William Rossoto, Artist, Author, Residential Designer, Photgrapher,

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Creating a Book

Self Publishing & You

A book of short story fiction, poems, and photographs
    These days just about anyone can publish a book, have it listed with the Library of Congress, and have it for sale on several of the most popular bookstore websites. Of course this doesn't mean that you will be a famous author that sells over a million copies and is on the New York Times Best Seller List, though you may get lucky if you keep at it. What creating a book does mean, is that you have taken the time to produce a book, learned something along the way, hopefully had fun creating it, and have something that might be worthy of sharing with your friends and relatives. Now, this might sound a bit discouraging at first, but let's not get mired in the muck of doing something creative because you want to be famous. Generally, the reason a creative person produces a work of art is because they are compelled to create by an invisible force that speaks louder than their rational mind, overriding all circuits of logic to create something tangible in the three dimensional world no matter what circumstances may be occurring. Are all creative people simply crazy?

    The best self publishing company I have found on my journey of self publishing is www.lulu.com. I researched many sites that made a lot of promises, cost a considerable amount of money, and had poorly explained procedures to create a book. I'm not trying to sell you on LuLu, only to say that I really liked there site even though it was a lot of information to wade through in order to create a book (it's free!). They do have a few templates that you can use for some books, but they are very limited in the scope of aesthetics and choices for book sizes. In order to create my most recent book, "Viewpoints" I had to learn the Adobe InDesign program, read through a fair amount of information on all the specifics of formatting for major distribution, copyright, and of course, do the writing. It has been almost a year since the inception of this book, and I have just finished the final edits, and will hopefully have it on the market in a week or so. Instant gratification does not bide well with making/writing books, as most books take anywhere from a year to five or ten years to create.

    One of the biggest learning curves for me was when I had to work with a professional editor. I had never done this before and knew almost nothing about the process. To find an editor I made a list of criteria I thought important and went on line to review the different types of editors. Specifically I was looking for someone who edits fiction, had worked in a major publishing house, possibly a writer them-self, had a wide variety of references, well educated with a masters in creative writing, listed their fees directly on the website, and someone I could easily communicate with. As a novice writer I felt quite apprehensive about approaching a professional editor. I finally found someone I wanted to work with and sent them my short stories and poetry thinking that they would look at my work and wonder why in the world was I choosing to be a writer. When I spoke with the editor, she said that all writers, whether professional or amateur feel a great deal of insecurity when handing over their work to an editor. As a writer I feel much more vulnerable, naked, and insecure than I do with any other creative endeavors I take part in. The editor made a gazillion red marks on my transcript, mostly grammatical errors of which I'm famous for, and a few content revisions. We went back and forth on the content revisions, and finally after three months of exchange, I had a finished manuscript that I felt confident about and wanted to publish.

    This journey of writing, creating a book, working with an editor, and learning the ins and outs of the InDesign program, has taught me that with a bit of fortitude, perseverance, and an open mind, a crazy idea like writing a book isn't so crazy after all. Now, if someone actually purchases the book and enjoys it...this would be a gift.

William Rossoto

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Multi-Media Website

Making a Multi-Media Website

    Not long ago I created a new website to combine all the various creative endeavors I partake of, on one website. This new site has residential design, fine art, commercial art, and published works all on one site. Yahoo! So, it's what you might call a one stop shop so that you don't have to go to several different websites to find out what I do. After observing several of my multi-talented compatriots doing this, I was convinced to follow suite. I hope you will enjoy the new site. Below is the link.


    The beauty of creating your own website is that it allows you make updates as needed instead of relying on, and often waiting for your website builder to update things for you. The site I created was done through a template site and took about forty hours to complete. I didn't have to know HTML or any other language to create a reasonably clean, well organized site. One of the main factors in choosing to go with a template site was cost. What I originally wanted to create through a website builder would have cost between three to five grand (which isn't a bad thing), and of course would have been far more creative and complex than what I was able to do on my own, but I feel the results I got are a reasonable compromise that allowed for a fairly good outcome, though considerably simpler than I would have designed with a website builder. After that long sentence full of grammatical errors, what more can be said?

I would appreciate any feedback you may have to offer about the website I just finished.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dialogue & Art

Discovering yourself through art.......

   Recently while painting some "abstract explorations" I heard an enormous amount of internal dialogue going on that I hadn't heard before.........some of this will sound a bit.....crazy, and I don't take it to seriously myself.

    This isn't some poltergeist sort of thing occurring and my mind wasn't taken over by aliens nor was I using mind altering substances.....though, that might be of help in my explorations into the abstract realms of painting. When in the creative sphere whether writing, doing visual art or designing homes I always have a sort of positive inner guide, the quite voice that helps me to make decisions, what colors and content is best, etc., but the very small voice in the back of this voice is what I heard while doing the abstracts. It is not the voice of the muse, nor the reflections of academia or anything that I can recall being fed into my brain, though of course somewhere along the path of life I may have encountered it and completely forgotten the makings of it.

    Most of the time  I do figurative or semi-figurative work, take a lot of time to do them, exercise a
great amount of detail and am unable to leave white space. The abstract explorations are quite unlike the previously mentioned, taking little time, very loose, little detail and a lot of white space. I'm forcing myself to go outside my comfort zone, to broaden my artistic horizons mostly because I've been experiencing an "artist block" for some time now and desperately wanted a breakthrough of some sort.

   For some reason, while doing these abstract explorations the little voice in back of the little voice is telling me, "what I'm doing is wrong, inconsequential, I should take more time to complete them, there is no detail and this makes the work worthless, why am I leaving so much white space and why am I not doing more conceptual work that would mean something, and on it goes". Good grief!!!! I'm curious to know if other artist have experienced these sorts of inner commentary.

   What's funny about all of this to me is the contrast of having an enormous amount of fun and freedom while hearing a very derogatory and critical inner voice....the voice behind the inner voice. My general day to day inner dialogue is quite positive and I enjoy life a great deal, yet here is this mini voice ranting and raving negative about something I'm having fun doing. Maybe some art psychoanalyst could explain all this to me and tell me what I already know such as, I'm simply crazy and maybe I should do some art therapy. Anyway, I would love to hear from other artist artist on this topic.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Scratcher Thoughts


I still like to make marks
like the fur weavers of Lascaux
Scratching a patch of hard rock
or coloring with ochre
I'm not a hunter, but......
sighting beauty aim with barb
Every mark and stroke
paid attention like G-d
This path chosen?
To scrawl and scratch
conjuring the unseen magic
Manifesting desire invisible
imitating ancestors drive
Leaving mark like dog
on fire hydrant.....
My saber tooth calls for knowing
somehow remembered, though.....
Scarcely can I say why

               William Rossoto 4/25/13

Working in the studio today on a new abstract series....more explorations than anything serious. I use the word serious because it is quite the opposite of what I'm experiencing as I do these explorations. I'm having so much fun I'm thinking that this couldn't be serious art.....whatever that is. So much of the time I carry with me the belief (how ever erroneous it may be) that a work of art can not be simple, that it requires enormous effort and if it does not then I haven't made something worthwhile....does anyone else feel the same way. Well, silly musings for the day........

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Explorations & Meanings

This article is on the absurd musings of a self absorbed artist (me momentarily) in search of the unknown, a sort of holy grail quest, though certainly not as profound as finally finding the philosophers sword......or was that the philosophers stone.........  Maybe some of you have gone through the following process of thought.

Starting a new series of art work is always a challenge, the contrasting elements of academia, intuition, preconceptions and a willingness to explore the hidden realms are often overwhelming for me. In this case I'm leaving years of figurative drawing & painting in the wind and proceeding with the amorphous and ambiguous nature of abstraction. I find abstract work to be much more difficult and am trying to find a way to define my concept in a set of constructs that will communicate something of value to the viewer. When dealing with figurative art there is always the associative thread of physical reality the viewer can correspond with, and even if the work is of little conceptual value there is still something easily associated with. When dealing in the abstract realms it is like trying to explain what another planet looks and feels like without the viewer having ever been there or having seen it.

A better question to ask in all of this is, "does it matter if abstract art means anything other than a pure & true expression of the artist?" If one paints from their heart & soul is that not enough, does everything need a justifiable and intellectual reason for creation as though to substantiate the artist virility, intelligence or purpose, or the viewers reason to look at the art? Is decorative art shallow and lacking in substance? Maybe all art is simply decorative and as artist we create stories about our art to satisfy academia, intellectuals and the audience hungry for a story of interest and entertainment value. I know this isn't really true, but I do ponder what the value all of that academia training tries to inundate us with.

A few of my main premises in all that I create are:
1) Will the viewer be elevated in some way?
2) Will it allow the viewer to dream and explore new emotional or intellectual territory?
3) Does it inform the viewer in some way?
4) Am I communicating what I intended through the medium of art?
5) And lots of other questions........
I should say that these questions arise only when completely lucid, not in the act of creating.......

The main question on my mind about creating this abstract series is, can I start without a concept and work towards one? When starting with a concept, a vision, a reason to proceed and of course passion, there is still an exploration of the infinite within any given subject matter which can take years to explore and define in way that will ultimately convey what I had in mind. If I start with no concept it seems improbable that as an artist anything of value might be produced other than a possible hit and miss sort of progression.

I have so many questions about what I'm exploring right now that it seems the only thing I can do is to move forward and create work or sit still and think about it, neither of which may be of much worthy fruition. After years of working in the figurative realm I am somewhat fearful of venturing into a realm of art that may simply end up a mess, or of course I might surprise myself and end up with a series of work that has some aesthetic and conceptual value......who knows? By the way, I have also ended up with a mess even in creating figurative art, but not too often.

Well, my friends I'm on a quest to search for my own truth, one that will honestly communicate without the interference of academia, mental projections of perceived audience, fearless planting of paint on canvas and paper to hopefully express my given potential, whatever that may be...........

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Keeping Sketchbooks

Recently I pulled out my dusty old sketchbooks and few of the newer ones to trace my footsteps through the world of academics to my present state of being as an artist and writer. With over thirty years of sketches, poetry and short story writing to wade through I felt excited and yet overwhelmed by the prospect of excavating my past. It's like inserting myself into a time capsule, reliving things that might be better forgotten in the fog of faulty cellular memory. At the same time I might discover some possible elucidating and beautiful moments in time. Surrendering to the unknown I opened the oldest book first containing yellowed, cracked and torn pages of figure drawings, writings of a youthful exuberant and tumultuous young mind and some things I simply can't mention here. 

Often I thought of simply throwing these books out because if anyone else ever read this stuff or saw some of the rather provocative drawings, I might be accussed as being in need of medical attention which would feel pretty embarrassing while I'm still alive. Not that I'm all that self conscious about what others think, but hey.......I really am, but not in an insecure way. I am happy to say that I did keep these journals because there is something quite elucidating and beautiful about being able to revisit yourself, not in a narcissistic way, but as a tool to learn and observe your own process of maturing emotionally, spiritually, creatively and technically. Also, it allows me to create some new ideas from older material, though most of the time I would rather let sleeping dogs snore. After a few weeks of reading and looking through old sketches I am quite happy that I decided to keep these books, which continue to propel and inspire me in numerous ways.

My suggestion to all artist and writers is to keep all your note/sketch books so that you can visit them and so that others might be able to share in your process of creation.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Writing of Art

Art can propel you to think and reflect, to draw upon associated memories and elicit responses of humor, horror or invite mythological imagery, associate pictorial memories or simply  to find a place of peace and relaxation, but generally one does not see a story directly produced in their mind in response to visual art. Let's see if this premise holds true when examined in context to the creator of art and writing and that of the observer.
Do art and writing have anything in common with each other? The written word generally creates a picture in ones mind almost automatically, but can visual art directly elicit the creation of a story or a poem in an instantaneous way (like seeing the words in your mind)? Visual art can inspire one to write commentary about the art such as the aesthetics, conceptual and or historical context, but when it comes to a direct translation of visual art forming words in ones mind it seems quite a distant possibility unlike the written word automatically creating a picture in your mind, though some people may access this differently.

I've had this quandary many times about the response of the reader and that of the viewer of visual art. I create visual art and I also write poetry and short stories and have wanted to understand if there are similarities in response to either mediums as well as to question if my mind works the same way in the creation both writing and art.

bit of my history. Upon furthering my intention to be a visual artist I set upon the academic route and attained a BFA in painting while also managing to take a few courses in writing and poetry. I am quite confident of my skills as a visual artist and have no trouble doing shows and commissions, but I tend to think of myself as a "folk writer" such as are non-academically trained artist being referred to as "folk artist". As a writer I tend to have a certain disdain for all the rules of writing and pay very little attention to Strunk and White as well as any other "supposed to do things" in the world of writing including punctuation. After thirty years of writing short stories and poetry I finally decided to bypass my fears about publishing my work and created a book of my poetry and art called, "Moments Without Time". Fortunately I have many friends that have given me positive feedback regardless of what they may really think about my poetry, and so I continue to write and contemplate what I want to do for my next book. Have no fear, there a point to made here as I wax on my insecurities about writing.

There is something about writing that I find considerably more personal and revealing about my mental and spiritual interiors than that of my visual art when presented to the general public. I can always make up a story in the aftermath of creating a work of art, a justification, making it allegorical or not, autobiographical, or purely meaningless dribble, etc., but with a poem or a short story the reader is always directly inserted into the interpretation, crawling into my printed words, creating pictures from the words, stripping me naked with every sentence read. With writing I feel vulnerable and unable to defend myself, maybe because I don't feel qualified to be writing words on a page for all to see, or maybe because writing is simply a more intimate medium than visual art, or maybe because I feel substantiated by the societal right of passage called a college degree that I have in art, but not in writing. Regardless, the creation of art and writing does have some similar and dissimilar qualities, for me each one does influence the other to some extent.  Most often I think in pictures when I write or do art, conjuring up memories or making up new mental images and concepts, but I don't generally translate a set of written words into a work of visual art. When writing I use both picture memory and word concepts to create, and I feel more like a scribe taking notation than being the originator of a poem or short story. Both mediums encompass listening to my muse and working intuitively, but I don't paint the words I hear when painting, the words are simply directing me as to color, composition, contrast, etc., a sort of complimentary set of verbal cues from my academically trained mind and my muse. Maybe this cutting a fine line between the two processes, but I see them as quite a distance apart. Onward to the point of this article.

Everyone's creative process is different, but we arrive at the same place in a work of art or a work of the written word, the finished product. What the observer or reader feels and interprets from a work of art or a piece of writing is generally as varied as the creators process of the work, and the way someone's mind functions in the process of interpretation can be verbal or imagery based. I am curious to know what your perspective and process of creation is in art and or writing.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Contributing Your Art

A few times a year I like to donate my art work to various foundations that have a worthy cause. One of the foundations called Chairise the Future lets you pick up a piece of furniture from their huge warehouse so that you make it into a work of art to be auctioned at their fundraiser. This auction raises money and provides furniture and other services for over 3,000 people every year in the Atlanta area.

I've been doing this particular donation for a few years now and I have encountered many questions from artist about giving their art away for free to fundraisers, of which I'd like to share with you.

The most often asked question is "why do all these fund raisers use the talents of artist to raise money but give the artist nothing in return" (money and or recognition). It's a loaded question with a lot of viewpoints depending on if you are a "successful artist" (in this case meaning - making a living from your art), or if you are a "struggling artist" (not making a living from your art). If you happen to be fortunate enough to thrive from your passion you generally don't have an issue with giving a few pieces of art work away every year. On the other hand if you are working a full time job in order to support your art and possibly your family as well, this is where most artist feel devalued when it comes to giving away their art. Another a salient question connected to the issue of giving art away for free is about the value/devaluation of art in our society which is a long and sticky topic to contemplate. So I'll do my best here to give some answers to the above questions and hopefully provide a perspective that might help you to see a bit of light in the tunnel of art fundraisers. 

