Joe Machine in the Art World? Will He ‘Make It’?

2014 Torch the Tate its not too late Alice Protest, Alice in the Artworld Series, 40,5 x 30,5 cm, Acrylic on canvas

When you represent an artist the one question that you will get asked over and over again is ‘will they make it’? Now I am not really sure what that question means, but I know what they mean when they ask it. And what they mean is dependent on what segment of the art world they inhabit. If they are an art consumer or collector then what they mean is ‘will I make money on this….or at least not lose money’.  If there are dealers they actually mean ‘will I be able to flip this again in the not too distant future?’. If they are an artist themselves they mean ‘is he going to be famous’. And if it is the artist themselves they generally mean ‘will I able to give up the day job at some point?’ So will Joe Machine make it?

We’ll let’s breakdown what is laying underneath those questions, and look at how ‘making it’ can could be  measured and then come back to that question.

If you look at the answers that those above questions seek to uncover then I make the presumption that ‘make it’ can be judged by success in either, all, or a combination of four main categories.

  • Creatively
  • Audience Reach
  • Critical Acclaim
  • Value
  • Resale of Investment Value

So how do we judge success in these categories?

2013 Alice And The Chamberpot Griffin featuring Grayson Perry,  Alice in the Artworld Series, 101 x 76 cm, Acrylic on canvas

Creatively – Now that is a very personal one, so I will not dwell on that for too long. Does the artist feel that they are creatively fulfilled by their work? If they do then have they ‘made it’? Well perhaps on their terms but certainly not to the rest of the world. Who cares? Was Francis Bacon creatively fulfilled?

Audience Reach – Surely if you are reaching loads of people then you have ‘made it’? You would think so wouldn’t you? Well ask Jack Vettriano, the man who has produced one the most iconic images of all time and he will say yes. Ask the slightly more fickle and…dare I say…snobbish art world and they will say no. Having you painting recognised by the millions that shop in IKEA does not mean you have made it….often quit the reverse.

Critical Acclaim – Do people whisper you name in awe? If so it still may not mean that you sell. Critical acclaim is very very important but should not been seen as the ultimate prize. There are many artists that in their early careers were the darlings of the art world, but people just would not bite. Perhaps because the subject matter was too controversial? Perhaps because it may have seemed too faddy?  Wha ever the reason it meant that people would not add a piece to their collection until they reached the final point……Value.

Value and Investment Value – Value and investment value are really two separate points but I shall deal with them in one go as they kind of go hand in hand. However they are both very different. ‘Value’ quite simple means what someone will pay for it. This is sometimes called ‘gallery’ or ‘wall price’.  But does this ‘gallery price’ indicate the value of the artist work? No. Does it encourage people to buy the artists work? No. Because in reality any fool can hire a gallery, stick some work up, stick a crazy price on it and be lucky enough for some nutter to come along and pay it. What really matters is the ‘investment’ or ‘exchange’ value of the piece. This means the prices that are reached for an artists piece when it has been resold once or more. In other words, once the market,  and not a gallery or the artist themselves, has set the price. And this is the point where it becomes very tricky for an artist. She can be creatively fulfilled, reaching lots of people, be having her skill and genius spoken about in hushed tones, and even have sold well at exhibitions…..but the seasoned collector, the serious art buyer, will not touch it because it has no ‘sales history’. They will spend hours poring over the auction results of an artist looking for the upward trends before they will part with their money.

It is for exactly the above reason that the criteria I use for judging if an artist has ‘made it’ is by looking at a combination of three of the above categories. I believe that if an artist has proven success in the areas of Audience Reach, Critical Acclaim and Investment Value then they have made it.

But the original question wasn’t ‘has Joe Machine made it?’. The question was ‘will Joe Machine make it?’

A very different question, but one I have a formula to answer it with.

For an artist to become successful she has to go through four stages. Forget about getting an agent or being exhibited etc, the true markers on the pathway to becoming  a successful artist are:

  1. Selling a painting to anyone – this is normally friend and family if we are honest
  2. Moving on to selling out side of your direct circle – this is a big step, but normally means you’ve sold something quite cheap to someone who fancies it as a bit of decoration.
  3. Selling something to dealers and ‘first rung ‘collectors who dabble in the secondary market – This is really a big moment as it means that people are starting to see you as bankable. People are taking a punt and, more importantly, they are starting to resell your work. You are getting a ‘sales ‘history’. Congratulations.
  4. Then, finally, selling to serious collectors – Now momentum should carry you on from here for two reasons. Firstly, birds of a feather flock together. That means that once one collector is on it, then others follow – no one likes to miss out do they? Secondly, collectors now have a vested interest and rarely do they not ‘protect a price’ when something comes back onto the market. Meaning they will often bid up and item to above the current value rather than see something fail at auction.

Of all these stages number 3 is by far the hardest. Each are pretty tough to push through and is only achieved with a lot of effort, but in my experience moving from selling to ‘people who just occasional buy something because they like it’ to selling to ‘people that make their living through buying and selling art’ is really hard and where most artist get stuck or give up.

So when I am asked if an artist will ‘make it’ I look at where they are on the journey. If they are selling to dealers, and dealers are starting to trade in their items, then I see that as a very very positive indicator that they will go the distance.

So will Joe Machine ‘make it’?

Well in many ways he already has. Dealers a regularly buying his work and trading in it. Plus he has now moved onto the final stage and is starting to sell to some high level collections. I think the final ingredient, and one that is already showing signs of happening, is when Joe Machine starts hitting the auction houses. Then we will really see prices fly I think. Once a few people have made the serious money on Joe then the others will get in on the act and that is when things go nuts, because then demand outnumbers supply.  He has certainly ticked all the other boxes. He is creatively successful in that he does what he wants to do for a living, his audience if growing exponentially every day, he has never been short of critical acclaim and there is proof that his prices have more than tripled in the last 3 years.

Joe works incredibly hard and seems to instinctively understand that if he sticks true to what he is doing then the established art world will catch up with just how fantastic and important he is.

Will Joe Machine ‘make it’? In my humble opinion? Yes.

2014 Alice and Tracey Emin, Tents Aren't Art, Alice in the Artworld series, 61 x 76.2 cm, Acrylic on canvas

The Brexit has been put back together.

I wish. So I am going to cheer myself up by putting together a list of my favorite Joe Machine’s.

The shedim and the holy men
The Shedim and the Holy Men – Original Painting on Canvas. £4,500

122cm x 91cm. Acrylic on Canvas. Signed by the artist on the rear.
One o f the central paintings in Joe’s recent ‘Life and Legend of St. Stephen’ that was exhibited as St. Stephen’s Walbrook.

2014 Alice and Tracey Emin, Tents Aren't Art, Alice in the Artworld series, 61 x 76.2 cm, Acrylic on canvas

Tents Aren’t Art, Art Ain’t Tents – Original Painting on Canvas. £3000
76cm x 61cm. Acrylic on Canvas. Signed by the artist on the rear.
Personally I feel this was the best peace in Joe Machine 2014 ‘Alice in the Art World’ exhibition that was curated by renowned art critic and historian Edward Lucy-Smith.

2014 The Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland Series, 101.6 x 76.2 cm, Acrylic on canvas
Alice and the Cheshire Cat – Original Painting on Canvas. £3,250

35cm x 46cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on the rear.
One of a series of only eight paintings produced as original book illustrations for an upcoming limited edition book to commemorate 150 years since the first Alice adventure.

 

The Tree of Life in Eden (1)

Tree of Life in Eden – Original Painting on Canvas. £3,500
101cm x 76cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on rear.
A stunning and very detailed piece from the Britannic Myth series.

The Silent Wood
The Silent Wood – Original Painting on Canvas. £2500
80cm x 30cm, acrylic on canvas. Signed on the artist on the rear.
I think this painting speaks for itself and is a highlight of his nature series.

Genesis_The_Foretelling_of_Eve_to_Adam_by_God_1024x1024
Joe Machine. Genesis the Foretelling of Eve to Adam by God – Original Painting on Canvas. £3,000.

