I have always collected art, but I’ve never been an art collector — which I define broadly to mean someone who can buy original pieces without profound financial discomfort. The stuff on my walls has what a serious collector would consider dubious provenance. For instance: a glazed ceramic tile that I bought off the floor of a Moroccan carpet emporium; a wooden tiger mask from an antique dealer; a postcard I found at the flea market. The times I’ve tried to acquire quote-unquote real art have almost universally ended in humiliation. The other day, I learned about a fascinating Azerbaijani textile maker and wrote to his gallerist to request a price for a particular decorative carpet. She messaged back to say that this piece was a “small classic,” at the low end of his range: just $22,000.
I can appreciate that beauty has monetary value, particularly for the one and only example of a particular exquisiteness. Someone spent time making it, and that person should be compensated. But even modest artworks can be out of reach for almost anyone who’s not a real estate mogul, shipping magnate, stockbroker, or oil baron. Under the sanctimonious cover of “arts patronage,” these plutocrats use art to launder their money, trading up the value of young artists and enriching one another in the process. The artists, meanwhile, get paid only once, on the initial sale. The end result is a carpet that costs as much as a Honda Civic.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Out in Vancouver, the painter Jean Smith is quietly subverting art-world economics, $100 at a time.
Smith spent the 1990s scraping by in the Pacific Northwest’s riot-grrrl scene, sharing bills with Bikini Kill as part of a nervy duo called Mecca Normal. When the music industry collapsed at the turn of the century, Smith was forced to take a series of day jobs. For a while, she made her living watering plants in the garden center of her local Home Depot. Needless to say, this was not the artist’s life of her dreams. So one impulsive day in 2016, at age 56, she cast off her orange apron and decided to become a painter.
Every year for most of her life, Smith had painted an annual self-portrait. Now she turned her attention outward and set about making an arresting series of 11-by-14-inch acrylic portraits based on photographs of strangers that she saw on the internet. Almost all were women. A majority were somehow transgressive — they looked sad or high or embalmed or deranged or appeared to have been caught in a thunderstorm. They had raccoon eyes and buck teeth, or trapezoidal faces, or, if they were conventionally beautiful (and some were), they gazed off the canvas with the ache of a young Marianne Faithfull. They rarely laughed. They rarely smiled.
Unlike most portraits, especially the ones men tend to paint of women, these were not made to be looked upon. The subjects were equal partners in the looking. You stared at them and they stared back. Smith’s women seemed to have rich interior lives and sometimes wore uniforms to indicate what they were doing before you, the viewer, so rudely interrupted. They might be aviators in the Amelia Earhart mode, complete with flight goggles. Or perhaps scuba divers, suited up for a plunge. Or merciless nurses, dressed in starched whites, presumably pocketing your morphine.
Opting not to use a gallery, Smith listed each of her works on Facebook for the ludicrously low price of $100. She could certainly charge more, but the egalitarian price is the point. It’s her version of the $5 tickets Fugazi used to sell to its all-ages shows — and anyway, she has never needed much to survive. For the past quarter-century, she has lived alone and monastically in an apartment without a sofa or kitchen table (she eats off a filing cabinet), and her monthly expenses, including rent and utilities, total about $1,000. She only needs to sell 10 pieces per month to break even — though that has never been her problem.
The problem is painting fast enough to satiate her followers because the portraits she makes every day typically sell within five minutes of her posting them online. Some collectors have bought dozens of pieces, displaying them together in a sisterhood of melancholy. One woman in Oregon amassed 250 before Smith had to politely ask her to stop hoarding. In four years of doing it the hard way, Smith has set aside $200,000 to put toward starting a progressively minded artists’ residency. All artistic disciplines are welcome. The only rule is that everyone’s project must intend to change the world.
I consider myself lucky to own two of Smith’s paintings. I love them both, but what I love even more is what they represent: the utopian notion that anyone on Earth with an internet connection can make a living as an artist; that anyone with a hundred bucks can own a thrilling piece of original art — and that these two things don’t have to be in conflict. For once, social media is helping a creative economy be more equitable. The artist earns what she wishes to earn, with plenty left over to give away. And for less than it would cost to frame a dorm-room poster, you can have a daily encounter with the sublime.
