Wet Stuff : The Art of Painting a Business

Guest Starring David Nakabayashi (2)

Wet Stuff: The Art of Painting a Business
Episode 8
Guest-Starring Independent Visual Artist David Nakabayashi

visit www.davidnakabayashi.com 


Part 1

David Nakabayashi, “Well I travel on I don’t go first class so.”

KD Neeley, “but you’re not hauled up in a garage somewhere not interacting with the world.”

David Nakabayashi, “No no no no I can’t do that I just couldn’t do that, and also I didn’t stay comfortable like I could have gone from El Paso to Santa Fe and just stayed there and been there doing that but no what did I do I went to an even bigger harder place to live and I’m trying that and ultimately I would really like to go to Europe maybe I was thinking Berlin was a goal for a long time or Barcelona or something but not just to visit I want to visit I want to go I want to move there and make something happen in a really hard place I don’t know why that is if I get the chance to do it I feel like I’m going to keep going forward because I don’t want to get comfortable but I have to say this you know it’s easy to say that but NY NY is not I haven’t conquered it in any way shape or form that place is fascinating it’s deep it’s rich there’s some much going on I barely scratched the surface, so we’ll see what happens.”

KD Neeley, “How do you manage to travel as much as you do and still maintain your fine art is it is because most of your artwork is in galleries it’s not like you’re lugging everything around you’ve still got a homestead?”

David Nakabayashi, “Well, no I have places where I’ve stored it there’s my ex-wife’s house is pretty big and I have some stuff there most of the art is there but then I do have it’s true my New York apartment is not really big so but I have really only what I’ve made there in the last couple of years is there in New York but you know there were some big paintings I’ve done here in New Mexico, and they’ve been floating around Santa Fe for a little while, in fact, there’s one that I have to pick up in Santa Fe that I need to take now to find a new home for it it’s 66 by 52 inches and I need to find a place for that so I’m probably going to take it back down to El Paso and maybe I’ll have a little show down there before I go back to New York so you know how do I manage it I’ve been winging it, and I have a lot of art hanging around on people’s walls that maybe I might end up giving them, or I loan them some pieces there are several pieces around El Paso that people didn’t really want to buy or commit to but I was like you know I need to hang these somewhere, and so they’re hanging in other people’s places and so the moral of that story is I’m not doing this alone I have a lot of help friends, family, my ex-wife Mary especially has been very generous to loan me a couple of closets, so I’ve had a lot of help it’s not just me alone doing this and I’m sure that’s true of everybody all the artists that are trying to do their thing they have helpers and people that support them.”

KD Neeley, “anybody who’s getting anywhere has help.”

David Nakabayashi, “I would think so, you have to.”

KD Neeley, “that’s fantastic where do you see yourself in ten years?”

David Nakabayashi, “In ten years? Well you know I don’t really know I don’t know I would like to I would like to have a gallery that could represent me in New York a nice gallery and be able to just let go of the hustle and schmooze and I don’t care that they’re going to take 50 percent I think it’s worth it just to not have to do that.”

KD Neeley, “Yeah.”

David Nakabayashi, “And you know if I could get that, if I could have that, I think it’d be fine I’d be perfectly comfortable with that.”

KD Neeley, “A good gallery earns its 50 percent.”

David Nakabayashi, “Yeah they have to, they have to sell the work to the people who want to buy it. I don’t really know what to do I can talk about myself I can charm people and be charming and friendly and nice but I really can’t make somebody like my work I’m not going to make work that appeals to certain people I don’t try to make work to appeal to people I just make what I make that’s all I can do.”

KD Neeley, “But the work still needs to be accessible steadily accessible in some place where the people whoever your audience can come in and find it and see the price.”

David Nakabayashi, “Exactly, that’s what they do they have to present my work to the people the people have to go there to see it, and that’s fine.”

KD Neeley, “what advice would you give to up and coming artists about approaching galleries?”

