YaeL and I had a very deep conversation on many topics. We discuss how her relationship with her collectors is built around individual pieces, how she leverages her strength in organizing to quickly adapt to an array of art competitions, and how she finds inextricable value in her gallery relationships.
- Music by Old Romans: https://www.instagram.com/old_romans
You can listen to the episode here (or wherever you listen to podcasts) or read the transcript below:
Ad Read: Women’sWheel.co
HT: Hi, I'm Melissa Elizabeth for the Heart Temple.
CA: And I'm Nick Ribera with Chain Assembly.
HT: And together we've designed a project called Women's Wheel.
CA: It's based on the philosophy of women evolving with the seasons. And new modern archetypes that exist within those seasons.
HT: This new way of thinking is presented in a core set with many items and activities designed to further understanding between you and the women around you.
CA: Much more than self-help, these tools are for one or more participants in a community growing setting.
HT: Learn more about the Women's Wheel Core Set and its development at www.womenswheel.co.
Art Advice with Gianna Pergamo
D YaeL Kelley: I didn't get the opportunity, but...
Chain Assembly: Alright, well, I am here with D. Yael Kelly, under the name Yael, I guess is what you go with. And Yael is an amazing artist that I've met because we are in the same neighborhood, the Artist Enclaves of Historic Kenwood. And Yael has been selling art since she was 14. So, um... Long time. So, thank you for taking some time to talk to me.
DYK: Yeah, my pleasure, my pleasure.
CA: So, I mean, before we started recording, we were talking about Anne Rice, because I came into her gorgeous studio and saw Vampire Armand on the table, and we were excited about how the trailer for season two on AMC just came out. So you said you liked Memnoch the Devil?
DYK: I did. I mean, so few people did like it. Yeah. And I think Anne Rice got really kind of perturbed with her following, because I think they didn't follow her through that process. Right. She was going through so much.time as far as just battling with her own spirituality or her own faith and so on and so forth. She'd come into the church, left the church, gone back to the church, you know. But I think that, you know, like all of us artists, that anything that's going on in our lives is resonating within our work. So I look at it from the point of view of I found that a rich undertone to reading her novel at the time. So I think I had an appreciation a little bit more. But I could see the frustration. And again, it was after a long period where she'd been just one novel after the other. So I think you reach saturation points. Sometimes you gotta have a little bit of a break.
CA: Well, I know she doesn't let anyone edit her books. Well, yeah. And so I think that kind of, for me personally, that became an issue when her books were less about the story and more about the characters' emotions, I guess, for lack of a better term. As we were saying, I didn't really care for Prince Lestat because if you tell someone the plot of this 500 page book, you're done in about five sentences?
DYK: Yeah, and see, I found it rich. And probably the Prince Lestat had been the first time I'd read anything in probably a decade. And so I came back to it a decade older myself, and I just turned 63 yesterday. So that kind of gives you a, I was reading, you know the books as they came out, so I followed her through her whole career. And for me, my own artwork has evolved from, you know, I started selling when I was 14. And I was portrait artist, I was trained in England. And so I did portraits and landscapes. And then I took a 10-year period where I actually ran a theater. And while I painted for that theater and was like the stealth scenic artist, I wasn't doing easel work. And my whole process changed when I came back. So it was like I watched her really having Lestat at the beginning of the books, the first three books. It was more the antagonist. It was definitely the antagonist in the interview.
CA: Yeah. I'm pretty sure she didn't expect him to be her most exciting character when she wrote the first one.
DYK: Well, I think she herself, the process she was going through was, you know, you don't know how these people are going to involve in your mind. It's like I used to say, I left the country to get an education because I just abhorred expressionist art. I mean, just couldn't stand it. I wanted a traditional education, so I left. And now what is my art? It's expressionist, right?
CA: So this was in England you said you were studying?
DYK: Yeah, yeah. I went to England in 1982, the beginning of 82. I didn't come back till the middle of 88. So I was there for a number of years. But It's that kind of thing where you don't think. I think Anne Rice, you can look at her life through her books. You should be able to look at any artist's life. And so for me, I guess, for me, the way I work is process and pattern. I don't know what I'm going to do next, right? I mean, I approach painting from being inspired by something and just researching it and letting it go to its end. I have no idea when I start painting what I'm going to get to.
CA: Well, it's funny you bring that up because I was just recording an episode yesterday where we were kind of Me and the other artists were just reacting to questions people were posting on reddit under the art advice subreddit community and one of the questions that was there was like Do I keep doing the same thing over and over again? even if I'm not having fun and then another person asked like how do you develop a style and I think those two things kind of go hand-in-hand is because you need to keep practicing the same image over and over.
DYK: Well, you have to refine your craft. So the first part, whether you're a writer or you're a performer or you're a painter, you have to take the time it takes to become a master at your field. So you can't go, I'm gonna be a fabulous pianist, but I'm never going to practice. You have to put thousands of hours in. So they say, I once heard, and I don't know who this is, certainly not my quote, my original thought, but it was something I read, and I don't remember who to attribute it to, but they said it takes 600 paintings before you do your first capable painting. Now, when you're starting out, you think, I can't do 600 paintings in my life. As a person who's done thousands of painting in my life, I have to say what I'm able to do now, which looks very unstructured. I could not do had I not been under such a structured way of learning, a traditional way of learning portraiture, which is so focused. I mean, I had an art teacher at one point say to me, you need to take a year of drafting. And I went, oh, I don't think so. I mean, I can't imagine anything being more horrific than sitting, measuring carefully. I freehand everything. But did it teach me something important? Yeah, I did. Did I hate every minute of it? Yes, I did. I think that's, that is fine when you're starting. I think you definitely don't want to come to a point where that is, you shouldn't be doing as an artist in your mid-career and you're, you know, beyond your beginning, your emerging career. Do what you love, do what's authentic, do what moves you deeply. You've got to trust your own process and that's how you develop your own style sitting and copying the masters, understanding why they painted, what they painted, the political atmosphere of the time, what they were doing, why they were doing, what their personal life was. All of that's going to be there in the paintings. Yeah, every individual piece has years of practice behind it that you don't see on the canvas. So many people go, how much is that? And you know, how long did it take you to paint? I mean, that's like the common thing. How long did it take you to paint that? And a lot of times I say, you know, It's not how long it took me to paint it, it's how many years I spent learning my craft to be able to paint it.
CA: Right. Yeah. Yeah, you're not going to ask a lawyer how long did it take you to draft up that document.
DYK: Exactly. Yeah, because that's not what they're charging you based on. Right, exactly. I always tell people, do you pay your plumbing? Because the artist class, we have such trouble getting paid for our work. And so often we are doing three or four things to be able to do what we love. And I say, you know, do you play your plumber? You ask your AC guy if he's any good? You know, do you, you know, you expect to pay these people. Why is it that art is something different? And a lot of times people will go, well art, you know, oh, but you love what you do. But yes, I am a craftsman, like in the Renaissance.
DYK: You know, in the Renaissance, I would have been a member of the Gold Guild, and I would have been getting commissions from the state or the church. And I would have been expected to create what I needed to create. Now within that is there creativity? Absolutely. But there's also a respect for the creative class, which I see in Europe and I wish we in America could get back to.
CA: So let's compare the business side of what you experienced in England versus what you experienced in the United States. In England, were you like, I have no idea what the rules of small businesses, but like, did you create an LLC to do commissions and do those portraits?
DYK: I didn't create an LLC until quite late on. It was a sole proprietorship for years. It wasn't until I started having people coming to my studio as opposed to going to a gallery to buy where there became liability. And then you want to separate. When your business gets to a certain point, if you do an LLC, there's not a lot involved in that. You've got to file. And it's not hard. It's extremely easy to do. And you can set up an LLC by yourself…. Please excuse my dog drinking water in his drinking bowl there. Well, I mean, this could be a three-person conversation then. Exactly.
CA: What's your little pup's name?
DYK: His name is Riley, and he is 16.
DYK: Yeah, he's an old guy. So he's very oblivious of us having this conversation because he doesn't really hear anymore.
CA: So is that a golden doodle?
DYK: He's actually an Australian labradoodle. He's a great guy.
CA: I've got a mini golden doodle that looks just like him, but half the size.
DYK: We're, you know, when Riley decides to leave us, when we get another dog, we're gonna actually go down a little bit. I've always had huge dogs all my life, and he's actually a smaller dog at 45 pounds than I've ever had. But yeah, we're gonna go size.
CA: As I was walking up here, I was like, oh no, I forgot to ask her if she has cats.
DYK: Oh, are you allergic?
CA: Yeah. Yeah.
DYK: Oh, but no, they're hyperallergenic.
CA: Yeah, I'm glad you got dogs. I got, like I said, I got three dogs, so I'm fine with dogs, but Oh my gosh. If there's a cat within a block of me, my eyes swell up.
DYK: Oh no, you like my daughter? She's that way too. I don't think I'm missing anything. Dogs are way better anyways. Oh, you know, I've had all kinds of animals. I'm so, exotic animals, and um I've loved every one of them. I've loved taking time to get to know their personality, watch them. So I have to tell you, but you know, I do have to admit that I love cats, but they are kind of like little serial killers. You know? I have to watch my squirrels. I, you know, I feed all my squirrels and I have lots of squirrels that have gotten very friendly with me. And I always worry about the hawks and the cats.