With the development of social media, there are all kinds of online platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Esty, GS-JJ.COM, etc offering many channels for artists like Jean Smith to communicate with their fans. Artists can share or sell their work to others in various ways. A number of young artists or designers make their works into different crafts such as custom stickers, custom keychains, custom lapel pins, etc. It facilitates the creation of the artists as well as increases their income. and lets the general public approach the beauty of art at an acceptable price.
Demystifying the Art of Assessment & Selection – smallwarsjournal
Whether it is a Fortune 500 company or an elite military unit, good or bad, every organization has some type of systemic process to recruit, assess, select, and train its personnel. Although these processes vary widely in their design and implementation, all organizations ultimately have the same goal: field the force with the right people and accomplish the organizational mission. During the summer of 2020, SWCS embarked on an ambitious initiative to holistically overhaul its training pipelines, paying particular attention to information management and the inclusion of data analytics in order to improve overall efficiency of assessing, selecting and training ARSOF. In the midst of this overhaul, a simple, yet highly relevant question was posited: “Why?” Why do we do it? What does Assessment and Selection accomplish that other job search methods cannot? The purpose of this article is to address this question, to reflect within the ARSOF community on why this process is so important, and to demystify a process that to others may seem like some sort of obscure ritual or rite of passage.
The Art of Risk Management
Talent acquisition is a constant balance between the need to fill the force with exceptionally qualified individuals and the need to ensure the force is adequately manned to serve the nation. This sets up what appears to be a direct tradeoff between maintaining quality (or standards) versus achieving sufficient quantity. We cannot and do not accept this notion. As the Special Operations Forces (SOF) maxim states, SOF cannot be mass produced; each individual is hand-picked and carefully trained for their job. Further, Special Operations leadership cannot risk leaving the nation unable to respond with SOF capabilities. The stakes are simply too high to accept risk in sacrificing quality or quantity. The goal, then, is to cast as wide a net as possible in recruitment, then enabling the risk management process to unfold from there.
Figure 1 illustrates how to conceptualize the ARSOF talent acquisitions process. It includes four phases: Recruitment, Assessment, Training, and Operations. At recruitment, the talent population is random and at low probability of seeking and finding the right person for the job. As the process progresses, the population moves through a series of filters that serve as key decision points necking down the talent pool at each phase, increasing the probability of finding the right person for the job. The “input”, or recruitment, side (far left) includes a pool of potential recruits, some of whom are truly a good fit for ARSOF (denoted with green dots) while others are a poor fit (denoted with red dots). A “good fit” in this case means someone who will perform at or above the unchanging operational standards of exceptional ethical and moral judgement, and with high physical, psychological, and cognitive fitness throughout their career. By filter three, there is little to no possibility that the ARSOF talent acquisition process is vulnerable to random chance. Nearly every individual is a “good fit” for ARSOF.
Importantly, we cannot actually know this truth about any individual in advance, we can only infer it through process. Although a soldier could look good on paper during recruitment, there is no way to inherently know from the outset (at recruitment) whether someone is a good or poor fit. This requires the organization to estimate “goodness of fit” based on collected evidence. Depending on the amount and type of evidence, a poor fit can look a lot like a good one, so the goal is to separate the two populations as much as possible. Each of the three major filters during talent acquisition is defined on the collection and processing of evidence, designed according to each phase to cut as many of the poor fit cases as possible while having minimal impact on the good fit population. In statistics, this is referred to as precision (in our case, rejecting only poor fit cases without impacting good fit cases) and recall (finding as many of those poor fit cases as possible). Ultimately, the details of the filter design — both with respect to evidence collected and analytics performed — reflect the artistry of risk management.