David Nakabayashi, “just be honest and really it’s you’re interviewing the gallery you are you’re the one in charge really your career you’re the one in charge of your art where do you who do you want to work with really and I don’t know if that’s a formula that’s going to work I don’t know if having that attitude I don’t know if that’s a tried and true method for doing it but I just think that having self esteem trusting yourself and just seeking out what you want deciding what you want to decide what gallery you want to work with and then go maybe do a soft approach or maybe just walk in and say what you want but just stick with it and know that that’s what you want because you are the one with the product right? The main part you have to back that up by making the best art you possibly can you’ve got to really make quality work and that is I think where you focus most of your energy is making great work and then you can have that attitude of this is what I want to be this is what I want to do.”

KD Neeley, “What do you look for in a gallery?”

David Nakabayashi, “Mostly it’s a how like smart the people there are I think that’s really how I feel.”

KD Neeley, “How do you determine that?”

David Nakabayashi, “Well I just feel like they know what they’re talking about and kind of an awareness are they just talking about sales techniques or they’re asking me about price points or some superficial thing about the work or actually do they know about art are they listening to me do they actually want to hear what I have to say it’s the same thing you do with like a friend or a lover or someone you want to date you know. It’s a relationship you’re trying to make do you want to make it with a superficial person who just wants to sell something or do you really want to work with someone you respect that’s kind of what I look for but look the art business is a business too so you may have some bills to pay and you may not have the luxury to seek out a quality person to have a relationship it just really depends on where you’re at I know some artists who never make those kinds of considerations about business or they’re just terrible at it they make terrible decisions business wise they have no clue how to manage money or think about how to sell something, and then I also know artists who are really good at it and make quality work. So I don’t know where I fall in that range.”

KD Neeley, “Well I know that you make quality work I’ve seen your work.”

David Nakabayashi, “Well so well I’m glad I’ve tried I’ve spent a lot of my life, most of my life trying to get that right I try to make quality work and focus on that Like I’ve said I guess I reached a point you know I had a kind of spiritual crisis not long ago it was about a little less than a year ago I was going to give up making art altogether I was like it’s over it’s done I ran out of money New York was intense it was hot and ya know I can’t work for the mayor of New York like I did in El Paso I’m not going to get a job in the planning department or you know run for office over there or anything so what am I even going to do to make money and I kind of hit a low point I was like I’m gonna give all this up after all this work after becoming my whole persona is this guy whose an artist after all these years I haven’t had a regular job since 2002 I was just going to quit it’s all over I uh approached a friend and I just mentioned this and she said oh you’re looking for a job why don’t you come to the place I work I work at a frame shop why don’t you come over there we’re looking to hire someone its’ not like I even officially asked for work and I got a job in Manhattan in a really nice high end frame shop Hirsch and Associates and we frame for collectors, collections that are managed collections, and even some small museum shows we do a lot of renovating and it’s really nice quality work high end framing and not only that but I get to see really quality work that I’m working on and sometimes we get to install it in some really fancy places in New York City so apartments overlooking Columbus Circle or central park and it’s a whole different world than I was ever exposed to before and it also here’s another thing it gets me out of my studio all the time so I’m not just sitting around moping about I’m not prone to depression if I’m out in the city working with people and I have friends around me and I have my coworkers around I haven’t had that in a long time where I it was just up to me to work and force myself to work and be in the studio alone all the time and then and of course you go out and you have shows and then what you see people but most of the time you’re by yourself so this part time job helps me sustain my bills in New York City and gets me a community and it gets me out in the city every week and then I still have time to do my own thing which is I do a lot of plain air painting and i do my work in the studio so it’s kind of working out right now I really don’t know what the future’s going to be so it’s s working I can’t complain in fact I think I’m really lucky it’s been kind of a charmed life to abandon your comfort zone and really not know what’s going to happen and it’s worked out so far.”

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