CA: Yeah. So what does your day look like as a working artist then?
DYK: I get up, I have this nice combination of coffee, tea, and steamed oat milk.
CA: How do you do your coffee? I'm curious.
DYK: Oh, I do my nespresso. I have nespresso, so I put a shot of espresso into, and then I make tea by the pot, having lived in England. When I lived in England, I'd say, would you like a cup of tea? Because everybody offers, if somebody comes to your house, would you like a cup of tea? And they would always, as knowing I was American, go, how do you make your tea? You don't put a tea bag in a cup, do you? It's like, no, I make a pot of tea. So I make a pot of tea and then I...
CA: Well, you still have to put like a diffuser in the pot, right? Well, it depends on the kind of tea, but yeah, I mean, a lot of tea pots have, you know, the old style tea pots have a screen. I know it sounds very American, not knowing it. Well, at home we make tea in many different ways. I don't know what the standard is in England. Is that standard?
DYK: Oh, in England. No, people use bags in England.
CA: Oh, well then. Yeah, oh, come on now. I know they don't microwave their water.
DYK: No, a lot of people I didn't have I didn't even have a dryer and my washing machine when I live now It's different now, but I lived there in the late 80s at that time You still had to pull your washing machine up to your sink I put two little hoses on it hot and cold and then you took a wooden spoon and you fished your Wash.
DYK: Well, they also have two faucets in England, right? Right?
CA: No mixers. Yeah, and that gets really hot And even if you mix it it gets hot right on one side cold on the other. But yeah, so I get up in the morning, I make a cup of tea and put a little bit of coffee in it in the morning. I have a pot of tea going all day long. And then I try to do, I try to look at my day, set my studio up. I'm usually painting sort of three to six pieces at a time.
CA: Yeah, I'm looking behind you, I see four easels. Are they all part of the same set or?
DYK: This is part of the same series.
CA: Okay, yeah.
DYK: And I broke my neck in a car accident when I was 17.
DYK: And so I've dealt with pain my whole life. And I can't sit and paint, I have to stand. I have to have all my easels are set up, as you see, at standing length. I come over here, but I'll also show you this is fine. Everything's on a…
CA: I don't know if the audio is picking you up from that far away, but the easels rotate.
DYK: The easels rotate 360 degrees.
CA: That's fantastic.
DYK: Oh yeah, because my work doesn't have an up or down oftentimes.
CA: Do you ever, I mean this is probably silly, but in that regard, do you go into a gallery and be like, oh no, that's upside down?
DYK: No, actually I don't. You know, galleries think I'm kind of fun because I'll go in and they'll go, do you have speci- because many artists have extreme specifications about how their work is viewed. For me, when I finish a painting, my relationship with the painting, because it's so deep and it's based on a color or a shadow or a line, the flow of a particular line that's very organic, it does no longer represent, it becomes representative in some ways sometimes, my work does, but it's just a process of becoming what it wants to be and having a communication with it. It's much cheaper than paying a therapist.
CA: And you get paid from it.
DYK: And people pay me, right? Yeah, so my therapy is actually paid for by the public, which is lovely. But when I'm done, I am done. People say, how can you let go of things? I'm like, you know, the process for me is when the paintings stop speaking to me and we start stop having that and I feel this sense of, this is finished. I can no longer see anything that needs to be finished. My work is thin oil glazes and up to 100 layers of thin oil glazes. So, you know, that's a real in-depth communication that's going on.
CA: In that regard, do you ever have pieces that you find hard to get rid of? Like you wanna keep it, you wanna hang it?
DYK: You know, the only time I've done that is I've had, I've been privileged to have, to work with writers and playwrights and people who have used my work as a jumping off point for their own work. I've been involved in a number of Ephrastics. Are you familiar with what Ephrastics is? Ephrastics is where you have a visual artist create a piece. Then you give that piece to a writer. Could be a poet, it could be a playwright, any kind of writer, and they will write about their experiences with the piece, and then the piece is performed. And so they'll have an area like Softwater Studios has done this.
CA: It's kind of like an exquisite corpse but not just illustration.
DYK: Yeah, kind of, not exactly like an exquisite corpse. Well, that's a different... I've done exquisite corpse as well. And that's another process that's lots of fun to work with other artists in. But no, if for us, it's that piece has another life. So that piece there is called White Raven Speaks. Right. That piece...
CA: For the listener, it's a large canvas of blue and white swirls. then attached to the middle of it is a smaller canvas that has a figure surrounded by mostly white and blue swirls.
DYK: Right, and it's actually, if you look at it, it's a girl, it's a small child, and the white swirls on the smaller canvas are actually white ravens. And then the white, black and white, I mean, not black and white, the red and white, if you look at that and you follow it back, that's a woman's face.
CA: Mmm. Oh, okay.
DYK: It's an autobiographical piece about a family cultural piece. And the spiral is very important in my work. I use it over and over. So this piece, I took it into the gallery that was representing me at the time. And then I had the opportunity, a playwright said, I want to write about that. I really want to work with that piece. And they had just become involved in a nephrastic. They said, would you take the piece back? And work with me and we've been developing over the last several years on, you know, it's been performed, a small play. They did it at the Frastic. And Eugenie Bondurant, do you know her? She's an actress in town. And Angela Bond, there's a couple of professional actors who worked with Elizabeth Brinklow on the piece and she was the playwright. So it was performed in several places, but she has been involved in that piece for a number of years writing about it and it's going to be a full play eventually. So I still have the piece. That's cool. And it's just because we're not done with it. So usually it's only that kind of a situation where I pull back a piece and then come back to it or have it, but otherwise no, I'm ready for it to go out into the world. You were saying, like my day. So my day is I get up and I usually have a cup of tea and get started with glazes because of the way I paint, I can glaze all six paintings. I can keep this working all day long. So I can work all day with those. And I'll take a break in the afternoon, usually, and catch up with admin. So if I have shows I'm applying for, I need to take care of business details, I'll take a break in the afternoon and do that. And then I come back to paint. And then depending on how loud the paintings are screaming at me, I try to stop at dinnertime and then like have family balance.
CA: Do you find it hard to kind of shift your brain from like creative to business? Or not really? No.
DYK: OK, good.
CA: Me neither.
DYK: You know what? It's all the same thing. And when I'm doing business, I'm giving my break. I might not have a paintbrush on my hand, but I'm giving myself time to kind of percolate things that are. And also, time is very important for me because the painting has no direction. Like all of these just happen. I start with a color or a line, literally. Every day is different. Every minute is different. If I go out for two hours and come back in, I may see something utterly different in what I'm painting. And I allow that process to evolve in an organic fashion. I allow it to just change. So sometimes a painting may start out in a particular color scheme and change utterly by the end of it. It's interesting to look at a series of minds. So if you see something and it says like, The Waters of Transformation is a series I just finished. Every one of those pieces started out inspired by the same exact thing. And yet, everyone finishes being something totally different.
CA: So in your mind then, a series is, I guess, pieces that have all originated from the same spark?
CA: But I guess also, are they generally close to each other chronologically in their creation?
DYK: Oh, sometimes yeah, because they're happening simultaneously. Okay, so you do them simultaneously when it's a series. Right, so there's six pieces up in that series. Now this series is a little different because I had a situation where I became ill, my husband became ill, went into the hospital, and my father almost died. I went into the hospital. And so I didn't get to paint for almost a month and a half. And I'm painting towards a show at Woodfield in January. And so I'm undertaking 30 paintings. I've been painting for the last year to get 30 new pieces. So I knew where my next series was going because I was starting from that big red jasper there but I hadn't gotten to undertake it. When I got to undertake it, I was only able, because I was dealing with family members that I was taking care of, to have a couple of hours to devote at a time. So instead of normally getting six paintings up, I wanted to have that input for myself, that healing for myself. So I wanted to undertake them one at a time, which is, I don't generally do that. So each one started and got well underway before I started the next one. But that was very healing for me having been through sort of a near-death experience for my father and all of that. So, you know, I could channel that into the work and I could channel that into being able to keep myself in a positive way and in a positive state and move forward through those processes, which were also very healing, the process I was going through.
CA: So in regards to how sellable some pieces are, if it's in a series, does that make it move faster? Versus if it's on its own?
DYK: You know, it totally depends on the collector. I mean, I had a situation where I did a series of five paintings. The first one sold, there were four. One woman came in and bought all four pieces. And she when she had them installed in her home, she actually installed them in different orientations. Even though I have I'll have a favorite orientation, but I never tell. I mean, people see what I find is people react very much. My work is emotional. It's meant to. That's exactly what it's meant to do. So you may have an emotional reaction to something and it may trigger a memory for you. It may take you to a specific place. Certainly it does me when I'm painting them. And when you have that memory, you may say, oh, this reminds me of, you know, when I was walking the mountains and I had lunch and I laid down in the grass where I was and, you know, I had the this experience where I was looking at something. And those feelings that you're relating to me are often exactly the feelings that I was exploring with the painting, that I was having when I was calling up a memory. Because for me, a lot of this is, it's like the cultural memories my grandmother raised me, because both my parents worked. And they were, my father adopted me, and my biological father was out of the picture. It was very traumatic when he was in the picture. All of those things, so for me, I'm working through these things. And oftentimes somebody will come back to me and say, this makes me feel this way, it reminds me of this, this, and this. And I said, your memory is utterly different than mine as far as that goes, but your emotional response to pieces is exactly what I was experiencing. And that, for me, is a tremendous success. Yeah, that's going to be very rewarding. Yeah, I mean, and it's kind of like, I had a gallery I was hanging at and...At the time, my mother had passed away in 2012, and we went through hospice together, her and I. I meant my whole family, but my personal experience with being there 24-7 at the end. And so I painted two years about that experience, about going as far as you can go with someone. And my mother had dementia. So it was like she was in and out, and she was seeing things that weren't there.
