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January 30, 1987 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1987-01-30
Note:
This is a tabloid page

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. ..

Career Artists
Not everyone wants to be a yuppie. These students just want to create.

By Melissa Birks
N SEVERAL "FANTASY YEARS
away," Helena Meryman wants you to
see her work in museums and books. In
the meantime, she'll live as a beatnik if
she has to. She just wants to be a
painter.
"I know it's idealistic to go off and
be a painter," said Meryman, a
sophomore in the School of Art. "If
you're 19, I guess that's the time to be
idealistic."
Friends call Lisa Campeau a "workaholic," but for
the senior printmaking major, creating art on 2' x 3'
steel presses is play. She spends an average of nine
hours a day at the University's lithography studio on
North Campus. She knows printmakers don't survive
on their craft alone, but says, "I really don't want it
as a hobby. I'd love to do it all day."
Campeau and Meryman are two art students of
many who plan on using their creative abilities in a
career. They're determined to overcome the
considerable obstacles to doing so.
"At a time of ten percent national unemployment,
today's artist/craftsperson can expect a drastically
higher rate of 90 percent, as cited by a 1983 Artist
Equity Research Study," according to the National
Network for Artist Placement. "With these findings,
grim conclusions and projections were outlined for
the American artist: s/he works less in their chosen
field; is unemployed more often and for longer periods
of time; and earns less in her/his life time than
comparably trained professionals."
But such discouraging reports don't mean that a
career in the arts is out of reach, according to Melanie
Fuscaldo, a counselor at Career Planning and
Placement. She said the unemployment projection is
probably exaggerated because it only refers to artists
who are making a living from selling their art.
"You don't start selling your paintings for
exorbitant prices until you make a name for yourself.
That could take any amount of time," Fuscaldo said.
"When they talk about unemployment, it might mean
that a painter might sell one painting each month,
but not enough to feed him or herself because it only
goes for $20." Eventually, the artist may become
self-supporting; until then, the he or she is considered
"unemployed."
"Survival jobs," those not necessarily art-related,
are important to graduates waiting to sell their art.
Last summer, Meryman worked in an art gallery in
New York, and as a chef in a restaurant.
Survival jobs can also be important for making
connections within the art world, as graphic design
graduate Chris Edwards discovered when a professor,
Doug Hessletein, employed him part time at
Quorum, an Ann Arbor-based graphic design firm.
Edwards will begin full-time work there this month.
Birks is The Daily's Feature Editor;
Schreiber is Photo Editor.

Photos by Andi Schreiber

John Michaels hammers away at his emerging
sculpture project; his roommate Greg Boes is at
work in the background.
school student. "I went back to school to study art
because I loved it. I didn't expect to make a living off
it," she said.
Often, swimming in the world of art is enough for
artists to forget about drowning in the world of
business.
"Our society is not quite set up to support people
indulging themselves in just what they want to do,"
School of Art Dean Marjorie Levy said. But by
applying art to solving someone else's problems or
creating objects that serve another's needs, Levy
added, an artist can be monetarily successful.
The University's 3,400 art school graduates have
found careers in everything from creating war
memorials for large cities to advertising design. One
former painting concentrator is now a caricature
artist for Mad Magazine; an ex-ceramics major teaches
part-time in New York and works part-time in her
studio creating art out of paper products.
HE LARGEST OBSTACLE facing
beginning artists in the business
world is not their toying with exotic
trades, but their inabilty to sell
themselves, said Career Planning and
Placement's Fuscaldo, who works as
a liason to the School of Art.
"One thing art students don't always realize is that
they have to sell themselves," Fuscaldo said,
"Sometimes is seems like their work should sell
itself; in fact, it doesn't always do that. They have to
be their own salespeople and they need business
skills."
Fuscaldo said art school graduates should be ready
to expand their skills to other, non-art fields and be
prepared to dispense of the artist image.
"If an artist only wants to use their skills in terms
of painting off in a loft somewhere, that may be
unrealistic," she said, "But if they want to use their
artistic creative abilities to design posters or flyers or
to come up with creative ideas, if they're really
creative on how they use their skills, then that might
be easier for them to market."
There is a big difference between selling yourself
and selling out, according to Meryman. For instance,
painting commissions for bank presidents is
acceptable - but only if you need the money and
only if you don't remain in that art arena.
"If I beceme a painter, I want to be very good;
Continued on Page 12

Figure painting is messy businessfor photo major Liz Albert, who is in Prof. Al Hinton's Painting H class.

'There's a built-in bind to the system," he said. "If
you don't have experience, companies don't want
you. But the only way to get experience is to start
with them. That's something to be aware of: you
have to start at the bottom."
Sarah MacMillan is prepared to waitress before
she'll work in a 24-hour photo processing lab: "Just
because I'm into photo doesn't mean I'm into
everything about photo."
Four and a half years ago, MacMillan took
photography "for the hell of it." Last December, she
graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Now
she's searching for a job.
"Ideally, I'd like to work for a magazine, but they
could be putting a coffee pot in my hand before they
let me touch a camera," she said.
Campeau is planning on using her secretarial
skills after she graduates to pay for renting a studio.
A new printmaking press bed can cost up to $8,000.
"If I break even, that's fine with me," she said.
Campeau entered the University as a pre-med
major, hated it, and dropped out after her first term.
She worked as a secretary in the medical school for
five years, then went back to academia as an art

Prof. Charles Dwyer meets with his illustration students for a critique.

A model reads poetry to students in Prof. Hinton's class.

PAGE 6 WEEKEND/JANUARY 30; 1987

WEEKEND/JANUARY 30,.187 PAGE 7

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