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Let’s Talk about BUSINESS: Shannon Finnegan

An ongoing series of interviews and discussions about art and business. How do they balance out? How do we make this stuff real?

Shannon Finnegan

Shannon makes work that explores “working” and jobs; what tasks and actions have value? In her 8-Hour Performance series, she will do one repetitive task — such as vertical mark-making, or writing out a series of sentences repeatedly — for an eight-hour period, starting the performance by clocking in, keeping track of her bathroom breaks, and clocking out when the eight hours are completed.

Shannon’s conceptually ideal daily schedule would include going into work, execute an eight-hour drawing, and then clock ing-out. She would then leave her studio and be “off work”, not doing any other drawings in the evenings or weekends. After considering this for a moment, we discussed Shannon’s more practical ideal schedule that would include time for engaging with others: she would still spend a majority of her working days executing eight-hour drawings, but would also schedule days for meetings with assistants and project partners, gallery owners and performance collaborators.

At this point in the interview, Shannon discussed how she’s just recently fallen into a schedule that balances being an artist and making an income in a way that actually is working for her: working for income four days week, making artwork three days a week. “That third weekend day is crucial,” she said.

We talked about how consistency is crucial. If she has to spend some of her non-working days “hustling” for more work, than that eats into her art-making time — and more importantly it eats into her head space. Worrying about income leaves no space for creative thinking.

This is all of the interview I managed to record.

Shannon currently lives in New York City and is working as a personal assistant, nanny, non-profit arts organization summer festival director, and probably more jobs I don’t remember.

Shannon holds a BA from Carleton College.

She will be exhibiting an 8-hour performance at the Invisible Dog Gallery on Saturday June 9th from 11am-7pm with a reception and Q&A from 6pm-8pm.

Follow-up notes:

READ THIS: Are You Working Too Much? Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art, Edited by Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, and Anton Vidokle, June 2011

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Let’s Talk about BUSINESS: Breanne Trammell

An ongoing series of interviews and discussions about art and business. How do they balance out? How do we make this stuff real?

Breanne Trammell

Breanne’s interview was a casual porch-interview, over some quality glasses of water. We talked about her growing Nail School project, which is leading towards her Nails Across America tour next summer in a canned-ham trailer re-purposed as a nail salon. She’ll be trading manicures for stories, art, things and stuff; meeting people and making the world happy through fancy nails. Breanne is currently lecturing in art + design at SUNY Purchase, as well as an Adjunct Professor in Graphic Design at Ramapo College in New Jersey, in addition to attending Nail School four nights a week. She holds an MFA from RISD and a BFA from the University of Texas, Arlington.

Breanne talked about how it’s a strange line between her art, business as art, and art as business. She’d love to be able to sustain herself in the future by doing nails. However that would require her clients to pay traditional fees, and she’s more interested in using barter systems to engage with people in the salon. Can the piece be an interactive profitable business AND art piece simultaneously?

Breanne is currently writing and sending out grant applications to fund purchasing the trailer, the tour itself, and other related supplies and design work for the project. She also currently needs four new tires on her car, which she drives approximately 500 miles per week to travel to Nail School and to her Professor positions. She recently purchased a portable nail salon table.

I’m left with questions of balance: How do we as artists negotiate the pressing, daily requirement to spend money on boring living expenses while simultaneously concocting huge artistic visions requiring other potential money? How do we balance time spent making money to make art with time spent making art?

Follow up notes:

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