The only fundraiser I have ever been a part of that gave a portion of the proceeds from the art sold to the artist is the Alan Avery Gallery in Atlanta. He feels that artist are worthy of receiving when they donate their art work. He told me he believes that a fundraiser should benefit everyone concerned and that it is important to not to devalue the art and the artist. He was raising money for Owen, a child in need of medical help, a very beautiful cause. I found myself contemplating his viewpoint about having value for the artist and the art. I had previously contributed for years with no expectation of a return on my art other than to benefit others. I think it is important to give and to give from your heart with no expectation of reward or attachment to a monetary outcome. However there are some considerations to be made when contributing of which I will discuss later in this article.

Recently I was talking with my friend, David Mendoza who has some valuable perspectives on doing fund raisers (he has helped to raise money, talent & sponsors for Chairise the Future). He views fund raisers such as Chairise the Future as an opportunity to make new contacts, advance your exposure as an artist, have people own great art and that all of the efforts  benefit a great cause to help people in need. Because of David's effort and several others, Chairise the Future which raises money for The Furniture Bank has been able to get a new warehouse and to continue to benefit many needy people. The upside of contributing your art is the beauty of knowing you can help many people with a small effort on your part. Community effort and the conscious intention to be of assistance to those less fortunate than ourselves is about love, altruism and the joy of giving. 

From another viewpoint, many fund raisers solicit artist to support their cause without the slightest inclination to offer recognition and or a percentage of the art they sell. It is as if artist have no value in this society that is often bereft of aestheticism, elegance, grace, wisdom and creativity. Our culture in the U.S. puts the arts on the bottom rung of life pursuits as though creativity and personal expression are of no value. On the top of the economic structure are the sciences, entrepreneurship, politics, being a CEO, etc., and reaping as much capital as possible at any cost. I have no qualm with making money or pragmatic endeavors, I simply would like to see the arts and artist recognized as a valid, important, potent and necessary part of life in our society. The arts and the artist reflect and help to create the shaping of society. It a spiritual journey many are not willing to explore because often the monetary rewards are not sufficient to provide for the everyday cost of living.

Wow.....I went on quite a tirade there and got off the subject.......sort of. Fundraisers ask artist to contribute on a regular basis because we are an easy target. There is often a belief that artist have tons of unsold artwork in their studios and that they should give it away because they can't sell it. This premise may or may not be true, but I do know that artist are often the first ones asked to donate to a worthy cause and unless a rare bird comes along such as Alan Avery who believes that artist and art have value, we will continue being the bottom of the shoe....good to step on, keeps your feet from hurting, but is rarely seen or recognized for its value.

In conclusion I believe that we (artist) should contribute to worthy causes to help others in need, but in a way I also feel that we deserve some sort of recognition and or a shared percentage of the donated art. On the other hand, the reward of giving is simply the act sharing from your heart without any expectation of being compensated. I am a bit conflicted about fundraisers and present this article as food for thought.  Aside from all this conjectural diatribe, I do hope you give your art to a good cause to help others.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Book of Poetry & Art


If you like to read poetry, I just self published this book of poetry with a few art works from the "Nature Series". With over thirty years of writing short stories and poetry I thought it might be interesting to present some of it in conjunction with my art, testing the waters of what it not only takes to create a book, but also to get some feedback on my writing. I don't think of myself as a word smith as might a seasoned writer, but I do enjoy painting my thoughts with words.


Click on the link above and it will take you to the preview of the book. I would appreciate any commentary you may have to offer about the book.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When There is Space

Have you ever experienced a lull in your work when you simply cannot produce art?

For the last few months I’ve been experiencing what one of my friends call, “ a gestation period” which translates into, I am creating a new baby and I'll just have to wait and see what comes out. “I seem to have lost my muse”, or, “I am experiencing a dry spell” is the most common terminology for this situation of non production. I sometimes think that when this happens to me I have lost my muse, my creative “mojo”, and won’t ever be able to create another work of art. Such mental constructs are for the most part just that, the ego trying to get the best of the creative experience by not allowing the creative energy to flow that is always present and exist in almost any situation.
Another way to look at this is, the times when I’m not painting or drawing may possibly be some of the most creative periods because this leads me to the next series of physical manifestations that usually surpass anything I’ve created before. I am generally quite driven to always be producing work, whether painting, drawing, writing, or playing music, and I start getting worried when I seem distracted, unable to focus and create. The sense of anxiousness is probably the biggest stumbling block for the creative process. I don’t really know why there are lulls in creativity, but I do know that I generally feel quite uncomfortable during these times, especially because I hear that little voice in the back of my head telling me that I must pick up my brushes now, this minute, or something such as, I’ll be excommunicated from the realm of creativity……….I know…..that’s nuts.

All this seems a bit crazy & neurotic to me, especially as I write this on paper, the notion that I must create or else I am not worthy, or doing what I’m supposed to be doing, or I won’t be able to do it anymore if I wait to long, or my creative juices are all dried up, or the million other insane notions that occupy this grey matter. The truth is that no matter how long or short the time span is between the creative work you make, there is no set formulas, nothing lost, and it may just be the best thing that happened to you, leading to possibly some of your best work. Often I will try to force myself to create, and I find this usually leads to disaster, though it can possibly be a start to engaging the creative process again. I don’t really have any immediate solutions for this period of time I’m experiencing, and we all have a different sort of experience when in the “Lull”. So getting out of it is for me, letting go of all my preconceptions about what should be, and allowing what is to place, and simply waiting.......easy to  say, another to actually do it.

