Studio Activities: Oct 2006-Mar 2007

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll have noticed that since returning to Canada I’ve been posting here slightly more frequently than when I was in England in 2005-2006. Aside from the obvious reason of my not having internet access at home in England, I was simply too busy with other creative and writing projects. Now that I’m reliably online again, I’ve tried to write a bit more regularly. I was hoping to post weekly—as opposed to the daily posts of my final 4 months in Japan—but have been writing so much other stuff that I simply haven’t had the energy.

My success at regular blogging has been mixed, with clusters of posts rather than a set interval ones. What I’ve found recently is that I get a critical mass of ideas swimming around in my head, and am forced to work through them in my blog posts in order to clear my mind for actual work. I think I’m on a two-week cycle, but hopefully I’ll be able to tame this particular beast into something more regular and a little less invasive of my daily routine. As well, I’ve been really busy. But this time it’s been a different kind of busy-ness than that of England.

This post is a summary of my recent activity, a kind of quarterly report but twice as long since it covers a six-month period. I’m at what I hope is the end of another phase of my creative cycle the dissemination phase. My past 18 months have almost evenly split into 6-months blocks of distinct activity. From October 2005 through March 2006 I created new work. Then from April through September I wrote about my work in order to be able to better at verbally articulating my ideas to other people. I don’t know how much the writing helped, but even a few baby steps towards verbal communicativeness is an improvement over my prior state. October 2006 was a bit of a write-off because we moved, but I’m counting October 2006 through March 2007 as the third 6-month block. My memory of what I’ve accomplished in the past 6 months doesn’t impress me, but after having listed everything out in detail, I realize just how much I’ve done.

First let me talk about “dissemination” as it pertains to my work. My pattern in the past was to make work in the interstitial time between family and day-job commitments. As such, all I wanted from my creative practice was to create work. I had vague notions of exhibiting, but time was so precious that I simply wanted to spend my time making new work rather than promoting the stuff that was finished. This changed around 2000 and I found myself trying to do the art-world hustle until we moved to Japan in 2003. These surges in outward activity are duly noted in my CV. Dissemination means sending out exhibition proposals, responding to calls, getting commercial representation, and any other activities that constitute sending my work out into the world.

As I’ve noted in conversation with a few people, my status as the biggest single collector of the works of Ed Pas is getting tiresome. From 1994-2000 I simply made work and rarely showed it. When we moved back to Saskatoon last fall I decided to change this pattern. I convinced myself that the most important thing for me to spend time on was the dissemination of my work. I started by spending 2 months revamping my web site, which included consolidating my email addresses, integrating my portfolio and writings into the site, and making this blog fit into the whole Ed Pas “brand.”

I did all of this development because prior to the completion of this work it was necessary to send people to various places here and on my site to find out basic information about me, and I didn’t think it was very professional. In some ways it was the digital equivalent of submitting a report or proposal on papers of a variety of sizes and colours. This might be ok for some rare situations, but not as an operating principle. As well, my Encounters series didn’t have a home yet, and I wanted to present it here rather than on my old portfolio site.

With the web site finished, I started looking into opportunities for commercial representation. I talked to a couple of people in the commercial art gallery business, and in January took their advice and went on a reconnaissance mission to Calgary. But as luck would have it, shortly after my return from Calgary, the Darrell Bell Gallery in Saskatoon took me on. I put my gallery prospecting on hold, based on the belief that it would be best to keep the dealer who has said “yes” to me happy before I sought more galleries. As such I bought myself a large format printer (For those who are curious, it’s an Epson SP4800, and will be the subject of future posts), tested out some materials and formats, and started printing editions based on my digital work. All of this has taken a lot longer than I expected, as I’ve had to look at my business model as a digital printmaker, research the longevity of materials, and look into some of the marketing issues. But that is also a topic for another post. I haven’t been trumpeting my relationship with the Darrell Bell Gallery simply because they haven’t had any of my work in inventory. That will change next week, as I’ll be taking them a number framed prints from the Encounters series.

Meanwhile, I’ve put work up at a couple of online portfolio sites. I won’t link to them here because the work is on those sites primarily to drive traffic to this site. I also submitted to a couple of online open calls in new media. There was also my artist talk at Paved at the beginning of March. The talk took a lot of preparation, as I haven’t really presented my work in a technical context before. It was worth it, though, as I got decent feedback. Also, in the course of preparing my talk, I came up with some more strategies to talk about the technical aspects of my work without getting too technical.

I’ve also done a couple of major submissions. I’m going to keep quiet about them until I have more news, but two of the projects involve me pushing some boundaries in my practice. I pretty much had to conceive and plan two major works, and summarize them for the proposals. There’s also been a grant application and the development of a system for tracking the various calls and submissions I’m working on or planning to submit to.

It’s no surprise, then, that earlier this week I simply gave up on my plan to submit to Dimensions, the Saskatchewan Craft Council’s annual juried show. I had two of my prints framed and ready for jurying, but was having some minor technical difficulties packaging them for delivery to the Craft Council. In hindsight, these problems would have been easily solvable but at the time they seemed insurmountable because of my nearly burnt out state. Still, although I’m disappointed to have missed this opportunity, I’m willing to let that one go.

What else? A chapbook proposal, a couple of workshops, a rewrite of my book about Encounters, not to mention a complete reformatting of 8 Bodies in 12 Years and 13 1/2 Essays on Practice, and a revision of residency plans.

What residency plans are these, you ask? For those of you who didn’t know, our original plan in our move to Saskatoon was to stay here until the summer, then move to Toronto. For various reasons we’ve decided to stay here at least another year, and if we move east, it will be in July 2008 at the earliest. This gives us more time to sort through our stuff that was in storage for 3 years, gives Lia more time to fully regain her health, and it means we don’t have to rush around cross-country in the late-summer early-fall period for weddings. Also, Jarrod can complete another full school year in one place for the first time in recent memory.

Anything else? My creative practice hasn’t been 100% about dissemination. I’ve been drawing again. I’ve finished about one-and-a-half sketchbooks since January. In total, this is approximately 200 sketches. It’s much fewer than I had hoped, but “only” 200 sketches is better than no sketches. There are some really exciting things happening with these drawings. I’ll be posting some scans at some point. I also tried my hand at an ink-and-acrylic on paper painting. It was so atrocious that I’ll spare you the horror and myself the embarrassment. Suffice to say that 10 years of making digital art and wooden assemblages hasn’t done any favours to my skill in handling paint on a flat surface.

So yeah, it’s been an action-packed and rarely stress-free 6 months. I’ve got lots of proposals out, and am laying the groundwork for a sustainable practice. Next week I get to actually create some new work. I’m starting with a new digital series that has a working title of Transit and Transience.

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve made a few new friends, and have started reconnecting with people I’ve been out of touch with for years. And my first Saskatchewan winter in three years seems to be over. Life is good.