The process starts with recruitment, where the goal is to have a blunt filter to remove as many clearly poor fit cases as possible with effectively no impact on the pool of potential good fit candidates; that is, aim for high precision, but with an acceptable level of sub-optimal recall. This filter has to be balanced by reality: what is readily available in routine service records and what recruiters can realistically accomplish with their resources across an array of non-standardized recruitment locations around the globe. Most of this filter is practical in nature, identifying those potential recruits who are at least minimally physically fit, have promotion potential based on rank and time in grade, etc… The available evidence at this point is not particularly effective at sorting the two populations, but it does allow SWCS to rule out a lot of definite poor fit candidates.
At A&S, SWCS standardizes the assessment and conducts targeted examinations to focus on those qualities that do a great — though not perfect — job at distinguishing between a good and poor fit. Moreover, this can be done at relatively low cost in both time to the candidates and resources to the organization. Thus, A&S becomes the primary phase to sort good fit from poor fit after the more pragmatic filter of recruitment is applied. This much tighter filter at A&S results in a population that is generally of very good fit with only a few missed cases of poor fit making it through. Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of some good fit cases, though there is always a concerted effort made to limit the impact on this population. In the future, as data collection and analytics improve, SWCS will be able to better differentiate the poor fit from good fit cases, allowing better rejection of poor cases while impacting fewer of the good. The inset in Figure 1 illustrates how analytics can both lower the ceiling for poor cases and raise the floor for good cases. This results in better distinction between the two populations and a smaller homogenous region in the center.
When the soldiers get to training, most of the population will be a good fit, as A&S has filtered out the poor fit candidates. The filter points in this phase are usually relegated to significant and uncorrectable failures in academics, behavioral issues that were previously unobserved, or unforeseeable circumstances such as major injury. This phase helps remove the last few poor fit candidates that are still functionally differentiable from good fit candidates.
The last phase, operations, focuses on the operational force, where the goal is to assume minimal risk – more specifically, a soldier failing standards and/or harming the mission and/or nation. At this point, it is expected that ARSOF personnel have the necessary knowledge, skills, and attributes to perform their jobs and represent the enterprise. Unfortunately, no effort to predict long-term human behavior is perfect. Some poor fit candidates will make it through the entire process regardless of the A&S system used, translating to a certain level of risk assumed by the respective organization and its leadership. However, this level of risk is acceptable and unquestionably better than the alternative of not utilizing an A&S course at all.
Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best Desk Organizers for Art Students – ARTnews
They say a cluttered desk makes for a cluttered mind. With a desk organizer, you can better focus on your schoolwork or independent projects while maximizing your workspace. These products come with designated space for pencils, pens, and brushes, as well as small tools like erasers and pencil sharpeners. The trick is to find one that can hold what you need it to but won’t take up too much space on its own. Ideally, it’ll be good to look at too. Reclaim your desktop or worktable with one of the best desk organizers for artists below.
How we pick each product:
Our mission is to recommend the most appropriate artists’ tool or supply for your needs. Whether you are looking for top-of-the line equipment or beginners’ basics, we’ll make sure that you get good value for your money by doing the research for you. We scour the Internet for information on how art supplies are used and read customer reviews by real users; we ask experts for their advice; and of course, we rely on our own accumulated expertise as artists, teachers, and craftspeople.
1. Totally Tiffany Desk Maid Tool Tower
Featuring six compartments with square openings and two slimmer ones, this stepped desktop organizer can handle a wide variety of tools. Still, with a base measuring just about nine by five inches, it doesn’t take up too much space. We like that it keeps everything in sight: small objects, like erasers and staples, can fit snugly in the lower compartments without getting lost, while rulers can stand upright in the taller ones. Made of wood, the tower is sturdy and durable. Since it’s white, it doesn’t draw too much attention and blends in with just about any desk setting.
2. Safco Products Desktop Organizer
This option is a tad pricey, but it’s well worth it if your budget allows. Made entirely of hard-wearing steel mesh, it can hold just about any stationery item you want it to. Three sliding drawers—ideal for pens and pencils and small objects like sticky notes—make up most of its base, and two shelves—one wide, one narrow—sit above them. To the left is a holder that can fit folders or notebooks. The drawers move smoothly without squeaking, and are long enough for most pens and pencils (and even brushes). The base features rubber feet to keep the entire structure from moving while in use—or worse, scratching your desk. You’ll likely have this smartly designed organizer for many years to come. Note that it does have a relatively large footprint, measuring more than 16 inches long and about one foot wide.