Of course if you are on a deadline to create, having a dry spell is quite another issue from when you have plenty of time to work this out. What to do to get the motors of the muse moving? Relax! This is pretty hard to do under the duress of a deadline, but to relax, go do something completely different in a new environment, or meditate, or just pass by your paints and say hello to them and let it go. Yep, it all sounds easy until you are experiencing the valley of dry desert non-creative winds. But believe me, this to shall pass (kind of cliché here) and you will once again feel the sweet waters of your sub conscious muse as the flood gates of creativity flow once again.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


An unusual turn of events led to a joyous and new adventure in my art web sites. For years I had hired various website developers to create websites, keep them updated, and functioning. One the most exasperating experiences I had was through the use of Elance where you hire people you don't know and hope for the best. Well, okay, I was being a cheapskate and almost always took the lowest bid which ended up causing me to do an enormous amount of work because most of the low bidders are just starting out on their new venture and have little experience. Of course, there are proficient and talented website developers on Elance, but you have to pay considerably more than I did to get the results you want without spending hours emailing and Skype chatting, in which case you might as well hire a local professional.

Then, the unusual occurred. A friend of mine who has an incredible website, turned me onto his web developer. This may not not seem like a momentous occasion to celebrate, but what I'm about to relate to you is something I think most artist and possibly others would like to have for their website.

As artist we are constantly and continually updating our web pages because we create new works of art, update our biographies with each new show, and revise the media & collections regularly. Well, with a regular HTML or XHTML website this would always require time spent talking with the website guy or gal and require funds that I would rather spend on other things, like having a great evening out for dinner and a play, or going bungee jumping. I haven't actually gone bungee jumping yet, but with all the money I'm saving now I can add going sky diving to that as well.......if I summon the courage to do so.

Mr. website, my life saving pal told me that he would create a website that I could update myself without having to be a super computer geek who knows all the programming languages like HTML and XML and QRSTUVWXYZ.......Wow!!!! Is this really possible I exclaimed or am I just dreaming? For many of you out there this may seem a bit ridiculous, but for me, the idea of being able to easily update my website with little computer savvy I can make claims too, is really worth a celebration, a big party with fireworks and 100 friends in the Bahamas.

Now, the easy part. He did all the difficult programing for me so that I can do whatever I want on the site. Believe it or not, the item I speak of is well used, but generally not used to create websites with, and as a matter of fact I have blogged on it for years and lots of people use it. It's called.....are you ready? WordPress! You can create a website that looks like a website, not a blog, and control your content, aesthetics, and easily update. As I'm sure you have guessed, there are some limitations since there are templates which regulate your creative juices, but I chose to use the limitations to my advantage and end up with a site I'm thrilled with.

There's probably a lot of people that are already aware of this WordPress web building thing, and yes I am not super computer savvy, so forgive me if I have bored you with the obvious. For those that haven't seen the web light yet I offer you my new experience in websites.

William Rossoto

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Contemplations on Art

Art has simply become too serious of a subject matter! When did the joy and laughter of creating art take a stage right, behind the facade of intellectualism? I mean the ultimate goal of art is the act of the creation itself, to be in union with the subtle energy of all creation, and to share that creation with other people as an expression of humanity. How did it become so over intellectualized, and who thought it was so important to exercise the ego in writing articles on art that most people can't comprehend? Is art supposed to be an elitist activity enjoyed by but a few that might grasp it's full intention? So many questions I have circulating through this over indulgent art centered cortex, many of which I will try to give some semblance of an answer to in this abbreviated text that some may consider to pass for writing.

Recently brought to mind by a friend was the following inquiry. He asked what it is that drives me to do a series of work versus creating single art works based upon immediate impressions of life (that's the simplified version). This put me in a bit of a tailspin for a time, as I hadn't truly contemplated why I did a series, I just know that's what I do. After a few hours of intense and almost painful introspection I came to the conclusion that there seems to be two central thoughts about the creation of art. The first, that there is value in developing a series of work over an extended period of time. The second, creating art on a more immediate experiential level of being is more honest and truthful form of creation negating the ego structures of a long term goal. Naturally, this may sound dualistic and possibly simplistic in the approach to the conceptual aspect of creating art and of the individual artist, but here's my take on it. Oh my, this is simply getting too serious and full of erroneous information!

If you went to art school at a college, the probability is that you create art in a series over an extended period of time devoted to one subject category  because that is what you were taught to do. We were ingrained with the idea that developing a series artwork is about the fullest exploration of whatever subject matter we chose and that  to endeavor over an extended period of time would create depth, truth, and understanding of ourselves that would not have evolved otherwise, of which will be apparent in the artwork. Not only that, but you would hone your skills, your craft would improve, you essentially would be illuminated somewhere along the route of extended "doingness". The equation being something like; endurance + time + exploration in a singular study of one subject matter = depth + true artistry + understanding of yourself and your subject matter, therefore creating great art. The idea being that you get to the core of your own psyche & "subtle energy field" because you chose a singular focal point to play upon the art. Of course this premise is lacking in any actual factual material or studies, but if someone would like to give me a major government grant to study this, I would likely be up for the task.

