Illustration by Petra Larsen.

Illustration by Petra Larsen.


Etiquette for Artful Living


Dear Babs, I’ve been noticing more and more galleries focusing on figurative paintings. As a painter myself who has found the recent years difficult with the popularity of new mediums including photography, do you think there is a shift going on? Is now my time to strike?  —Teresa Cassano, Chicago

Dear Teresa, First off, you’re going about this all wrong. You need to listen to your gut, and do what is right for you. Following trends is a very dishonest way to approach art-making. For instance, if you want to work with the figure, then you should. Figurative painting has been around since the cave days; to my knowledge I haven’t seen it disappear. It’s true, there are always new trends in art, but it is mostly with materials and concepts, not subject matter. I’m told we have a figurative painter on the cover this issue—the LA artist Tom Knechtel. He’s been doing figurative art since day one with his art-making. His work has gone through many cycles, but the figure has always been there. Be true to your heart, painting will never die, nor will the figure in art. And it’s always good to be aware what’s out there, but don’t let it dictate the direction of your art.


Dear Babs, For anyone who has an art degree, it’s challenging to make a full-time living as an artist. What opportunities do you recommend looking into, whether in the “art world” or even beyond? —Dennis Rhoades, San Diego

Dear Dennis, Teaching is always the fallback occupation of artists. But I don’t recommend it if it isn’t really your cup of tea—there are the students to consider. Being an educator is serious business, and grossly underappreciated monetarily, especially in the public sector, so it has to be a passion. There are many other art-related jobs that you can use your skills as an artist: graphic design, art consulting, curating, working in a gallery (low pay though), etc. Try to surround yourself with artist-types so you keep in touch with the art world.

Babs cares.
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