The New Paradigm
The New Paradigm is a call to action for all artists all over the world to change the current system of finance and the arts. As artists, you are free to create new structures, new ideas, and new ways of making a living from your art. Some of that may include selling shares of your work to the highbrow collector end (like Christo and Jeanne-Claude), or trading your artwork for services like medical bills and groceries, or exhibiting in local libraries and coffee shops. But there are many more ways, some still to be invented by you!
As artists, there is collective power as well as individual power, and if a movement is created that supports artists, like a new educational system with real-world tools for funding your career, wouldn’t you join?
This book is the seed of a better world for artists, a new educational system that is cocreative. The new paradigm I am proposing is for artists to continue to seek opportunities outside of the traditional system.
Short Examples of Self-Made Artists from Outsider to Insider
There is always the question of nature or nurture; that is, can an artist be self-made, or is she only a product (more or less) of her culture, history, mentors, family, and luck? In Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers, he makes the argument that there is no such thing as a self-made man (or woman) but that everything is a matter of parenting, historic context, hard work, and unique opportunities. It is my belief that artists can indeed be self-made, so to speak, and that connections can be made across class structures and in spite of economic difficulties. Hard work is a given, but you don’t have to have the greatest parents or be in the right place at the right time to succeed.
My story is one of the first cases that easily illustrates this and, of course, informs much of my thinking for this book. Simply put, I worked at many different jobs such as carpenter, artists’ assistant, waiter, and more to pursue being an artist.
I opened a gallery and started publishing a magazine, and I had no background in business. My parents were both teachers, and I went to public school. I had an idea how to begin a business, and I asked people how I could do it, and it turned out that the nonprofit structure of raising money by asking people for support worked very well for me, and that is how I began the gallery and magazine. I left those businesses after nine years and went to New York without being represented by a gallery, and I was in the Whitney Biennial within two years. I was still working as an artist’s assistant when I got to New York City, but I was looking around and asking anyone I could if they could tell me how artists get shows at galleries and museums. I began writing directly to museum directors, curators, and galleries. Since then, I have been a working artist who has gotten sponsorship directly from companies and have also had direct support from collectors and patrons. I believe you can do the same in many parts of the world, regardless of your financial and family background.
I am not trying to say that we don’t all have different situations with different degrees of difficulty in getting your art and your dream recognized, but I am saying it is possible, and I am one example, and there are many others. In this book I will give you more detail and insight into the recipe of a self-made artist, but for now, just think of the writer J. K. Rowling. Her story is now well-known, but she was quite poor at the time she began writing Harry Potter and, with a grant, was able to finish her book. The material in that book was, of course, compelling and exciting to read, but nevertheless, she is a rags-to-riches story that is worth keeping in mind.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.