What do artists value?

,  5 August 2013

What do artists value and what are the important measures of value? Artists at Artquest's 'For the Love of It' conference discussed the key concepts

The Artquest 'For the love of it' conference brought together artists to share opinions and network.
The Artquest 'For the love of it' conference brought together artists to share opinions and network.

The session opened with artist Neil Cummings who described his idea of values:

"Values are not nouns - they're actually verbs. So values are things that are in progress. They're tested, argued over and made among communities. They're not things that belong to an object or a person, like a noun. Values are remade.”

As the session split into brainstorming groups, the concept of a value was explored as, both, negative and positive, passive and direct, and subjective.

Artists Jason Bartholomew-Hall, Kristian Evju and Pascale Carrington share five views on what artists value.

1) The monetary value of art

"Values are not nouns – they’re actually verbs. So values are things that are in progress."

Kristian Evju said that the monetary value of things are changing. He has changed the cost of his artwork, following the success of his work and the awards that he has received:

"You should place a value on your artwork and understand that art exists within an art market, otherwise you deny the financial side of being an artist.

"However, a few years ago, I would have not liked some art. Now, I've changed my perspective – the value of work is different to different people."

2) Having the freedom to express

Jason Bartholomew-Hall explores the idea of reality, through materials, and how this can actively affect an artist's artwork.

"Being an artist gives me a sense of reality and I am allowed to exist outside the bounds of society. I create my own reality.

"In this way, I look at the reality around me and I see what needs to be done. When I use materials, I see what they want me to do to them."

Kristian adds that you have the freedom to be passive:

"Don't forget that you're a spectator in your own production. You’re looking at your own art and you have to practice the art of just looking.

"Seeing a lot of different shows to your own work will help you develop. There is an idea of an artist transforming."

3) Using art to influence society

Jason discusses how art can influence change in society:

"I'm doing art for social change, by creating an organisation that tackles homophobia in football. I’m a gay man so it was a good opportunity for me to raise awareness."

"You should place a value on your artwork and understand that art exists within an art market."

4) The value of an artist's identity

Pascale Carrington says that the identity of the artist can affect the art:

"There’s a pyramid at work among visual artists. The few that are at the top are the well-known artists that have media coverage and are in the public's eye.

"The majority of visual artists are quietly working away and I’d class myself as one of these people. It’s a fortunate position to be in.

"The people at the margins are those that can take the biggest risks with their work. If an artist is established, their identity as an established artist can actually restrict what they can do and stifle their creativity."

Kristian reminds other artist that they should stay true to their own identity:

"I say, 'remember how you got where you are now'. It's not important to be better than another artists. There is no competition.

"Remember that the value of your art is within you. You voluntarily act to make art because you find something valuable in it. Remove the external pressures."

5) Time is valuable

Pascale works full-time during the week, aside her creative career:

"The value on time is important as most artists will also have another source of income, so balancing a job is an element that can be difficult. There never seems to be enough time.

"You will always create change. We force our work to transform, but this will happen naturally anyway."

"However, I’ve noticed that there are different types of time. The time that you give yourself as an artist to allow ideas and to play, is a different type of time that you dedicate to deadlines and the ‘9-5’ job.

"In my museum of miniature found objects, I collect objects that are found on the street, frozen in time with memories and stories attached. My work is an exploration of time and this is self-guiding itself as time goes on."

Kristian's advice would be to set goals as an artist to help you manage your time:

"Set goals that you want for yourself. Think about what you want to be in the next five years. You'll find that this will change and you'll have to reassess."


Do you agree? What do you value as an artist?

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