Sunday, 17 April 2016

A Southsea Hug

 A busy day for My Dog Sighs yesterday.  Free Art, charity art and Art with a capital A.  

Why be an artist? Because you want to produce stuff, you have a song you want to sing, you have a book bursting to get out of you, you know you can do it better than they can, you want to be rich and popular, you want your songs to be heard, your photos to be admired, your paintings to be seen. 

And you have to eat.  You can be a telephone engineer by day and a bass player in a covers band in the evening, you can spend your tea breaks at the bank writing the Last Great Novel, you can run the night shift at the factory but be photographing the sunrise and sunset  on weekends.  But do you want to make a living out of your art? You have to sell it.  

I was at a gig last night, the guy I went to see had just produced a cd.  He told me he finds it hard to say "Buy my cd" when he's performing, he just wants to play the songs.  That's ok, but if you want to make a living you have to sell yourself. As The Pop Group said nearly 40 years ago: we are all prostitutes.

Just because you're good doesn't mean you'll sell well.  There's a grand tradition of great artists who sold nothing, died penniless.  So how do you break through?  You can be good and not get noticed: wrong haircut, no MTV, no airplay, no hit.  You can be good, be the right fit, be picked up, promoted -and make money.  Flora Borsi is a great photographic artist. It's not just me who thinks so - the  Saatchi Gallery think so too.  Two years ago you could pick up a print of her Corn Poppy for thirty quid, now you can't get anything for less than a grand.  Her work has matured and improved but that isn't the only reason the price has gone up.  Saatchi, Adobe and others have given her the seal of approval, the market knows her, the market sets her new price.  As an artist I'm sure she'll go from strength to strength.  I bet you any money other people make more money from her (with less skill or effort) than she does.

How do you get noticed? How do you get press? But how do you get into galleries?  It isn't enough to be good.  

My Dog Sighs hit on a way of getting his art out there - by giving it away.  He started leaving pieces of art around and about, inviting people to help themselves to it.  Free Art Friday.  Great idea, except you might work for hours on a piece only for it to be thrown in a bin by a an over zealous street sweeper. But perseverance is the key and after a few years and a few hundred pieces - and the rise of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - the name My Dog Sighs is well known around Portsmouth. Commissioned pieces, collaborations, exhibitions; some very visible pieces, working with the council, working in schools, working with community groups My Dog Sighs has got his name out there at a grassroots level, building up an increasingly fanatical local following.  

His involvement with Bristol's Upfest last year put him on another stage - and brought national press coverage.  At the same time there have been gallery shows at home and abroad.  The prices for exhibition pieces are relatively high but they get snapped up so that's what the market says.  That local following may soon be priced out of the market.

But. MDS has made a point of staying local.  At his Portsmouth exhibitions (Together in Solitude with Midge, 2014 and Quiet Little Voices, 2015) he has involved other local artists, printers, picture framers, caterers, photographers.  He has made a point of noting and naming these collaborators - so everyone knows there's a good picture framer locally, there's independent coffee shops, there's a local scene.  So why was yesterday a busy day?  

Actually I don't know how busy he was but he did put out three Free Art pieces celebrating Record Store Day - in the vicinity of Southsea's independent record shop Pie & Vinyl of course . . . .

and he offered for sale 45 Southsea Hug prints with all the profits going to two local charities, Tonic and St James.  [See below for more on this]

If that wasn't enough, to round off the day yer man was back in the studio doing this:

This is from My Dog Sighs Fb page as are most of the images on this page (except the church and the sunset):
Some of you may have seen my Southsea Hug wall painted in Albert road recently. On painting it I had the opportunity to 'chat' to quite a lot of people wandering up and down the street. Many of which who seemed either vulnerable, homeless or both. And this gave me an idea. 
I have produced a high quality limited edition giclee print. It's an easily frameable A3 in size, an edition of 45, all signed, stamped and numbered for sale for £50 each. 
All the profits of the sale of this print will be donated to the society of St James homeless charity and the Tonic charity, both very worthy local charities helping vulnerable people. 
Tonic is A charity that raises awareness and challenges the stigma often associated with mental illness through music and arts based activities in association with an array or established and local artists.  
Society of St James is a Hampshire-based homelessness charity, providing accommodation and support to over 2500 people each year. 
The print will only be available to purchase in person from Saturday 16th April (this Saturday) via  @playdeadstudio in highland road;  @strongislanduk in Albert road;  @homecoffeesouthsea in Albert road; @southseacoffee in Osborne road and my studio (above the Wedgewood rooms in Albert road). 
If you can help by sharing this post and getting the prints sold I'd be grateful. #print #southsea#southseahug #southseaghetto #art #charity#portsmouth #portsmouthartist 

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