An Interview with Artist Eden Hopkins – letstalk comApril 19, 2021
JL: Please tell me a little about the path of your art career? What do you think drew you toward art?
Eden Hopkins :Farm Fresh
Eden Hopkins :Farm Fresh
EH: Thank you for this opportunity to share my art story. My father and grandfather were artists, but as hobbyists. I enjoyed a career in advertising, marketing and public relations as they did, but loved art even more. Finally, I decided to create art as a career and made the switch to art just four years ago. I have applied 12 years of promotional experience to marketing my art, giving me some success where others who have been painting for years are still shy to show their art. For each of the past two years, I have exhibited my art in more than 35 displays.
JL: You have truly impressive credentials. You’ve taken art classes in a lot of different locations, including Seattle, Oregon, England, Wyoming, and Iowa. And won a lot of awards. Has the breadth of your experience been valuable to your career? Did you set out to attend these different institutions, or was the location of the classes a factor of where you were living at the time?
EH: To hit the ground running and catch up with fine-art-degree graduates who had been practicing their craft for decades, I targeted institutions that offered high-end technical skills so I could execute my art ideas more effectively. I enrolled at the Gage Academy of Art in Seattle. In one year, I earned my Foundation Drawing certificate and took other classes too, which amounted to fourteen, nine-week courses.
I then was accepted into the one-year landscape program at Gage and earned my Landscape Atelier certificate. At art receptions, after the awards are presented, I ask the juror to briefly look at my artwork with me and tell me how to improve for the next time. I then type their notes and place them in a binder to refer to for the next similar show. The juror is often very specific, kind and helpful in these comments, and you learn so much more than during his or her talk to the entire group.
JL: I was fascinated at the number of works in your gallery which are captioned “live painting.” I’ve seen exhibits where artists were painting a work right in the middle of an exhibit or other event, and I’m assuming this is how these paintings were done? I’ve never even given a thought to what an artist would do with their work after the event. I’d be interested in your thoughts about this process. What effect does being right in the action have on the final result? Are there any special problems or advantages of working this way?
EH: Any painting created from life, instead of a photograph, I call a “live painting.” I like the challenges, which can be general distractions, time limits, inclement weather, and even animal encounters. This summer, I painted at a state fair while surrounded by the public. The audience watched as I created my artwork and asked questions during the process. It was a great experience as I could make a connection with the art enthusiasts in person, not just via a web site.
Plein air, or outdoor landscape painting, is a favorite activity. Animals invariably approach my easel while I am creating art in their environment, which in the past year has included a curious chicken, mink, and brown bear. I have painted in all types of Northwest climates, including driving rain and 28-degree weather where I was surrounded by sheets of thick frost that melted into icicles by the painting session’s conclusion. My live paintings always seem to have a fresher, more colorful feel than my studio paintings.
JL: You paint a wide variety of subjects – landscapes, animals, still life, portraits, and fantasy subjects. What inspires you to paint? How do you choose your subject when you begin a new work?
EH: Being a new painter with a love of narrative storytelling in my pieces, I focus mainly on entering themed shows. Knowing the jurors are often grading on a point system, being as on target as possible in the theme gives my artwork a better chance to be accepted than entering the general exhibits where I am competing against highly experienced artists showcasing a wide variety of subjects.
JL: Besides your website, exhibitions, juried shows, and artist associations, have you used any other promotional tools? What additional tools do you have plans to use?
EH: To gain solo shows, I have tried a different tactic than entering a standard artist call: Be the solution to the exhibitor’s empty wall problem! Rather than entering general solo show exhibition calls that are throwing a wide net, and thus having to compete on a huge playing field with artists who have been honing their craft for decades, I try to be ready when an opening appears.
When I overhear an art center director offering an artist a solo show, the typical response, “Oh, I don’t know…I’m just not ready…I can’t do it.” I can walk in confidently and truthfully state, “If this artist isn’t ready, you could give the solo show to me and they can have the next month when they are more comfortable. I have 33 pieces ready, framed and wired on the back. I can bring them in and help you hang them tomorrow.” I smile and then go wait in the other room for them to discuss it.
Or, I learn when they will have a gap in between two exhibits and offer to have my art on display to help cover their empty walls. Have a press release pre-written about yourself for the exhibitor to submit to media as the qualified third-party on your behalf.
JL: What are your goals as an artist? Where would you like to see your work shown/sold? What plans do you have for achieving those goals?
EH: I am very driven by tangible, easily measurable, and number-related goals. One way I judge my progress is how many shows my artwork is accepted into per year. Some of my art friends are such great painters, but they don’t enter shows. When I ask why, some respond that a rejection letter would crush them and they would have to stop painting altogether. Whenever I receive an exhibit rejection letter, I immediately go online to find five more shows to enter.
One of my goals has been to get my artwork accepted into shows that have rejected my pieces in the past. This year, I have found some success with this goal. I credit my resolve and ease of entering shows that require attached images sent electronically to my background in pitching stories to media. If one media entity turned me down, there were always others and future stories to tell. Rejections are no big deal. A more recent goal has been to enter more shows held in museums and in cities and states that I have not exhibited in yet. I keep trying for Chicago.
JL: I’ve asked all the artists about the effect of the current economy on art sales. What strategies can an artist use to overcome a tough economy?
EH: I have never understood the thought that an artist should conquer the local art market first before expanding outward. Some of my biggest successes have not been local. It does make sense to join area art groups that can offer entry into prestigious locations that you cannot enter any other way. For instance, through mid-January, 2012, I am showing my artwork with Landscape Painters Northwest at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.
JL: Is there anything else you’d like to share with 1st Turning Point readers?
EH: I appreciate your opportunity from 1st Turning Point and look forward to seeing what other artists have to offer. Best wishes to the readers in achieving their artistic and strategic marketing goals. I’d also encourage all artists to sign and/or watermark all their art that is placed on the web. Readers can view more of my artwork and learn about upcoming exhibitions at edenhopkins.com.
JL: Thank you for taking the time to visit with us today and sharing your insights on the art world.