CA: I'm going through that right now.
DYK: Oh, yeah. It is. It is really tough. Be present. The advice I would give you is, my mother would like, when she stopped eating, she was still eating. And I, unlike, many people will come and visit people in hospital, in hospice. And they will sit and they will visit with whoever else is in the room, but not with the person who may not be able to communicate at that point. I was taught to sit with animals, to sit in a very non-verbal state as part of my upbringing. And so I was very present with my mother watching, watching people that I could not see come into the room, watching her interact with people that were very obviously there for her, watching her pick things up off an empty tray, pick a drink up off an empty tray. She had an experience in hospice that even the nurses said, we've never experienced the calm that your mother was experiencing and the support of a family in just being present. And it was a transformative experience. It was not in any way a negative experience.
CA: So...Somewhat related to this, I don't know if you've seen the, I just recently saw the movie Doctor Sleep, which was the sequel to The Shining.
DYK: Oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yeah, yeah, I've seen it.
CA: And I really resonated with that scene in the movie when older Danny from The Shining is working in a hospice situation and he can identify when someone's gonna pass and he'll go and just spend time with that person.
CA: Yeah to make sure that someone's with them, guiding them through that process. I thought that was really beautiful.
DYK: Oh, yeah. That movie resonated with me wonderfully.
CA: I was mad I didn't see it in the theater because I only saw it a few weeks ago.
DYK: Oh, wow. Wow. Yeah, it was a wonderful film. It was a wonderful film and it was a beautiful follow-up to the first film. And, you know, and I, it's very funny because I read the book first and then the director's vision for the movie was…
DYK: Yeah, oh god, and Poe. Edgar Allan Poe was my first... I read very precociously and very early. And I had no boundaries from my family on read anything. So I read ravenously, still read ravenously, you look around, I mean...I just, everything's about books.
DYK: Oh my gosh, I do too. That's one of my favorite all time, and Vincent Price is one of my favorite all time actors. I just adore him.
CA: I have his autograph framed in my house.
DYK: I just adore him. His voice and his manner and his ability to bring.
CA: I'm afraid that like before he was an actor, he was an art history professor.
CA: And I fantasize about being in a class top.
DYK: Did you ever see his art collection where he used to, there was a show, oh God, I don't even, maybe back in the late 70s, where he hosted, like, taking you through and talking about his art collection.
CA: Oh my gosh. I watched all the Sister Wendy shows on WLRN, which was this funny old nun who would just take you to art museums.
DYK: Right, yes, I remember. I remember her.
CA: Giant glasses.
DYK: Yes, absolutely, absolutely.
CA: So back to your work. I noticed that you frame a lot of them. When do you decide to use a frame? When do you not decide to use a frame?
DYK: It has everything to do with capturing the... I'm a very big on negative space.
DYK: And if the piece needs to be bounded in some way, because so oftentimes my pieces don't...
DYK: You know, they play with perspective, they play with traditional attitudes towards composition. And because of that, sometimes the piece is better served by having a boundary so that it can pull you in as opposed to being expansive, where it allows you out. So two ways to view my work are, am I trying to bring you into the piece, or am I trying to bring the piece into your reality? Into your reality.
DYK: So that kind of like adds a statement to it by adding like a definitive boundary. If you know my work, yeah, if you know my work, it allows you to have an insight into a way of perceiving, because of course, I can't crawl inside your brain, you can't crawl inside mine. So art is this intersection, this bridge. We can't share one another's realities. I mean, we're having a conversation right here, but we are unable to experience it in the same way, even though we're here in the same moment. And when you walk out the door, I will be completely different, you will be different for having had this conversation. So reality is unfolding in this very interesting way where we're all here in the same room, but we are not having the same experience. I like to use art as this ability to have a deeper conversation. And because I'm an introvert and because I have trouble oftentimes communicating how I see the world. And I know I see it very differently. It's like, for instance, I was probably in my 20s before, I was in the Artists League of Texas, which later became the Center for Contemporary Arts in Abilene, Texas. I had resident artists and associate artists in my... I was next to Clint Hamilton, who was my mentor, and he was a great friend and mentor of Andy Warhol. He's actually who put... He was in New York. He's who put Andy Warhol in the dressed window. He was doing the dressing, Clint Hamilton was. And he put his friend Andy in the windows art, and that's where he was discovered from. They were lifelong friends. And he had moved back to, of all places, West Texas. And I happened to be in West Texas for six years, and we met.
CA: I've driven through Abilene.
DYK: Oh my gosh, right? In the middle of bloody nowhere.
CA: It's funny, so this also kind of goes back to Anne Rice. At the start of the pandemic, my wife and I drove to Denver and back because we wanted to visit all of our favorite coffee roasters along the way.
DYK: Oh, I love it.
CA: And we were going to one in I think it was Dallas, but they were closed because it was a Sunday. So I'm like, oh geez, all right.
DYK: Blue laws.
CA: So then, okay, our next stop is, I forgot where it was, but we were driving through Abilene.
DYK: Probably Waco, if you were heading from Dallas, I lived there 14 years. If you were heading from Dallas, you were probably heading to Waco.
CA: Kansas City is our next stop?
DYK: Oh, you went to the other Abilene. I was in Abilene, there are two Abilenes. I was in Abilene, you were in Kansas.
CA: No, I'm talking about Abilene, Texas.
DYK: Oh, it's Abilene, Texas.
CA: So I don't know how you got there. I don't remember the order of our stops. But so the coffee shop we were going to go to was closed on a Sunday. And we just looked at what was next in our planned route. And we looked at highest rated coffee place and like, OK, there's one in Abilene, Texas. When we went there, turned out to be a mega church. And we were in our like road trip clothes and I'm like, oh, it's only rated five stars because all the church people have to rated five stars. Sure. It was just a mega church surrounded by desert. And I'm like, well, this is terrible coffee.
DYK: Yeah. And that's the middle. And that is the perfect explanation of West Texas.
CA: Yeah. So we were happy to get out of there and get into Santa Fe was our next stop.
DYK: Oh, wow. What a difference. I will tell you there's Art and Abilene because the Center for Contemporary Arts and the Grace Museum, there was a flourishing. I moved out there going I'm going to do here. And people painted cows. I was like, oh boy, this is going to be very interesting. But I ran into Clint Hamilton and Riley Nail in Albany, Texas. And it was a matter of, very oddly enough, so much oil money out there. And that oil money allowed people to send their children away for education who came back in. And there are these pockets of incredible community and incredible art collectors and incredible art. And it's just it's such a surprise and that was pretty delightful about West Texas.
CA: So there was an artist in my college who did a piece that I don't remember the artist's name or the professor's name but sorry, it was a professor where I went to art school. I don't remember her name but I remember her piece was she got a poem that she liked and she took each word from that poem and painted it onto the side of cows and then she'd just take photos of the cows rearranging the poem.
DYK: Yeah, that's great. That's great.
CA: Just over like a week time.
DYK: I think that's fabulous. What a fun installation. I hope I hope she filmed it. That would be really, really fun.
CA: I think it was just photos. And each photo showed like different lines from the home that were made by the cows.
DYK: Yeah, we're randomly bringing together this. Fabulous. What a fabulous concept. It was a fun idea.
CA: But yeah. All right, so let's let's dive more into the business side of this. So you said you started the LLC in the U.S.
CA: At about what point, how far into like you being a professional artist deciding, okay, I have a studio, I need to get the liability down, when did you make that LLC?
DYK: I can't tell you the exact year, but it wasn't that long ago. I probably had an LLC less than 10 years. Even though I've had a professional sole proprietorship since, well, I'll just say I got back from England in 1988 and I'd been selling in England, but I was selling professionally. It's all I was doing. And I also worked for all the major art manufacturers. I worked for a Dale Arrowney, Winsor & Newton, Crayola Crayons, and all of those guys.
CA: How does that work? Is it like a sponsorship or something?
DYK: Oh, that was a great gig. Actually, I was working for... These are the things, you know, I used to teach. We're getting way off track, but it kind of it'll kind of come back around. But, So in Abilene, Texas, that we were just talking about, they had three private universities that all offered fine arts degrees. And at the Center for Contemporary Art, where I was a resident artist, the seven resident artists, we did brought those college students in and talked about what is it like to be a professional artist? How hard is it? How do you make a living and so on. And so we would have these universities come in every year with their next class. And my little spiel was, And sadly, it's not much difference because I'm a founder of the Arts Alliance here in St. Petersburg, and we did a study to find out just how much artists make now. But at the time, I said 10% of artists make a living in their field. 10% of that 10% make over $10,000 a year. That was absolutely, those were true statistics, but really easy to remember when you were a student and you were like, oh. And I said, I looked around the room, I was paused, because it was like, Some people who were there and they were all getting fine arts degrees. And they would kind of do that. That doesn't sound very good. Kind of look on their face.
