Eric Gibbons is an artist who lives and works in Raleigh NC. Gibbons is certified in Art Education, Elementary Education is Nationally Board Certified in Art Education, and has taught in Japan and Egypt.
His classroom lessons have been featured by Davis Publications. His best-known series is the “If Picasso” series which is trademarked.
Recognized and awarded by Art Educators of New Jersey (AENJ) in 2015 for excellence in art education.
His art education blog, ArtEdGuru, is a resource for art teachers around the globe and is visited by an average of 15000 teachers weekly.
Eric’s art can be found on numerous websites, including Fine Art America and Artsy. Two of his piece that are popular include:
0:00:00.8 Michael Goodman: Hi everybody, I’m Michael Goodman with Artmatcher, the mobile app which will bring innovation to the art industry and is coming to you soon. While we work hard to build and release this app, we’ll be talking art with some of the industry’s most interesting and knowledgeable people. Whether you’re an art aficionado or this is all new to you, we’ll be here to provide valuable insight and hilarious good stories. Hope you enjoy our chat today. Welcome guys to another episode of Artmatcher, the podcast. Joining us via remote, Pastor Studio, Eric Gibbons. I’m so excited to have this special guest, also known as Ed, the Art Guru, correct? Art Ed Guru, or Art Education Guru, yeah. We’ll plug him in towards the end, his TikTok and everything. Eric, can you tell the audience a little bit about yourself?
0:01:06.1 Michael Goodman: Well, I was born into a family of artists on my mom’s side of the family. I’m actually in my little room where I can see my great grandmother’s watercolor paintings and then her daughter’s paintings, my grandmother’s work. We have a piece in here by her. Then even my mother went on to art school, though she ended up focusing on nursing. But art was always encouraged when I was a kid. It was just what I lived and breathed. When I was born, it was only 10 or 11 months after my parents got married. There wasn’t a lot of money around, so my mom bought butcher’s paper and crayons and would kick the paper across the floor and I would draw all day. That was my toy. I just always got a lot of my praise for my artwork and it’s something that I dived into. I went to college for art education, taught in Egypt for a couple of years, Japan for one, and then mostly in the States, obviously, for now about 30 plus years of art education. That sort of made me move in towards publishing about art education, but also making connections and bridging that gap between people and art and the knowledge in between so that they could kind of understand what they’re looking at.
0:02:33.9 Michael Goodman: That bridged into that TikTok account that you found me on. I had the account for a while and I thought, well, let me comment on these novice artists’ work. They’re looking for some feedback and they’re not in a place where they could easily get it. So I would just duet artist’s work and offer some positive commentary, maybe some tips or tricks that they could kind of use. That really took off. Then, of course, they wanted to know, well, who is he to offer advice about art? So I mentioned, of course, my 30 plus years of art education, but I also ran an art gallery in New Jersey for 25 years and retired that a couple of years ago. So that was the Firehouse Gallery of Bordentown in New Jersey. I’ve authored quite a few books. I’ve got some work and some nice collections, including the Obama White House and a few museum archives somewhere. Nothing on a wall yet, but we’re working on it. And yeah, that brings me here and to meet you through TikTok. So it’s been an interesting ride with we’re coming up on 700,000 followers, which I find fascinating. That’s given me some street cred with my students.
0:03:45.3 Michael Goodman: Congrats. Thanks. Yeah. How since you’ve been in the industry for so long and you’ve participated in so many different aspects, meaning a distribution, being a gallerist and an artist. Did you find it challenging being a creative yourself and then also selling through it? Or I’m assuming you were selling through your own gallery as well.
0:04:12.6 Michael Goodman: Yeah, I didn’t want it to be all about me. I could definitely fill a gallery and it will look like I’ve got multiple personalities because I work in very different modes. Some are very cartoony and pop art and others are very classical and neoclassical, like the work that grabbed your attention. But I found the experience of being an artist and a teacher and being able to communicate about art was helpful in communicating with potential buyers because they were interested in what’s going on. What am I looking at? Or, you know, they would come in with some assumptions and I could kind of steer them into understanding it. And then, you know, they’d have these aha moments and want to keep a piece. And I knew I could, you know, put my own work up. And that was a nice commission because it was all for me. But then I would also share the space with other artists to bring other people in and to kind of elevate their own work. And I was often showing the work of artists who had never had an exhibition before. So sometimes it was me teaching them, how do you do this and what is the appropriate way to sell your work and to promote yourself.
0:05:23.0 Eric Gibbons: And, you know, sort of the ins and outs of selling work. Now, I am not probably the best salesperson there is, but I’m comfortable talking with people about stuff that I understand. So, you know, in a gallery setting, if it’s not high pressure, I’m good. I was very fortunate that my gallery was a little firehouse that I actually lived in. So whether I would sell a painting or not, I was still going to pay the mortgage from my teaching job. So that gave me the opportunity to show work that I believed in that I didn’t necessarily think would sell, but I thought was interesting. And some of those people have gone on to do really great things and others, you know, maybe they’re I don’t I don’t know, you know, they kind of disappear. But I think it was a valuable experience for for everybody. And I really enjoyed that time.
