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The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal – Part 4

My business partner, Chris MacClure, painter and Founder of International Artist Day reminded me that the perceived value of an art piece is directly proportional to where the prospective buyer sees it hanging.

It sounds shallow, and makes many artists boil with contempt, but the reality is that in many respects, the elite have strong influence over the art world just as they do the wine world. Wine promoters, gallerists, and curators all manufacture sophisticated campaigns designed to artificially inflate value of their respective products. Fake it till you make it!

Art value is not real, it’s perceived, and it’s exactly why hedge art fund investors do so well. They pay homage to P.T. Barnum’sThere’s a sucker born every minute” mantra, which is also known today as a #Trumpism.

It is futile for galleries at this late date to complain about hedge-fund art investment fraud and global scandal when it is contemporary galleries too that built and still stubbornly promote this dynamic, albeit on a much smaller scale. Blue chip galleries raised the bar for everyone, which means all buyers now have well defined expectations of what makes art great, whether it sells for one, or one billion dollars.


In the 80’s I was an executive on an elite team  that sold superstar artists to Donald Trump for his Atlantic City showroom casinos.

Consequently, and this is my personal opinion not that of the IAD, I know firsthand that even an egotistical  blowhard like Trump can be wooed and fooled. The bigger the ego, the easier it is to do. We loved Trump because he overpaid for everything.

Promoters like Trump, and that’s what he is  – a promoter like boxing impresario Don King, operate on perceived, not real value. If you convince buyers who also think like this that your art is worth what you’re asking, and you design the sales proposition properly, it’s possible to entice them.

It is the exact same psychology galleries use, and
a strategy Hollywood agents perfected decades ago.

The music business operates on the “You’re only as good as your last hit” mantra, which basically means, “Yeah you reached the coveted #1 position last week, but what do you have for me today that is just like yesterday, but different? Not too different, just a little different from why I liked you in the first place, and not too esoteric, just enough to stimulate the imagination of people who aren’t artists, you know, the buyers who quit dreaming when they settled into their complacent keep up with the Jones’ lifestyles.

Artists have to always remember that buyers often live vicariously through you. They want to be you, but they literally cannot stomach the risk. Consequently, it follows that if you as an artist don’t take a risk, what is it then that you bring to a buyer’s table? The high value of perfect technical ability maybe, like Robert Bateman? Ah, of course, the mainstay of the pseudo-intellectual buyer who is looking for art to match their walls and staid lifestyle. It’s a mainstream style he helped develop, and he’s done a lot of good for the industry, ecology, and his wildlife charities, but if you’re an artist, good luck competing in an oversaturated market full of similar copycat artists who don’t invest the time. If you want to compete for this audience you need to take the same risk Batman takes by being highly detailed, invest huge amounts of time in each image, and deliver something a little different, but the same on each canvass. Any time you invest that heavily in yourself, whether it is time in front of the canvass, setting a photo scene, or raising your visibility through promotion, you take huge risk, because all we have that is of “real” value is precious time.

A smart artist today, one who actually wants to be able to support themselves so they can create full-time and invest all that time painting in each hair, has to know where the market is going so they can identify the special conditions each genre and style requires. You can’t just show up like back in the day. That luxury is long gone because now everyone is an artist, and some of the part-timers are better than the lifers, which dilutes the professional art market and confuses buyers.

Malaysia mass produces living room art for fifty bucks a canvas that looks so good that sometimes even the pros can’t tell the difference. Social media has pulled the Wizard of Oz’s curtain aside so we can now all see the machinations and manipulations. Some galleries and curators don’t like the reveal, but transparency is progress, so some of the progressive galleries are now scrambling to more seriously integrate themselves into the social media community where they can promote their products transparently as they also figure out how to protect their traditional industry secrets that help keep them competitive.

The reality is that galleries and artists who understand
this concept are already picking low hanging fruit.

Times change. You need to change too.

One of the personal problems way too many artists have is that they produce work to match the drapes instead of producing a piece buyers want to proudly display and talk about. Too many artists play Walmart safe, and then wonder why their work doesn’t sell. Or they create something so esoteric only a small portion of buyers appreciate it, which is fine if you can sell it for $100K, but finding buyers who will repeatedly invest that much in a piece that makes sense to only a tiny psychographic will be a never ending challenge.

If you want to be saleable you have to walk that
fine line between innovation and the comfort zone.

