Every Artist Needs An Audience

Triptych, Feathers No. 1

Triptych, Feathers No. 1

Every artist that you know or follow is looking for an audience for his or her work.  How do I know that?  Because if you’re aware of their work, it’s because they chose to make it public, and if they chose to make it public, it’s because they want people – an audience – to be able to see it.

Naturally, having a website and a blog, I include myself in the category of artists looking for an audience.  Looking for an audience is a funny thing, though.  If you look too hard for one, it can create problems for your work.  This can arise, for example, when you start making work based on what you think your audience wants too see.  Go down that road too far, and you run the risk of losing touch with why you started creating work in the first place.  Rather, the creation of work may become an exercise in repeating past successes to please your audience, or becoming preoccupied with trying to ascertain want your audience wants to see so that you can provide it to them.

On the other hand, in an ideal world, you would want to sustain the connections you’ve made with those who have taken an interest in your work.  Changes in your artistic vision or process may result in changes to the work you put out, which can run the risk of alienating those who have followed your work.  It’s not trivial to worry about if your audience will come along with you should your work branch off in a different or unexpected direction.

I suspect my thoughts have wandered off into this space as a direct result of the making of a number of abstract triptych photographs over the last week or so, including the image in this post, “Triptych, Feathers No. 1.”  Over the past year or two, I’ve devoted a lot of my photography time to making landscape photographs.  Probably most of my audience (small though it may be) (but again, thank you sincerely to everyone who’s taken an interest in my photography) has come to know me for this kind of work.

Perhaps oddly enough, I’ve never thought of myself as a landscape photographer.  Early on, I made a number of abstract diptychs, triptychs, and other kinds of subject matter.  While I love landscape photography and don’t anticipate stopping it by any means, I’m excited to have rediscovered a passion for these different kinds of photography, and I look forward to working them into my repertoire.  I’ll just be wondering a little bit if my audience will come along for the ride.

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2 Comments

  1. Posted April 27, 2015 at 8:39 pm by Rick G | Permalink

    I say explore away. I always enjoy seeing artists work in a style other than the one I associate them with. I’ve often wondered what would have happened if some of our well known photographic icons had turned their talents in other directions. For instance, what if Ansel had dabbled in wildlife photography, or if Michael Kenna would switch for a time to macro work? Or how about Cartier Bresson, with his uncanny timing, covering the sports world? Not that I don’t appreciate what they’ve given us, but who can say what the results would have been?

    Speaking of results, your triptych above is fascinating. If you’re inclined to divulge, could you talk a bit about how it was achieved? Are they negatives? Or backlit- perhaps on a light table?
    Gorgeous, regardless of how.

    • Posted April 28, 2015 at 12:39 pm by admin | Permalink

      Thanks, Rick, it would be interesting to see how some of those other artists handled subject matter for which they were less known. I was watching an episode of the Art of Photography podcast by Ted Forbes the other day on the topic of Ansel Adams’ work. Apparently, Adams did quite a few portraits, but Forbes’ opinion seemed to be that the consensus is that Adams’ portrait work generally wasn’t quite on par with his landscape work.

      I’m also reminded of an interview I read on the photographer Huntington Witherill, wherein Witherill said something to the effect that when he transitioned from the high contrast look of his earlier work to the more high key look of his current work, he lost much of his earlier audience, but that the loss was made up for by gaining a new audience for the newer work.

      I’ll be happy to tell you how I created this triptych, but I’ll do it via email since I think some people prefer not to know in order to maintain the illusion. If you don’t hear from me in the next day or two, please remind me at mishagregorymacaw@gmail.com, thanks!

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