0:06:17.5 Michael Goodman: Because my story actually is similar in the sense that I started off creating myself and then I opened a gallery because I wanted a place to show my work. And next thing you know, 100 artists later and almost 15 years, I had to take the backseat kind of on my own stuff. I realized I couldn’t I couldn’t juggle both. And that was very challenging. I kind of invested fully and I always found it easier to sell other people’s stuff than my own. And even today, I find challenging even though I could speak about my work and I think I’m the best person to kind of explain the concept and what’s going on. I rarely find artists that have shared that experience of running kind of their own gallery, especially for the amount of time you have transitioning. I wanted to ask, so how we’re going to be featuring Eric’s work at the LA Art Show this coming Wednesday at the opening and the series, these box paintings. Can we tell the audience a little bit more about this series we’re going to be showing of yours? Sure.
0:07:35.3 Michael Goodman: It started in 2004 with a trip to Paris. I’d been obviously painting for a while. I had sort of a I would call it a pop art style to what I was doing. It was figurative, but very line based, flat colors based on my blind drawings that I really love doing and still love doing today. But I went to the Louvre in Paris and I had for the first time in my life and it happened twice, which was kind of frightening to me. I stopped in front of a painting. The first one was by Aang and I cried. I’d never had an emotional reaction to a painting before and it kind of frightened me. And I was looking around at like, what’s am I being punked? What’s going on here? And I had been to a movie and had an emotional reaction. You know, we get that. But to look at a static image and have an emotional reaction, that was new to me. And it happened one more time with a sculpture. And I can’t for the life of me at the moment remember the name of it, but it’s in my TikTok links. I put it there because people ask.
0:08:46.1 Michael Goodman: But another one of us, a soldier. One had died in battle and the other one had stabbed himself because he wanted to join his friend in the afterlife. And I was touched by that. And again, I was crying. And when I left the museum, I said to myself, I want to do art that does that. I want my work to grab people by the heart and exude that kind of feeling. And though I loved the work I did and still like it, I wanted to do something different. And it took a while for it to kind of germinate. But they’re essentially these boxes. They’re modular. Three by three foot is the box that I have the models pose in. And my actual paintings are 30 by 30 inches. And the size of the box forces geometry into the figure, which is right at the neoclassical period, which is some of the work that I really enjoy looking at and admired for years. And the box then becomes sort of my soapbox. Like each one has a morality message, an allegory that I’m trying to illustrate. And sometimes at the time that I’m doing, I’m not all that aware of what it is that I’m doing until I reflect on it, because I’ll work with a model, we’ll do some live drawing sessions.
0:10:00.6 Michael Goodman: I’ll take an awful lot of photographs because they can’t sit in the box for days on end. And then it kind of comes together and they’re black and white figures, oil paintings. When I’ve had exhibitions before, I’ve had to put up signs that say these are paintings and not photographs because people will sometimes look and think it’s a photo shrug and move on. And it’s like, no, no, no. These are paintings. And when you get close, you can see the calligraphy of the brushwork. I spent a year studying in Japan and it was all about calligraphy and brush painting and sumi-e. And all that brushwork is definitely there. And you can see it in the unblended areas like the hair and textures. But when you step away, they do look like, you know, figures in boxes, black and white photographs. And I designed them with the light coming in from one direction. So you can have one on a wall, four on a wall, nine on a wall. And my dream was to have a hundred on a wall at the MoMA Museum or some museum space. And I even painted some empty boxes with just like an object or two in them so that you would get some visual relief, you know, as you look at it, because sometimes 100 figures might be too much.
0:11:17.7 Eric Gibbons: And when you put them together, they tell little stories like individually, they have their own message, but then you put two together and then they’re kind of communicating with each other. So I was really fascinated by it. I thought I would do a dozen, maybe two dozen pieces and I’m close to 200 in the series. And I just got tons of material for more that I would love to explore.
0:11:43.3 Michael Goodman: It’s incredible. Last night I was looking at the paintings and I love that when you go up close, they’re totally, they’re just so painterly. And when you go from afar, from afar, I would say about maybe 12 feet away, it’s a really tight photo-like image. And I enjoyed kind of going close and backwards and checking them out like that. And so the choice to do them grayscale versus color, was that to kind of add to the romantic aspect of it? Well, there’s a funny story behind that. I had been, you know, as I said, working in a pop art style, so it was acrylics. And after being at the Louvre, I was like, well, I want to revisit the classics and that means oil paint. And I hadn’t really worked in oils. I mean, theoretically, I was an art teacher. I knew kind of technically what you needed to do, but I’d never actually dived in. And I had a friend who I had exhibited his work in my gallery who worked in oils. And he actually worked in black and white oils. And I asked him, you know, how should I transition to oils?
0:13:03.1 Eric Gibbons: And he’s like, well, just work in black and white and then add color when you feel like you’re ready. And I have done pieces in color, but I liked the black and white. We joked with each other that it always goes with the couch, you know, so people can’t complain. But I think it adds a vintage look to the work, pulls it a little bit out of our world. There’s something kind of classical about that black and white. And I do know that the neoclassical painters would often do an underpainting in black and white and then color on top of that. So it’s, you know, true to that tradition of it. But I do like, you know, I’ve never felt the need to make the series of color when I think it might be too fleshy, too realistic in some way. I still want it to remain, you know, an artwork. I don’t blend away all of my brushwork. I want people to know that it’s handmade. So that’s kind of been a decision. But yeah, always goes with the couch. And it’s got a classical look, I guess.
