The Tenth Commandment - Always Keep Going and Always Keep Growing

Perseverance is of course, a huge component of success in any field ( and paired with social intelligence it is a formidable force), but it is not enough to just mindlessly repeat our earlier successes or the methods that we used.
You always have to be learning, growing, expanding your knowledge and your craft.

There are the inevitable points where you will feel stuck, creatively blocked or just not good enough.

These are the moments you should use to try something new: like learning a new technique or method, or perhaps embarking upon a new series or maybe just working on promoting your existing work and spending a few months just tending to business and sales. then you can come back refreshed and ready to create anew..

The journey of the artist is a life-long one and should not be led by current trends or purely money-making pursuits. It should ultimately be your personal journey of fulfillment and self-discovery.
Now that may sound all new agey and “Spiritual” to the more pragmatic of you .. but it is true.

The ultimate aim (conscious or sub-conscious) of the artist is to chronicle one’s journey on earth (with your thoughts and emotions manifested in a tangible form) and then perhaps - you leave something beautiful or poignant behind that touches people’s lives who haven’t even been born yet..
In a way, it is a quest for immortality - for a deeper meaning and it serves a primal and deep-seated motivation that all humans have - to be able to say on their death bed “I was here, and I mattered”
The journey of the artist .. is the journey of the soul

Light the Way by Thomas Dodd

Light the Way by Thomas Dodd

The Fourth Commandment - Thou Shalt Be Kind to the Newbies

Be kind to the beginners, the newbies and the students of your chosen field. Answer their questions not with world-weary snark or arrogant disdain, but with an attempt towards being helpful and sharing your knowledge.
If you think something is incorrect or not a good idea - then offer them an alternative or (what you think is) a correct path based on your experience and share that..
In short - be helpful. Don't be a jerk.

It is not only good karma and the right thing to do, it (being a jerk) also can come back to bite you in the ass years later...
For a lot of these newbies eventually become your peers and sometimes rise to greater heights than where you are at...

It's a fact of human nature that people tend to recall perceived slights or blatant put-downs just as strongly (even more so in fact) than the helpful advice they receive at the beginning of their journey..
Or, as the old saying goes: Be kind to the people on the way up - you will meet them all again on the way down..

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The First Commandment - Thou Shalt Not Steal a Collector From a Gallery

(The first installment of my “10 Commandments of a Gallery Artist “
Thou Shalt Not Steal a Collector From a Gallery
This is the cardinal sin of all Fine Art sins.
It is the one thing you can do that will not only ensure you no longer exhibit at the gallery that introduced you to the collector, it may also get you blacklisted by every other gallery owner that the curator you screwed over knows.

I realize that the temptation to do this can be almost overwhelming for an artist, but don't do it!

This is how it usually goes:
Someone buys your work from a gallery and the gallery takes a hefty commission (usually 50%) from the sale.. Then a few months later, that same collector looks you up on the web or social media, contacts you directly and says they want to see more of your work.
Now perhaps the collector is thinking they can get a better deal buying directly from you and they want to cut the original gallery out of the transaction....and you are probably thinking "I can get a lot more money for this piece without having to pay a big commission to the gallery and then the client will be mine for life"!

Wrong! You may be acquiring one private collector but you are losing many, many more potential clients by screwing over the gallerist who introduced you to each other.. and again - you will possibly be blackballed by other galleries if the word gets around that you are not loyal to the unspoken rules of the Gallery/artist system.


The right thing to do when a collector contacts you directly is to copy the curator who introduced you to each other on the return email to keep them in the loop and let them know that you will give them their commission on any further sales that result from this relationship ..
Not only because it is good business and good karma - it is also acknowledging that if it weren't for the reputation of that gallery the curator has painstakingly built, that collector would never have seen your work in the prestigious position of being displayed in (and promoted by) a top-tier gallery.
A lot of artists tend to minimize the importance of gallerists/curators , but a good gallery owner has a client base that trusts their tastes and buys exclusively from the stable of artists they represent.
Gallery owners also act as unofficial PR agents and managers for their artists - getting you coverage in local and national media, talking your work up to the movers and shakers and monied interests in their community (as well as placing it with designers, interior decorators and art consultants), and finding you commissions and private collectors , all the while adding prestige and gravitas to your artistic brand
( not to mention the numerous hefty expenses that are involved in keeping a top tier gallery afloat)


In short - just don't it!
So much of success in the Art world is based on maintaining long-term relationships. Acknowledge the importance of those you work with and they will do the same for you!

photo of Thomas Dodd by Jon Kay

photo of Thomas Dodd by Jon Kay

Advice to Artists - thought must come first!

"What kind of advice would you give to artists who want to develop their skills in digital photography in order to be considered fine art?" 

The great Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum said that "thought has to come first" and I wholeheartedly agree. 
You can imitate whatever is currently popular or even the Old Masters and you will still be missing something vital in your art. 

Being an artist means that you are using a medium to express something that is essentially inexpressible through language, something that enters the realm of archetypes and spirit. I feel that the more acquainted you are with the history of art, literature and human thought - the more concepts you will have to draw from and learn from and filter into your work.

And perhaps most important of all, I think anyone who wants to create "art" should listen to their inner voice, pay attention to their dreams and deepest thoughts. Draw your inspiration from within you and you will never be in danger of being a copycat or imitator of someone else's vision.. 

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Ten Random Things I Have Learned From Being An Artist 

Stop worrying about being commercial. Worry more about becoming the best artist you can be. If you have to support your craft by getting a job unrelated to it then do so and develop your art without the immediate concern of making a living from it. If you start making compromises and decisions about your creations based solely on making money, you may eventually end up despising what you do.. 

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