Ryan McGinness
Artist
05:41

Ryan McGinness on Self-Promotion and the Future of the Gallery System

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Ryan McGinness says he will continue to work with galleries because they offer management of his art and let him focus on the work.

Ryan McGinness

Ryan McGinnes was born in Virginia Beach, VA. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Carnegie Mellon College of Fine Arts, Pittsburgh, PA. He has worked as a Curatorial Assistant for the Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh, PA.  He lives and works in New York City. 
Transcript

Question: How did you market yourself in the early days?

McGinness:    So, I took the… again, it’s almost a situation as kind of like actor or act of subversion where I went into the MoMA Bookstore and also the Whitney Bookstore and I’ve always been interested in reproductions and reproductions of reproductions and so… because that’s how most of us experience artworks, our art experience is through reproduction, more so now on the screen but also through postcards and catalogs and books and so I wanted to share my work through the medium of reproduction with… or in the context of other artworks so I reproduced the postcards for MoMA and for Whitney exactly, you know, got the typography exact and the croppings and proportions and the sizes and the card stock, the weight of the paper matched it all exactly and made my own postcards of my own work and reinserted those into their bookstores so that I could share my work through reproduction. 

Question: Do you use social networking to promote your art?

McGinness:    No, you know, in fact even… even like towards the end of the ‘90s when I was… I moved to New York in 1994 and you know, was in painting and in group shows, sharing the work with friends and towards the end of the ‘90s, I decided, I’m not going to have like an e-mail list anymore, I’m not going to send out kind of a self-promotion announcement, everytime we have a show, we’d do a project and invite people to something because it looked corny to me and that… and it looked just kind of silly and I’m also very careful about making anybody I know or even strangers feel obliged to attend something and I just… I stopped doing that and I just have since just relied on galleries and institutions I worked with for them to do their advertising and promotion and I don’t have… I’ve never joined any social networking sites, I’ve never accepted any invitations and it’s not something I… I’m just not something that I’m interested in.  Maybe because I’m a born contrarian of sorts and anything that’s popular, I don’t want to do and if… and if everyone’s doing it then count me out so maybe that’s the reason why but also I just don’t have time for that, you know, I just… you know, I want to concentrate on my work, that’s the hardest thing for me is just to be able to work.  It’s all I want to do, it’s just work.

Question: Do you foresee the end of the gallery system?

McGinness:    Well, not for me, you know, I certainly liked working with galleries and I liked working with really good dealers and I liked working with institutions and I’ve come to value what they offer which is primarily management, you know, whether it’s the management of an individual sale or management of collectors and buyers and institutions, I’m trying more and more to get to a place where I’m just concentrating on my work and I have no problem working with dealers or galleries who earn their percentage and primarily it’s… for the most part, 50%, usually 50-50 cut and I’ve no problem with that at all if it’s earned and in most cases, it is, yeah.  Yeah, because it allows me to do what I need to be doing, I do my part and work with a gallery and so they do their part, you know, I don’t really have time to entertain clients or collectors or get involved in sales but I guess the solution could be I have an internal sales person or staff or something like that but it just doesn’t interest me, it’s not something I need to be part of my studio practice and not being motivated by money helps me stir clear of that financial incentive to sell your own work, it just doesn’t interest me. 


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