CA: And part of the reason of this podcast is talking to people about how they get that 10%.
DYK: Right. Exactly. So what I said to them for every single artist. Yes and no. Because there's a very you know, there's something and I've taught it. I've taught it arts alliance here in town. They do a class every year, and you can sign up for it. And that's what it is, the business of art. It just does, it captures everything, even doing an LLC and so on and so forth. I highly recommend you check out the Arts Alliance if you're an artist out there. They have a free directory and they do tons and tons for the community here in St. Petersburg. So that's my shout out to the Arts Alliance. Terry Marks is the, is in charge of the...What does she call her? So she's not the executive director, she's the CEO of the Arts Alliance now. But what I said to these people is I looked around the room, because some people look pretty shocked, actually, and you'd be surprised, because you think you're in college and you're getting a fine arts degree and you don't realize how hard it is to make a living. And I said, all right, so in saying that, if you are like me, a person who can't do anything else, who would die without art, who's alive right now and made it through school because art made that happen for you. And you can't do anything else, then you have to be creative and you have to be an entrepreneur. And it's like COVID wasn't hard for me because I knew how to make a living. I knew how to get out there. I knew how to find new sources of revenue because I've done everything you can do to keep working in the art field. So I've worked for interior decorators, I've worked for art manufacturers and art sales. I've worked for Diamond Art, which was a distributor, which gave me an in to demonstrating in Michaels and all the different what's still around. Hobby Lobby and Michaels, I think, are the two that I can think of that are still national.
DYK: Dick Blick, yeah. Dick Blick's still around. And they have stores where they do demonstrations. But you have to, I mean, I taught. I did everything I could do, worked on commission. And there's a lot of artists who'll say, oh, I would never take commissions. Like there are people who came into my studio, for instance, and would say, I thought that painting was finished. And I'd go, oh, well, they need this one particular color to go in because it's going in on their living room and they've got furniture of this color. And they would go, oh my God, I would never do that. And I said, then you are never a person who's had to rely on your artwork to pay the rent because I like the pre-Raphaelites. The pre-Raphaelites used to call those pot boilers. And pot boilers were the things you do, the artwork you make to pay the bills that allows you the time to make important work.
CA: But these are comments coming from children of wealthy oil families in Abrline?
DYK: Well, no, no, no. These were, these were, no, these were other artists. Other artists who were saying, you know, I would never do that. And I'm like, then what are you doing? You know, you asked me, what do you do for a living? I've worked in the arts my whole life. I've done everything you can do in the arts. And I've done every kind of art from scenic artwork for theater, you know, easel painting, working for interior decorators. I've done everything you can do to make a living. But I've never made a living outside my, outside the art. So many people say, well, I, you know, I wait tables or you have a lot of people who want to be artists, professional artists, but they've had a career and they do it when they retire. You know, but what about those of us, you know, who are in our 20s? I mean, I started this, like I said, in my teens. And you say, I don't want a cubicle somewhere. I want to be making a living in my art, and I don't want to be a graphic artist. I don't want to be a commercial artist. I don't want to be an illustrator. I'm a painter. How do you do that? And you do it by being really flexible and having a plan. Like I tell people, I always had a year plan, a three year plan, a five year plan.
CA: So let's talk about that. Did your plan structure change when you went from sole proprietorship to LLC? Or was that just like a document?
DYK: No, that was really just a document. It was a document that actually I'm sorry, I didn't answer your question. I'm kind of Talmud mind, where you go way around the question and you come back and go, oh, that's right. That's what we were talking about. And somehow it makes sort of sense how you got there, but only if you're following the thread. But no, what happened was I started, I was like said, one of the founders of Arts Alliance and I was doing these classes with John Collins, he was setting them up and we were all talking. One of those classes was an LLC class. And so I sat in, I didn't teach that class, but I sat in a panel with that class. And John kept saying to me, you sell too much work, you do too much stuff, you're doing too much business, not to be an LLC to protect yourself because if you are a sole proprietorship and someone sues you, my child was negatively impacted by your painting and they had to be in therapy and they acted out and hurt someone and we're going to sue you for that. Right. Okay? If you have an LLC, they can sue your company for that. But they can't take...your house away from you.
DYK: So unfortunately, as people, as artists working in this structure in the United States, you have to be smart about, you have a business, and if you are a business owner, and you are an entrepreneur, you have to have a business sense, and you have to have a business plan, and you have to be structured as a business. And a lot of artists never get that.
CA: So do you have, do you do a DBA so that...you can...
DYK: I've had DBAs and then I stopped having them.
CA: Yeah, I've had some like business mentors say you have to get a DBA and I've had people say there's no point in that.
DYK: How far do you want to be disassociated from your artwork?
DYK: Because it's like even having a studio name, I have a studio name nobody knows it, why? Because it's, they come to me, they Google me in a digital age. it really ceased to make a lot of sense.
CA: Well, I have a DBA myself, but that's because I rarely ever put my name on anything I make.
DYK: There you go. And as an artist, I am my work.
CA: Yes, yes.
DYK: So it depends on what you are.
CA: With me, I like the idea of my business building IP that I could eventually sell the business at some point, because that won't stop me from creating new things after that.
DYK: Right, so you have a business that may become, you might wanna branch off and say, this business can go somewhere else. I know lots of business owners who are not artists, but who have business, they grow their business, they sell their business, they're growing another business, they sell, maybe they sell a business three or four times, and that's a wonderful model of how to make a living and how to have a life.
CA: So in that regard, I think the DBA makes sense for me, and I know there's a lot of artists who do make art not under their name. They have like a pseudonym that they do things under, which I think is probably like...An extension of like the graffiti community that where you had to do things, you know You can't sign your name on someone's building. But you can now with a mural.
DYK: Right, right So like it's so it's neat. What's your need at the moment? That's why you know when you have a one-year plan a three-year plan a five-year plan what you'll find happens in art is you may You may have a completely different process that happens like I've had this happen with me. It's like my Galleries that could handle my my portraiture or galleries that would have handled my realistic work would never handle my expressionist work.
CA: That's fascinating.
DYK: You know, I have another friend out west who was a extraordinarily accomplished portrait painter, extraordinarily well known and stopped, and I understand this, I've had the same thing. I lived for portraiture and to capture that essence of a person for decades. And then when I no longer wanted to do it, all of my galleries that were handling me there were like, well, no, we can't handle this new work. You need to do this work. Galleries, a lot of times, well, they want their business too. And their business is to sell paintings. And so it's the other thing is artists a lot of times don't understand what is a gallery. Everybody goes, I wanna be an artist and I wanna be in a gallery. And I go, you may not wanna be in a gallery. That may not suit what you are doing. That may not serve you now. Or you may wanna be in a gallery, but if you go in a different direction that gallery may cease to be what you need. And they may not, a gallery will take you in oftentimes and try you out. If your work doesn't sell, they won't keep you. It's a business.
CA: Well, let's bring that now into your relationship with the Woodfield Fine Art Gallery. Cause that's a pretty traditional structure of being a painter who has pieces in a gallery that is representing you.
CA: Tell me like, is there a exclusivity part of that? Is there like a contracts based on years like yes, please describe how that works.
DYK: Um, every gallery is different But most galleries are the same in that they will have a contract You will need to be very aware when you they are when you are shop when they take you on make sure that you understand Who they are always research and find alignment. So for instance, let's talk about we're both in the artisan clay wood-filled gallery has a beautiful open policy and works in conjunction and hand in hand with the artisan clay and allows any artist who is represented at Woodfield to be involved in studio tours here, to be involved in fundraisers, to be involved in bungalow fest or dining for art and does not take commission from that. That is not the case with every gallery in this town. Some galleries will say you may not do anything with anyone else. Like Woodfield says it has to be a nonprofit. You can't be involved with another within the city limits. You cannot be involved with another for-profit gallery.
CA: Interesting, I'm surprised that they're okay with you doing it outside the city.
DYK: Well, and some of it's sometimes that is standard, but it varies in how far. There are certain galleries who will say, you can't be in my region, I want a regional exclusivity. And again, this is also to the artist. What is that gallery gonna do for you for that exclusivity? How hard are they working to sell your work? How many shows do they give you? Do they give you a show once every three years, once every five years, and once every year? How often do you have a solo show? Because that's when your biggest opportunity usually is an artist, when you can have a body of your work showing. That's better than being in a gallery where you are never afforded the opportunity to have your own show.
CA: So you do have a solo show coming up at the week.
DYK: I do, yes. I have one that's opening the 12th of January to be up till March.
CA: Okay, so with that impending show. If you were to try and describe what percentage of the marketing for that show is done by you versus what percentage is done by Woodfield Fine Art, how would you allocate that?
DYK: Jim is an awesome partner.
DYK: And Jim will be putting, he will be doing press releases. He will be doing publicity that he pays for. You'll be in several, you know. You'll be in Green Bench. You'll be in the Artist's and you'll be in...
CA: We just looked into pricing for Green Bench for the Winter in the Wood.
CA: I think $750 for a half page.
DYK: So that tells you...
