How Do You Do It? – Brainard Carey

In July, Jeffrey Deitch reflected on his years as Director of Deitch Projects while defending his record as Director of LAMOCA. “I was completely engaged in everything,” he told the LA Times, “But how did I do it? I had a great team.” Drawing from that simple question and answer, this new column for On-Verge titled How Do You Do It? features a short Q&A with significant people working tirelessly throughout New York City to help marginal art grasp attention of the general public. Performance artist and author Brainard Carey carries this new column into its second week taking one past the strictures posed by the institutionalized art world (no pun intended).

1.) I first saw you and your wife giving hugs at the 2002 Whitney Biennial.  What inspired you to take the leap from performance artist to published author?

I think that writing is something all artists have to do. As critical thinkers, as makers of objects or non-objects we have to be held accountable for why we are producing, and if there is a critical aspect to our outlook, as there should be for artists, it must be written about to be understood.We had always wanted to write a book since we met. It is one of those wonderful life- milestones. Isn’t it something like have child, plant a tree, and write a book? These could be major events in our lives that have the possibility of not only intrinsic joy, but allow us to interact with the world in a way that transcends daily experience.

To write a book is the same as making art, you are expressing something in a manner that is culturally relevant and without being self-involved, you are sharing something that is genuinely of value to the world, or at least it could be in its best form. The first book was Making It in the Art World – a manual, a guide book for contemporary artists with all the details of how to talk to people and get stuff done, and the last book, the third book is called The Art of Hugging.

The Art of Hugging is a cross-over book, that has become very popular. It tells the story of using hugs as art. It was also written for a much broader audience than the art world and explains why hugs can lower your blood pressure and many other health benefits and there are about 90 images of full color hugs in there!

2.) Your first book Making It in the Artworld is an encouraging manual of how to navigate tough times.  What is the angle of your newest book How to Sell, Fund Projects, and Exhibit Using Social Media, DIY Pop-Ups, eBay, Kickstarter, and Much More ?

That book is about the online art market and how artists can engage that market. is now the world’s largest funding platform for the arts, and it began in a recession and is thriving in a recession – how incredible is that? It seems people love to give! The book came out of a newsletter I write and my work creating strategies for artists. It also comes from interviews I have done for my Yale radio show, called The Art World Demystified. It gives details on how to raise money and share art using the internet. The main website is here.

3.) The art market appears to be moving more and more online. How does it look from your perspective?

I think the aspect of art that is online is really minimal. While we are all online more, and many relationships are built online, we all still prefer the real thing. We want to touch one another, we want to make love, not poke each other on facebook!

The giant Saatchi site for artists is a mess, who buys anything there? The site 20 x 200 is doing a booming business in prints, and I suppose the auction houses on the secondary market can do well online, but visual art is still visual art and it generally looks awful on the web. A giant painting looks like a postcard, and we lose all the beauty of scale, the smell of paint, the space of an installation.

So while some aspects of the art market and certainly major parts of our lives are online, art must still be seen in person and I don’t see that going away any time soon.  Books are another story and are slowly disappearing, but art, never, I think. It doesn’t translate to e-ink or web images very well at all.

4.) Does marginal or alternative art have a strong future given the fact that grant funding has grown increasingly scarce?

Yes, it does! Kickstarter again is the example of crowd sourced funding and it is booming. Incredibly so, it is a vibrant community that is thriving and supporting all kinds of marginal artwork. These forms are as alive as ever and are the backbone of the industry in my opinion.

5.) How often do you work?  Is art your life and is life, art?

Working every day, all day long. The Museum of Non-Visible Art, our main project is in the midst of planning a call to architects.  We are also working on another book called Wishing, with a critical perspective on the self-help industry but also inspiring, hopefully.

Then there are also side projects such as videos, small books, new websites, and all kinds of things. We have no job other than what we do as artists, so everything is art. Life itself I think is not art in the strict sense, even though our work seems to make a case for that. We are happy, we are very busy, and we have time to do whatever we are drawn to.

6.) What do you do for free time?

Well, I am glad you asked. I have a saltwater fish tank with living corals and a freshwater tank too, and that takes a lot of work to keep alive and is beautiful. I like to skateboard and collect long boards. I also love to shoot off and build model rockets with mini video cameras on them to make cool movies just for fun with my 11 year old son. It is pure intrinsic joy, not art, but somehow, very satisfying. Watch this!

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About Jill Conner

Jill Conner is New York Editor for Whitehot Magazine and is a Contributor to Afterimage, Art in America, ArtUS, Art Papers, Interview and Sculpture. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
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One Response to How Do You Do It? – Brainard Carey

  1. Thank you for posting this. Recently worked with Brainard Carey with good results. He inspired me to push on in constructive ways. Loved his books. I also just published two new books with art and some poetry by me,Amy Cohen Banker and introductions by Michael Amy. See and Heuristic, Book 1 and Book 2 ,,Fine Art,Heuristic,1 and 2 ,Amy Cohen Banker,edited by Theriff.

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