Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Interview with Artist Terry Dixon — Part 2

I just stay hungry and keep creating!
~ Artist Terry Dixon

This is Part 2 of my three-part interview with Chicago-based interdisciplinary artist Terry Dixon. You'll find Part 1 here.

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Artist Terry Dixon in His Studio

Maureen Doallas: Terry, you began exhibiting in the early 1990s and within a decade began showing your work internationally. To what do you attribute this relatively short period in transitioning from emerging to established artist? 

Terry Dixon: I have to say the keys are hard work, getting involved with the right exhibitions, staying focused, and never giving up. It is so cut-throat here in this art world, and you can get discouraged. 

I still feel that there is more for me to create, and I guess I am always seeking that extra challenge of creating a body of work for a new exhibition.

MD: What  would you describe as your "lucky break" as an artist?

TD: My lucky break was in May 2005, when I landed in BusinessWeek magazine's "Photography's Golden Age" article. [Terry was just 35 when the feature appeared.] Even thought it was about photography, I was partly included in this dynamic article because I combine my photographic images with my paintings. This feature drew the attention of national and international private art collectors. 

Terry Dixon, Sharecroppers
Mixed Media, Diptych
© 2010 by Terry Dixon

MD: Who or what has contributed most to your artistic success or progress?

TD: I just stay hungry and keep creating!

As an artist, I can never [allow myself] to get soft and stop thinking about creating. I can never forget how much my mother pushed me to be creative; so, if it weren't for her in a lot of ways, I wouldn't be doing what I am doing today.

MD: How did you feel on seeing your work on exhibition for the first time?

TD: It felt like I had finally made it, that the hard work and my dreams had come true. I still get butterflies when I have exhibitions.

MD: You were born in Washington, D.C., but now live and work in Chicago, Illinois. How would you characterize the contributions of these cities to your artistic life? And, as an artist, what do you find in Chicago that you would not have in D.C.?

TD: I guess I never really thought about that too hard but I can say that Chicago has contributed to my urban-based mixed media artwork. I shoot various urban photographic portraits of strangers on the street and integrate the photographic images into my abstract paintings.

Chicago and Washington, D.C., offer a lot of interesting things but in Chicago there are more distinct cultural neighborhoods [than in D.C.], and this unique aspect that Chicago has to offer has a profound impact on me as an artist and on what I create.

MD: Do you have gallery representation? If yes, what do you consider its principal benefit(s)?

TD: I currently don't have gallery representation. 

I think gallery representation can be good or bad, depending on how you look at things. An artist should always read a contract and be careful about what he's signing. It's up to each individual, but I always try to stay clear of having exclusive representation, because [that leaves you] no wiggle room to make other business deals. One good thing about being represented is that you have someone working hard in your corner and make sales happen for you. If you can get a real good gallery director who has great financial connections and buyers, you can be in a winning situation.

Terry Dixon, One Year Later
Mixed Media
© 2007 by Terry Dixon

MD: What is the price range of your art? How do you decide how to price your work?

TD: The price range of my art starts at around $2,500 and rises to $11,000.

How I price my work . . . well, that's a little bit of a secret. If I am exhibiting in a gallery, my prices can go up drastically, because the standard sales split with the gallery and the artist is 50/50.

MD: How do you market yourself as an artist? Do you find you have to spend a lot of time on the business of art? 

TD: I do a lot of marketing online. I try to keep my collectors up-to-date on my exhibitions. I try not to spend all of my time on the business side of art because it takes away from creating.

MDLooking back to when your career began, what do you notice has changed in the business, for good or bad?

When I first started out, people had more money to spend but now people are holding tight. I try not to look negatively at the economy and how it has damaged sales; it is the reality of the situation. People are buying, [and what's important is] keeping connected to the buyers who have the resources to make investments in your work.

MD: What kinds of social media do you use to facilitate your artistic career or promote the exhibition and sale of your work?

TD: I use FaceBook and Twitter for my exhibition advertisements; but a large portion of the advertising [I do] is by e-mail and sending materials in the mail. 

My Website for my art has always been my home base, the place I send people who want to purchase my work or get in contact with me about exhibitions.

Terry Dixon, Conversation
Mixed Media
© 2005 by Terry Dixon

Tomorrow, in Part 3, Terry talks with me about the recent acquisition of his Re-Enslavement by the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland, the inspiration for and progress of his Re-Enslavement series, his role as an arts educator and what he imparts to and learns from his students, and how he would most want to be remembered should he ever attain great public acclaim.

All Images © Terry Dixon Used with Permission of the Artist. Click Image to Enlarge View.

Terry Dixon Exhibition History

Terry Dixon Portfolio: Gallery 1 and Gallery 2

Photographic Juxtapositions

Terry Dixon at Chicago Art Leasing LLC

Terry Dixon on FaceBook and Twitter


S. Etole said...

Enjoying this interview and his creative process.

Louise Gallagher said...

Your gift for finding and sharing talent and offering people a place to express is awe-inspiring.

Karenee Eck said...

I love the creative process in these works, and am inspired to use my photography as more of a catalyst for my drawings. These paintings are fascinating. One day I hope to see one in person and admire the texture and technique up close.