3. Sterilite Organizer
Sometimes, simple is all you need. This drawer system from Sterilite features three pullout compartments, stacked over one another, so it takes up just an area of desk space measuring 8 by 14 inches. The drawers are perfect for oddly shaped items, but you can also slip in notebooks or smaller organizers to create your own inner compartments. Each features a rounded handle and slides in and out with little effort. Made in the USA of durable plastic, this organizer is also easy to wipe down should you need to clean it. You can also buy multiple organizers and stack them.
4. Mont Martre Studio Tidy Holder
If you are looking for an organizer to keep drawing and painting supplies, we recommend this no-frills plastic holder from Mont Martre. The organizer, measuring nearly 6 inches square and about 3.5 inches tall, features 96 square holes to fit slimmer markers, colored pencils, paintbrushes, and other tools (as long as they have a diameter of about 0.66 inches and under). With each tool standing upright, you can easily see colors at a glance, and store tools as you like. Keep markers handy and brushes with their bristles up to prevent damage.
5. Stanley Removable 4 Cup Caddy
This caddy looks perfectly good on a desk, but it’s also meant to be carried around whenever you want. A big handle extends from its center so you can pick it up while keeping your supplies, divided into four cup-like compartments of the same size, in order. The sections are perfect for tools like pencils and glue sticks, but taller items, like adult-sized scissors, may feel a tad insecure especially if you’re moving the caddy around. The cups feature grooves on their base to help keep them in place, but you can remove each one if you want, making this a great option when students need to share supplies.
6. Three By Three Seattle Drawer Organizer
These trays are designed for drawers, but they are good looking enough to display on a desktop. Arrange them however you like to create the custom organizer of your dreams. You get five open-top receptacles for holding an array of items: Two narrow ones that are perfect for pencils and rulers; a cube-like one for knick-knacks; and two rectangular ones, the larger of which can store small notepads. You can keep the trays together as a unit, or use them around the studio as needed. Each is made of tin printed with a bold color and features rubberized bottoms to prevent sliding.
I’ve been battling Indigenous art fraud for 30 years. It’s only getting worse. – Maclean’s
Jason Hunt comes from a long line of renowned First Nations artists whose works and livelihoods are being undermined by fraudulent reproductions of their work
First Nations artists like Jason Henry Hunt—a renowned carver and nephew of legendary North West Coast artist Richard Hunt—spend a lifetime learning the intricacies of their craft. But fraudulent works (most of which are mass-produced overseas) have flooded the Canadian market for decades, despite the best efforts of Hunt and other advocates. Currently, Senator Patricia Bovey—the first art historian in the Senate—is lobbying the government to fortify copyright law to protect intellectual property and provide more protections for First Nations artists. She says there may be millions lost to art fakes and wants the government to do more to help artists track down those unlawfully reproducing their works by conducting a thorough review of the Copyright Act in order to ensure there are proper legal protections in place. In the meantime, Hunt says Canada’s art market remains a free-for-all for unscrupulous fraudsters. This is his story.
— As told to Liza Agrba
I’ve been a professional carver for 30 years. I come from a long line of Kwaguilth carvers, including my uncle Richard and my dad, Stan. Our family is full of artists, and I’m lucky enough to be one of them. But, like many First Nations artists, I spend my off-time trying to rein in the enormous market for fraudulent artwork, and have been doing so since I began my career.
Every element of North West Coast art is being stolen and reproduced. It runs the gamut from inspired designs thrown on cheap mugs and T-shirts to detailed reproductions passed off as the real thing and sold at a high price. Outright copyright theft is extremely common. In Canada, artists have implicit rights to a piece as soon as it’s created—that is, you don’t have to go out and copyright every individual work of art. But in practice, pieces are stolen all the time, with virtually no repercussions.
If you visit cities like Vancouver, Banff or any of these touristy places, you’ll find more fraudulent First Nations artwork than authentic pieces. When I was in Jasper a couple of years ago, every gallery I walked into—including some of the nicer ones—were filled with reproduction garbage promoted as real. It’s disheartening.
