  Life is change.

On the fine art side of things, I say the more creativity the better.  The more people that make images, the more the medium gets demystified.  Also, the more people may appreciate truly artful images.  I am a photographer who collects photography.  I'm even a pretty decent photographer, but I look at the art that is on my walls in awe.  Maybe because I appreciate how hard it is to make something truly phenomenal.  And maybe all of those people trying to jazz up their images with Instagram filters will too.

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Crusade for Art - The Announcement!

Last Spring I drove a VW bus around the country in the name of promoting photographers and collecting.  Interacting with people in different communities encouraged me to think about the importance of creating a platform that would help many photographers create, fund, and implement their own ideas to engage audiences with their work.

I am thrilled to bring you Crusade for Art, which will not only talk about ideas, but also make them happen. By inspiring, mentoring, teaching, and funding, Crusade for Art will empower artists to focus on connecting people to their work and thereby encourage systemic changes to create a new crop of art lovers, patrons, and collectors.

I believe in making a difference, and I believe the best way to continue to do so is by funneling the programming and passion for creating demand for photography through Crusade for Art. Crusade for Art’s mission is to build artists’ capacity to create demand for their work. We do this in two ways: by educating and mentoring artists to higher levels of creative and professional development; and by incubating, through programs and advocacy, innovative solutions that connect artists with their audiences.

The ideas, successes, and experiences of Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, The Ten, and the Crusade for Collecting Tour have informed the mission and direction of Crusade for Art. The remainder of this year will be spent transitioning from a commercial model to one that better allows us to fully focus on creating demand for art on a larger scale through Crusade for Art.  Some of the most important aspects of JSG – promoting and developing the careers of photographers and cultivating collectors – remain at the heart of this new and vibrant non-profit entity, which will have a larger impact on the photographic community as a whole.

Stay tuned for the announcement of several programs that will give amazing opportunities to photographers and inspire all of us to connect people with our art.  Thank you for your continued enthusiasm, encouragement, and support.

Together we can set the world on fire.


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Crusade for Art - How We Got Here

I believe in art. And I believe in the artists who create it. Nearly five years ago I began a journey to cultivate audiences for art, specifically the work of emerging photographers. By creating innovative programs that make art immediately and affordably accessible to new audiences, both online and through special events, my goal has been dual and consistent – to promote and develop the careers of talented, emerging, contemporary photographers and to educate and cultivate a new crop of collectors.

I believe in innovation and pushing the status quo in ways that benefit artists and create demand for their work. For example, through Jennifer Schwartz Gallery I created events like Walk Away With Art, ArtFeast, and Art Circle, giving photographers the opportunity to make personal connections with new audiences and giving would-be collectors an engaging experience around art. I have also been able to test a more flexible gallery model by showing photography in unique spaces that fit the work, creating excitement and energy around exhibitions. The online project The Ten gave photographers an outlet for creating unique work in limited editions and collectors an affordable, accessible entry to photography. Then having already created successful programs to bring people to art, I went on the road to bring art to the people through the Crusade for Collecting Tour.

I believe in making a difference, and I believe the best way to continue to do so is by funneling the programming and passion for creating demand for photography through Crusade for Art. Crusade for Art began as a website and a resource for photographers and has developed into a vibrant non-profit organization. Crusade for Art’s mission is to build artists’ capacity to create demand for their work. We do this in two ways: by educating and mentoring artists to higher levels of creative and professional development; and by incubating, through programs and advocacy, innovative solutions that connect artists with their audiences.

The ideas, successes, and experiences of Jennifer Schwartz Gallery, The Ten, and the Crusade for Collecting Tour have informed the mission and direction of Crusade for Art. The remainder of this year will be spent transitioning from a commercial model to one that better allows me to realize this mission. After nearly five years as a successful commercial gallery that not only showed work but also made an impact on the gallery culture both locally and nationally, Jennifer Schwartz Gallery will close at the end of the year in order to fully focus on creating demand for art on a larger scale through Crusade for Art. While maintaining some of the most important aspects of JSG – promoting and developing the careers of photographers and cultivating collectors – I must cease the commercial components which conflict with the mission and activities of Crusade for Art, a non-profit entity.

I am best known for being a champion and advocate for photographers, especially those who are at the beginning of their careers.  I am known for being passionate about the ways individual artists can advocate for themselves and for creating ideas and programs to help them find the people who will best appreciate their work.  I am known for being someone who does not just complain about a problem with the current art hierarchy, but someone who actively tries to create a more sustainable arts ecology – openly sharing successes and failures with equal parts laughter and tears and a whole lot of heart.

I am thrilled to bring you Crusade for Art, which will not only talk about ideas, but also make them happen. By inspiring, mentoring, teaching, and funding, Crusade for Art will empower artists to focus on creating demand for art and thereby encourage systemic changes to create a new crop of art lovers, patrons, and collectors.

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