76cm x 102cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on rear.
A stunning example of Joe’s religious works and one of the Genesis series. In Joe’s religious works there seems to be a much more detailed approach to his painting. This represents the obsession of those involved and means that it is very hard to do these paintings justice online.

Sarah_with_stanley_knife_1024x1024

Joe Machine. Sarah with Stanley Knife – Original Painting on Canvas. £2,500
120cm x 49cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on the rear.

A Clockwork orange

Joe Machine. Sharpening Up for Ultra-Violence – Original Painting. £2,750

91cm x 71cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on the rear.
Original painting, the first from a planned series depicting the dystopian work Burgess created in the 1962 classic ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Perhaps because the film was banned, but more probably because something in the British psyche connected with the violent world Burgess depicted in his book, ‘A Clockwork Orange’ holds a special place in the minds of the British audience. Joe Machine says of this series: ‘I’ve wanted to paint the story of the book for a long time, in some ways because the story of Alex is so very close to mine, yet different enough to fit into the mythological material I mainly work from. The paintings are way of examining a mythological past, but also one which for me, actually happened’.

The_White_Road_grande
Joe Machine. The White Road through Bluebells – Original Painting on Canvas. £1,200
51cm x 40cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on rear.
Another great example that demonstrates Joe’s large spectrum of subject matter.

Joe Machine.The Orchard – Original Painting on Canvas. £2,800
91cm x 70cm. Acrylic on canvas. Signed by the artist on rear.
One of our favourite of Joe’s nature paintings. This one produced in 2015 shows a blending or Joe’s more detailed style honed in his religious works. Joe has often said that he sees god in all aspects of nature, in plants, death, violence, and sex. We believe this has never been more evident than in this fantastic painting.

I hope that has cheered you up?

Lover, Warrior, Magician, King: Art, Synchronicity and My Reaction the Death of Robert Moore

It’s been a while since I have done a post but things have been really busy at camp LJ. The increasing heat on all things Joe Machine and the pace rapidly building around Theme and its imminent releases by Magical Creatures and Nick Hudson has certainly seen me being a busy boy. However being a Jungian I am always looking out for synchronicities. So I have had to take some time out to share an interesting example of synchronicity and what I think it may mean to me.

Over the years of working with Joe Machine it has become more and more clear that myth lay at the very center of his work. During that time Joe and I’s work has become more collaborative on many levels so it seemed obvious to me that Joe should start looking at the work of psychoanalyst Robert Moore.

Robert-Moore

I was first alerted to the work of Moore after attending a life changing weekend hosted by The Mankind Project. Moore, like Joe, lays myth not only at the center of his work but also at the center of his universe. Moore, obviously building from the work of Carl Jung, suggests that humans not only use mythology as a way of understanding our world but rather use it to understand our inner landscape and then shape our view of the world. He would refer to humans as the ‘animal that mythologies’ and stated that ‘when we forget to mythologize, and cannot participate in mythic imagination, then we are sick’. I introduced Joe to Moore’s seminal book in male psychology called ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover’ and Joe decided that, using these archetypes as a basis, that he would produce a series of four paintings.

king-cover

Over the last month I have been posting these paintings up on Joe’s Facebook page as he delivers them to me and late in the evening last week, whilst checking my inbox one last time before bed, I found that the final painting was waiting for me. It was the King. As I went online to try and research a quote by Moore about the King archetype I was confronted with the tragic news the Robert Moore and his wife had been found dead in their home.

I was greatly moved by the news. Moore, and his work on the archetypes, had become a way that I chose to understand my world. So I instantly posted the paintings on my Facebook page as a way of paying tribute to this great man.

Joe issued a statement that I shared on his Facebook page.

Then the news starting to come in that Moore had been suffering with an aggressive from of dementia and had, although still unconfirmed, taken his wife’s life and then his own. Was it murder? Was it a suicide pact? Was it some other form of tragedy? Well that is not really mine to speculate about. What is mine to speculate about is: ‘How does this relations change my perception of Robert Moore?’, ‘How does it affect the validity that I give to his work?’

Well my initial reaction was to remove my social media activity. Why would I want to be associated with a man that was key to the area of male personal development that ended up, potentially, killing his wife?

