project

Some Advice (Not From Me)

Artists In Jackson

In sharing my Artists In Jackson project, I reached out to some artists for feedback. What did they think? What can I do differently next time?

One artist in particular – raised in Jackson, went on to great success – gave me some really great advice. For one, he was worried about me producing a book. “Nobody buys books,” he wrote, “not even if you price them at $10 a piece.”

He, however, knew how to sell books. Case in point: a $500 book, limited to 50 editions, and he sold out of his print run in just a few weeks. This artist offered an experience, not just a book. It became a pride point to own one of his books.

“The book was only a bonus and personal brag piece to tell their friends the damn book cost $500,” he said. “It’s the experience, not the money.”

His experience was, he only printed 50 of them, and he included a personal sketch inside each one.

You can’t rely on friends and family to support your art, he told me. And people in the community who say they support the arts? They’re mostly fibbing. Few back up their support with actual dollars.

Some of this I wished I had heard before I started the project, though I doubt that would’ve dissuaded me. I wanted to make a quality book for people to buy, and I felt like I had enough of an audience to sell a decent amount.

Aside from the book, my main motivation was to brag about the artistic talent in Jackson, and to get to know some local artists. Take economics out of it, and I feel like my project was very successful.

Put economics back in, and I think the advice I received was pretty spot-on. My “experience” was a limited run of books signed by me, with a free eBook download and dibs on info like extra editions and events. I could do a lot more to up the “experience” level.

I don’t think that a high price tag would go over well in the community, however. Jackson is a pretty cheapskate kind of town.

Granted, this artist has a huge following, and sells work for thousands of dollars. He works on a totally different level than this local photographer with a super local project.

But for future projects, his advice is worthwhile.

Thanks Dominic!


It’s Here: Artists In Jackson

Today I’m releasing my portrait project Artists In Jackson to the world. Since June, I’ve interviewed and photographed 15 Jackson-based artists about their talent, their challenges, and their hometown. The final product is a beautiful, 100+ page book featuring stories and portraits from the artists.

You can learn about the project at artistsinjackson.com. And the book makes a great holiday gift!

Thank you so much to the artists who participated. Through painting, or photography, or metalworking, or tattoos, they’re making my hometown of Jackson, Michigan, a more beautiful place. Support them!

And thanks to all of you who have supported and shared this project.


Artists In Jackson

Since June, I’ve been working away on a portrait project featuring artists from my hometown of Jackson, Michigan.

For one, it’s the second part in what I hope will be an annual project of highlighting interesting people in my community. And two, I love talking to people with interesting talents and hobbies. It was great to meet the 15 artists profiled and chat about artsy stuff with them, the artistic community in Jackson, and what their successes and roadblocks look like.

The project is now just about ready for primetime. You can see the particulars at artistsinjackson.com.

There’s lots more to do. I’m working on a printed book, the flagship end product of this project. Once that’s done and ready to print, I’ll publish the artist profiles on the website, and release an eBook version of the print book.

And from there, I hope to have a show of some sort in the Jackson community, and invite the community to meet the artists and see some of their work.

It’s been a lot of work, and a lot of fun. Artistically, it’s very different from the kind of photography I’ve focused on in the past. I feel different, too. It’s like all the portraits and images I’ve worked on before this have been overly amateurish.

With this project, I’m actually making photographs that matter.

I hope you join me for the ride in the next few weeks.


Make Local

Over the summer, I worked on a portrait project with local artists in Jackson, Michigan. I talked with them about their craft, how they got started, and why they stuck around our hometown to do creative work.

The project is called Artists In Jackson: Make Local. The kicker was each artist had to be from Jackson, and had to still be doing their thing in Jackson. And the project focused on visual artists, but that could be anyone from graphic designers to painters to videographers and photographers.

This fall, I’ll launch the project to the public. But for now, you can sign up for a newsletter (of sorts) to get updates when it’s ready to roll, including fun behind the scenes shots and announcements about the project.

Stay tuned!