CA: Way more expensive than I expected.
DYK: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. You know, you're never discounted. People oftentimes will say most galleries take between 40% and 50%. So your painting is $5,000. It sells. You get half. They get half. Now, a lot of artists who haven't...haven't dealt with gallery for just are just shocked like how can they get half of my work well they're spending the money right to they might they have a free-standing a gallery is paying they have a free-standing they're renting or they own the building they're in they have electric water they put on a an opening for you they have to publicize that opening in media and media is very expensive advertising is very expensive the time to write press releases and to get that information out there; they will have their own marketing list. Like you have the advantage of they have their collectors who collect from all their artists. And now suddenly as a single artist, you have the exposure to their entire list and they have the exposure to you. Why are they bringing you on? Artists, what they look for is an artist who has collectors, who has, unless they are specifically supporting, like Jim is very interesting at Woodfield because he supports both emerging artists who don't, who are just getting started, and they're learning, and they maybe don't have a huge collector base, and he brings them to the attention of the public as collectors, and builds their reputation, and they build together. He also represents mid, and, and, mid-cent, you know, mid-career artists, and he represents professional artists who have collectors, have done it many, many years, bring to them, you know, the ability to bring a lot of new collectors into his gallery and expose their collectors to the work he's representing. So yeah, so to answer the second part of that question, I do a lot of marketing to my own collectors. So I have my own collector's list. Jim will do for me, the first night will not be a public event. It'll be a collector's only VIP event. And you have to have, you get a personal invitation to that both from Jim to the collectors he feels would be interested in your work, and from me to my own collectors. That's a very different evening, but at that evening he will be bringing in, you know, he'll cater that event, he'll have, oftentimes he'll have a band come in, a performance come in that would accentuate your work, and then he does a public opening. Again, food and wine and beverage and all of that, and then he'll do Art Walk. You know, a certain artist will be featured with their solo show at Art Walk. So he has to show up for a month or two months. That's pretty standard of all galleries. And to get back to, there's a contract. And you have to be careful with that because there's things like, some things that can vary in a contract. How long, okay, so your work goes to, he'll have, so say he has five, he'll have five of your pieces year round. He has the ability to change those pieces out. How long once I say a piece doesn't sell at the gallery, comes back to your studio, but it sells two weeks later because somebody been in, found out that your show or you changed up inventory and that piece is now back at your studio. There's a certain amount of time you're gonna owe commission on that piece, even though it's gone back to your studio. What hours is that? Is that 30 days? Is that word of mouth? If somebody comes to you and you say to them, did you see the piece at Woodfield? then I would always pay commission. There are some...
CA: Is it still the same 50-50 commission?
DYK: Yeah, because they... They brought in all the exposure. They brought in the exposure. They paid to have you there. They... wall space is dedicated to you. But there comes a time where somebody comes in and it's been at the... Say it's been back in your studio for six months. And that person comes to a studio tour and they've never been... They've never seen that anywhere else then that piece, you need to understand when's that cut off. So as an artist, you need to know, is it exclusive coming in? Obviously, if it's out there, you can't sell that piece. So many artists, new artists who don't understand, well, I had it online and I have it at the gallery and somebody online called me and so I went and got it from the gallery and to sell to this person, that's wrong. Because that piece is now part of the gallery. And if it's at the gallery, even though you've sold it and they didn't hear it was at the gallery, that is the relationship of that's on, you know, that'll be on your contract and that'll be a listed piece. Digital age. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead.
CA: So the contract doesn't cover just everything you make or not even that. The contract doesn't. So in my mind, I would think if you're...Contract covers three years of a relationship with the gallery. Any piece that has been in the gallery, they get half of.
DYK: Well, one, your contract's never gonna cover three years.
DYK: Again, if a gallery's bringing you in, they may be bringing you in for a show only. So the contract might just be one show and then some other representation before and after. You may have other representation at other galleries and you come in for that show for them.
CA: Okay, interesting.
DYK: Okay, so you may be doing a show in New Orleans, and you're coming in for a show. All contracts are gonna have limits to how far out they require you. So you can be, so for me, I have a show up in Dunedin right now, a solo show in Dunedin. That doesn't affect my relationship with my gallery because my gallery's relationship only extends through St. Petersburg. Now I do the courtesy of, he knows exactly what's there. I always court, I mean, I guess a rule of thumb. Treat your gallery well and your gallery will treat you well. If your gallery isn't treating you well, talk to your gallery about what your expectations are. Don't sign a contract before you understand exactly what that contract means to that gallery owner. And you don't accidentally do something that you think is fine because you don't know, because you don't know what you don't know. So always have a transparent, working, current relationship with every gallery you're involved. And choose your galleries well. If you're going to approach a gallery, go to that. Don't just send out. I can give you an example, OK? A gallery may represent 30 artists at any given time. In that 30 artists, 20 of those artists have been at that gallery. They are high sellers. People come to that gallery. They know they can purchase work there. Those 20 artists are working arts. And unless they stop working, those artists are going to remain. They're going to be the sort of staple. Ten other artists may be artists who've come in, they've been there for a limited amount of time, the gallery owner's trying them out. Of those ten, five of those artists may be working out really well selling great guns, that gallery's not getting rid of those people if their work is selling well. They're gonna keep them on, they're gonna continue to watch them, they may become a part of that 20 other artists who are just a part of that gallery, been there 10 years. So now you have five spots, of that five spots. Maybe three of those spots came in last year. Work hasn't done as well as the gallery owner thought it would. He's kind of looking to maybe see if there's somebody he likes better. And he's looking. And you get one of those slots to interview. And you come in and you get interviewed and you bring your work in. He's probably going to say, are they? I love when gallery owners do. Whoever is, you know, the gallery owner is going to say, come in for four months. Let's write a contract up. Things are going well in four months. We'll consider a six-month contract. We'll consider a year contract. That's how it works. It is a building relationship. Don't ever reach out to a gallery just because they're a gallery and you have no idea what they have.
DYK: Spend time.
CA: Well, to say with a job interview, you need to do your research.
DYK: Exactly. It's exactly what it is. Yeah, you know, if you're not an astronaut, you don't apply to go into space. Right. So, you know, if your work doesn't fit there.
CA: So are there any galleries you've worked with in the past that left a sour taste in your mouth? And if so, why?
DYK: I've had very good luck in my career.
DYK: Okay, I really have. I have to say, I've moved around a lot, so one, I haven't lived, you know, artists, we move around a lot because we are looking for sustainability, which is hard to find. But I have had plenty of artists who have had terrible tastes left in their mouth. Generally it's miscommunication, almost always. And I have had some instances of miscommunication where...Sometimes you can be on the same track. A lot of times, what will galleries do that can leave a bad taste in your mouth? Something sells really well in your board and you're moving on and you're evolving and that gallery wants you to continue to do things that sell well. You can understand that.
CA: That was a plot point on the show Six Feet Under.
DYK: Yeah, absolutely, right? In that case, sever the contact. Say, say, we're moving in different directions. Thank you for everything you've done for me. Create the good taste in your mouth by saying it's time. Be aware of, don't outstay your welcome. Don't outstay your comfort level. Don't get stuck doing something you don't wanna do because your work will suffer for that. There are some artists I know have been doing the same kind of artwork their whole entire careers and they find...this fabulous thing to do, and you might look at it as an outsider and go, it doesn't look like their work ever changes, but their work is changing. And they've kept it interesting for themselves. So, you know, say honest.
CA: Well, I don't think there's any shame with your work not changing.
DYK: No, not that's the point I'm making really. Yeah. It's like your work can be your it should be your work. I mean, you know, people want to keep buying pieces, keep making pieces for them to buy. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.
CA: Oh, not at all.
DYK: If it gives you, If it gives you pleasure, if it's moving you forward, if you are evolving and your work is staying in a very, maybe a very narrow genre, then that is the thing you are seeking to be a master at and that's perfectly fine. Just like, I mean, I always tell people don't send an inconsistent portfolio in for somebody to see. Don't be all over the place. I think the mark of a professional is where you have achieved a certain...aesthetic that is recognizably yours. I mean, I have collectors who will walk into any gallery I've been in that's got a few of my works and go, that's yours and that's yours and that's yours because they know my work, because my work has a certain very specific aesthetic that's only my work. And you recognize it, just like you recognize any great, I don't say I'm a great artist, I hope to be one day, but to say an artist true to themselves and true to their own work you even, you know, looking through the evolution. I mean, you can look at, I love going over to the Dali Museum and you can watch and they've got, the way they've got the permanent exhibition set up, they take you through his childhood and his, and Dali had the ability to master every single style. And so he went through a period where he did impressionist work and he did realistic work and he did, and he just worked it through. But in every one of those things, there's a certain thing you start to see color palette you start to see a certain way of handling the work that when you see his masterworks and then you look back at the works that it took to get there, you see these things evolving and you recognize them. And I think that is important and significant when you can get there as an artist.
CA: So if we're looking at your business over the last few years, what percentage would you say is originals? I'm assuming a huge percentage. All of it?
DYK: No, no, I do, I do, I do, I do Giclee prints, which are very high quality artist prints. I do those and I glaze and hand embellish everyone. And I do those now, I only do one thing, I do minis. They're no bigger than probably 8 by 10 is about the common size. I mean, I work in framed or mounted on wood. Actually, if you look around the corner, which the audience can't do. But if you look around the corner here, there's a wall.
CA: Oh, OK.
DYK: Those are all Giclee prints. So they're on canvas. They're stretched on canvas, glazed and painted. And they are those are all open source. And so, you know, there's some people who will collect. There's some pieces, originals that I will never, never do Giclees up because it doesn't lend itself. But there are certain images that people just want over and a lot of people are like, oh my gosh, that sold, can I get a G-clay? I had that happen at my last solo show where there was some-
CA: Do you document each painting?
DYK: Oh yes. Okay. Everything is inventoried, every single pull. And I have a few limited edition where I only pulled so many, so many and those were based on numbers that were very personal to me.
CA: So for the recreations, are you doing that here? Are you taking the photos here? Are you taking it?
DYK: No, all of my work is professionally photographed. OK, so Jim Swallow is my photographer. I'm sure you know Jim. I work at Davidson Fine Art. Yes. He does all my scan work. He scans it in 100 percent. Then he produces for me 300 DPI. for printing in magazines and so on and so forth, and a web size. And I can do that myself. I have the ability to change the size of the scans. I get those done because if somebody calls me up and says, we wanna do, hey, we've got a little room left in this publication and someone said, call you, can we have a scan in this size, this exact size, this exact much, and can we have 70 words on it? I have it all prepared. I have my entire business is set up. I take my my businesses back up and backed up I have it on my phone if I'm gonna go out of town and I know there's galleries I'm gonna visit I will have already sent them, you know the you know the the intro I would say I'm gonna be in town. I'd love to come to see your gallery I followed your gallery for the last five years and just love what you do. I've been in your gallery three times I'd love to come and show you my work There's anything you see here and if I go and I pop in because I pop in empty-handed because don't ever walk into a gallery with anything in your hands. They will just cringe because they have. Like I was telling you with, at any given time an artist, a gallery may get 2,000 requests a year for appointments and they'll whittle those down to however many appointments they're going to take and they may only have three positions they may possibly be able to fill. I mean it's really not easy to get into a gallery but a gallery may not be what you need to do.
CA: Well you do bring a business card right?
DYK: Oh yes, I always have a business card. But what I do is I digitally have it. What I do is I walk in seemingly empty handed. But when I take my phone out, and I don't never take your phone out and scroll through, send them to your website. You need a website. If you don't have a website, at the very least you need an Instagram that is a portfolio based Instagram where you can look at every picture. They need to be seen. Nobody looks at anything that's not digital anymore. No gallery sits down and looks at your work anymore. No one's putting slides on a wall. Nobody's putting slides on a wall. Nobody wants you walking in with a paper thing. Nobody wants anything. They want to know what your website is.
CA: I'm thinking about whether or not I should throw out all my old slides. I got no use for them.
DYK: Keep them. They may become art. You may utilize them in a play where you're projecting things. Don't throw away your media, but don't bring it to a gallery now. And I've watched, you know, I've watched a change from you walked in with a paper portfolio, and you made an appointment to bring three pieces of art, physical pieces of art to them to look at, to you emailed them art, to they looked at your website, to they look at your Instagram. You know, it evolves. Constantly.
CA: I hate it's a pet peeve of mine is people asking for things to be emailed to them Because so many people refuse to understand that you can't send more than 10 megabytes in an email .
DYK: Exactly so this is why I professionally, you know shoot my work right and then Use a photo editor That allows me to make those Websites so I can send 25 in an email and not go over what I have to do. And what I tell them in the email is, these are 150, I don't know, I think not megabytes, yeah, like 150 kilobytes. These are tiny little thumbnails. These do not show the clarity of the piece. If you wanna see something specifically in high resolution, tell me what piece you're interested in, I'll send it to you in high resolution. But more so than that, my work, does not photograph, my work changes with the light. And because it's 100 layers and because I use iridescence and pearlescence and gold leaf and silver leaf. And so you're looking through a spectrum of depth at my work. No picture can show my work. That's the hardest thing I have in these years and these current times is to say to a gallery, I can show you a captured moment in a photograph, but a photograph is unable to see as the human eye can see. So I can send you a still moment in a painting that actually moves and changes with the light. And so my big difficulty in out-of-state galleries and so on is to be able to communicate with them in really this work has to be seen. Now, I get solace in. For years, I looked at expressionist work only through books, you know, or I had an ongoing argument with my cousin, who's a historian. And he would say, of the Pre-Raphaelites, who's your favorite? And I'd say, Waterhouse is my favorite. He said, no, Rossetti. And I'd say, but Waterhouse, he's like, no, Rossetti. I went to a big exhibition at the Tate in London where there were Rossettis there that were very large. I walked into the room and went...Oh my God. And it was the, oh no, photograph could ever express to me the work in person. I find that with all the expressionists. It's like people will go Rothko, I hate Rothko. I hated Rothko in the 70s when he was still looking.
CA: I love Rothko.
DYK: Okay, you've seen Rothko in person.
DYK: Yeah. Because Rothko in person is a highly emotional experience. And...his large format works are... They envelop you. And you are changed forever in seeing those works. And you cannot express that in words or in a photograph or in anything else. You literally have to be present in front of the work to appreciate the work at all. He's the perfect artist as an example of, you've never seen Rothko if you haven't seen him, if you haven't seen his works face to face, because no photograph is ever going to impact you.
CA: Right.They should make like Rothko blankets. Nevermind.
DYK: Yeah, get underneath the light and you turn the light on and you're enveloped.
CA: So is there, um, okay. So going back to my original question, looking at your, you're doing your 2023 taxes. What percentage of your income was originals? What percentage was the Giclee prints on canvas?
DYK: I sell a lot of small g-clays because they're $150 and you get a hand embellished giclee, you know, and somebody who can't afford a $4,000 painting can say, I have people who collect the g-clays before they collect the originals and they always almost always come to me and get an original eventually.
CA: Do they then like give away the g-clay as a gift or something?
DYK: You know, oddly enough, I can tell you I have one collector and she'll laugh if she's listening to this because she'll know who she is because she vacations in a Airstream Mini and you probably know who I'm talking about. I don't want to say it, you know, out to the public. That would be rude. But anyway, they bought a Giclee from me one year and they bought the original the next year. And they put the Giclee in their travel or, you know, their their air stream and travel with it. That's when it's away from their home, which I think is great. I have another collector who has residents outside the United States and they only they collect a lot of art from a lot of artists. But they do they do prints at the at the out of country because it's not safe. So, you know, that's a safer thing to have the artist's work but not have their original. I'd say in saying that, no, income-wise, because my originals are so much more expensive than my Giclee, are probably 80. 80-85% of my work. Well, probably 80% of my work.
CA: So aside from originals and Giclees, is there another source of income you're working on these?
DYK: Oh, absolutely. These are other income sources. Renting your work.
CA: Oh, okay.
DYK: A hotel says...We want to put this display up, we want to put it up for a year. They can rent it.
DYK: G-clay or original.
CA: How does that relationship start?
DYK: Usually for me it started through someone representing my work outside, you know, an agent representing me and having those connections. So it just depends on, again, networking is everything. Yeah. Who do you know? Who can introduce you? You know, that, you know, galleries who work with other galleries, galleries who will recommend to other galleries your work, if they don't have something they want, a collector comes in, they send us some of the gallery.
CA: I'm sure hotels also are usually looking for abstracts too.
DYK: Yeah, well, I call that concierge work, it's usually large format, it's usually non-representative, but it depends on the gallery, it depends on the hotels. But that's called concierge art, actually, is what the name of it is.
CA: Okay, concierge art, interesting.
DYK: So, and also publications. Publications will say, we want to...We're doing this article and we want to use your artwork. They pay you to do that. They don't take, they use your art digitally. They never, they don't, it's just income on that image. That's why prints have some sort of-
CA: Is there a name for that type of thing?
DYK: I mean, that's just advertising. Or that's just, I mean, magazines do it, books do it. You know, look at any book, look at Anne Rice. Okay, so, you know, I mean, she's using kind of Botticelli here, but, you know, artists use bookmakers, do use people's artwork all the time.
DYK: No, that's what it's again, it's networking person to person. You make these connections, you build these connections over time. You get these opportunities. I'll give you, okay, so within Kenwood, within St. Petersburg, I got to be a part of the Shine Mural Fest in 2017. Chad Mize chose my work to wrap one of the electrical boxes. So you see all those electrical boxes? You get paid for that.
CA: Okay. Yeah.
DYK: Well, yeah, I knew you paid for that.
CA: I thought it was always like, I always thought it was a contest, not just a selection.
DYK: But no, it well, it's it is it is a contest.
CA: Oh, that's right. I wanted to also talk about art contests.
DYK: There you go. You apply. Yeah. And you can apply over a number of years. It is a contest. It's juried. It's curated. It's yeah, it's all that. Yeah.
CA: Well, yeah, let's jump into art contests. So I know that's something you do probably definitely more than anyone I've talked to. Is there like ones you come back to every year?
DYK: Oh yeah, absolutely.
CA: Are you constantly searching for new ones?
DYK: Yes, yes and yes.
CA: Alright, so tell me your history with art contests.