0:14:06.7 Michael Goodman: Well, yeah, it has a timeless feel to it. Yeah. Well, that’s part of it, too. I didn’t want people to look at it and say, oh, that’s, you know, that’s so 1995, you know. And there is artwork out there that is like that, you know, for sure. I wanted people to look at it and not necessarily know when it was painted. You know, it was probably something after, you know, the 1750s, you know, because it’s got too much of a modern aesthetic to it. But I did want it to feel a bit timeless. And I think the neoclassical art sort of does that. I even think of Kehinde Wiley and his work. You know, there’s something sort of timeless about where he’s pulling from, though obviously we’ve got contemporary figures. So there is something contemporary about the work. But yeah, that timelessness is important. And I think that’s what I felt in the Louvre, you know, that these could be seen in another hundred years and, you know, get someone to be moved emotionally. And I shared with you the image from my Philadelphia show, and I was hiding in the corner during that exhibition, just like wondering, well, how are people going to react?
0:15:15.3 Michael Goodman: And I did see one particular woman, you know, stood in the middle of the wall and she just, you know, kept staring at a piece. And then I saw her wiping her eyes. And I’m like in the back giving myself a high five. I did it. I did. You know, it was so inappropriate. But I was like, that was one of my goals to see somebody have an emotional reaction to the work. And it felt validating to me, you know, to kind of see that. I’m glad she didn’t see me, you know. That’s something else I want to ask. Are you the artist that’s emotionally attached to your work? How do you feel? What’s the relationship when somebody requires your painting enough to purchase it? Are you one saying I can’t let it go or what’s the… Well, I’ve definitely dealt with a lot of artists who, you know, they want to double their prices because they really like a particular piece. And I know that’s the wrong way to go. But I will admit that there are certain pieces that connect with me on such a strong level that I hold on to them for about a year.
0:16:19.9 Michael Goodman: And I will look at them. I’ll communicate with them in my own way. It’s almost just like I’ll sit and stare at a painting for hours. And I know that there’s something cathartic sort of happening in that because art for me is a kind of therapy. I deal with my own issues of, you know, depression and ADD. And art is the one way to kind of calm me and bring me to a center. And, you know, during my darkest days, art is the thing that’s kind of it gets the gunk out and onto canvas and I can express it. But I do know that when I let a piece go, it leaves a little space in my heart and I’ve got to fill it with another piece of art. I don’t want to hang on to things forever, but there are definitely certain paintings I hold on to. And it’s usually about a year I need to look at it and really, you know, communicate with it. And then I’m ready to let it go. And those are usually those are the ones that will disappear the week that I put them up. And that’s been kind of validating in some ways, too.
0:17:24.5 Eric Gibbons: I had one of a it was a non box painting of a young man sitting on a column. It was like the bottom of a column in blue jeans with a little rip in them. And it was a contemplative piece. And I needed that for a long time because it was kind of about my own youth. And we put it in a gallery and it was gone in a day. And I knew it. I knew it was going to be gone quick, but it was something special. Even my spouse talks to me about that as being one of their favorite pieces as well.
0:17:55.1 Michael Goodman: And your paintings have a very personal feel, at least the selection I’m going to be exhibiting. What’s how do you go about choosing your models?
0:18:10.0 Michael Goodman: Well, sometimes it’ll be there’ll be a certain something I’ll notice about somebody. And I had I used to have some cards that I would actually hand to people and say, look, this is weird. Here’s my Web address. You can see the kind of work that I do. But I would I would be really happy to include you in this series of work. I found probably about half of my models that way. Another way is through the Web. Yeah. In person, I would I would see somebody in a coffee shop or at the gallery exhibitions like I could see that they were really enthralled with the work. And that gave me an opening. Hey, I’m the artist and want to get in a box. Oh, it’s creepy. But it worked about half the time. But the other half of the time, they’re just like, no, thanks. And that’s fine. Sometimes through Web sites, you know, people will send me, you know, headshots and stuff and I can see if there’s something sculptural about their face or something where a character kind of comes through. But I have some pieces that I’m the ones that obviously sell well are the people, the pretty people, you know, the beautiful models, so to speak, are the ones that look kind of Greco Roman.
0:19:30.9 Michael Goodman: They do very well. But I have models that are, you know, bigger, bigger people, older people, people with a lot of character in their face. And I think that I think those are a little harder to sell, but I still do them because I feel like it’s important for me to do it because I’m inspired to do that. And maybe, you know, in 10, 20 years of my work is in some major museum, then they’ll buy those up, you know, or, you know, keep them in their archives. But I still do them even if I feel like this isn’t going to sell. You know, I’m not I don’t necessarily organize myself around, you know, the sale of work. Obviously, you need to do that at some point. You’ve got to pay the mortgage. But there are pieces that I have in my collection or in my series that, you know, might not fit that. The typical pretty thing, you know, that kind of goes into, you know, somebody’s space. But there are artists like, you know, Francis Bacon, who does some really grotesque things and it’s in people’s living rooms. I mean, that’s that’s fine, too.
0:20:34.7 Eric Gibbons: There’s probably people out there that can be reached by that.