But I didn’t do that.

At this time I am choosing to see this as a tragedy that I do not, perhaps will never, have the full details of or understand. I am choosing to believe the narrative that this great man has been struck by a terrible illness that caused him to act in a way that was in complete opposition to his beliefs and values. Is this the truth? Well I cannot be 100% certain. It could be murder. Perhaps his wife did not want to carry on without him? But until I find evidence otherwise I am choosing to separate them man and his great body of work from the terrible event that ended his life and that of his beloved wife.

I am deeply saddened by the passing on of Robert and his wife…but am so grateful for the work that he has left behind.

If you would like to view the images by Joe Machine then please click here.

Sir Christopher Wren, Henry Moore, Claudio Crismani and Joe Machine

“My painting has become a lot more detailed over the past few years and as a result, they take months to complete. I’ve gone from the stripped down sparse backgrounds of the sailor paintings to the fine detail of the recent religion/mythology work“. – Joe Machine, 2016

After an evening of admiring Joe’s stunning new series of painting hanging in one of Wren’s most acclaimed Churches, set around an amazing Henry Moore marble altar, and against the backdrop of a live concerto by virtuoso pianist Claudio Crismani, I had to reflect on how we have come to a place where Joe’s name can me mentioned in the same sentence as those great men. How does  ex-criminal from Kent come to be hanging in St. Stephen’s Church?

St-Stephens-Walbrook-3

I have had the pleasure of working with Joe Machine since 2011 and was an admirer of his work for a couple of years before that. That first time I saw his work was at The Aquarium Gallery in Farringdon and I was instantly struck by how the raw brutality of his work coupled seamlessly with a sense of beauty and fear. I have written many times about how Joe’s work displays a sense of Englishness that is both beautiful and brutal, just likes its landscape, just like its history and just like its people.

Over those years I have witnessed Joe receiving increased critical acclaim and watched his prices rise as one person after the other started to connect with this unique talent and voice. Over those years I have also had the privilege of developing a deep friendship with Joe and have watched as he has personally grown and seen how this growth has affected his work. Joe’s earliest remaining works are a scream for help. As childlike as they are honest these paintings, bashed out on old pieces of wood because he had no money for canvas, are like looking into the diary of a scared boy, all angry and violent on the outside,  produced from a desire to survive and to understand the harsh environment that surrounded him. As Joe matured, both as a man and as an artist, his paintings took on a much more formed and controlled approach as they become a source of therapy. They were no longer screams for help, but now tools for cathartic outlet, a confessional device that let him relive and exorcise childhood trauma and the demons of a childhood in a criminal seaside town inhabited by violent sailors. Some people create to escape their backgrounds, Joe creates to understand it.

early

In the last couple of years, specifically in his ‘St. Dunstan and the Devil’ series and in the paintings produced for his current exhibition ‘The Life and Legend of St. Stephen’ Joe’s work demonstrates much more detailed observation and a more controlled and detailed technique. Some credit this to a refinement of his style and a further development of his technique. However I feel that Joe has reached a place in his personal development that finds him finding more beauty in the world, finding more joy in simplicity and, having gained a clearer understanding of the darkness of the human condition, a greater connection to spirit.

joe-st

It is for all of the above reasons that Joe is starting to gain the recognition that he deserves, and it is also for those reasons that I am so proud to have watched him develop from recovering criminal into a man deserving of his place beside Wren, Moore and Crismani, and proud to call him a friend.

‘The Life and Legend of St. Stephen’ is on display until the 27th of May, 10am – 4pm weekends, St. Stephens Walbook, 39 Walbrook, London EC4N 8BN

Click Here to view more examples of the work.

For sale or more information about Joe Machine contact: info@themehq.org

Now Even Wall Street Investors Agree! Joe Machine in ‘The Wall Street International’

I am not even going to start with the whole “you heard it here first thing” or the “I told you so thing” as I did that the other day when Joe Machine was featured in The Guardian.

What I will say is this!

