Making it | Gary Peters

Making It  

Snippets of conversations with friends, thoughts and observations made over the last few weeks. 

Plenty of talk about the Parkin Award winner. The majority of the artists I’ve spoken to have no problem with the winning artist using photographic source material for the work. Most also feel the judge’s decision was a particularly safe and conservative one. 

The gap between what it actually is to be an artist and what the public’s perception / notion of what it is to be an artist. There’s much education needed. How much of that, as artists, is our responsibility?


How a lack of, and worry about, money can restrict the development of your practice and turn entering the studio into an experience of dread. 

How can I make the work I want when I can’t afford the materials? 


Most practising artists have a “jobby job” to bring in enough money to live, albeit somewhat frugally, off.


The importance and necessity of making the work you want to make and in doing so, maintaining your integrity. 

There is a temptation (especially when you’re trying to make a living from your practice) to make the work you think will somehow be more saleable. Thinking this way is, in my experience, bollocks and is a direct route to misery, to hating yourself and your practice. 


As artists, somehow we have to find a way to keep the studio a place where we can play and experiment. A place where we can forget about the money we don’t have, the bills we need to pay and make the work we want to make for ourselves. The work that wants to be made. We have to believe in the work we make. It will, we will, somehow find an audience for it. Somewhere. 

The trick is to finding those people who love your work and are prepared to contribute in any number of ways (through buying your work, by becoming patrons, by making connections for you, showing your work to their friends, buying you a beer or two) so you can keep making the work.

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How do you get a dealer gallery to represent you? 

The possibilities for new and different business models for the relationships between artists, dealers, galleries and collectors. 


How can you make both hard edged works and gestural paintings or have a diverse making practice without confusing your audience, galleries and collectors?

Noticing how the conversation in the studio moves between money and painting. 

“Money” topics include sales of work, gallery representation, dealers, accountants, galleries to approach overseas, the challenges of paying the rent, pricing work, postage and the Melbourne Art Fair. 

“Painting” topics include painting techniques, types of paint, linen and brush, colour relationships, size and scale, works we seen and are reminded of, where best to get stretchers made and more. 

The art of business and the business of art. 

It’s a delicate balance.

The end of the working week and the opportunity to do something normal, to chat with friends over a beer and to discover we’re all in very similar boats… working too many hours to earn the money to pay the rent, struggling financially, fighting to maintain a studio, wanting more time to make work, realising how we need to make the space to experiment, to make for the sake of making and knowing that none of us are willing to give up what we’re doing. 

“What got you here, won’t get you there.” – Marshall Goldsmith.

 Image: New work (as yet untitled), 2014, acrylic on canvas, 180 × 120mm,

Gary Peters is a practicing artist based in Wellington. 

He is represented by Paul Nache.