Episode 56 – The Art World Demystified by Brainard Carey / Vicki DaSilva cont’d / Artist Wanted

Vicki DaSilva interview continued.

Carey: It’s amazing and that was a $10,000 prize?

DaSilva: Yeah and so it was a great moment for me because the New York Times was doing an article on  on “Artist Wanted” and on these companies that they’re trying to give more opportunities to artists via the internet, that these companies are finding artists through the internet and trying to give exposure to people who are either young or old or anything in between, just based on their work. It was a really refreshing, great thing because we all know that the art world is very structured and it has traditional hierarchies as any other traditional company does. People are vetted. You have to be really in the inner circle sometimes to breakthrough.

So this was a really great opportunity for me not only to have my work exposed on Times Square but it ended up in the article of the Art section of the New York Times on June 18, 2012. So I had a half a page image of the Never Sorry and I then got contacted by someone who had been working with Ai Weiwei in some kind of Twitter or Tumblr fashion and shared the image with him and he told me that he had seen it and he liked it. It just was mind blowing and at that moment I thought wow, everything is just going to take on its own. Everything’s going to come to me from this point but it doesn’t work that way.

It became an opportunity but I also knew better because I was winning this prize at 52 years old and I was actually kind of shocked that they picked someone who wasn’t younger, and that it was really based on the work itself. I was really proud of that, and I was proud that it happened the way it did because it was so organic and I didn’t have to ask for anybody’s help. It just happened the way that you kind of dream it happening. So I was wise enough to realize that this is an opportunity, it’s probably not all going to come to me yet – some things are going to come, opportunities are going to arise but it’s an opportunity for me to take this moment and go to every single person that wouldn’t look at my work before and have the images on my phone, two images. One image from the New York Times, “Hi, would you look at my work now?”  And just put it in front of them. I know the worst thing that you’re told never to do is to go to art fairs and ask gallerists anything if you’re an artist because they’re busy selling their artist’s work but you’ve got to have your own guerilla work there and your own guerilla marketing. So I would just take that opportunity, you have to be have your timing, it has to be right.

But you know, you have a little conversation, I was some artist and would say, “I know I’m not supposed to do this but I’m so excited, can I show you one thing.” And they’ll go, “yeah.” Because they’re curious, you make them curious and they’ll look at it. Would you look at my work? “Not now.” “Can I send you something? Can I follow up?”, “Sure.” So that’s how it works. If we get lucky and we get opportunities through our hard work to gain something, you’ve got to use it, you’ve got to put it out there and just ask because all anyone really can say is no and if they do respond to the work they’re not going to say, “No, we’re not dealing with you because asked me at the Armory Art Fair.” They’re going to be like, “Wow, you’re ballsy. You freakin’ have guts to do that.”

Carey:  Interesting.

DaSilva:  I really believe in that, it’s never too late. So I’m represented and I’m working with a few different galleries. The one I’m most affiliated with and represented by is Cheryl Hazan Contemporary which is in Tribeca. But but I’m still looking for other opportunities and I’m still kind of a free agent. I’m doing my own shows because it’s important, I have to, it’s important to me to make my living from selling my work.

And I firmly believe that I could be selling shoes or I could be selling art but whichever way I’m going to make it happen. So you can make arrangements with galleries too that enable you to work with them but enable you to work with others. Anything can be ironed out to work for everybody. It’s just a matter of negotiation. So that’s been really great and I do thank her for that I also thank Woodward Gallery. Kristine and John were awesome and they gave me a great opportunity last spring to have a solo show in the lobby of the iconic Four Seasons restaurant and so that put my work in front of the clientele that goes to do a power lunch at the Four Seasons. I sold several pieces to them and this kind of thing just keep going, you take it a day at a time, a year at a time and every year my chart goes up a little bit. It’s not a dramatic rise but it’s a steady increase so that’s the good news.

Carey: It’s very exciting to talk to you, Vicki. In closing is there something you want to say to the people who are listening to this that are now thinking, wow, that sounds great maybe I can do what she’s doing or maybe they’re thinking I can’t do what she’s doing. I’m not as aggressive or as driven as you are. Is there anything you want to say?