0:20:38.8 Michael Goodman: The reason why I ask is because when I’m looking at each painting, there seems to be a narrative. I had a friend of mine who she’s been in the art industry for quite a long time. And she was looking at the piece called Harmony with the two musicians playing. And she might even get it. She’s staring at it. And she like, you know, when I when I read the little there’s a little excerpt that you had done kind of for the pieces. So these it almost convinces me like, you know, you have like a deeper relationship with the models are getting to know them to have written that. Or is that just a whole other part of your creativity from your experience of writing?
0:21:26.7 Michael Goodman: It goes both ways. Now that one of the models in that particular piece was an ex student of mine who was going through a lot of really difficult struggles. And now she has a booming business in Reno blowing glass. And I actually had a chance to take a class with her years later, which was really nice. But there was something about the way that she lived her life with her partner that I thought was really beautiful. And how there was kind of this yin and yang to their relationship. So when you look at that painting of the two girls in the box, one is playing the music and the other one is pressing on the frets. So together they’re making music as one. So it’s it looks like two, but it’s really one. But that’s also expressing something about myself and my own creativity, you know, putting, you know, heart and hand together to, you know, these two parts of creativity. So it’s two and one and together they’re more than just the two. You know, it’s one plus one equals three. You know, there’s something about that. So each of the paintings for me is expressing something from my own experience.
0:22:38.1 Michael Goodman: But I sometimes hold back from telling people too much because they’re going to come to it with their own lives and their own experiences and make some assumptions that are true for them and not necessarily for me. And I’m OK with that. I like that people bring themselves to the work and make those connections. Like when I saw the sculpture of the soldier who died and then his friend killing himself to join him in the afterlife. That was speaking to me about my own loneliness issues at that particular time. But someone else coming to see it, you know, might be all rah rah. We’re going to die together as brothers in arms. So they’re going to have a different feeling about it. And I’m sure the artist himself may have had a different intent. And I’m OK about that, that people can bring their own experiences to it. But ultimately, I’m the painter. And it’s I think there is in psychology they talk about how when you dream, you are everybody in your dream. And I am everybody in those boxes. So I’ll have some ideas of what I want to show in the box and I’ll find the model that I think fits that particular theme.
0:23:43.8 Eric Gibbons: Or I’ll get a model and I think, oh, he’s reminding me of this, that and the other. And I’ll, you know, get some sketches together even before they show up and do that. Like I had one model who he sent me his headshot and he looked like Jesus. And I’m like, well, I got some Catholic issues growing up as an altar boy. So we’re going to deal with that. And then he’s going to shave and we’ll do some other pictures, too. So, you know, things will come up and there is communication with the model. Sometimes I know them, sometimes they don’t. But I’m bringing myself to the, you know, to the game, so to speak. And sometimes what they say to me will inspire things, too. It’s complicated.
0:24:22.6 Michael Goodman: And one of the things I kind of ask this to artists that kind of have this technical ability. I’ve always seen artists, at least the way I was formally trained, I see technique as just a skill in my arsenal to kind of convey what like, OK, if I need to do this as an abstract and it needs to be an abstract, if that’s the best way of communicating the message. What is your favorite kind of style? I know you said you’ve done kind of like pop and some other stuff. Which one kind of naturally you gravitate to as a creative?
0:25:08.5 Michael Goodman: That’s a complicated question. I think, you know, depending on what I’m going through at the time, the creative muse has come through me and need to be expressed in different ways. Believe it or not, I have a CD with about 10 to 12 original pieces of piano compositions I did because they helped me deal with, you know, a something. When I’m being casual, you know, I’m out in a garden and I want to draw, the convenience of blind drawing and the openness of that, along with watercolor is something I enjoy doing. It’s just sort of like whistling a song and just kind of being there. But then sometimes I want to dive deep into a conversation and that can be a box painting when I, you know, I have my bagel in the morning, I go in and I start painting and I get a knock on the door like, honey, do you want dinner? And I’m like, dinner? What happened to lunch? And it’s like 10 o’clock at night and I lost complete sense of time. So it’s really going to, you know, the muses speak in different ways and, you know, I’m open to that and I’m fortunate to be versatile enough in a lot of different things.
0:26:23.4 Eric Gibbons: I have a whole series of stained glass stuff people will probably never see. But it comes through in different ways. It also makes me a good art teacher though too, because I can be versatile enough to kind of meet my students where they’re at and give them a lot of exciting different things to kind of try. So maybe that’s why the TikTok is caught on because I can talk about a lot of different things.
0:26:44.0 Michael Goodman: No, that you for sure can and that’s going to segue me into kind of the teaching world because I find that is so crucial to where it’s going to project most artists. So I went through, I went to an art school myself. And when I was in high school, at the time it was more about grasping our technical skills. So we had painting, drawing, and a lot of that, you know, still life figure drawing. They’re trying to get us to a point where we can quote unquote, master the medium, which I feel like is a lifetime kind of you’re always trying to still refine. You can get to a point where you’re pretty comfortable, you understand like certain anatomy stuff and you’re pretty right on where you’re always going throughout your practice. And then everything changed the landscape when we, when I got to the higher education, because a lot of the programs weren’t about anymore the technique or the actual craft part of it. But it was diving into, okay, art history, contextualizing, conceptualizing, and going from a program that was so rigid initially to that. I mean, I’m glad I got a little bit of that, but it’s interesting.
