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Heather Evans Smith

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Photographer Heather Evans Smith Tells Us What It's Been Like to be Part of the First Crusade Supported Art (CSA)

In June we launched an art CSA, which sold out in just two days. Six photographers were commissioned to make an image in an edition of 50, and we sold 50 shares for $350 each. Shareholders receive an original, signed and numbered photograph from each of the six commissioned photographers. A few weeks ago we shipped the first two photographs to shareholders.

Reliquary  by Heather Evans Smith

Reliquary by Heather Evans Smith

The photograph above, Reliquary by Heather Evans Smith, was in the first shipment. We asked Heather to give her thoughts about being involved with the CSA and to explain her piece in the interview below.

 

1. Had you heard of an art CSA before? What were your impressions of the idea? 

I had never heard of a CSA in an art context. I was immediately drawn to the idea as an artist and beginning collector. I often come in contact with people who are interested in collecting but don't have the finances or know where to begin finding the right art for them. The Crusade for Art CSA is a wonderful way to affordably start a collection and introduce oneself to six very different photographers.

 

2. What about the program made you interested in being one of the participating artists?

I am honored to be included in the same program with the other five photographers. The idea of having 50 new collectors of my work is appealing. I also want to, if even in a small way, help introduce a new generation to collecting.

 

3. How has your experience been so far, and what else do you hope will come as a result of participating? 

So far the response has been positive. My hope is that more collectors will become familiar with my work and that the CSA shareholders will continue collecting as a result of the program.

 

4. Please tell us about the piece you created and how it fits within your larger body of work?

My CSA image, Reliquary, depicts religious type acts we perform with our children. Whether it be collecting those first locks of hair, teeth, or scribbles, they are treated as archival relics, symbols of a time that is all too fleeting. This image is part of my series Seen Not Heard.

Seen Not Heard takes its title from the Old English adage “To Be Seen and Not Heard”, a term often used in reference to the desired behavior of children. These images are silent, but they create a voluble visual narrative on the relationship between parent and child. They explore  cycles that are passed down through generations and the tension between tradition and forging a newer, and perhaps stronger, path. As strong as the bond between mother and daughter is, there also exists a distance inherent between two different individuals.

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The Big Reveal: Art CSA's First Photographs!

If you were one of the lucky 50 shareholders of the first round of Crusade Supported Art, you got some awesomeness in the mail last week! We shipped the first two original photographs, one by Shane Lavalette and the other by Heather Evans Smith. It was mighty challenging keeping these beauties under wraps, but the surprise is part of the fun!

Now that the secret is out, we can let everyone in on the big reveal:

"Reliquary" by Heather Evans Smith from the series "Seen Not Heard". Created for the CSA as a 12x18" image printed on 13x19" paper.

"Reliquary" by Heather Evans Smith from the series "Seen Not Heard". Created for the CSA as a 12x18" image printed on 13x19" paper.

"Ready to Roll" by Shane Lavalette. Created for the CSA as a 15x12" image printed on 19x15" paper.

"Ready to Roll" by Shane Lavalette. Created for the CSA as a 15x12" image printed on 19x15" paper.

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Have You Sent Holiday Greetings to Your Collectors?

One of the things that absolutely makes me crazy is when photographers do not regularly check in with their collectors and advocates.  These people like your work and support you.  Make them feel special and appreciated.  It does not take more than a postcard or personal email twice a year to build a relationship that will pay dividends your entire career.

Holiday greetings from Heather Evans Smith
Holiday greetings from Heather Evans Smith

I first wrote about it in this post, but goodness knows if you have ever heard me lecture, attended a workshop, or just sat with me for more than ten minutes, you've heard this speech before.  So it came as no surprise to get this bit of awesomeness in the mail today from Heather Evans Smith.

To be fair, Heather has heard my rantings many times over, but it sunk in!  The top is a hand-written note wishing me happy holidays, and the bottom is an envelope stamped with her logo (seen here) on one side, and then when you open it up, it says Happy Holidays and includes two small prints (brand new images).  #nailed it

The holidays are a great time to reach out to your collectors and all of the other people who have been advocates for your work (whether they own a piece or not).  And by "collectors", I mean each and every person who owns a piece of your work.  Say hello.  Tell them you appreciate their support.