DaSilva:  Well, if you want to sell your work that’s one frame of mind, one business aspect, that’s the business side. If you want to sell your work you have to be aggressive. If you don’t want to sell your work and you just want to make work and show work, however you can that’s absolutely fine too. You don’t have to sell your work at all if you don’t want to.  But if you’re trying to make a living with your work there are ways to do it and you just have to kind of see it as you would sell anything else and even though art is particular, you pick your price point based on your experience and based on your sales record.

I give a lot of work away to people just as presents or whatever to try and get into, get selling something. I’ve sold stuff to my accountant for their office. They go and do my taxes and say, “You guys charge a pretty penny for this, you should have one of my works on the wall.” This goes both ways. You just have to ask. All they can say is, “no, thank you” and you say, “okay” but you’ve done your job and you feel so much better if you’re trying to sell your work by asking because it’s really just a matter of asking enough time to enough people, someone will say yes eventually, it’s probability. I believe that.

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.


Episode 55 – The Art World Demystified by Brainard Carey / Vicki DaSilva cont’d / Art Takes Times Square

Vicki DaSilva interview continued.

Carey: So let’s talk about what you applied to, so in 2012 you applied to?

DaSilva: There was a new organization called “Artists Wanted” that had been around for over a year or two. And they were putting on competitions for fine art to try and give artists new opportunities and they were offering significant prizes of $10,000 and showing your work in Times Square, this kind of elaborate type project. And I thought, “Wow this is incredible,” and it’s a part of our internet age where when you have the numbers coming in and most of these competitions you would have to pay something for like to enter $25, $30, $50 but this particular competition which was called, Art Takes Times Square was free. It was free if you got a certain amount of votes, you set up your website through them, your page through them and if you got a certain number of votes, you would go on to the next round of voting and so forth but there are also was an option to pay $25 to skip that process of voting and go right to the next round of judging.

So I choose that because I’m not the big fan of vote for me, vote for me. So I chose that and I got to the next round, and that’s rolling round, and I ended up winning. I honestly never dreamed that I would win but it was amazing.  And in April of 2011 I was working at, I’d got permission from the city of Easton, Pennsylvania to work at the Simon Silk Mill which was being redeveloped but still extremely raw and abandoned.

So they gave me a permit and access to go in there at night. And we worked in there for about a month and in that time, in April, was when Ai Weiwei was arrested and detained by the Chinese police. So the documentary by Alison Klayman was already in the process called Never Sorry and I had wanted to do a text piece, my first text piece that would be from floor to ceiling in an interior, abandoned, factory space and we got these scaffolds and I didn’t know yet what I was going to do but when this whole thing went down with Weiwei, I decided that okay, I’m going to write “Never Sorry” along 6 panels of this giant space in one single frame time exposure.

So I worked on that for several days because it took practice to get it to the point where I was satisfied with the handwriting. I made that and I showed the image and Weiwei was released after 81 days. He was released the night before my opening. So I was like, wow that’s amazing. This is just a personal thing, like, wow, cool. So then after that I entered this competition and I guess it was like early January of 2012. I entered that.

So that was what really interested the judges, that particular element of my work and because of the timing, the stars aligned and everything was happening with Ai Weiwei, the movie was actually coming out in that summer as well, in June. So this whole thing kind of swelled and it just – I was actually in Canada in … and I got the phone call and I actually didn’t believe it. I was like, “Who is this?” and they said “Oh, …” I didn’t answer the phone, it was on the cellphone and I didn’t want to answer it because of charges so, “Who’s that?” and then I look at it and “That’s weird” so I called the number and he said, “Oh yeah we have some questions about your entry.” And I was like, “Oh, okay, what’s up?” And then they were saying, “Well, we looked at it, we looked at all your work, we’ve been researching you for a while.” And then they said, “Hold on a second.” And there was like a group of people and he said, “Well, we’re here in the office. We want to tell you something. Congratulations, you won the Art Takes Times Square!” I was like, “Oh my God, really?” And there was just like this great moment for myself that I had really broken through to an opportunity –  not even because of the $10,000 prize which is great because I can buy a camera but because my work would be on the 13 of the most iconic billboards in Times Square simultaneously at night for the month of July.

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.