Today, artists are proposing to launch a cultural strike and not work the day Donald Trump is inaugurated. Really? That’s it? I’m beginning to believe what I read about millennials. In my day artists would be plastering the town with protest posters and organizing rallies. Some would even be getting shot. It’s not like we don’t have a lack of things to protest today, but unfortunately not enough artists are taking  the risk to lead the march.

I absolutely understand why U.S. citizens feel a need to do something to protect art and culture, but it’s their strategy I question. Passive aggressive action will not phase someone like Trump. Knowing him and his narcissistic type, in his mind he will consider it a victory because he negatively impacted the boycotters’ revenue stream, and that ultimately, is his goal. He will feel like he won, and his followers will agree.

I do like however what some of the museums are doing. They too agree something has to be done, so many, like The Whitney Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, and the National Museum of Women in the Arts are offering free or pay what you want admissions and doing it in celebration of the First Amendment and free speech. Plus, some are hosting special events themed for the day to bring visibility to the cause. Hopefully artists everywhere will congregate in U.S. art centers and galleries and voice their opinions that day too. We’ll see. ArtNews published a great article with more details.

What about it smaller galleries, what are you doing to mark Trump’s inauguration? Not just hiding out and avoiding issues that negatively impact your livelihood I hope.

The Baltimore Sun is a calling artists out for being too wishy-washy re Trump.

Artists like Meryl Streep have the right idea …

Another challenge artists face today is diversification of the art industry.

Just like the music business, the visual art world
has been fractured into a variety of genres.

Thankfully though, for each genre there is a matching buyer.

Back in the day it used to be easy to choose a musical style. For example you could pick classical, rock, pop, country, blues, and a few more, but today the options are endless with styles like acid-jazz-funk-fusion-kiddy-pop. The same goes for the visual world. It’s even possible today to purchase, for relatively large and surprising sums, digital art, which is made up entirely of pixels and delivered, avec provenance, on a hard drive. Art in this style can sell for upwards of $30,000. The trick is to find a buyer, but again, thanks to social media, it’s relatively easy to identify and network within this community.

Artist Joshua Citarella knows how to disrupt the gallery system, and he does it tongue in cheek in a wildly unique and experimental way. His online art store on Etsy sold fifty-four pieces in 2015, and although none of the sales are groundbreaking from a traditional gallery perspective, it indicates once more that buyers will purchase art online, and even more importantly, because all except one of the purchases were made by people within Joshua’s network, it means collectors also support this new system. When artists like it, and collectors like it, galleries had better like it too and rethink their process.

Think Niche! Niche! Niche in 2017!

Read Part 5 … 

Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6


The 2017 War … of Art

The 2017 War … of Art

6 Part Art Series … by Maurice Cardinal …  Part 5 

The contemporary art world
is just as impacted by globalization
as all other industries.

How we navigate within it however, is unique.

Art buyers in the global community play in a luxurious world and with economic clout to make art purchases in the multimillion-dollar-and-up range. Your artist heart can rage against globalization all you want, but globalisation has spawned an innovative, albeit highly disruptive investment model that will change the landscape dramatically and give artists more opportunities. Hedge fund investment in the arts is here for as long as it generates profit. It won’t go away without legislation, and that could be a very long time coming if at all considering the overall lack of interest by politicians regarding art and culture. The only time bureaucrats have an interest is when they see a photo op.

Kissing chris
. . . . .

It’s called the art business because it’s also about generating revenue so you can continue to make more art without having to juggle three part time jobs.

. . . . .

Opportunities are endless when the status quo/galleries are shaken up and you’re in a community of like minded artists and buyers with complementary styles and goals.
. . . . .

The art community is a friendly place for the most part, but during offer or bid stages it’s as highly competitive as a major league sports arena – we just smile more. When a collector discovers your work online, or at an art fair or gallery, your goal as an artist is to ensure that a comfortable portion of the buyer’s budget finds its way into your world so you can live to fight another day.

Make no mistake, art is war is art.

Like millions of pseudo starving artists, you can fool yourself into thinking your talent and conservative vision are so rare and sought after that buyers will find you through divine intervention simply because you know how to draw a clean circle, but if you think this way, you might want to keep your day jobs.

When large corporations like Red Bull / House of Art and Tiffany & Co get in the fine art market, it’s a good indication gatekeepers like galleries and curators are in an experimental phase and that major change is afoot across the industry.

The marriage of Andy Warhol and Absolute Vodka in the mid 80’s
started a POP Art trend that still lives strong today.

Red Bull is the new Absolut Vodka revisited.

Here’s a list of Corporations that supported the Arts in 2016

FineArtAmerica.com has a long list of digital art selling in the $30 to $1,000 range.