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Ones2Watch with Atlanta Celebrates Photography

Atlanta Celebrates Photography is an organization that kills it year round for photography. Not only is the MONTH-LONG (which actually starts in September and goes into November, because there is so much programming) festival overwhelmingly stellar, ACP programs year-round and it a huge reason Atlanta's photography culture is so robust.  Ten years strong. . . hot damn. While ACP is celebrating it's 10th year, the annual gala auction benefit has been happening for five. There is an exciting live auction, led by Denise Bethel from Sotheby's, where inevitably you get swept up in the moment and wave a paddle you previously had no intention of raising.  There is also a silent auction with a variety of items (was so bummed to be outbid on the Martin Parr faces paperweight) and a selection of ten framed photographs from the Ones2Watch section.  For years I have poured over this part of the auction and bid mightily, and this year I was beyond honored to be invited to curate it.

I was asked to select ten photographs from ten photographers who are on the front lines of awesome.  Yes please!  The selection process was so much fun for me, but then seeing all of the pieces lined up on easels with each one framed to best showcase the image (thank you Myott!) was beyond, beyond.  And then to see all the bids flying!

Want an up-close peek at the images?  I thought so. Click on the image to visit the photographer's website.

Heather Evans Smith

Heather Evans Smith

Jeff Rich

Jeff Rich

Brandon Thibodeaux

Brandon Thibodeaux

Clay Lipsky

Clay Lipsky

Bill Vaccaro

Bill Vaccaro

Kurt Simonson

Kurt Simonson

Aline Smithson

Aline Smithson

Kelly K. Jones

Kelly K. Jones

Elizabeth Fleming

Elizabeth Fleming

E. Brady Robinson

E. Brady Robinson

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Astoria Retreat (Season 4!): #flashersforlife

When David Bram and I started planning our first invite-only retreat for photographers over a year ago, we never could have imagined how powerful these experiences would be - for everyone.  David and I leave each and every one completely blown away by the talent, energy and drive of these artists.  And then there's the bonding. . . something about living all together in a house for five days, talking non-stop about your art and life. . . it easily makes the retreats one of the most special and rewarding things I do. I have often said that living in the house together is like The Real World without the hot tub, and when I started my tour, so many of the photographers who have participated on the retreats either came along on a leg of the trip or participated in a pop-up or just showed up in a city for an in-person high-five. It started to feel like The Real World-Road Rules Challenge, with photographers from one retreat meeting photographers from another and sharing stories from what they all knew was a completely unique experience.  "What retreat were you on?" sounded very much like "What Season were you on?".  

Sean Dana and Kurt Simonson (Season 1 - aka Astoria 7/12, aka #Astoria6) drove with me from San Francisco to Portland, where we met up with Bill Vaccaro, who was also Season 1 and participated in the New Orleans pop-up (so did Kurt!) and met up with the Crusade in Cleveland.  In Portland I saw Julia Vandenoever (Season 2, aka The Cat Cave) and Elizabeth Clark Libert (Season 3, aka The Bone Collectors) and Brandon Thibideaux (who was soon to be Season 4, aka Flashers).  Sarah Moore (Season 2) was my co-pilot from Chicago (where we met up with Matt Crowther - Season 4) to Cleveland (enter Bill Vaccaro and Matthew Conboy - on Sarah's season) to New York (where she reunited with Muema from Season 2 and met Sara Macel from Season 4 and Charlotte Strode, who will be Season 5 in July).  And to bring it all home, Heather Evans Smith (Season 3) met me in Richmond to celebrate the final Crusading days.  Whew.  Confused?

In all of the traveling excitement, I have not written up the last retreat (Season 4 - held in Astoria, Oregon in April).  This group bonded straight out of the gate.  It was almost alarming.  We always try to put together people from different places, photographic experiences, types of work, etc. so that the participants learn from each other as much as they learn from us.  And although this group had the usual amount of diversity, they were besties nearly instantaneously.

We had the usual agenda of intensive work on portfolios, sequencing, artist statements (my favorite!), and hours and hours of more, followed by after-hours bowls of Butterfinger ice cream and more photo talk.  We also explored Canon Beach (Goonies rock!), made friends with some locals, rocked the DQ,  and became flashers for life.

This crew. . . damn special.  They all are, honestly.  David and I say it constantly - we are so lucky to do what we do.

Make sure you check out the work from this talented group: Matt Crowther, Elizabeth Fleming, Sara Macel, Brandon Thibodeaux and Annick Sjobakken.

Are you a photographer interested in getting a project ready to launch? Check out Flash Powder Projects here.

