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Interview with Artist FUKE on How to Establish Your Artist Career

Develop Your Career as an Artist


Rose. Image courtesy FUKE, 2013

FUKE's digital photo of a rose.

Image courtesy FUKE, 2013

Japan-based artist FUKE creates digital photographs using a painterly sensibility of color and composition. He has exhibited in museums and galleries around the world, including cities such as New York, Rome, Tokyo, Santa Fe and Stuttgart.

Fine Art at About.com first met FUKE on Facebook, which is increasingly being used by artists and curators as a great networking tool to promote artworks and exhibitions. Here is an interview with FUKE.

Q: How does one establish a career as an artist?

A: "Artists come in all various levels and types. There are artists who believe in themselves, and produce original creative work which is not imitation. There are artists whose work and achievements become publicly acclaimed after their death. Then, there are artists who participate in numerous art exhibitions in many countries of the world, having exhibitions at art galleries of each city, plus they have collectors who reserve works in advance before the artists make them."

"For the art student, it is important to copy and to imitate in order to learn how to make art. But after finishing the stage of the art student, it is vital to become independent as an artist, and to make art that is truly one's own, without imitation. The expressed world shows the artist's art world and it is necessary to establish a named style. Picasso style, Pollock style, the superior artist establishes a clear and distinct style that viewers can recognize at first glance. The young artist must first learn the history of modern art well and understand the flows of the historic evaluation. The correct knowledge about the history of the art, and deep understanding are necessary, and it is a point different from being a designer."

"From the time of the decision as a step to gaining independence as an artist, at first you must establish your own style. And to make the career as an artist, you must find locations where your art will be accepted. You need to investigate the current state of the art scene. So if you are a contemporary artist, it may be too difficult to have an artist career if you live in a small town, as the idea of contemporary art is often non-existent in small towns. It's necessary to live in places where there is an art scene, where there are other artists, galleries, curators existing."

Q: What's the best strategy(ies) for a young artist? Get an MFA?

A: "Contemporary art and traditional art differ. As for traditional art, it exists in each society and artists can learn techniques and the history of the traditional art at school."

"However, in a place like Japan, contemporary art is not as well understood as traditional art. Contemporary art has not yet permeated Japanese society, so it is difficult for art students to clearly understand contemporary art too."

"In Japan, contemporary art was introduced after the 1990's. There are some photos about contemporary art and the impressive explanation in textbooks. But there are no detailed explanations and commentary about the importance of the work kept by the public art museum."

"At first, in your city, you must know who is the most studied person about contemporary art. If you find the person, you had better ask about contemporary art. Next, you need to know how contemporary art is treated and what are the present conditions about contemporary art in your place. What is possible and what is impossible."

"In addition, I cannot tell the value to the person who does not understand the structure of contemporary art called the "continuous negative inheritance values of succession." At first it is necessary for oneself to understand about the structure about contemporary art and to acquire it by experience early on. It is necessary to let it continue for around five years, soaking it in, both physically and mentally. If an artist is careless, unconscious and conservative imitation may take place. It is also important for young artists to learn from senior artists who actively work in contemporary art. If one of the most important person in the history of contemporary art teaches at the art school of your country, you had better go there to study."

Q: Should an artist move to a specific country or city? Does locality matter?

A: "It's important to live where a lot of excellent curators live, and to make intimate friendship with each other. Artists may not advance to an international career level, if they have no contact with excellent and established curators. I utilize the Internet, and it is not impossible to get to know some of the curators on the Internet. However, the busy curator who runs around the world, may not have time to talk with you on the Internet."

"The Internet does not yet open a big door in the world of the art. I think that the door is very small so as yet to hardly see it. The open time has not come yet."

Q: How does an artist go about getting gallery representation?

A: "If an artist is an unknown person for a certain gallery, the artist will not able to make a good connection with the gallery. At first, the artist must be known to the gallery, and next, the artist must make mutual trust and respect. The artist needs to know about the gallery well, to know who is the gallery artists, and to know the history of the gallery too. If the artist can develop a good relation with the gallery, and only when the art work of the artist is excellent, the gallery will ask to make business with the artist. And if the gallery treats the person as a most important artist of the gallery, the artist will make the chance of success."

Q:  Is it wise to submit work to juried exhibitions?

A: "It becomes one of the opportunities to get well-known if you are awarded a prize of a juried exhibition. It will help create business for your art. But thinking about famous artists known in art history, I think that none of them began their careers from juried exhibitions."

"Unlike other business fields, I think that real art is one of examination of the fight to established concepts. Most of the great artists stand outside of the established concept in many cases. And juries about art stands on the established concept side. "

Q: How does an artist get the attention of a curator?

A: "If you can meet an excellent curator, I think that the reputation of your work opens up, as curators often become friends with the artists they work with. If you can make some case of art that is established as art, it will be a good topic and it will make the chance to meet excellent curators. It will be faster than to make many drawings and good paintings and making cool installations. You might be able to wake up a case of art after when you know what is art and what is not art."

Q: How to develop a portfolio? What are the integral elements?

A: "The portfolio is a tool to give a stranger knowledge about the artist's work. In addition to plainness and beauty, the originality of the portfolio in itself will be necessary, too. Looking bad will not supplement the impression of the work."

Q: How does an artist get in an important group exhibition?

A: "It is most important to get a lot of people to support an artist's work with every effort. Some galleries will make requests from the gallery side if they come to surpass a level with the certain number of supporters, for example one million."

Q: Is gallery representation vital to an artist's career?

A: "There are a lot of artists who do not exhibit at art galleries. Would the private exhibition at an art gallery have been important to a career of someone like Van Gogh or Marcel Duchamp? I think there are more important ways to get your art seen outside of the art gallery. The function of the art gallery is mainly to sell a work. There is the exception, too. As an example, I think that the private exhibition of Walter De Maria, in which he filled an art gallery with soil, shows how art succeeded as being art and not commerce."

Interview conducted August 26, 2013.

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