For me, it's a thrill every single time.
It happens when I'm on social media or merely web surfing and I'll literally stumble upon one. It's exactly like treasure hunting, only the high-tech version.
Yet here's the thing. It helps to be in it primarily for the thrill ... any good treasure hunter knows that. All other reasons can be called into question. This is where passion meets opportunity and the next thing I know, I'm actually chatting with the artist.
I've said this before and yes, I'll say it again ... Getting to know any artist is far more important than obsessing over their work. Work comes and goes, but artists are forever ... until they die anyway.
In any event, for me, it's all about the artists. The people behind the work, not the product. Remember people?
As you know, I've interviewed hundreds of artists and there are really only a handful of things that have made this possible: my desire to chat with them, get to know them and promote their work, their willingness to chat with me and their confidence that I'm truly interested in THEM and not what I can GET from them.
We live in a world and particularly an art world where everyone and their grandmother is dying to connect with a great artist. Everybody wants to hob-knob with a great, rich and famous artist. Why? Because that's what the "admirers" secretly want for themselves.
No one will ever admit to this, yet that's precisely what people want. It's rarely about the artist. The artist is merely a stepping stone. People want to be rich and famous and if they cannot get it for themselves, why not hob-knob with someone - in this case, an artist - who seemingly has those things?
It's the next best thing. It's also the ultimate in two-faced duplicity and phoniness. I mean, who really wants to hang out with a talented artist who doesn't seem to be going anywhere? Certainly not a wealthy art investor or social climber.
Do you know who wants to hang out with undiscovered artists? Other undiscovered artists ... and perhaps only a few other folks … like me.
Can I go off on a bit of a tangent here? Thanks.
While watching Michael Phelps win yet another gold medal during the Olympics in Rio, something came to mind. Everybody cheers him on and wants to be his friend when he's standing tall on the medal podium, but where are those same people when he's up at 4 a.m. doing training laps in the pool? Where are they when he actually does not win a gold medal?
This has got to be the lonely, downside of success for many. When you're hot, everyone wants a piece of you, but when it's time to do the difficult, unglamorous work and you don’t always score, you can literally hear a pin drop in the pool. In short, people want the glory, but they've got no guts.
Okay, I just had to get that out. Where were we?
So many people in the art world seem so focused on finding "The Next Great Artist" when they should be working on getting local government to re-instate decent art programming for school kids. The ripple effects of this alone would eventually create a society that's much more self-aware, evolved and educated about art. We'd also see many more emotionally-healthy people not to mention a non-ending supply of art collectors and patrons.
There's this deep, untapped well of gifted artists all over the world. Believe me, as a lover of contemporary art and artists, I feel like I've got oil wells pumping in my backyard. The creative insight and focus alone make me feel as wealthy as Warren Buffet.
Many people see art as a commodity, which it partly is, but I see artists themselves as the hot commodities ... not merely because of what they produce, but mainly due to what they quietly and often anonymously contribute to society.
In terms of the art world, I'll say this again too. Emerging, undiscovered artists remain the most exciting sector of the contemporary art world. No one and I mean no one knows how things will hash out. You can put the very best art minds together and while they'd come up with a nice list, it would still ultimately be a crap shoot.
Which artist will be sitting on top of the leaderboard in 2025? Your guess is as good as mine. Isn't that the thrilling part about contemporary art? Isn't that the whole point? A lot of folks would probably disagree. Here's why...
I think that when opportunists see talented, yet undiscovered artists, they see uncertainty in a world that craves sure things. They see a lot of work and an uphill battle as opposed to a get rich quick scheme. This is why so many folks are holding out for that $20 million Picasso painting unearthed from behind a wall in their basement. Wouldn't THAT be SO much more convenient? Hitting the lottery would be so much easier. Good luck with that.
I don't know. Maybe I'm the one with the problem.
It just seems to me that artists are among the most ignored and dismissed people on earth, almost like the homeless. I mean that in the sense that people only give their attention to things or people they feel are going to be immediately useful to them.
How can an undiscovered artist who doesn't seem to be going anywhere be useful to anyone? Are they prolific at least? Do they live in New York? Do they have a gallery? Are they at least RELATED to Picasso?
I love being sarcastic and ironic. Don't you?