Painter Kevin Tobin wants artists to translate their passion into success.
Art and business. They don’t always go hand in hand. Anyone who’s ever picked up a brush and palette has surely heard a starving-artist joke or two. It’s a challenging profession, to be sure, but according to Kevin Tobin, it’s a viable one.
The Sarasota-based painter was recently chosen as one of 24 artists in the state to participate in the Florida Department of State Division of Cultural Affairs’ Creative Capital workshop — a weekend of networking and lectures in Jupiter designed to better equip participating artists with the tools they need to be not only successful artists, but business people, as well.
We caught up with Tobin to talk about his art, the workshop and why artists are their own strongest advocates.
“I USED TO PAINT much larger work. I would paint on the ground, covering 70 feet of canvas. But that’s rough on my knees. Lately, I’m working much smaller, and the result is much more heavily textured stuff.
“All of my paintings have newsprint hidden in them. People can discover the time frame in which it was created and have some framing for the theme.
“TRANSITIONING TO SMALLER WORK hasn’t been easy. It makes me approach things differently. I’ve even started working in sculpture. My latest series explores my frustration with technology. We live in a time where, if the power goes out, I have to reboot my refrigerator.
“ARTISTS ARE GREAT AT FABRICATION and at the creative side of their work. But when it comes to the business side of things, they often don’t have those skills.
“ART IS SO OFTEN a solitary pursuit. The opportunity to share that camaraderie with 20 of my artistic peers, who are all at similar points in their careers, it was great. It felt like having coworkers.
“A BIG TAKEAWAY for me was that art has value. It was Andy Warhol’s wish that artists realize their work has value just like any other commodity. A good window keeps wind and rain out of your house; good art has value on the inside of your home, inspiring intellectual, visceral and emotional reactions.
“AS ARTISTS, we need to be willing to do the promotional and marketing things. It’s all about networking — whether it’s people inside or outside the art world. Everyone has a response to art. You never know who might react to your work.
“THIS WORKSHOP was reinvigorating. It was a reminder that as artists, we have to be our own advocates and proponents of our work. Art is a business, and we should treat it that way.