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Another Photographic Retreat Rocks My World

It is my most favorite time - five days, four nights, working intensely with a small group of photographers who are talented and driven.  David Bram and I tag-team, co-teach, and create sideline entertainment with our crazy banter that is all beginning to feel like some kind of choreographed photography production.  And maybe it is.  That is certainly the goal - that by the end of the week we have produced a handful of photographers who are ready to take on the world and have the tools (and a plan) to reach their goals. To fill you in, this is the description:

In these four-day, five-night retreats, small groups of photographers will have the opportunity to strengthen and package a portfolio of work and develop a plan to strategically launch a project.

David Bram and Jennifer Schwartz work with participants to achieve the best edit and sequence of their work, write a powerful artist statement, develop a plan for getting exposure, tackle social media, and identify target collectors and galleries.  Other topics include creative project funding, publishing, museum collections, setting editions and entering competitions.

David, Jennifer and the participating photographers (5 maximum) share a house and meals. Photographers are invited to participate based on their work, experience and willingness to share and explore as a group.  The intimate nature of the retreat is designed to foster community and create dialog around the work, as each participant brings different perspectives and ideas.

Sounds awesome, right?

I am just home from our third photographic retreat.  The first two were in Astoria, Oregon (as will be the one we are doing in April).  You can read about those hijinks here and here.  This retreat was our first in New Mexico - at a secluded ranch two hours from Albuquerque.  And secluded it was.  No cell service, which was both liberating and terrifying, and wildlife for days (perhaps you saw my facebook post about my encounter with a huge bobcat).  But the beauty of New Mexico is magical, and we all settled into our little ranch home like we had been there for years.

We dug right in, and before long we were one tight bone-collecting group.  In addition to learning about the fine art photography world and working out the kinks in portfolios and polishing statements and websites, we made adventures and friendships and made plans to revolutionize the known world.  It was epic.

Some highlights -

Looking at work
Looking at work
Heather Evans Smith setting up for a shoot with too many helpers
Heather Evans Smith setting up for a shoot with too many helpers
Modeling for Heather, and freezing my toes off
Modeling for Heather, and freezing my toes off
More White Sands
More White Sands
Photographer Daniel Coburn and NM Museum of Art Photography Curator Kate Ware came for the night
Photographer Daniel Coburn and NM Museum of Art Photography Curator Kate Ware came for the night
The #photoranch girls: Elizabeth Clark Libert, Marina Font, Heather Evans Smith, Lisa Blair
The #photoranch girls: Elizabeth Clark Libert, Marina Font, Heather Evans Smith, Lisa Blair

Are you a photographer interested in getting a project ready to launch? Check outFlash Powder Projects here.

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How Not to Submit to a Gallery (part 2)

I tend to review gallery submissions in groups (read: either when I have a chunk of spare time to devote to it or when they have piled to a critical mass on my desk and can no longer be ignored).  Since I was taking a five hour flight to Oregon to lead a photographic retreat all about positioning yourself in the best way to get the most impactful exposure for your work, I figured it was a good time to dig in. I recently wrote this post on how to submit to a gallery (and how not to), so all of these do's and don'ts were already top of mind when I opened the first package.  Oh horror.  My biggest pet peeve - an unmarked disc in a cardboard mailer.  What was most striking though was that of all the submissions I reviewed on that flight, the one that was by far the least impressive in presentation (no note, no intro letter on paper or on the disc, a CV that looked and read like a student's, and just three jpegs with no explanation or artist statement) was from the most experienced person (a professor at an arts university).

Another person sent in a submission and apologized at the top of his CV for not having a gallery-worthy CV.  If you hear nothing else, hear this - it's all in the positioning.  First off, he had some solid exhibition experience.  Second, that is not the end-all, be-all.  If you are new to the game, spin that in your favor.  You are a new discovery!  Strong work, ripe for the picking!

Here is an example of how spin can be your best friend:

The other day I asked my son (he's eight years old) to feed the dogs.  He says, "but mom, I fed the dogs yesterday".  I say, "Jonah - I am giving you an exclusive opportunity to feed the dogs.  I haven't asked anyone else - just you.  Feeding the dogs is the most fun thing to do."  He says, "but I don't think feeding the dogs is very fun".  And I say, "Jonah, it's so fun.  I think you may be doing it wrong."  He says, "Ok, I'll try again".

There you have it folks.

But back to the first impression (no unmarked discs in cardboard mailers!!), here is a submission that impressed me before I even saw the work:

Great logo (that fits the character of the work), intro letter, awesome branded cd envelope, and a postcard with her signature image on it.  I had a solid vibe of the work and a great impression of her as a professional, committed artist before I even put the disc in my computer.  We have a call set up for next week.

And that's how to submit to a gallery!

Looking for help getting a submission packet together?  Read more here.

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