Social Media is radically changing the Contemporary Art Gallery model

250+ Places to Sell Art Online


Is the Traditional Art Gallery Dead?
No, but it’s having a NDE and is gasping .
Here’s what 21 gallerists and curators think …

Galleries Should Act Like Luxury Brands to Survive the Internet

Are Mid-Size Galleries Disappearing, if so, Who’s To Blame?

The TECH World is Buying Art Online, of course they are …

How Tech has Transformed the World of Art Collecting.

The art market in early 2017 is volatile. Values for emerging midrange artists dropped considerably in 2016. According to Artsy, at a Phillips auction last September pieces by Christian Rosa and Hugh Scott-Douglas sold for thirty grand and twenty-two thousand five hundred respectively which was a surprise considering that in recent previous years their works sold in the six figure range. Also, a Lucie Stahl painting estimated to sell for six grand only attracted a bid of just over five hundred dollars. Auction totals dropped considerably for emerging artists.

At Frieze Week, Artsy reported that Phillips totals were down by almost half even though they “maintained 94% sell-through rate by value”. Auction houses reacted by adding more blue chip material and trimming midline artists.

The following paragraph from an Artsy article is painfully cautious …The art world’s resistance to change may be due, in part, to a reluctance of powerful art professionals to divulge their insights. While working on the original version of Art/Work, Bhandari was surprised to find that some people turned down interviews because “they didn’t want to demystify the art world. They liked the power dynamic the way it was,” she recalls. “They said, ‘I don’t want artists to have that information that changes my relationship with them. I like it the way it is.’”

Writer Abigail Cain, also quoted Bhandari and Melber saying “resistance to change may be due, in part, to a reluctance of powerful art professionals to divulge their insights“.
Without a doubt it is why, and mostly why galleries took such a long time to embrace social media. They don’t want to reveal their sales process and strategies.

Galleries have highly detailed sales history reports of their clients and families, information they use during presales and negotiations. When the sales process moves online, the information remains the same, but the face to face relationship is lost. A well designed web presence makes up for the loss of personalisation by  asking questions and tracking prospects as they navigate the site.


When Simon Cowell launched American Idol the music industry went ballistic because Cowell made it obvious to everyone that there is an overabundance of great talent in the world, and that being talented does not guarantee success. The public soon learned that promotion not talent is the critical element. Almost overnight artists had to become “authentic” because talent alone couldn’t differentiate them from the pack. Not real authentic mind you, Hollywood authentic.

A very similar process is now evolving in the visual arts world.

As Yogi said (the Berra not the guru), “It’s déjà vu all over again!”


Read Part 6 … 

Read  the entire series – The 2017 War … of Art
Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6



Fine Art Festival Gala

The International Artist Day Flagship Gala 2016 was a rousing success!

Our walls were filled with incredible art that changed every week.

Our artists, art aficionados, and collectors went home happy.

Check out the videos, articles, and pictures below …

The Ghost of Pablo Picasso was our guest of honour. Picasso’s table turned into a popular spot for guests to hang out and have their picture taken with an icon who is considered one of modern day’s most influential contemporary artists.

Pablo had a very strong rival though in the shape of a
Cubist Cake created by Marilyn Pearson from Cuisine & Company.


Marilyn Pearson of Cuisine and Company and her Cubist Cake …

A Sampling of IAD Friends at Instagram

Click images to Flip Faster

IAD POP UP Gallery 2016

I’m Maurice Cardinal, IAD Partner and Marketing & Promotions Director.

Chris MacClure founded International Artist Day in 2004 and I got onboard just over a year ago to help introduce the IAD to even more cities around the world.


Homebase for International Artist Day is in White Rock, and it is here where we have traditionally held our flagship event. White Rock is a sleepy little seaside touristy town just outside of Vancouver. It’s a beautiful place chock full of artistic and creative people – kind of like Sante Fe  or Carmel North. You can’t walk down the street or go into a coffee shop with bumping into a painter, photographer, musician, writer, or art promoter.

White Rock is between Vancouver BC and Seattle Wa … pure sunshine by the sea.


The walls were bare last week in our POP UP Gallery, but enthusiasm ran high.

The pic above is of Chris MacClure (far right) and Marilyn Hurst  (far left) on site at the temporary space and making plans.

We took a look at our empty space on Friday afternoon, and by mid day Saturday it actually started to look like a real fine art gallery.


Chris with a painting by Jill Charuk – a little higher Chris and to the right, perfect!