DYK: Well of course when I first started, art contests were a way to become known as an artist. So I did the whole show circuit. So I would take five, you know, five, 10 paintings that I thought were, you know, these are the best of my works in this year. And I would enter those as slides, tells you how long ago this was, this was in the early 80s, as slides into contests, now you just enter digitally. And the thing is, what does every artist need? Every artist needs their work. If you can photograph professionally, God love you, I can't. I'm a painter, not a photographer. Spend the money to have your work scanned. That'll usually cost you about $50 a piece, or $75 a piece, depends on how it's done, but it's have it photographed by a professional, have it digitized. Have it digitized, but you on your own home computer have the ability, Photoshop elements cost $99. It allows you to resize your work to their specifications because nowadays what people do is-
CA: You can also use GIMP free software.
DYK: Okay, there you go. Then if you have sources, because you gave me a source when we had work produced for the Finnials.
CA: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
DYK: That came from you. Yeah. And those guys are great started reproducing work. So again, networking, right? But you've got to be able every, right now, what I found, and this is just the new thing. So this is within the last year. Every organization I sent work to, they have their specific exact size. And they'll say 860 pixels on the largest size. So that's either the width or the height. No more than 860 pixels. So you've got to be able to go in with your image and you've got to be able to know how to plug that in.
CA: That's an easy option in Lightroom. If you're using Lightroom Classic in the Adobe Suite, you can select all of your images, do file export, and hit the JPEG option, I think it says. But one of the options from there is you can turn on resize to X amount of pixels on the long side. That's another thing that's really important for people to know.
DYK: Pay attention to what they're asking you for. When you're entering a contest, there are gonna be some things they want in JPEG. Like for instance, I scan TIFF 100% and then bring down to JPEG whatever size I need. They are gonna tell you exactly the size they want. They are gonna tell you, you may be using their software, so you may be, usually it's an online form anymore, no one does any, everything's an online form and it's a fill-in, but you may be able to cut and paste. So they may want it in DocX, but...because they're putting it into their software and they can manipulate it. But they also may want it in a PDF. So pay close attention. The thing to remember about, it's just like I do grant writing, a certified grant writer for art for years as part of being able to do anything I needed to do. And I've applied for many grants and they're exactly the same. Pay attention exactly. They tell you they want no more than 70 words. That's a way of them knocking you out of a competition. Because you didn't follow instructions. And it's not to be mean. It's that they're going to have, they're going to select for a digital show, say, you're applying to get in a digital show. And that digital show says, we're going to choose 30 artists or 40 artists for this digital show. And they get 3000 entries.
CA: Well, that's a good thing that you're bringing up. In my mind, when I see a digital show, I say, what's the point of actually applying? So you do apply to digital insurance?
DYK: I do, I do several. In fact, those are the ones I tend to return to.And I do those specifically per their mission. How long have they been doing it? Are they just doing it? Do they want your money? Is it just a vanity thing? Or is there a reason, like does it cost for their processing? You have to know, you have to really do your research. So...I almost always, every organization that I reapply to, I came to them and I researched them. So I might have gotten that as a cold call into my email or on my website, they might have said, hey, we've got this digital competition. I got it on Instagram.
CA: So you don't usually hunt them out, they usually reach out to you?
CA: Oh, okay, so you're not browsing Cafe for call for entries and cloud building?
DYK: Yeah, I have. I have done that in the past. I've done Cafe. I just find them kind of tedious to apply to. But I...They're fine. And certain things like the Skyway show that's done every three or four years, that's a collaboration between the Ringling, Tampa Museum of Art and Fine Arts Museum here, Skyway only takes entries, through Cafe. Okay. So know your venues, know your platforms, you've got to. And it is a full-time job to be an artist. You have to know how to do this. Or you have to be able to hire somebody to do it for you. Right. So there's the artists who like, I created my website myself in WordPress the first time back in the day. And then I got to the point where I could actually have somebody, I could send things to them. And then I didn't like that because I had somebody run off. And my website went down because they stopped doing what they're doing and left down and wouldn't take my calls, even though I was trying to pay them. So be aware of what do you want to control. You want to control your cards, you want somebody to design them, but you want control of them.
CA: I'm obsessive about controlling everything I do.
DYK: Yes, but you can only do it for so long. And then you find yourself where you get to the point where you're not able to work. So it's like competitions.
CA: But that's always a good thing when you identify something that you're comfortable with letting go. And you're financially comfortable with paying someone to do it for you.
DYK: That's always a fun. It's great when you go, and you can have it both ways. So with my website, a competition I was in said, your website is making your work suffer because your work is at a much higher caliber than your website. Well, yeah, because I'm a better painter than I am a website designer. Yeah, I get that. So I hired somebody to come in on my platform at the time I use Weebly now. And they came in, and younger and specifically I hired someone younger than me who I love their aesthetic. I love what they did. And I said, please come in and put fresh eyes on my site and tell me how to make my website look. you know, up to the par of my work. And their explanation, the thing that they found funny was they said, so oftentimes people want a really swank, really slick website and the work is not so great. And she said, it's a pleasure working with you because your work is great, but your website really needs some help. So I got the best of both worlds. Then I said, I wanna upload my content myself, I wanna do my blogs, I want everything that I add every word I put in. I want that to be me. And when it comes to how do I do that, I wanna come to you and say, help, please tell me how this works, or please do this part for me, the mechanics of it. And when you can get to a point that you can afford to do that, that's like the best of both worlds.
CA: So in regards to how you mentioned that you log and document all of your pieces and you write for each one, is that organized through like a folder, like folder system, spreadsheets?
DYK: Okay, so I ran, I've run a business my whole life and I've evolved as it's evolved. And what I've run...I boilerplate everything. So if a magazine calls me and say I need 70 words and I don't have 70 words, I have to write 70 words, I keep that 70 words. Sure. I have, when you go to my computer and when you go to my phone, everything matches. And when you go to my Dropbox, everything matches. So you open up my computer, you go to my art business, you open it up, you will go to taxes. If you can hear me, I'll like, this is a, this is a, I can tell you. Okay, so, anyway. Okay, thank you. I mean, come here, so we can go back. Just to give you a thing, you've got here in folders, you've got LLC taxes, painting and paint inventory, CV, resume, bio, these are all separate, portfolio, grants and RFPs, public speaking docs, press and media, shows and galleries, public art, painting narratives, business cards. My galleries.
CA: Wow, that's like the exact same way I organize all of my documents. Do you open up in there?
DYK: Yeah, you don't open up to that. You open up to years. And it goes back every year that I've, you know, that I've 10 years. You can go back in our in my business, open up every folder, know what I paid in taxes, know exactly every every dime I spent, know what the inventory of every everything was.
CA: So it's been on my to do list for like a whole year to update my bio. Because I haven't written an artist bio since I applied to the Creative Pinellas grant last year. And I just had to fill out a form for the Dali Dozen and I had to put in the artist bio. And reading that, reading what I had before, and I'm like, I should update this, but it still generally works. How regularly do you update your bio?
DYK: I look at my bio every time somebody asks me for something. And sometimes I will take the bio, I do this a lot, I'll take the bio and if it's for a very specific thing...I will tailor that bio, don't change a lot, but I will tailor that bio to what the needs of the organization asking for it is. That's the least I can do for them, for the opportunity.
CA: As a rule for each piece you complete, do you write like 70 words, 150 words, 300 words?
DYK: I write an artist statement that talks about my work in general. Now a gallery may say, can you tell me something about this piece? One, I'm a huge believer in if I… If my work, you viewing my work, can't answer those questions for you, I failed as an artist to experience. And again, I always take into consideration every collector, every viewer of an artist's piece, they want to know a little bit about the artist. They want to know a little bit about what did that mean? Especially if it's abstract or it's expressionist.
CA: House of Shadows gallery. And he was saying he really appreciates when artists have long descriptions for their pieces because if he notices someone sitting there standing and reading that whole thing, he'll also know that that person is more likely to then buy the piece. So having that information there more often than not will help.
DYK: And I supply that. I have plenty of galleries over the years who that's what they want me to do. They want a long explanation. Also, if you go to my website and you go into narratives, or in the blog part of it, same thing. When I got the grant, the professional artist grant from Creative Pinellas, you had to blog, I think you still have to blog. I kept that blog. And when it went down, because Creative Pinellas didn't keep it as a back for them, I posted it to my website so that people could go back. Because I found, I hated writing those blogs, because I'm not a writer, I'm a painter. But I found that in documenting my process for an entire year, where I approached that with the point of view of if I didn't almost feel sick at my stomach to hit send to post that because we had to post a couple of times a month, if it wasn't so personal, it almost made me want to throw up to think I'm putting this out in the public eye, I hadn't worked hard enough on it. So I took it really seriously. And then having looked at it a few years later when I posted it to my own website, I went, wow. I'm so glad I did this because I would never have thought so deeply about process or so deeply about why I painted the way I did. I've done a lot of magazine articles. I had a guy call me to interview me and it was art for healing. And this is another thing about digital, going back to digital shows. I do a lot of art for therapy, art for mental therapy, art for healing, physical healing, art for people with disabilities. Those are very personal things. Climate change is a very personal thing. Animal rights are very personal things. So I align, when I am in a digital show, it's generally because my own personal mission, why I paint, aligns with their mission as what kind of show they're putting together and what they're trying to do. What, how are, what are they, how are these artists' works elevating a higher purpose?