On to the artist that like to do art work based upon immediate perceptions and sees no value in embracing an ongoing series of work. I would like to remind you that none of what I say matters at all, and I am simply contemplating nonsense. So why are you reading this? Maybe because you have thought about this as well, or your bored and reading this late at night. Either way I couldn't really say much to my friend that posed the original question to me. I think I'm to deeply entrenched in the notion that my essence is developed through long term focus, and that will be apparent to anyone that views my art work. Somehow this last statement reeks of false thinking and shows how imbibed I am with school nonsense. The bottom line here is, it doesn't really matter what the process is that you want to use, be it actualized over a short or long period of time with or without central focus.

Art is art, let those that don't do it be the admirer & critic, & let the rest of us creative sorts be who we are without all the intellectualism and pretense of today's art world! Have I said anything of value here in this late night rambling?

I would love to hear what you think about this topic.

Be Creative, Express Yourself, Give, and Love Life

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


The art of the interview is as much as of an art as is painting a picture. There are the right strokes, use of adjacent colors, composition, spontaneity, and listening to what the painting wants, or in this case listening to the person interviewing you. Many magazines, radio, and television interviewers ask the same old warn out questions such as, when did you know you were an artist, or how do you come up with these compositions, etc. You know, the usual banter sufficing as an interview. Then there is the rare opportunity to just sit down with the interviewer and have a relaxed conversation that flows like water, of which I had the joyous occasion of doing today.

One of the things we talked about today was the over intellectualizing of most art reviews and or interviews. While knowing a vast amount of comparative art history, compositional expositions, and conceptual rhetoric has it's advantages, art is self explanatory, or at least in my opinion art should inspire the viewer on to some sort of mental, spiritual, and or philosophical examination, introspection, revelation, or joyous experience without the use of words. The ole cliche of, "a picture speaks a thousand words" does hold some truth, and of course if a work has a very difficult allegorical content, it may need to be broken down into the verbal realm.

Today dealt more in the realm of' "I like that", or "wow those colors are great", and so on, not being the least bit conscious about sounding "artistically correct" or stupid. Another topic that came up today was in consideration of how digital technology is affecting visual fine art, and the difference between the tactile sensation of working with your hands to pressing buttons and using only your mind. So, on we went for an hour or so looking at my art, talking, and forgetting that an interview was actually taking shape. Wonderfully refreshing! Many may consider this an odd approach to interviewing, but I think we both got to know a lot more about each other since no canned questions were presented, and I think I gave him something of value to write about. I am no interview expert, and have but a small parcel of interviews to date, but I felt like writing this article to exclaim my joy, one of getting an interview, and two, thoroughly enjoying it.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this interview today, that is when it reaches the digital world of type.

Keep on being creative, embracing all that life has to offer, and give.

www.rossotoart.com     www.artswami.com

Monday, February 28, 2011

Galleries, Art, & You

I'm writing this post in hope that the many talented artist out there are more informed than than I have been in the past, and if you aren't, maybe this article will be worthy of your consideration.

Most artist produce their work so that others can derive pleasure from it in some form , and possibly be mentally and or spiritually stimulated, challenged about some conventional aspect of society, well...........the list goes on. 

In order for an artist to be seen by an audience requires getting out into the public eye. This is where things get interesting because there are so many ways to gain artistic visibility. The most basic being galleries, our websites, art reps, online galleries, magazines, etc. As you gain web presence you will also gain in the number of unsolicited emails from galleries and art events claiming they want to show your art work, have prize money for the best artist that applies, or claims they have a website that will get your work sold. This might seem like an exciting prospect, but generally they are only looking for ways to make money from unwary artist
Essentially galleries, online art galleries, and anyone who makes offers of instant artistic success or unrealistic juried prizes is looking for a naive artist that wants so badly to be seen in the public eye that they will pay whatever the asking price is. I have been one of those artist who in my younger days would do anything to be seen and have my ego stroked. no matter the cost.

Recently I received an email from the Amsterdam Whitney Gallery in New York asking me if would like to apply to their gallery for an upcoming group show. I looked them up on the net to see if they had any relevance, and it appeared they do actually have a gallery and they also run a few ads on Saatchi. So I proceeded to give them a call and see what they were about. All sounded innocent enough, they wanted to expand their art roster and might be willing to help promote my art work on their website. What was funny about this whole episode with the Whitney Amsterdam Gallery is that I temporarily lost my reasoning power and ability to use my past experiences as a barometer of the sort of actions not to engage in. Please don't make fun of me now. Yes, I did send them my portfolio, bio, and artist statement knowing full well what was probably going to take shape with these gallery folks. Okay, I plead temporary insanity and that is all I'll say about that! You can probably guess what comes next. Within the period of three day they emailed me back and proclaimed to congratulate me on having been accepted by their gallery and how prestigious and momentous this occasion was, and my, I felt so special and elated for just a brief moment before I read the "terms & conditions" portion of their offer.

Already having an intuitive notion as to what I was getting into, but ignoring it in hopes that one of these darling galleries might actually be forthright and honest..................well, that's asking a bit much. Bottom line, they wanted a minimum of $2100.00 to "represent me" and another 40% on top of that for any art work I sold. I just couldn't believe I fell sucker to a scheme I've seen so many times in the past. I promptly replied with a letter to them saying how pleased I was to be accepted by their gallery, and then I dug in deep telling them exactly what I thought of their scheming gallery ways. Yep, I have once again been a sucker. Why can't these galleries just tell you up front if they want your money for displaying work in their galleries instead of going through the elaborate ritual of baiting the sucker artist. I mean, that would be an honest approach and then it would be pretty easy to access what you may or may not want to do.