There are few to no consequences for people who do this. Ten or so years ago, one of the largest slot machine manufacturers in the world stole the design for one of my masks and put it onto their machines. The only reason I found out is because my wife was playing the machine at a casino in Vancouver. I sat down beside her and noticed. What the heck!? That’s my mask on the screen! I talked to one of their lawyers at the time, who agreed it looks like the same piece of artwork, but said that if it ever goes to court I’d have to do a lot more to prove it’s my piece. They are a massive company, and I couldn’t afford a lawyer to go after it.
There are countless examples of this. There was even one guy who hired a crew to create artwork and went as far as creating a fake artist persona. He sold to galleries for 10 or 15 years until a few of us artists started looking into him a little more because the work just didn’t look right. As with many of these fraudulent pieces, much of the work looks completely ridiculous to an actual carver. But to the average Joe, it looks legitimate. Someone he knew ended up ratting him out, and thankfully, you don’t see his pieces anymore. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
There are red flags to look for. One extremely common pattern is online posts with some version of this elaborate fairytale backstory: “I collected this piece at an estate sale; it’s been sitting in an attic for decades. It’s a long-lost masterpiece!” When I read that I think: buyer beware. It also helps to do some research on the artist—there should be something to corroborate who this person is. Also, when it comes to wood carvings you can look out for the type of wood being used. Generally, the real thing is made with red or yellow cedar. Another big tell is artwork that doesn’t have a signature. Every artist signs their work—don’t believe sellers who say the signature rubbed off.
Online selling has made this industry all the more prolific. In my earlier days I was battling eBay. I would sit around emailing buyers and sellers to warn them off. Now, sites like Redbubble, which sell work from ostensibly independent artists, will occasionally get on board to take fraudulent work down when it’s pointed out to them. But in my experience they’re absolutely uninterested in being proactive about it.
Even though we supposedly have laws in Canada to protect us, there’s no active enforcement. Because there’s no large-scale effort to tackle the issue it’s up to individual artists to do their best with whatever resources we may have. Believe me, it’s expensive to prove that a given piece is yours.
Enough is enough. We need a united approach, so we’re not all fighting this fight in little siloes. Maybe we need to fund a committee to tackle this problem, or stronger checks at the border for pieces that look like First Nations artwork. In the United States they have more severe penalties for people who reproduce First Nations artwork and pass it off as real. We need stronger policies and copyright protections.
There are a lot of artists passionate about this—we have Facebook groups and other forums dedicated to the effort. The Vancouver-based artist Lucinda Turner, who recently passed away, really spearheaded this effort. She would send thousands of cease-and-desist letters to online resellers. Since she’s passed, it’s even more of a free-for-all than before. We can’t keep up. It’s like playing whack-a-mole.
It’s emotionally draining. I’ve been battling this for 30 years, and it’s just getting worse. I’m lucky because I have a name in the art world, so I’m not necessarily losing out on the ability to market my work. But it really affects younger artists. Frankly, I think that’s part of the reason there are so few of them. I’ll be 50 in a couple of years, and I’m the youngest person in my family making a living with my art.
If you look at this with a broader lens, the uniqueness of our art is being watered down. There’s a very specific method to what we do. The designs are not just put together randomly. It takes generational knowledge to know how to do this. I was taught by my dad, who was taught by my grandpa, who was taught by his great-grandpa, and so on. That’s what gives the art meaning.
But when you have these generic reproductions, there’s no culture behind it. I wonder if there may be more fraudulent pieces on the market than there are genuine ones. Are we getting washed out? Maybe. It’s heartbreaking because there’s a huge market for this art, but we’re stuck battling theft on a massive scale. At this point we need government support and protections, and we need it now.
Demystifying the Art of Assessment & Selection – smallwarsjournal
Tame Your Workspace With 2022’s Best Desk Organizers for Art Students – ARTnews
I’ve been battling Indigenous art fraud for 30 years. It’s only getting worse. – Maclean’s
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