Monday, May 30, 2011

Blakely Dadson: I Make My Own Money

Remember the scene from the movie Coming to America with Eddie Murphy “And, baby, when I tell ya the boy has got his own money, I mean the boy has got his own MONEY!” and the father shook the money bill with a portrait of Eddie Murphy’s character. I bet every one of us at some point thought how awesome it could be to make your own money. Well, Blakely Dadson went beyond wishful thinking and DID MAKE HIS OWN MONEY that he later exchanged for US dollars.
The story goes like this; Blakely was a graduate Fine Arts student at TCU, a private college in Fort Worth, Texas back in 2004. He just got engaged to his sweetheart and began to think about financial responsibilities that family life entails. At that time he was working on a painting of big heads of Native Americans on a panoramic canvas and just watched a documentary on printing new money. All these things came together as cooperative components and transformed into the money idea. Blakely says, “I didn’t have any money, really. I was a student, just supporting myself. I liked an idea of when I made something it was translatable into the means of supporting myself and my family… That show happened in the spring and we were able to move to New York with my wife.” The money paintings were sold for about $5,000 to 7,000 a piece at that time.  

Now Blakely is represented by two galleries: Chambers @ 916 (Portland, OR) and The Public Trust (Dallas, TX). His prices range between $2,000 and $14,000 per piece. He currently lives in Portland, OR with his lovely wife and does art full-time.

I asked Blakely how he entered the galleries and what advice he can give to artists who are looking for a gallery representation.

His first gallery partnership happened when he still was in a grad school. Gallery owners toured students’ studios. Talley Dunn, a co-founder of Dunn & Brown Contemporary (a prestigious gallery in Dallas, TX) offered to represent him at her gallery in Dallas. Later, when Blakely moved to Oregon, it took him almost a year to find a gallery that was a good fit with his art. His representation in Texas changed recently: the Public Trust gallery offered him a better exposure and he moved from Dunn & Brown Contemporary to the Public Trust.  

Blakely advices to get familiar with preferred format and submission instructions before you send your portfolio to a gallery. Blakely said, “Submitting something without asking how they want it to be submitted will just get your staff put in a pile.” It sounds like a no-brainer, but it is amazing how many people fail to do that. Every gallery is different, and the review committee wouldn’t even look at your work if it is not in a right format.

Second advice is to get an artist wing-man. Often, an exhibiting artist who has an established relationship with a gallery owner recommends a new artist with fresh ideas and a selling potential and helps to get his fellow artists’ foot in a door.

And finally, don’t underestimate a power of networking. Networking, networking, and networking!
Even if you don’t like the art exhibited in local galleries, it is still beneficial to visit art show openings and to mingle with gallery owners, curators, artists and other art professionals in your area.

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