Archive for the general Category

The Myth of The Artist

Posted in art, books, general with tags , , , , , , on June 27, 2009 by artbizness

I’ve just finished an extraordinary book called “Why are Artists Poor” by Hans Abbing. It was recommended to me by my Twitter buddy Ivan Pope. Although I think the book has an awful title, it has been so enlightening for me and has lead to a series of “lightbulb moments” about my profession. So much so that I’m going to write a series of blog posts that I hope will be useful for both artists and art-audiences alike.

I’d go so far as to say that this book should be required reading on all arts courses (especially the UK degree courses), as it’s a real wake-up call containing many home truths that all wanna-be artists would do well to take heed of.

The book argues that the economy of the arts is an exceptional one, and that it systematically keeps artists (of all types – painters, musicians, writers, etc.) poor, and that it is a cruel economy with no one culprit, but a series of relationships and values that maintain the situation as it is.

Abbing suggests that central to this economy is a series of myths that are so universally internalised, that they aren’t even consciously acknowledged. Have a little think about them. Do they stack up? Are they really myths or truths? Do you find that you think about artists this way?

I’ll write later about which of these myths I think need debunking, and which I think are not actually myths but reality. Some of these are contradictory, all thought provoking, but for now, here they are. If you want to add your thoughts in the comments box below, I’ll happily engage in discussion with you.

1. Art is sacred
2. Through art, artists and consumers relate to a sacred world
3. Art is remote and superfluous.
4. Art is a gift.
5. Artists are gifted.
6. Art serves the general interest.
7. Art is good for people
8. Artists are autonomous; other professionals are not autonomous.
9. There is freedom of expression in the arts
10. The work of art is authentic, and the artist is the unique creator of it; in other professions such authenticity does not exist.
11. Creating authentic work gives one endless private satisfaction.
12. Artists are selflessly devoted to art.
13. Artists are only intrinsically motivated.
14. Money and commerce devalue art.
15. Artistic quality can only exist if it is independent of costs and demand.
16. Artists have to suffer.
17. Talent is natural or God-given.
18. Everybody has the same chance of being gifted or talented.
19. Certain talents in the arts only appear later in someone’s career.
20. Because extraordinary talent is rare, only a large pool of artists can provide society with a few extremely talented artists.
21. Success in the arts depends on talent and commitment exclusively.
22. The arts are free. The barriers that exist in other professions are absent in the arts.
23. Successful artists are often self-taught.
24. Given talent and commitment, equal chances exist in the arts; the best is victorious.
25. Because the best win, the arts are democratic and righteous.
26. The high incomes earned by some artists are fair.

Building websites

Posted in general, work-in-progress on April 2, 2009 by artbizness

A photo of what the website looks like

Hello out there.

I’m emerging blinking into the sunlight, as I have spent the past week or so constructing websites. It’s been an interesting learning-cliff-face, as I put myself through various crash courses in html and css. And no, before last week, I didn’t know what that meant either.

I’m thinking of moving this blog. I dearly love and have enjoyed it. However, there are some things that I can’t do with it that I would like to. This blog is basically hosted by wordpress. I need to self-host in order to be able to tweak things and put new things in.

So I’m going with!

Huh? I hear you cry. Didn’t you just say….?

Go back and read it more carefully. I can’t do what I want with wordpress.COM, but I can do what I want with wordpress.ORG. The .ORG version will sit on my own private webspace, and allow me to alter things how I want.

In fact, I’ve already tried a test run. Not everyone knows this (and I don’t generally talk about it here) but when I’m not being an artist, I’m a plumber. So I thought I would build a static website using as a sort of dry run for re-vamping artbizness.

The plumbing website is called That’s a photo of it at the top. Go take a look and let me know what you think.

In the meantime… I’ll be work on artbizness. I’m not going to move it just yet, but hopefully sometime over the next month. I’ll tell you where and when soon.

In the meantime – I will still post here. But consider yourselves on notice. 😀

A Free Print for my blog readers

Posted in art, general on January 7, 2009 by artbizness


Happy New Year everyone. I hope you had a good Christmas, and I apologise for not posting more regularly.

To make up for it, I’m going to start the year by offering some free artwork.

It’s a print of my most well-known and well-liked piece of work, called “Man of Sorrows”

Here’s the link.

There’s no catch. Just download it, and print it off.

Or turn it a postcard or a mugs or a t-shirt, or use it in a powerpoint presentation. Do what ever you want with it, as long as it’s for personal use. (I mean: no sneaky making money directly from it. That wouldn’t be fair now would it? I’ve just given it to you for free. Thanks 🙂 ).

The best thing I can suggest is that you take it to a printshop, and get them to print it (best size at A4 but no more than A3), then buy a nice frame for it, and put it on your wall.

Why am I doing this? As I said before. I’d far rather you had a piece of my work than not be able to afford one.