In years past we’ve celebrated International Artist Day on October 25  – a tribute to Picasso’s birthday, but this year the celebration will last for the entire month of October, which means an incredible amount of work for all of our wonderful volunteers.

Our GALA though is still on October 25th and promises to be a blowout event!



We transformed an empty storefront into an impressive gallery in three days.

Artists started arriving Friday night with art deliveries, and by Saturday morning we had set up a Greeting & Signing in station. ArtistsSignUp1000-520SigningingIn1000-953


We are excited and will be ready to launch our 2016 IAD Festival on October 4 so come out and join us at 1459B Johnston Rd in UpTown White Rock in the street level storefront adjacent to the Bosa Towers and Rexall Drugs.

Our opening on the 4th starts at 6:00pm and goes to 9:00. The main theme of the day will be our well anticipated 12 x 12 Anonymous Show where local artists (well known & emerging), contribute small paintings  – ALL PRICED AT JUST $150.00 

You won’t find a better deal for fine art in the region so come early before the painting you want is gone!


QF Art Atelier

For the second time, the first was in 2014, Qatar Foundation is organizing a fine art event called QF Art Atelier. It is a creative platform for local artists to showcase their work.

The 2014 event, which was also affiliated with International Artist Day, was attended by fifteen artists. It received tremendous publicity from the art community as well as the State of Qatar and it is expected the 2016 event will have even greater impact and success.

Their 2nd event in 2016 will feature ten artists, who will work in a live studio.

It will be themed Art in Action and will last for an entire week from October 20th to 27th.

During Art in Action each artist will receive two canvases and supplies to create their work.

Their Art Clique on  October 25th will coincide with International Artist Day – a day the IAD celebrates contributions artists make to society. The QF event will include an intimate gathering of all the artists who will sit down to discuss art culture in the State of Qatar, art history, and various aspects of the art industry that affect the art community.

The Art in Action exhibition will open on October 30th in the AaQool Atrium, Community & Recreation Center, Qatar Foundation – Education City and run until  November 11th.

Qatar Foundation has developed installations like Graffiti Art Wall

The foundation’s Event Logistics and Support Supervisor, Ameera Mohammed Al-Aji, is a brilliant artist in her own right. Her latest project is called “Different” and is both an intellectual and artistic representation of the challenges of humanity respective of change.

Ameera Mohammed Al-Aji … Different Installation

Learn more about International Artist Day Events here … 

The Path of an Artist

The art world is confusing for most folks, including artists.

written by  … Marilyn Hurst

The information age has a hidden downside – the tendency to categorize, label or define to such a great degree often leaves little room for maneuverability and flexibility.

Paradoxically, immediate access to the internet brings many variables to ideas. Theories and long held beliefs are often quickly thrown into the foray without much research or fact checking. We need to be more flexible and adaptable if we are to stay on top of our game.

The “artist” label has as many definitions as there are those who pontificate them.

Academia, museum curators, art dealers, auction houses, art critics and gallery owners all differ in their ideas of art and artists, so how does one navigate their way around when each has its own set of rules, principles, and philosophies?

The truth is that whatever you decide will never be a right or a wrong decision. However, if you can’t follow your heart, you will eventually become lost. If your “heart” wants you to paint doe-eyed cats, well – don’t expect much of a career in fine arts, but you could have a good commercial career. A certain amount of experience and wisdom borrowed from a mentor is a good place to start.

Even if you’ve gained skill in your craft and a modicum of excellence, you still need to pay the bills to keep going, and this is where artists need to get truly innovative. Quite often artists don’t want to think about the “S” word – sales, as if it were something sordid.

One thing is certain though, if you can’t pay your way – you’ll lose your way!

Art groups are a good introduction to shows, exhibitions, and camaraderie, which are all important because the feedback from fellow artists and their humor and stories gives you confidence to keep going in the direction your work is taking you.

Successful emerging artists do what it takes to cultivate a following for their work. The reality is that you need devoted art buyers and investors to sustain your career over the long run. It’s not a good idea to label or judge another artist, their work, or even yours for that matter. The public will decide what is valid and will often support you if you are humble. It’s also important to realize art is a lifetime learning process, and the harder you work the better you get. It’s exciting for art collectors to see growth and expansion, and to know you have courage to continue despite the hard effort required to make art a profession.

In the beginning it’s probably best to not too strongly classify your style. The artistic soul evolves and you will inevitably explore many different genres over the years before settling into a personal “look.”

For confirmation of that ideology, just look to Picasso.

Marilyn Hurst