0:28:04.8 Michael Goodman: A lot of my buddies after they were done with their MFA program, when we would go to an art show or a museum, they would refuse to look at the work until they’ve read the statement or the bio or the literature. And I said, yeah, you know, and this is maybe my own observation. I felt the higher you went up in education, the less you learned how to use your eyes. I thought visual art was about looking, you know, it’s not, doesn’t have to. So I would love to hear your take on kind of the educational system of art, predominantly in the West, maybe.
0:28:40.2 Michael Goodman: Yeah, I mean, I think it was Hokusai did the great wave, said that everything he did before he was 60 years old was worthless. And that every year he got better and better at what it is that he did. And he said by 110 I’ll truly be magnificent. And I feel like we’re always growing, we’re always learning. But yeah, I’ve come across the academics and they want to read the artist’s statement before they’ll look at the work. And I feel a little disappointed in that because a lot of artists are terrible writers. I think I’m okay. But I have a hard time expressing, you know, my feelings in the written format. And it’s hard enough to even communicate with somebody else so that maybe they can write it for you, you know, some, you know, lines of baloney. But, you know, you do need to be exposed to a lot to, you know, get the technical background so you can be proficient, you know, learn your scales before you, you know, play an orchestral piece is important. But I think, you know, a lot of times the work has to stand on its own. You look at it, you don’t need a wall tag.
0:29:48.0 Eric Gibbons: You know, do you like it? Do you not like it? Is it derivative? Is it original? Is it grabbing you? Is it not? And the piece that grabs me might not grab the next person. And that’s, you know, kind of like people in our lives. You know, sometimes you gravitate towards some and you don’t to others, you know. So art often will have its own kind of personality to me. And yeah, it’s good to learn about stuff and have that academic background. But hopefully it doesn’t, you know, suck the life out of, you know, the actual artwork. You know, what is it there for? Because in, you know, a hundred years, who’s going to be reading those, you know, placards? I never read the placard for, you know, any of Aang’s work or Delacroix or something like that. I just I love the work, you know.
0:30:38.5 Michael Goodman: So though the approach because I me being in the art industry as a dealer, as someone a little bit, maybe even as a tastemaker, when someone says, well, artists objective and I would tell them, well, there’s certain things that are objectively good about art, too. Meaning, you know, something can be really technically sound. There’s not it’s not like it’s either doing what it’s doing and there is this criteria. So I’m always interested. It’s interesting seeing your critique on certain art pieces that you do through your social media. I think you have a very nice approach or being kind of you’re you’re pretty much saying a lot of the good stuff. But I know going through art school, man, some of those professors, they tore me another one in terms of I spent, you know, 10 hours on this painting just for it to be ripped to shreds in terms of like, you know, your body shadows are off. This is that, you know. So do you believe that there is an objective standard or is it?
0:31:36.6 Michael Goodman: Well, I know that there is work I don’t do it because I think it’s either weak or derivative or adolescent. It’s, you know, for lack of a better term, it’s masturbation on paper. You know, it’s not doing anything to move that person forward. And we all have those stages where we create work that is that way. But then you move beyond it. You know, even Salvador Dali did cubist artwork to kind of learn about it, understand it and then move on. You know, we we do that. I had, you know, my own styles that I moved through, tried, learned and, you know, go beyond that. But yeah, I think there are some objective standards you can look at to say is a work visually strong, technically proficient or is it deficient? But is the deficiency helpful in expressing what the artist wants to say? There’s a work I’m going to be dueting later this week that is I would call it ugly, but I find it very expressive. And I try and bring that to some of what I’m sharing on TikTok is that it’s not necessarily even work that I necessarily enjoy, but I see something special, unique or expressive or a technique that just really needs a little light shine on it.
0:33:06.8 Eric Gibbons: So as much as I might, you know, love, you know, a Eugene Delacroix painting, I can also appreciate the banana duct tape on a wall and what the artist is trying to say there. They’re technically very different kinds of things, but, you know, they’re both art and we can argue over it, I guess. But yeah, I was thinking about that with someone.
0:33:30.9 Michael Goodman: They said to me, well, I could have done that. And my answer to that is you didn’t. And, you know, there’s nothing gutsy about even doing art like that. To me, I was saying to me, it’s not amazing because I just felt like on something like that, that’s where if you do have a little bit of art history. I mean, there was an artist called Marcel Duchamp who did a piece called Fountain, which he was questioning whether a ready made could be art. We already we squashed that. We understand it could be that happened over a hundred years ago. So revisiting something like the banana, I feel like someone who’s a little bit informed has an advantage. I mean, it was it was shocking how how art can bring the masses attention. And one of the things I think that has happened out of the pandemic, which I’d love to hear your thoughts on, is I think it’s brought out a lot of hobby painters. And I think a lot of artists have expressed their worries to me because they said, you know, a lot of people got painting. They said, hey, you know, I’m going to take the canvas.
0:34:39.9 Michael Goodman: I’m going to create. I’m going to make visual things. And it’s interesting. A lot of these people who get exposed through social media, I think one of the biggest things that has been on the rise is poor paintings. I feel like you have someone who gets into the art world. They’re like, I’m going to make a nice gallery, poor painting. And then there’s artists like, you know, like Ed Moses or someone who’s been like trying to challenge trying to change something in that field. And it’s like, oh, that’s crushing to the mark. Yeah. What are your thoughts on the just can anyone do art? Should everyone be doing art? I guess.
