Artist Jennifer Printz; Roanoke, Virginia
QUESTION: What was your biggest challenge?
Jennifer Printz: My top challenge is sales. I knew that a lot of that challenge had to do with just making the intention and going through with the actual sales part.
QUESTION: Have you “shown” your art?
Jennifer Printz: I’ve shown my work a lot in a lot of venues, but there’s many venues in which you just won’t receive any sales. For example; showing in University and College Galleries are great, they are beautiful facilities and It’s fun to engage with the students and the staff, but you’re never going to sell anything.
QUESTION: Did guests enjoy the cheese and wine?
Jennifer Printz: The great episode of The Simpsons where Homer becomes a folk artist. They go to all the art openings and Jasper Johns is there and they put all the cheese and crackers in their pockets.
QUESTION: How did you become an art professor?
Jennifer Printz: Like a lot of people who go through the MFA program, I was really interested in teaching. So a lot of my focus was and has been for many years on the art of teaching. So I went straight through from my BFA to my MFA and then really focused on the things that I needed to do to get into teaching and have been doing that and showing my work in the ways that are expected to support that.
QUESTION: Why must art professors show their art?
Jennifer Printz: Well, within academia there’s the idea of vetting art, which usually means that teaching faculty have to get their work into exhibitions that have the appropriate institutional or curatorial name involved. So for most academic artists that includes a lot of juried shows also because that kind of mimics what they do in the sciences; where a scientist submits a paper to a journal and it’s peer reviewed. We can argue that as an artist we’re submitting our work and a juror is reviewing it and it seen as being somewhat equitable, which as you know, has it’s drawbacks because it can be very expensive to do a lot of juried shows, and biased.
QUESTION: Do your colleagues sell their art?
Jennifer Printz: Not that I’m aware of.
Ann Rea: But they teach?! Do they want to? Do you think they want to sell their art? Would they like to sell their art?
Jennifer Printz: I think most artists would like to sell and want to sell their art, right. It’s a special reward to get that exchange for something that you’ve made and to get some financial benefit of it. So I’d like to say that yeah, they do (without directly having them here to ask)
QUESTION: What do academics think about artists selling their art?
Jennifer Printz: For some, they actually see selling your art and anything commercial as being a “sell-out”, if you will. If you’re a faculty member, it’s a full time job and you’re paid as such that you should have that liberty to make whatever you want regardless of market pressure. Take that as you want. I think those are probably some of the biggest things that I have faced and seen. That idea of selling-out, polluting, contaminating it.
QUESTION: Why do academics feel that selling your art is selling-out?
Jennifer Printz: A loss of the integrity. That something about that financial exchange, for some reason with art, causes the work to lose it’s integrity. Yet I think maybe part of what I’m stumbling over that right now is because it kind of seems ludicrous because in some regards, that exchange is of great benefit. The fact of someone having your work in their home and enjoying it seems the greatest compliment you can get as an artist.
QUESTION: How do academics approach art?
Jennifer Printz: Sometimes in academia we over intellectualize art, and remove that emotional element from it.
QUESTION: How do you advise art students who want to sell their art?
Jennifer Printz: “Who do you see yourself selling your work to?” If I don’t know the student that well; “What type of art are you making?” Then, I think, at this point I’m definitely interested in reinforcing to them that idea that it’s fine and it’s okay to be creative and make a living off of your creative product.
Ann Rea: It’s not just okay, it’s a damn beautiful thing.
Jennifer Printz: Absolutely. I will say that to them next time: It’s a damn beautiful thing!
QUESTION: What did you learn about selling your art?
Jennifer Printz: The thing that I was least expecting is how psychologically driven it is, it just wasn’t something I was expecting, but I’m realizing how important it is to be in the right mindset. To understand fears and limiting beliefs, but then, in some regards it made perfect sense because the people I know who are the best sales people outside of the arts just have that comfort. They have that ability to sell without being demanding or without having that negative energy; grasping. So it made sense once I’m into it to think of it that way, and it’s another way of thinking about myself and what I can and can’t do.
QUESTION: Do you think artists sell themselves short?
Jennifer Printz: We are the biggest de-valuers of who we are and if something doesn’t quite fit, instead of walking away, we try to force our square selves into that round hole or vice versa, whatever. Instead of just realizing this isn’t a fit, and my opportunity will come and rather we sell ourselves short (to use that phrase) a lot because of that.
QUESTION: What would you tell your younger self?
Jennifer Printz: Believe in yourself more.
QUESTION: How do you advise students who want to sell their art?
Jennifer Printz: One of the things that, first of all I try to do with my students is to make it very clear that I’m one person and I’ve had my life path, and the great thing about the arts is there are hundreds, thousands of ways to make your life path. So for students that are really interested in more of the sales, then that’s where I try to work with them. The importance of being business-like, doing research, finding references and examples and programs like yours that help them to develop those skills.
QUESTION: Why don’t art school address selling art?
Jennifer Printz: Unfortunately, that’s the one thing with academia, we move slow
QUESTION: Who is the program not for?
Jennifer Printz: I think for the people who aren’t willing to do that deep digging, then it would not be an appropriate program for them.
QUESTION: What would you honestly say to other artists about this program?
Jennifer Printz: I would honestly say, if you’re really willing to do the work and face your fears and jump in and make a difference, this is an excellent program. I am thinking to myself, or saying this to myself is what I mean: “Prioritize. Make the time and you could make it work”.
Where will you be in a year?
MAKING Art Making MONEY
Someday Is Today