Sunday, August 08, 2010

Art as Business Interview: Kristina Schmid

Kristina Schmid and being confused is an exercise (sand), mixed media, 2005

How would you describe your art?

I work in interaction with sculpture and photography. I start with words; a sentence I have heard somewhere, lyrics from a song I like (I listen to a lot of music), a poem or anything else that got stuck in my head, that I try to understand and figure out what it means, mostly to myself. Usually it takes a long while before I know what I want to do with the word and then the kind of expression I want decides which technique I am going to use. Therefore you can say that the title always comes first. When working with photography, I usually work in series where I take a stand from the title but also work intuitive and go with the feeling. With sculpture it is a different process. For me it is technically a lot about construction and that is always a challenge, so here I have to have more of a clear vision on what the outcome is going to be. I work slow and long and I do a lot of rejects. For the moment I am working with new materials that I never tried before and with that comes failures, which after a while can generate in new sculptures if I let them rest for a while. For me, working in the studio is like having a dialogue with myself, private and personal in one way, but with the hope of a meeting in another way.

Kristina Schmid Kring en linje [around a line], photography, 2005

Do you make a living out of your art and related practices – or do you combine it with another job?

That changes from time to time. Sometimes I can live on my art, for example right now, due to commissions I have. Other times I have had grants, but most of the time I have had extra jobs on the side, mostly as a waitress. I do not think it has to be negative to have an extra job, you get working colleagues and a bit perspective on life and appreciate the time you get in the studio more. But of course it is fantastic and a luxury to be able to work full time in the studio.

How long have you been working professionally as an artist?

I have been working with art since I graduated from Valand school of Fine Art in 2001. But the first couple of years I spent mostly working on my own, not really participating in the art world so much, finding it hard to find my place. In 2006 I registered my own firm and started being more outgoing. In 2005 things started to change. I had my first solo exhibition since graduating from art school. After that I got my first commission and I sold a lot of work. But it was not like a break more of a slow flow that started and has continued so far with one thing leading to the other.

Kristina Schmid För stor för sitt bo [Too big for one's nest], sculpture group, Ytterby Torg, 2008

Kristina Schmid För stor för sitt bo [Too big for one's nest], sculpture group, Ytterby Torg, 2008

What is your primary client base?

Municipals, the public art council, galleries and everyone interested.

Describe your work environment. Do you work alone or with others? In a studio or at home? Does this arrangement work for you, and if not, what would your ideal work environment look like?

I work in a studio only a ten minute walk from where I live. Seven other artists have their studios in the same building. Everyone has their own room but we share kitchen and other facilities. My studio is very important to me. I tried to work at home but it did not work out at all for me. I could not concentrate and kept doing other things. I need a studio where I can close the door both ways. I guess I am not so open with my work during working period. On the other hand I really like having other artist around in their studios, to feel some kind of working atmosphere. My room is small and the light is not the best, but I love it.

Kristina Schmid's studio, 2010

Do you have a typical workday? How much time do you spend creating and how much on business related activities?

I work at my best in the studio afternoon, evening and late at night. Mornings I spend at home doing what you can call business related activities such as checking emails, doing phone calls, buying materials, reading the paper. Usually I go to my studio after lunch, sit for a while and think, plan, and then work practically for a couple of hours. On a good day think some more and work some more, on a not so good day I take a nap.

Which marketing strategies have/have not been successful in advancing your career?

I do not have any marketing strategies, only a homepage that I am not very good at updating. However, the most important thing must be to find ways to show your work, then maybe it can market itself if it is good enough and speaks to people. And who is the market anyway?

Can you share any tips on business organization or financial planning that have worked well for you?

No sorry, not my area, but I am thinking of getting an accountant because it is stressful with all the papers and receipts. And I find it is good to buy all kinds of different materials when I have money even if I do not need them right away. Suddenly I need them and then I do not have the money to buy them and that is depressing. That's the nearest I get to financial planning: spending money and of course, do not work for free.

Kristina Schmid and being confused is an exercise (moss), mixed media, 2005

Do you have any advice on how to rebound emotionally from rejection or difficult client situations?

Do not take it too personal, you are not your work. The art world is a lot like a lottery so do not compare yourself with other people´s success, it is pointless. There will always be new opportunities and different roads to take, it sounds like a cliché but it is true. Rejection can also be good because you get the chance to test your own standpoint, your own opinion about your work. Maybe the rejection was right, then you can work more and reach your goal later- on the other hand the rejection might be wrong but then it does not matter because you are content with what you have accomplished. And, if everybody loves your work all the time then maybe it is time for some self-reflection ... Difficult client issues are different. If the client wants to interfere with the outcome of your work, I think you have to find the confident that you in the end, as the artist, really knows better than the client. No one knows your work better than you. Overall, do not lose your integrity to please people.

Based on your experience, what suggestions or lessons learned would you give to someone starting out as an artist?

Again, do not compare yourself with other artists careers. Think about why you started out as an artist in the first place and hold on to that. Learn by doing and not by what other people tell you (so do not listen to me). Try to keep a kind of playfulness towards your work and a bit naivety towards the art world as long as you can. No one else can do exactly what you can do so make sure you are paid for your work. Be proud that you are brave and devoted enough to be an artist.

What would you like to accomplish in 2010?

I have several new sculptures I have started on that I want to finish, and I am also working on two different commissions. I am having an exhibition at Galleri 1 in Gothenburg in November this year, which I am looking forward to.

Kristina Schmid's studio, 2010

What are your long-term career goals as an artist?

My goal is to develop through work. Keep having good and hard times making sculptures and photography, learn more about new materials, different techniques, expressions, about myself in relation to art and everything and maintain my curiosity and maybe, who knows, take up painting again .

Finally: Can you share something inspiring?

One of my all-time favourite artist whom I always go back to is Francesca Woodman who worked with photography. I also like the work by the Austrian artist Erwin Wurm a lot and Rita Lundkvists paintings. Edouard Vuillard is another favourite. If you are in Stockholm this summer, I can recommend the exhibition “Eljest” at Liljevalchs Konsthall, which was really inspiring, and check out the sculpture of the homeless fox outside the Government offices by British artist Laura Ford. On television this summer they are showing Twin Peaks. If you have not read Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie or Fateless by Imre Kertész, then maybe you should. And if you like something more easygoing and like clothes then the blog Style Rookie is entertaining (but only if it is actually written by a 13 year old- I am not so sure about that).

Kristina Schmid Kring en linje [around a line], photography, 2005


Unknown said...

what a truly amazing artist, so thought provoking

Wild4U said...

great to see review on your blog - but that article is so good, deserves a much bigger audience!absolutely something for arts mag!!!

nathalie et cetera said...

merci de me faire découvrir cette artiste de grand talent. j'aime beaucoup !
"if everybody loves your work all the time then maybe it is time for some self-reflection" tellement vrai !
et merci pour tes commentaires d'hier. le "sans stresser" n'est pas toujours facileà atteindre :)

Alexandra Hedberg said...

I can not take credit for the interview being so good. It is all thanks to Kristina's answers!

●• Thereza said...

ace interview!

gracia said...

Amazing works by Kristina, and happy to see and read another in your interview series. The piece about confusion with moss from 2005 is particularly great.

I look forward to the next installment whenever that may be. It seems you are enjoying a great rush of excitement with our work post summer hols. I hope it lasts and lasts.