Terri Couldn’t Stand the Outsiders Until…

Terri, a long time friend, and professional art photographer, had been increasingly frustrated for quite some time. Over the years she had worked very hard to build her art business, even persuing it after becoming a parent to her beautiful daughter Lily. Her work had always been a defining piece of her persona and it was something that she didn’t just do for fun, she truly lived and breathed her art.

With the advent of increasingly sophisticated digital SLR cameras, Terri began to notice that many people who had never really dabbled in photography before were beginning to take an interest in the medium. She started to notice that the market was maybe just a little more saturated than it had been and that competition for art fairs and galleries was becoming a bit more intense.

To supplement her income, Terri took family portraits in and around her community. Her frustration began to reach fever pitch when clients started moving to less expensive “mom photographers.” She felt very conflicted, on one hand wanting to support those in her community who were taking an interest in the art form she loved and practiced for so long and to embrace a community of peers trying to scratch out a little living. And at the same time, she felt bitter. Why is it she had to toil in the trenches, spend years of her life in school, only to be partially unseated by these charlatans?

There was no easy answer for Terri. Unlike some situations where there are definite steps to be taken in order to improve a circumstance, in this case, she has had to find ways of accepting the change around her. She turned to Helene Parmelin’s book Art Anti-Art and spoke deeply with her artistic colleagues. Terri tried hard to reach out and understand where new and untrained photographers were coming from, their interest in the field, and then she struck on something.

Her first stop was the local adult education office where she inquired about their interest in offering a photography course for interested beginners. The program launched and received a lot of attention, community members were excited to learn from someone in Terri’s position and the waiting list for classes grew quickly. Terri, on the other hand, found great catharsis in offering what she loved so much about the artistic medium that defined her life to those wishing to explore it. And in the process, she found an unexpected stream of extra income.

Art is one of those things that so many people believe they can just do. And while there is absolutely nothing wrong with an untrained artist, and in fact outsider art is a whole fascinating realm unto itself, it can be difficult to swallow someone who appears out of nowhere and declares herself a seasoned photographer simply because she got a nice Nikon for Christmas. Praxis Center offers more than just the practical skills artists need to learn how to navigate their businesses, we offer art theory, artistic community, and indeed an entire module devoted to Helene Parmelin and her concept of Art Anti-Art. Don’t wallow in frustration, and don’t let those who wish to dip their toes in the water prevent you from swimming deeply in your chosen field. Indulge in community and perhaps you will find ways of bridging the gap and creating common ground between the art world and the outsider space.

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