0:35:19.0 Michael Goodman: Well, as a teacher, I would say, yeah, absolutely. Everybody can and should do art to some degree. You know, during the pandemic, we learned to do other things. I learned to bake bread, you know, and I make I made some really good, you know, cinnamon breads and all sorts of things. But is it going to endure? You know, now that we’re kind of hopefully exiting the pandemic and we have a better understanding that COVID is not on surfaces. OK, now I can go out and buy my loaf of bread. But I had some fun doing it. And now I have a more of an appreciation for artisan breads than I did before. I know the process now. And I think a lot of these people who are dabbling with art through the pandemic, I’m not sure how much of that’s going to endure. But that experience will stay with them. And hopefully they’ll have a greater appreciation for what they’re seeing in a gallery setting or a museum setting. So I see it. I’m seeing it as a positive. You know, the more people who do art, the healthier they’re going to be. You know, even if they’re doing poor paintings, you know, there’s they’re having fun with it.
0:36:28.8 Michael Goodman: You know, why not? And they’re learning something about organic lines and shapes and maybe they’ll make some connections, you know, when they see the background of another painting that’s kind of, you know, using that. They’ll be able to, you know, make some connections there. But I don’t I think anyone who sees it as a negative or watering down the market, I think is is fooling themselves. Because to be an artist is a lifelong sort of passion or vocation. And I think those who kind of picked it up during the pandemic, some will endure. Some will find that that’s been their calling. And I’ve seen some remarkable work by people who, you know, they shared the span of their work and it came up looking very eighth gradery. And then right now they’re doing stuff that’s kind of photographic. You know, their skills have really enhanced. But, you know, who’s going to endure? You know, that would be interesting to kind of see. Who is still doing this another 10, 20, 30 years? You know, I’ve been painting since I was, you know, five years old. So does that, you know, 50 years of art in my back pocket?
0:37:34.0 Eric Gibbons: You know, there’s something to be said for that. But yeah, I see it as a positive. And yeah, hopefully they’ll have a better understanding of what they’re seeing.
0:37:45.2 Michael Goodman: For me, from a dealer’s perspective, what I found interesting is I was hoping a lot of people start creating art. They would then kind of value because, you know, you just brought up something, you know, when someone asks me, you know, how long it took an artist to do something, I just I pretty much say their whole life. So if the person is an artist, Coleman Aaron, who’s 90 years old, I’ll never forget this. We were touring the studio and his works were in the high five figures to six figures. And the person wanted just a drawing. He thought the drawing took him five minutes. And Coleman answered, it took me 90 years to do it in five minutes so effortlessly. And I said, well, yeah, that is so true in terms of, you know, you’re not just buying, you know, the amount of time. You’re not buying the materials either. You’re buying the creative expression and all that. And that’s years. It could be years. It could be days of development. And so a lot of people who have gone into painting as a hobby a lot of times, initially what I’ve learned is they go, oh, the canvas, the paint, that’s like 200 bucks there.
0:39:04.1 Michael Goodman: You can’t substantiate five thousand dollars or whatever it is. So I want to ask you from kind of being the artist and having the gallery background. How do you how would you go about evaluating and pricing an artist’s work?
0:39:23.1 Michael Goodman: Well, you brought up a point that I’ve brought up with other people. You know, if you’re going to see, you know, a cancer doctor about your prostate cancer and that visit is going to cost you, you know, maybe a grand for five, 10 minutes of their time. Are you really paying for the five minutes of time? You’re paying for the years of experience that person had to go to school to be able to diagnose you and give you a treatment plan in 10 minutes. And the same thing, you know, for an artist. Now, I’ve had young artists come in and they’re like, oh, this is a ten thousand dollar painting. Sure it is to you. But that’s saying, you know, somebody else who’s got, you know, 40 years of experience telling me it’s a ten thousand dollar painting. I have more faith in that in that in that price, because experience does count for something. If I tried to do the paintings I can do now, back when I was in my 20s, it would take, you know, maybe four times as long. And maybe I’d have to do four paintings before I finally got it right.
0:40:22.5 Michael Goodman: So, you know, that experience counts for something. And also the amount of work that somebody can put out matters as well. You’ve got Dylan Aiken on TikTok who’s doing six paintings or six drawings a year. They’re large, detailed drawings. So, you know, take somebody’s what should be a salary for that for a year, divide that by six. And that’s how much each of those pieces should cost, probably. So there’s a lot that has to be factored into it. You know, the scarcity of the work and, you know, is the artist doing prints? Can you get a hundred of this image or only ten or all of that sort of comes into it? And hopefully as a galleryist, I can help my buyers understand that. Some people will never understand it. You know, some people always want to deal and they’re never going to, you know, get it. That’s that’s not my audience, I guess. But I also, you know, I I also look at the work because I do collect artwork and think, well, what would I pay for that? What is a fair price? So I often will price my own artwork with that in mind.
0:41:31.5 Eric Gibbons: You know, as a teacher, I did this painting. What’s it? What would I be willing to pay for that thing as well? So there’s some of that that gets calculated into it. If my work takes off and gets into a museum and I’ve got to quit my teaching job, then the price of those paintings has to change. Because now I’m going to be supporting, you know, my my home and my spouse and my life, you know, through the artwork. So there’s there’s a lot that goes into it. And then, you know, the artist dies. That’s it. That’s the cap on the market. You know, you’ve you’ve got a limited supply.
0:42:10.1 Michael Goodman: It’s fascinating for me because I not only deal with kind of emerging contemporary artists, I do a lot of what’s considered secondary market art. And what I’ve learned from that industry that you start to learn how mad the actual art world is and how sadly there’s a huge disparity actually between, you know, you have all these amazing creatives. I had a client. We went to a pretty well-known gallery and they were looking to spend a substantial amount of money, over half a million dollars on a painting. And I said, do you know any artists you can support with that? And not that artist, he would be supporting this one artist doing very well. He’s relatively very young, too, in his 40s, which is like a baby in this industry. And I said, wow. And the crazy part about that is beyond the client having the means to purchase it, it still wasn’t guaranteed if he was going to be the one chosen to buy it. Right. Which draws me into, and I’ve been fortunate enough to see how some of these top-tier galleries operate. What are your thoughts about that part of the art world?
0:43:37.2 Michael Goodman: I have a good story for you. When I was, you know, in my late 20s, early 30s, you know, I had a series of work that I had been doing and I felt really proud of. They were large, you know, pop-influenced work, like I mentioned to you. And I thought for sure I could get a New York show. And I’d only lived an hour from New York, so I’m like, well, what the hell? I’m going to go up and I’m going to go look around and bring my portfolio. And, you know, I went up and down the streets into all of the, you know, the galleries. And I remember going to one and it was in this warehouse and I went to the fifth floor where the gallery supposedly was and it was this vast space. Like if you put up, you know, a ceiling on a football field and maybe 12 foot tall and there was a little sign at the door that the exhibition was in the center. So I walked to the center of this entire warehouse and there were three threads, one red, one black, one white going from the ceiling to the floor in the center of this vast space.
0:44:38.7 Eric Gibbons: And I was furious to think of all of the young artists who would have liked to have just set up a table around the perimeter of that room and exhibited their work. But yet this whole warehouse was set aside for three threads. And then, you know, just previously I saw a whole gallery setting of photographs of a lady with pudding in her lap. And that was the entire exhibition. And I just thought this is really out of touch with, you know, the common man, the everyday person, people who appreciate and are looking for art. This is not made for me. This is made for somebody else that I just am not in the same circle with. And yeah, it was then I kind of gave up on that. I’ve had some exhibitions in New York, but not a gallery like that. And I’ve, you know, I walked away with that with a with a new understanding of baloney, I think, in some ways.
0:45:38.9 Michael Goodman: So the one thing to that, I mean, some of these spaces, I’ll just name some names. When you go into the Gagosian, Pace, L’Amento, Hausmere, Worth, these institutions, they’re institutions at this point. Yeah. You walk in and, you know, I have clients that ask me, you know, these these gallerists are trying to show the work in the most purest form that the artist is trying to. So that’s why it’s like when you have these and it lends itself for artists to do some massive works when you have walls. I went to David Kordansky and you go, wow, this painting is 20 feet by 40 feet. And it’s like there’s not many spaces that can house something like this. Yet alone, this is going into someone’s house. I think the artist was Mary Weatherford or something showing. And I was like, wow, this is, you know, and then I’ve seen the polar opposite. I’ve seen a gallery where it’s like a swap meet and, you know, every artist has a nook. I think there’s something beautiful about both in some weird way. But it’s almost like there’s no concern for the people in those year either just at a level.
0:47:03.6 Michael Goodman: It’s really its own ecosystem, truly. Yeah, sure. I wouldn’t know. I have some pretty well to do connections. You get to a certain amount where there’s no way to rationalize the price. There just isn’t. Right. It’s like really high end real estate. Does a house really cost a hundred million dollars? I mean, the materials aren’t there. It’s just unless it’s all made out of gold.
0:47:34.4 Michael Goodman: Yeah. And then you hear the pushback even on TikTok with people that the art market is just a place to launder money. You know, and then all artists get swept under that rug or under that umbrella of this manipulative sort of thing. And I don’t think of the banana on the wall as that kind of thing. We’re not talking about, you know, multi-million dollar bananas. But when you’re talking about stuff that’s that high up, you know, we’re talking millions and millions of dollars. Then it is, you know, maybe maybe there is laundering going on. I have no idea. But I feel bad for the everyday artist who then, you know, is tagged with that. Well, that’s what’s happening. And I have to remind people that’s a small, tiny sliver of what’s going on that may or may not be, you know, what you think it is. But please don’t, you know, don’t paint all artists with that same brushstroke, because a lot of them are just artists who are passionate about what they’re doing and putting out work to just sort of to make a decently, you know, and stay creative and, you know, support their families.
0:48:45.0 Michael Goodman: I’m going to ask you an interesting question, which I ask a lot of kind of people in my industry. Who controls the artist’s evaluation? Is it the artist or is it the collector?