I want you to be able to have this in your space if you want it, and for it to move you, like it has moved me.

I made the work but it forced me to think about poverty and spirituality, and where those things can be found. It sat in my thoughts even when I wasn’t looking at it, a changed the atmosphere of every room I hung it in for the better. It made me think about transcendence and immanence, about art and life, and about sacred and profanity, and what am I doing about those things?

I guess that’s more important to me than being paid for the original. If you want to buy the original, then that’s a different story, but this is about the best quality photo I have of it, and I think it will give you all the things it gave me and a whole lot of other things that are specific to you.

Have a good 2009.

Beyond Addiction

Posted in art, general with tags , , , , , , , on September 2, 2008 by artbizness

Hmm.. this is frustrating….

For a while now, I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up an online shop – a central place where you can buy anything I do – and have been working quite hard at making some work to sell for a few days. Simple.. I thought.. Paypal.. no problem..

However, having just posted it all here, a friend has just pointed out that it’s a rather large violation of the Terms & Conditions of


So, I have had to set it up somewhere else at short notice. Better that than a deleted blog, hmm?

“Beyond Addiction” is a new, limited edition work by me. There are ten of them, handmade, each signed and numbered by the artist (that would also be me). The piece is made of cigarettes, pins, card, and emergency keyholder frames. The dimensions are: (h) 119mm x (w) 119mm x (d) 33mm, and come with fixing instructions and a couple of screws and wallplugs.

It’s been crazy precision work with a scalpel for the past few days, and I am cross-eyed, sore of hand, wrist and elbow, as I’ve basically made this work about 3 times more than what I needed to, just to get everything to be perfect. I spent a whole afternoon just trying to get the white card to be the right size to fit in the back of the tray. Another day spent cutting them (I threw about 15 away because they were too ragged). And so on.

Anyway, we’ll see if this works. This is my first attempt at selling artwork online, and I’m quite excited by the thought of people owning a piece of original artwork by me – so it’s a bit of an experiment to see how it goes.


Posted in art, general with tags , , , , , on July 17, 2008 by artbizness

After a long week starting with a rather horrific incident on Monday, I thought I would try my hand at doing a Free Art Friday effort.

Free Art Friday is simple idea – artists leave out a piece of their work on the street for anyone to take on Fridays – some lucky sod gets a nice piece of work to hang on their wall for nothing. Art for the masses. Its a great idea, on lots of levels.

I thought I would take some of the rubbish that gets left on our estate, and make it into artwork. It might stop the yoof throwing it at each other or hitting other people with it or throwing it at cars – something I see pretty much nightly outside my window. This particular piece of board was once all in one piece – part of a table I think – that someone left out about 3 months ago. The local council with their usual efficiency have yet to take it away, and it has been dismembered into about four pieces in that time.

This is fine for me, as it leaves me the raw materials for a triptych. PAX is almost a prayer on my part for peace, which is something we could really do with for the Summer here. In an area where even the wardens are dreading this coming weekend (the first weekend of the school summer holidays), I’m hoping that art can create calm. I’ll leave it outside in the derelict playground in front of my apartment, where the kids often come to drink and smoke, and sometimes kick each other.

Of course, PAX could still be used for hurling at people and cars, but I’m an artist, and this is probably the best I can do right now.

The Big Bang Circus

Posted in art, general with tags , , , , , , , on February 6, 2008 by artbizness

I caught up with a friend of mine today, called Michael Teasdale.

Michael is a fellow artist who has been working away on a massive project for about ten years.

Well, it finally has a web presence. It’s called the Big Bang Circus. It’s still very much a work under construction, but I couldn’t resist telling you about it, as he deserves more recognition than he actually gets.

It’s an absolutely awesome work that threatens to take over his life (and more importantly yours) very soon. There are intentions to make a book/film/cartoon/universe/etc. The hook is that there’s a bit of a maze-like story to it, with hidden depths that you don’t find out about until you’re well and truly lost in it.

You can also see his other work at (also under construction), which I’ve not seen before. Don’t be put off by the mugshot of Mike, though. He’s really very nice…

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Finished Commission

Posted in art, general on November 12, 2007 by artbizness

So the moot icon finally got its first outing last night.

I think it looks ok. It looks better in the dark…!

There’s still a bit of tidying up to do – some of the lines need dealing with, and the impact glue that I used to stick the chalice on with has has oozed out slightly, but otherwise, its fine.

I’m not averse to altering it further, actually. The initial reactions to it have been favourable, but I think it may need a little evolution as people get used to it, and respond to it.

We didn’t process it out into the mass like I’d hoped, but we will. For now, it’s just good that people get to see it and get used to it.

Here’s how I made it:

Intro, Pt.1, Pt.2, Pt.3, Pt.4, Pt.5, Pt.6

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