Artist’s Life 101: Selling

I wound up selling streaming video because I don’t have the disposition to wait to see what someone else “can or will do for me” – partly from nature, partly from experience. I had already learned what happens when your sculpture is selling – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got better work in you or just want to experiment. I already knew what happens when you are a black performer with a play about the Civil Rights Movement – you have to keep doing that over and over even if you’ve got a lot of other stories in you.

When I started entering film festivals, I expected to be treated like a business person. For the most part, that did not happen – in my opinion, filmmakers are treated like beggars in much the same way studio artists and small theatre artists are. Artists, who very possibly were progenitors of entrepreneurship as creator-purveyors of magical images and gods, are now expected to be supplicants who have to wait to see what someone else “can/will do for me.”

When I began to think like the former theater producer that I was for 20 years, I realized that not all film festival organizers are organized enough to be businesslike or businesslike enough to be organized. People who start film festivals likely are motivated by frustration with The Business/wanting to take charge of their own career paths; or motivated by the intense passion of wannabes; or sometimes by a bit of both.

I am not sorry for my tantrums about lack of communication from so many festivals (poor communication may be understandable, logistically speaking given manpower issues but not excused). I have seen so many art and theatre projects NOT happen over the years because available manpower did not match the size or structure of a project. “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”

However, I am sorry, considering how many shows I arranged without even being in the same town as the venue back in the days of dialup, for not putting myself in the shoes of festival organizers, who are only human and probably most of them not obsessed overachievers who don’t sleep.

Amazon changed its online video business a few months ago to aggressively sell streaming minutes rather than individual rentals and purchases. What can I say – most of the people on this playground know that art sells by the piece. Duh. I am not being paid by the piece by Amazon. It’s not about much money. But the content is mine. I would rather give it away.

What the hell – it is about time for my tantrum / protest / action / installation on Amazon to end, anyway. I am taking most if not all of my videos off the streaming market and making them available on signed DVDs – by the piece.

THE SPINSTER, final version, will soon be available on signed DVDs on Etsy. THE SPINSTER is a performance art movie about an office worker who lives to draw in the classical style. She is obsessed with the Mannerist painter, Jacopo Pontormo. ‘Pontormo’s Diary’ is the only thing she has on her IPod. She lives alone with art supplies and rolls and rolls of paper. She mostly eats eggs & salad, just like her spiritual mentor, Pontormo.

“Sylvia Toy St. Louis is a true artist, struggling the same struggle every artist has fought. I’m right there with her. Her characterizations are true to heart and she fills the screen with words that hone toward the truth that she finally reveals.” Review by Tess Collins Ph.D.