CA: So maybe I just don't understand what a digital show is. Is it just a website that has pictures that were selected?
DYK: No, and it's many different things. Okay, so there are different types of digital shows. You have to know what kind of digital show. Generally, the ones that I'm involved with will be organizations, nonprofit organizations who are involved in a mission. So I read their mission, like Manhattan Arts International. I return to them. I at least, I apply for a show once a year from them because they...are all about art therapy and healing, environmental. They're about how does artist work impact the world? Whether it be a, how does it get the message out from a war torn area? How does it elevate the way we think? How does it integrate how we're looking at science and art and so on and so forth. Those shows oftentimes, one, they have great outreach if they've been around that particular show's been, they've been doing this since 2001. That is seriously early for digital. 2001. Right. Yeah. And they've been going on and it's 2000, almost 2004, on 24. So think about how long that show's been been doing it. And it's a very high caliber of artists that apply. So for me, it's like I look at, is my art going to be elevated by the artists I'm showing with? Am I elevated by reading their stories? You know, does it help me as a creative person to be involved with this group of people? Do they make printed materials? Usually they go with it. Some do, some don't. Most of it, a lot of it nowadays is just purely digital. But what they'll do is, for instance, like they'll be level. So you get into the show, you get one piece in the show, and it's part of the show. And that goes out to an international reach because this particular organization is international. But again, it's like a website. It is a it is a it is a web. It is a website, but it it's it's going into people's emails. It's going into people. It's reaching, its content is reaching out. They have a huge email list. They have an enormous email list that's going in and it's going to businesses and it's going to other artists and it's creating an atmosphere of advocacy for artists to work together, organizations to get to those artists. So it really has a positive effect. They are not seeking to gain anything from you. That organization is not getting money from you for that. They have an entry fee. Every art show has an entry fee because someone curates takes the time to curate and upload and create the website where that show is going to exist. And those small amounts that you, and they're usually very small fees. They're $10 or $15. Yeah, I mean, they're not, they're a lot, they really are to do the admin, the background coding to make that happen then those things have outreach themselves. So they reach through email, but they also have like a YouTube page and they curate video created out of the shows. They have publications that are print publications. I never thought of those things as a marketing opportunity for yourself as an artist, but that makes a lot of sense.
CA: I always just thought of it as like why is this person doing a digital show? But I didn't realize the fact that they're also marketing people to come look at that show.
DYK: Yeah, and you don't have that. You as a single person don't have the ability to have that kind of reach. And the caliber of artists being very high, your work is being curated with artists that are on an international level if you made it into that show.
CA: And presumably they would then add a link to how people could find out more about it.
DYK: Oh, everyone. Every one of the shows that I'm involved with, they announce the winners. They reach out into every Facebook, every platform, and email this, and paper magazines and so on that carry them and so on. And they have a very vast website themselves.
CA: So it sounds absolutely worth the effort of applying.
DYK: Oh my gosh, yeah.
CA: You're not mailing anything out, so that helps too.
DYK: Right, and you're not taking something off the market to sell. If I enter that show and the painting goes into the show, the painting is not like at a gallery where I can't sell it unless they sell it. It's not tied up for six months. It is nothing but a benefit. You go out and do that and then they will curate down. So they'll have so many artists who, five artists will be chosen to have an article written on them. And then you'll see five. Every artist who makes it in. They have 70 words about themselves as an artist, the work that got chosen, and their website, and their Instagram, and everything, every platform they use. And it's a link directly to that. So another thing that Creative Pinellas has done, Creative Pinellas now will place, they do these cards, probably one sitting around here somewhere, but on the back of them-
CA: You mean that one? The Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery?
DYK: So that show, that's the work, there's three pieces, that's the work they chose. On the back of that card, you could scan to buy it and to go to my website. And this was then talked about by an actual art critic who wrote up the…
DYK: The piece. They started that. I love that. That was worth being in the show.
CA: Did they mount that - for the listeners: This is like a four by six double sided printed card that is mounted between two blocks of arylic.
DYK: I put it between, but they had it in a rack, a rack card rack. And they they said they couldn't keep them in. They had to order three or four times because people came in, saw the show and went, I'll take the card, I'll take the card. And you go home with the ability to go right to that artist's website. And that's the same thing with digital shows. You're gonna have a link directly to your website. Anytime I get into one of these digital shows, my hits on my website goes, pssh.
CA: So I didn't even realize until you started describing the ins and outs, I didn't even realize, but there is a digital show that I look at every month. It is, so the software that I use for my digital paintings is Clip Studio Paint. And so it's not every month, every year, they have an annual illustration competition for people who use the software. And I always feverishly look at that. And I didn't realize that that counts as a digital show.
DYK: That is exactly what that is. And you may see another artist or you may get ideas. You may be inspired. You may see trends as artists, because we're so often introverted. And even if we're not introverted, extremely extroverted, we spend a lot of time in a room looking at art, looking at a canvas, looking at a screen. If we're a digital artist, whatever we're doing, we're spending a lot of time with ourselves and not getting out into the world. Sometimes I like that. If I'm working on a certain show, I don't want anyone's influence about my own, I wanna go deep. But also, sometimes once I've created for a while and I put a show together, it's like all the serotonin in my brain is gone. And I wanna see, I wanna interact. And I wanna see what are other artists doing. And I wanna have that ability. And digital shows give you that on a global, a global format. And nowhere can you see so much art from so many different places in the world. And if you're a person who, I'm very globally minded, I'm interested in what's going on in the whole world as a community. The whole world art community, the whole world community of human beings. So that's a good outreach. Now every digital format, if you're using, it's like people say, oh my God, you're still on Facebook. I'm not on Facebook to do Facebook. I don't endlessly scroll through Facebook, but I do realize that there's a lot of my collectors who are older, who that's where they see my work. So I post my work to Facebook. I post my work through Instagram because it's easy because it just feeds over. But I have a digital portfolio because there's a lot of people who have Instagram. It's a great place even for galleries to, if they don't want to go to your website and see your website, they can just look at a whole gallery of your artwork right there. And you don't have to say anything about it unless you want to. But the thing that's different about Facebook, that's only your friends and the people you've gathered. Instagram, you're hashtagging. So then now it's going out to huge groups that you don't even know who's looking at your work. Something as simple as Arts Alliance has a directory and you can say to yourself, why should I be on the Arts Alliance directory? Why should I go through the, you know, putting three pictures up and writing a bio and keeping up? I got a show from Ocala from that. A solo show, public art solo show in City Hall because they were looking for, they were looking at the Arts Alliance, their cultural affairs, their arts cultural affairs, looking at the Arts Alliance as a, how did they do that? How are they doing it in St. Pete? As Ocala, was looking at it. And went to the directory to look through the artists that were in the directory, liked my work, and gave me a show.
CA: I just hung two pieces in Lakeland City Hall.
DYK: There you go.
CA: Yeah. So we've been going on for a while, so I have one last question I want to ask you. Is there anyone that you have been, maybe inadvertently, modeling your art business after? Not your art, but the way that you run your business. Anyone who's inspired you. Business-wise.
DYK: Not, you know, it's been an evolution and many people have been involved. I try to learn from everyone. So Clint Hamilton gave me my professional start. So Clint Hamilton showed me how to photograph my work and do slides at that time. He showed me how to market myself. He showed me how to open my gallery to the public. He showed me those things. When I went to Dallas and became an artist in residence for an actual art company, they opened me up to being involved with all the art manufacturing companies. And I learned how to be a contractor from them. So they taught me how to be a contract artist, a 1099 artist. That taught me a part of the business. I worked for a theater. I learned how to be... I became a certified grant writer for that arts nonprofit took that into my business for writing grants for my for-pocket. So not one person, not one person to model after, model after anybody who can give you tools to make yourself successful as a business. It doesn't even have to be art.
CA: Alright, so with that in mind, so you have a solo show at the Dunedin City Hall Chambers Gallery, and the opening reception and artist talk is going to be October 25th. 6 to 8. This episode is probably coming out next Wednesday, so this will be just in time for that. You have the solo show in St. Petersburg at the Woodfield Fine Art Gallery. That one opens January 12th. The art walk is going to be happening the following evening on the 13th. That's 2323 Central Avenue. It's a wonderful place and you definitely want to see it too before Jim moves to Pennsylvania. It's going to be up through the first week of March. And you've shouted out the Artists Arts Alliance quite a bit.
DYK: Artists Alliance! Please lift them up. They are, they curate Shine, they work with the city, they do everything. They are an incredible artist resource.
CA: And then aside from that, we're also on the Artists Enclave together and we're going to be doing the studio tour together.
DYK: In March.
CA: Hopefully we get more people in our quadrant.
DYK: Yes! Because we are in the same quadrant. Yes.
CA: So. Alright, well thank you very much, Yael. It's been amazing speaking with you.
DYK: Thank you so much and I appreciate the opportunity.
Chain Assembly: Art for profit sake is recorded through Riverside FM, distributed through Spotify for podcasters, and edited on Adobe Audition. The music is provided by Old Romans. If you learned anything useful or found this podcast helpful, please rate and review us five stars. If you want to learn more about me or my art, head over to ChainAssembly.com.