Perhaps you have encountered a similar event along your path in art and learned from it. Maybe you have paid someone to have your art seen in a gallery. You may even be paying someone online to have your displayed on a website. I'm not making any judgments about whether or not you may want to pay to get visibility, but I do ask you to take a look at as many ways as possible to sell your work without paying to have it done. I have a friend who says, "if you think you need to pay to get your art seen you're going in the dead wrong direction". I have to agree with him because if someone takes a genuine interest in your art, they are going buy it, or sell it for a commission and the terms and conditions will be up front and honest.

If you have an interesting gallery, art, online, selling, or other interesting art experience please feel free to share it with us here on "LIFE AS AN ARTIST".

Friday, February 25, 2011

Art Reps & Art

Amazing how much time has elapsed since my last post. A lot of transition, introspection, and new opportunities have taken place in recent months. Essentially reinventing my marketing approach, art work, and having a more flexible attitude about possible art venues has helped to create new prospects for expanding in the art world.

I have been in search of representation for my art work for quite some time, hoping to find a person who is genuinely interested in me as a person, who had a fondness for my art, not just the business side of art representation, and could produce results. I researched the online art reps, and gallery owners I had worked with thinking that this might be the most direct route to meeting my goal. The majority of online art reps left left me wondering what they actually do to market the art they have, and if I would even get noticed, as there was an unusually large number of artist being carried under their art roof. I'm sure that some artist do well with these online reps, but for me it seemed impersonal and a cookie cutter way to present my art. Most of the galleries I had worked with were great on putting together show openings, but follow up, advertising, and having the right audience for my work was yet to be found, so I chose not to look for my art rep through a gallery (at least for the time being).

Fortunately an unusual suspect arrived that is trustworthy, reliable, and has true admiration for me and my artwork. Over the last several years I have been approached by many people who were interested in representing me, but ended up fizzling out after a short period of time. Serious art representation requires fortitude, determination, and savvy. The art rep helped me to put together a full marketing package (pics, bio, cd's, cd covers, letterhead, cards, logo, website, etc.) and knows a lot of people that are the right sort of audience for my art work. Seeing the total presentation package put together and then following that up with meetings, send outs, phone calls, email campaigns, and social marketing has given me a sense of confidence about putting myself out in the world for all to see, not to mention the warm fuzzy feeling I get knowing my rep is working to promote and sell my art.

Audience!!!! I c
an almost laugh at myself now about never really paying attention to who my audience was and what sort of audience I wanted. I thought if I got a good turn out for my art openings that I must have something great going on, people like my stuff, and I'm attracting a following. Truth is, a lot of people go to art openings to socialize, drink free wine, and eat cheap hors d'oeurves, and occasionally buy some art. What I failed to see is that while having your friends and a ton people to your opening is a great thing, it has very little to do with selling art. I mean doing an art show isn't all about selling art, but I know I like to sell my art and not have it sitting in a storage unit where nobody gets to appreciate it. In order to get the work sold you have to have the right audience.

Currently I am doing a new series of equestrian work centered around Polo. There are only about 5000 Polo players in the U.S., so if I want to sell to Polo players I have to reach them by another means that just hanging art in the gallery. This is where a good art representative comes into play, and can market the art work world wide to a very specific audience. I have to say that I think it's pretty funny that I never focused on many of the fundamental aspects of selling my art. Of course all this talk about selling is not the reason I do art, however it is a way to sustain a life style I enjoy so that I can do more art, having the time to experiment and grow conceptually.

This is simply my abbreviated take on my life in art, and should be taken with a grain of salt as we all have our individual ways of creating art, marketing, and finding our own paths through the myriad of possibilities.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Truthful Musings From The Studio

"MisMusings" from the studio.

As an artist I would suspect that we all experience peak moments of creativity, connecting with the divine, being a tool of that which is greater than ourselves and producing amazing art work. On the days I'm really in sync I can feel a tingle from the bottom of my spine rising all the way up through my crown chakra. Other days when only questions, anxiety, lack of confidence, insecurity, and to many questions come in to play to be of any real creative force I sit waiting for inspiration or simply do something else.

 Sometimes the best thing to do on days when it feels like your forcing the creative process is to do something completely different, take a walk, sleep, climb a mountain, or maybe go roller skating. Other times I find that if I simply make myself pick up my old wood handled brush and weave strokes of wet vivid liquid over the canvas, that I will let go of my inner chatter, circuitous internal dialogue, and find myself happily in the groove of creating, letting go, and free from misconception and attachment to what my mind tells me is real. Of course things can take another direction such as, producing a really ugly overworked painting, but this can also allow for new revelations in the direction you may really want to take.

I am, at this moment, talking myself into painting, picking up those beautiful brushes, mixing the sensuous chromatic liquids, brushing across the gleaming linen that beckons for me do something, anything!

Today I am working on a collaborative project and musing about my new Polo equestrian series. This is the first time I can recall being apprehensive about how to proceed with my art. Possibly, to much thought and to little action are at play as I look at the sketches on the walls, wondering how I want to approach them with paint and brush. Part of my mind plays the familiar tune of, simply apply action rather than thought, and the other half says that I might want to think some more, make more mock up paintings and be more sure of the direction I want to take. I'm feeling a bit insecure, wondering if what I paint will be acceptable. Acceptable to who? Acceptable for mass intake? Acceptable for sales. I can't believe these hesitations, questions, and feelings of inadequacy are roaming the my neural pathways, and making me pause from taking action. I have never done this before. I have always felt self assured, confident, committed to creating whatever was in the spirit of creation with no forethought of, 'is this okay, and will it be liked by people?"