0:49:00.3 Michael Goodman: Hmm. Yeah, I guess I almost say it’s the history, you know, and it’s the I think it’s more between the the artists and the galleries that are representing them. And for the artist to have trust in their gallery owners to price work fairly so that it moves, but also that you’re not taken advantage of. I think that’s where and I had those conversations with young artists who are trying to exhibit with me, you know, they were like, I want $10,000. Well, OK, let’s talk about this. You know, we’re coming up with a pricing price based on per square inch. And I think I mentioned to that to you in a phone call one time that, you know, sometimes you need that to kind of pull you back in. You know, if this is what we want for a painting per square inch, what does that work out to? So if you do a bigger piece, here’s this can kind of get you in a ballpark. I think pricing can slow the sales or heat up the sales of something. It’s almost like commodities in a way. But you want to be, you know, striking that fair price, I really think is is honestly between the artist and the gallery representing them.
0:50:18.6 Eric Gibbons: Now, if the artist is selling their own work on their own, God bless them. You know, if you get what you get, great. But I find that most artists are not really good sales people, nor are they necessarily good communicators. So finding somebody who can do that for you and creating a good partnership, a good working relationship, I think is really important. And that’s what I tried to do with the artist that I was representing. And I keep that in mind as I talk to other galleries that might be interested in, you know, representing my own work is, you know, keeping those same tidbits and points of wisdom in mind.
0:50:55.6 Michael Goodman: Because what I’ve taught everyone and I’ve always thought for me, it’s the collectors. And the reason why the collectors is because those are the people actually buying it, meaning we can ask what we want. But what is someone actually truly willing to pay? What what does that materialize at the end? And when artists would ask me, OK, how do I price my work? My answer to that is, well, let’s look at your lifestyle. You know, are you living? Are you trying to live in a mansion? Are you trying to live a modest life? You know, what’s your overhead per per per month? And it was very simple for me to equate. I had an artist. He said, you know, I’m not doing too well. And I said, all right, well, let’s look at your price. And he was pricing his paintings, I think roughly for about five thousand each. And he was making about maybe twelve a year. I said, great. You are making sixty thousand at best. Meaning if you sell all all all twelve of them. Right. And then if you have a gallery, well, you’re probably walking away with half of that. So thirty thousand.
0:52:06.0 Michael Goodman: And he had an epiphany. He said, oh, my gosh, I got to increase. I said, yeah, you do. And kind of that was interesting. But it always came back for me for the collectors, because as I would tell my artist, hey, look, this is what we sold it for. You know, this is where we’re trying to go. And what happens naturally, I think with some of these bigger artists that gain momentum, you have this amazing thing that happens where you have all these people who want to buy, but you’re just one person. And you just you can’t you don’t have enough to feed the market, which I think is an artist’s dream. Sure. Now, if someone lined up like they’re just waiting until you create something, they don’t care what you create, how you create it. Yeah. And it’s led me to think, you know, the art world has changed so dramatically with. Collectors and artists going direct, going to a more direct consumer model now, I think there will always be room for artists, managers or someone else to do that for, because what I always say, some of the most successful artists are less artists and they’re more businessmen.
0:53:18.5 Eric Gibbons: Maybe that’s just in my. No, no, I’d agree. I’d agree with that.
0:53:23.7 Michael Goodman: But they really know how to run a really good business at some point. I’m dealing with an artist right now. Like before I could pick up their works, there’s contracts, there’s lawyers, there’s this. And I’m going, well, I’m the type of person I’m still old school. I I live by my word. My handshake actually means something and it means something. That’s all that I have is my name at the end of the day. So for me, but this guy, it’s a well-oiled machine. He has like QR codes for everything. So it’s kind of nice. But it’s also like, wow, you know, this is there’s an intimidating quality. I can’t believe we’re almost at the hour. I feel like we’re going to have to do another part. Eric, where can the audience find you? Check out your work beyond checking him out at the LA Art Show come Wednesday, Wednesday through Sunday, the 19th to the 23rd at the LA Convention Center. We will be exhibiting eight works. Your TikTok again so people can follow it. I love following it. It’s probably my favorite TikTok channel.
0:54:35.1 Eric Gibbons: Thank you. It’s Art Ed Guru. So it’s like Art Education Guru. So just a little at symbol symbol, Art Ed Guru. I have a blog that’s art education based. That’s the same thing. Art Ed Guru dot com. And that will have links to other social media kinds of stuff. The website from my gallery in New Jersey is still active. The person who bought my firehouse has not turned it into a gallery. So I’m reserving that. But that’s firehouse gallery dot com. And you can get a peek at some of the other pieces we were talking about. Some of my early pop art kinds of stuff are there. Some dabbling’s in I call them photographic monoprints, but they’re Polaroids, you know, so I play around with those and all sorts of stuff. So, yeah, yeah, we have a lot of fun. And then I have a little publishing company me and my spouse run. And that’s firehouse publications dot com. So we do art education books, children’s books to help teach them about art and art history in a fun way.
0:55:36.2 Michael Goodman: Yeah. Guys, check out. Thank you so much, Eric. He’s such a great asset to our community. And I’m so excited I’m doing more and just collaborating. So, guys, check out all the links. Check out the tech talk, check out the websites, and we’ll hopefully have some links also attached to this segment. Thanks so much. And until next time, guys, thank you so much. Thank you so much for tuning in to the Art Matcher podcast. We had an interesting discussion, a great time, and we hope you did, too. Please tune in for next week’s episode and like, share and follow. For more information about the app, you can check out our website at Artmatcher.com or look us up on social. Stay safe and be artful.