Saturday, March 22, 2008

Different Bodies of Work

Recently I've been wondering how to handle marketing different bodies of work. I guess I've always had 2 distinct bodies of work - paintings and artist's books. Most of my books haven't really dealt with the same imagery or subject matter as my paintings, so I've kept them separate. I really haven't marketed them much, since there aren't many galleries that carry artist's books. Mostly I've just entered them into juried book shows, when I can find them.

Deanna Wood, At the Park (detail), inkjet prints, chain, pipe, and aluminum
My "main" body of work in painting has been the Seeking Shelter series, dealing with the idea of tornadoes and dreams of tornadoes. I have really enjoyed doing these paintings and I don't feel like I've exhausted all I have to say on the subject.

Deanna Wood, Fragile (in progress), 12" x 12", encaustic and collage on panel
But I have wanted to take a detour every now and then and work on something else. Last year, I collaborated with Trayc Claybrook, where we each created work based on the theme Waxy Buildup. We're in the process of finding a venue for our combined work. We have two that have accepted our proposal, but no firm dates yet.

Deanna Wood, Poise, 12" x 12", collage and encaustic on panel
Some time last year, I began to play around with the idea of "palimpsest." When tablets, paper or parchment was not so cheap and plentiful, people would often scrape off or erase writing and reuse the tablet or sheet for something else. Occasionally the writing that had been erased would reappear. My encaustic process often involves scraping and reusing, so I began to play around with this idea. Initially, the work was too abstract for me, and I felt that I needed some imagery. I decided to incorporate bird silhouettes with the idea that birds sit around silently and listen to our secrets and then fly away with them. So the idea has evolved into hiding and revealing secrets.

Deanna Wood, Whispers, 24" x 36", encaustic and collage on panel
Initially I was worried that this work would seem too decorative or just "pretty*," and too different from my other work. But the feedback I've gotten has all been positive. And I do think it still looks like my work.

OK, so what do I do with it? I've gotten a couple of suggestions from other artists that I admire - one suggested that I contact art consultants and another suggested that I create a few more pieces and approach one particular local gallery.

Alyson Stanfield, in her book I'd Rather Be in the Studio, suggests that each distinct body of work should be marketed differently. "Each body of work that looks like a different person did it will be marketed to a different audience."

I'm sort of doing that. I'm offering the Palimpsest work to my current galleries but also stressing that I'm continuing my Seeking Shelter series as well, and they can have whatever they want. I'm also working on more to build up the Palimpsest body of work to market to new galleries and consultants.

I keep track of all the galleries that I have sent packets to, and I will send them information on my new work. Perhaps they will see potential for the new work that they didn't see in the old.

If you create distinct bodies of work, how do you handle marketing them?

* As in, "not serious." I respond to most art emotionally and tend to be drawn to work that I find "beautiful." I don't know why I avoid that label for my own work.

Now playing: The Sea And Cake - Up On Crutches
via FoxyTunes


Liz said...

I think I am not much help with different bodies of work question, but just wanted to drop in and say it was wonderful to see some of your different styles and to read what you had to say about them... really beautiful, diverse work... I love your piece from the Waxy Build Up series, beautiful open composition.. thanks for sharing all these parts of yourself...

Deanna said...

Thanks, Liz!

Anonymous said...

Deanna, I look forward to seeing the work in person. I have a hunch that you're okay showing them together. One week to go!

CMC said...

Beautiful...I know what you mean. It seems like sometimes people think that beautiful means shallow and therefore not of any real value/meaning. I disagree (of course I would with the kind of work I do)....just do what you love doing and it will show. I love this bird painting as well as the others. I also do collage and it looks different than my paintings.

Casey Klahn said...

I support your marketing different bodies separately. As luck would have it for me, I have two first names (Casey and Kenneth) and can present my art that way.

My problem is my different streams begin to converge.

Nancy Ewart said...

I am a lurker on your blog but just wanted to comment on the "marketing books" question. There's a great list serve which carries a lot of calls for artist's books; I don't know if you would make any sales but it's certainly a fount of information about the whole genre:

Book_Arts-L is a mailing list based at Syracuse University, and managed by
Peter Verheyen.It was founded it in July of 1994. It currently claims over
1400 subscribers worldwide. While a good number are practicing bookbinders and
book-artists, there are also marblers, papermakers, printers, collectors,
curators in libraries, and people just interested in our wide and varied

I do recycled and artists books myself and have decided just to do them for myself as they are very fragile. Also, my prices are so damn cheap to sell and I can't justify practically giving away something that really is unique but isn't appreciated unless you have a "name."