Face Making

Le blog de l’artiste peintre franco-américaine Gwenn Seemel. Les articles sont en anglais et en français, et souvent ils sont bilingues.

The fine art of burning bridges (and building new ones)

2017 . 08 . 14 - Comments / Commentaires (6)

Sometimes it’s good for your art career to tell people off.

I can’t run two versions of my life simultaneously to see which would be more successful—the one where I refuse to put up with bullying gatekeepers or the one where I take the abuse in exchange for the hope that my bully will write me a letter of recommendation. Nevertheless, I am certain that standing up to so-called “authorities” is ultimately better, because it’s much healthier for me emotionally. It makes me feel more capable in my career generally, and that confidence is precious. 


This is the email from the Portland art council that made me the most worried for Oregon artists. In the last couple of sentences, the staff member implies that a mural which I will be paid several thousand dollars to create is not a “commercial enterprise” for me. To see how I wrote that whole story drained of emotion and in a way that took into consideration the council’s side, go here.

The video at the top of the article here shows me explaining the situation with Professional Artist magazine. And this article is a summary of how to go to small claims court as an artist if the other party will not deal with you honestly.


photo of me in 2010 with my settlement check from the gallery that lied to me

Helping artists to be more respected is one of my main forms of activism. You could say that every one of my blog posts has it as the theme running through everything I say, and often I talk about it more obviously too, like in these posts about:

- TED’s copyright / Le copyright de TED
- Understanding gatekeepers / Comprendre les patrons
- Why I’m intimidating / Pourquoi je fais peur

CATÉGORIES: - English - Business of art - Kirk Reeves - Video -

Si vous souhaitez recevoir des mises à jour chaque fois qu’il y a un nouveau poste sur ce blog, vous n’avez qu’à promettre au moins $1 par mois sur Patreon!

(6) Comments / Commentaires: The fine art of burning bridges (and building new ones)

-- Linda Ursin -- 2017 . 08 . 14 --

I’m glad you’re speaking up & taking action and I do my best to do it too when I see something wrong. Documentation is a great asset to have though. Without it, it quickly becomes your word against theirs. Especially if you’re dealing with people in power.

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2017 . 08 . 15 --

@Linda: Yes! That’s an important point and one that I didn’t emphasize as much as I should have. Documentation is key. I met in person a lot with both the gallery I refer to and the arts council, but I always summed up our conversations in writing later and emailed it to them so that I could be sure we were on the same page AND so that there would be a written record…

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Thea Fiore-Bloom -- 2017 . 08 . 17 --

Strong video, thanks so much for making it and sharing it Gwenn. The phrase that came to mind after I watched it was: “If you stand for nothing, you fall for everything.” The bridges we burn often mark the most defining moments in our lives. They illuminate who we are and what we stand for. Flame on woman. Congrats on the piece in Bust!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2017 . 08 . 17 --

@Thea: Flame on! smile It’s so true that those hard moments define us. Thanks for stopping by my blog, friend!

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Ben -- 2017 . 09 . 11 --

Needed to hear this today THANKYOU

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

-- Gwenn -- 2017 . 09 . 12 --

@Ben: I’m glad it hit the spot! smile

--- -- - --- - ---- - ---- - --- - -- ---

Add a comment / Ajouter un commentaire

Name / Votre nom:

Email / Votre e-mail:

(Visible only to Gwenn / Visible uniquement pour Gwenn)

URL / Votre URL:

(Optional / Facultatif)

Comment / Commentaire:

(You can use / Vous pouvez utiliser: < a >, < b >, < i >)

 Remember me for next time. / Retenez mes coordonnées.

 Email me new comments. / Abonnez-moi au fil de discussion.

Please enter the characters you see below / Veuillez rédiger le mot que vous voyez ci-dessous: