Culture News

Phoenix Artists on Commercial Art Gigs and Creative Survival in this Week's New Times

Commercial artwork -- or the production of artwork for hotel lobbies, office hallways, airport corridors, stock image websites, hospital rooms, Ikea canvases, and Pottery Barn coasters -- is hardly a new concept. Classical painters were commissioned to (and then often had their apprentices) paint landscapes and portraits to fill the homes of the wealthy, and pop artists commissioned hundreds to reproduce their own work for the masses.

Today, commercial artwork in Phoenix is a way to pay the bills. And while a number of local artists have done commercial work (mostly under a pseudonym or two), most aren't all-too-willing to admit it.

This week's feature in the print edition of New Times features the conversations of local artists on commercial work, the lasting impressions of Phoenix Art Group (one of the most established commercial art businesses in the country), and how to survive while still creating personal work.

From the story:

Phoenix may be home to a group of largely second-tier fine arts institutions, but it's also the headquarters of one of the country's most established commercial-art manufacturers. It's a high-stakes, high-paying (relatively speaking) business with more than 50 big-name hotel clients around the world (plus office buildings, private homes, convention centers, airports, and hospitals). That's a lot of wall space.

... Truth is, it's never been easy to survive as an artist in Phoenix. But today, even in tough economic times, galleries and museums continue to open and students enroll in arts degree programs across the country. And because of public involvement, support from local government, and a group of seriously talented people, this city's art scene is the strongest it's been in years.

The artists, however, still struggle to make ends meet.

Read the full Paint by Numbers story here.

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton