PUBLISHERS NOTE Fall 2010
As the publisher of an art magazine, I read a lot of artist bios. More than the average Joe. In fact, I would venture to say, I read more bios than most anybody else in the world, with the exception of other art magazine publishers. Overall, I have pretty mixed feelings about them. Maybe once a decade, do I come across something that will hold my distracted ADD-attention span for more than a minute.
The late Karl Kasten used to send me notes with little hand scribbled drawings on the sides. I kept and cherished these. On the other hand, I have gotten some that take the personal drawings over the limit with pages of characters in cartoon-like formats. Unfortunately, the pack rat art-lover in me comes out and even though I should throw the stuff away, I can’t seem to toss ANY art – even bad art. I do try to give it away. Hoping that maybe some teacher or collage artist might put it to good use. But it never gets tossed. If I don’t start getting better at throwing stuff away, I am going to have to rent warehouse space soon.
Being an artist myself, I am also interested on how artists pitch themselves. I am always on the lookout for a really good bio that I can use as a benchmark for my own, but, alas, I have not seen one that would work for me. I would venture to say that 99% fall into either the bad or boring category. It is really hard to write about oneself without sounding egotistical and self-serving. So, people often turn to friends or galleries to write their bios, but it is easy for the artist’s personality to get lost in favor of what the gallery wants to promote. I do, however, get a kick out of the art speak resumés. Those are the ones that you can read over and over again, and you still don’t know what they are all about. I received one from a gallery that I had to pass around the office to see if anybody else could figure out what they were trying to say. Note to resumé writers: do not string six syllable words together in one sentence to sound smart. So after reading countless resumés/bios I decided to take a different approach. Here is the bio I have been using for the last few years:
I was born of royalty in England, a direct descendant of King Henry III. My mother was a professional Opera singer and hairdresser, while my father divided his time with the NASA Space Program and his beloved model trains. My parents, the Duke and Duchess of Dunmore disowned me at a young age for following my dream to be an artist. Cut from the family trust and left with no other source of income, I took to selling my paintings on the streets of New York in exchange for coffee. While selling paintings, I was discovered by a talent scout for the TV soap opera, As The World Turns. I was Dr. Nogood for a short run until my character took up with the town tramp and was slowly poisoned by mistake – but that’s another story. The acting bug got me to make the move to California. On my way to L.A., I stopped in Carmel and never left. I now reside in the forest, collecting berries and foraging for food.
The way I see it, gallery owners and collectors have seen enough traditional resumés touting the talent of the artist. And if they are like me, just give me a name, a website, and a reason to check it out. I figure, if I am so far out in left field, just maybe some one will take notice. But it’s been a while and 1) nobody is knocking down my door and 2) I think it’s time to update my resumé. So here is my new and improved version.
I was born yesterday. Apparently, when my mother was pregnant with me she was riding in a turnip or apple cart that was side swiped, over turned, and she gave birth to me there on the roadside. Naturally, she tried to find help, but there was no room at the local Holiday Inn. She found a farm nearby and the farmer let us stay in the stable. Oh wait, that’s a different story. Lets try this one – my mother was Pablo Picasso’s favorite model. Although she claims nothing has ever happened between them, I do have a thing for carnival performers, harlequins, and clowns, and I long to live in the south of France with my bohemian poets and writer friends. Although my art has gone through many phases, I keep coming back to my current style of lots of sharp edges or disjointed women. Go figure. When I was in my teens, I was a finalist on Star Search, but Ed McMahon creeped me out and I missed a high C during my performance, which got me voted off the show. Unbeknownst to me, Larry Gargotion, who holds the largest private collection of Picasso paintings saw that failed show and rang me the following day. Later, he told me it was the piercing look directed at McMahon that resonated with him. It was a look that he had seen before. He handed me a paintbrush, and well, the rest is history.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you should fabricate your bio or your resumé. My point is that sometimes I think the art world takes itself TOO seriously. There is a time and place for everything. If someone wants to know your background, they will find out. I just think it’s your job to get them interested. (Note: blood, DNA, and paternity test are sealed under court order). Sign me,
Son of PP (not),