I am so proud and thankful that Joe Machine is getting the recognition that he deserves.  Joe is truly one of the most talented artists I have seen and had the privilege to work with. It has long been my belief that Joe is one of the greatest artists currently working. Alongside this is also certainly one of the hardest working and it is for this reason that I believe that the recent surge of interest in him is so richly deserved.

Click here to the read The Wall Street International article.

 

Click here to see the items that Theme Artefact currently has available.

Sometimes When We Feel Like We Are Being Kicked In! We Are Actually Being Kicked Into Shape!

“All of us need to begin to think in terms of our own inner strengths, our resilience and resourcefulness, our capacity to adapt and to rely upon ourselves and our families.”Steven Pressfield

ThrivingPracticeBig

We all know life can be tough sometimes. In fact one of the few things that we can be sure of is that at sometime in our lives we are going to go through massive pain or experience serious setbacks. It’s the deal right? Pleasure and pain, success and failure, binary oppositions are how we understand our reality. However, like so many of the useful skills that can be taught, no one takes us to one side and explains to us to use these setbacks. We might be a brief explanation about learning to ‘cope’ with failure etc, but we don’t need to cope with failure, we need to grow from failure. Pain, failure etc, these are the things that make us bigger.

Kintsugi-2[3]Kintsugi is a Japanese technique of repairing cracked pottery with brushstrokes of gold. The idea being that the natural stress cracks and the celebration of the damage actually make pots more beautiful. Now I have heard that this technique has no real history to it and it was always more of a philosophy and I don’t care. I really like this idea and I think it is the way to approach life’s ‘damage’. It makes us what we are. So all that is well and good but how do we make sure we bounce back enough from these setback to be able to celebrate them. Resilience!

Resilience seems to have become a buzzword recently, but what does it really mean? To me it means the ability to not only survive life’s challenges when they present themselves, but to actually thrive because of them. In short resilience is the ability to bounce even higher than you fall, and there is only one way to do that. We must become aware of the ‘why’s and ‘what’s in your life and reframing the ‘how’s. As soon as we start looking at challenges in terms of ‘why’ do I want to get through this, ‘what’ is on the other side for me when I get through this and changing the ‘how will I survive this’ into ‘how will I learn and grow from this’, we start bullet-proofing ourselves in a very real sense.

This is why I have developed an experiential workshop uses individual exercises and group facilitation to gain clarity around the strength we have to keep us going through difficult times and the tools to tap into those at anytime. This course is available to men of all walks of life regardless of faith, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality or ability.

I will be running this course in London on the 9th of April.  If you are interested in this, or any other workshop, then please click here to book a free 20 minute consultation so we can start the process of preparing you for the workshop.

 

Remy Noe and a Bjorkliden Sunrise

It must be nearly two years ago that I attended a funny little exhibition in a transgender charity office above a Wimpy in Kent. Having spent years in the art trade and becoming accustomed to beer in Hoxton and champagne in Mayfair I have to admit that I was not expecting to be completely blown away by a BYO affair in Kent. However only dead fish swim with the stream and when an artist of the caliber of Joe Machine says that you have to check an artist out, then you have to check them out. Wow! Blown away I was!

bjorkliden-sunrise_1024x1024

When I walked up the narrow staircase I was greeted by a large landscape titled ‘Bjorkliden Sunrise’ and knew instantly how visitors must have felt attending that first impressionist art salon above a shop in Paris one hundred and forty years earlier. I instantly knew that Remy was the ‘real deal’ and that I had to get involved in working with him. I am proud to say that I still represent Remy Noe to this day and am even prouder to say that he has become a friend. You would have to go a long way to find a more talented or nicer person.

I have a large selection of Remy’s art in my home and it’s a joy to be surrounded by it but the one I keep coming back to is ‘Bjorkliden Sunrise’. I am surprised that I still have it and know one day I shall be sad to see it go…..but that is the life of an art dealer, plus I have published prints of it so I will always have one of those to enjoy.

I have handled many paintings in my time but only very occasionally do you hold something that you know will be in a museum one day.

bjorkliden-sunrise_prints_1024x1024

If you are interested in viewing the work of Remy Noe or finding out more about him then please follow this link.