Where did this come from? Why am I thinking rather than doing? Why am I consumed by the thought of acceptance and admiration?

To much coffee stimulating my neural network into senseless acts of introspection having nothing to do with reality, or so I tell myself this tale to sooth the savage reaper of non creativity.

The truth is, that I am far outside my arena of comfort. I usually create purely from instinct, intuition, some internal guiding force that I have relied on for the last thirty years, the one that tells me what's next and guides my hand smoothly across the canvas. I felt comfortable from that vantage point, never knowing where I was going, yet ending up in the right place without so much conscious effort. Now I am creating a series for a particular reason, or so it seems........
I am on a path to be purely a "professional artist", to support myself solely from my art work, believing that if I give the audience what they want, I will sell. In reply to previous statement I reply, "rather mundane, simplistic, egoistic, and functioning more in the economic sphere, rather than the spiritual, unseen, the place of risk, adventure, unknown, the possibilities that would not exist otherwise, living truth and expressing it".

Pragmatism and income weigh heavily on my mind when encroaching the idea making my bread from art. Somehow when I do architecture the process seems so much easier. I get a job, work with the client, design, draw the design & mechanics of it, get paid, and done. I see architecture that way, as a means, as creative process ending with bread on table. In painting I have always felt it as a place of refuge, freedom from the litany of responsibilities such as, planning, making money, etc. I am simply experiencing a new concept for my art, and my heart will not sink in doing so.

You are witnessing my thoughts in action here, hope it's not to boring as I make my best effort to try and conclude what I am actually doing with my art and why I am having such a difficult time proceeding, actuating, putting paint to canvas. I hope that you, the reader might find solace if you are lost as I am, and if you are on the other side of the spectrum of creativity I ask that you might share your thoughts.

Saying For The Day: Seek truth, and while your doing it be truthful.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Art Of Value & Grace

Recently Alan Bamberger posted a poignant question on Facebook that left me pondering possible answers for several days. If you aren't familiar with Alan, he is a renowned art critic, author, and art consultant who also presents some great information and questions on Facebook.

The question at hand is, " why do people want to buy your art and what do they get from it"?

A simple question, but one that I had not given a great deal of thought to previously, and most of my musing was and is about the creation of art and how to sell my art.

One of the first things most marketers do before a product is ever put out for consumers is to ask the central question, "who is the target market"? They look for levels of education, income, geographic location, sexual orientation, gender, age, race, and many more factors. Compiling this data and using newer sophisticated neural marketing techniques they come up with a specific group of people that will purchase a certain product. There is a great deal of money, energy, and time invested in knowing who will buy a specific product. The marketers and media experts know why someone will buy and how they will feel when they buy it. All of this a byproduct from the free enterprise system that generally uses the inducement of fear as a motivating factor to get you purchase a product.

Is this ever done with art? I haven't encountered any of the above mentioned marketing techniques to sell art.

Artist are generally more concerned with creating art than with the sale of art. Creating art is realy a full time job in and of itself. Of course artist have to eat, buy paint, canvas, pay mortgages, and attend to the general financial responsibilities that most people do. There are the "hired guns" in the art world, the graphic artist, illustrators, muralist, and so fourth that create art on demand and get paid a certain fee for creating art, and are generally guided by someone else vision. Those of who are not "hired guns" and create art purely from our hearts, souls, and gelatinous gray matter, are compelled to create, and desire to have someone out there on this blue globe acquire our work in exchange for greenbacks.

Most of the time fine artist are creating from an inner calling, a need to share their humanity, spirit, and experiences, of which have to find and avenue in some physical medium like painting, sculpture, film, poetry, photography, novels, and many other mediums. As an artist it often feels like a strange compulsion of some silent, yet loud invisible source telling us what we must do and when to do it. Some say it is a curse to be artist because often creating art comes before good sense, though as we age this compulsive state of being generally becomes more rounded and better balanced.

What most of us want as artist is to have someone else sell and market our work so that we can focus on creating art.

Do we know why people buy our art?

Possible answers.
1) Acquiring art for investment, sort of like playing the stock market, buy low, sell high.
2) Desiring to impress other people and have them believe you are a cultured sort of person.
3) Artist often buy other artist works because they like to support their fellow comrades.
4) A love of human expression through the medium of art.
5) Must have something on the wall above the couch.

The answers are as many as there are stars in the galaxies, and I have yet to come up with any definitive answers, though all this musing has gotten me to contemplate what my target market might look like.

First, they must have disposable income.
Second, they probably have a general interest in modern art.
Third, more than often they know me and like me.
Fourth, they might believe that someday my art will be worth more than they paid for it.

Quite honestly, for all the musing I've done on the questions of selling I have very few answers, and hope that a good art marketing person will manifest in my life. Most of the art I have sold has been from art shows, friends, and a few on line sales, and the whys of their purchases remains a bit of a mystery to me.

I would love to hear from anyone reading this article as to what they think about the reason is that people buy art and what they get from purchasing it.

Saying For The Day: Create from you heart, be true to yourself, and embrace joy.