The Loss of "American Artist" Magazine

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on 14 Dec 2012 10:32 AM

We have lost a fine magazine, American Artist. It has been sold to Artist magazine. American Artist has been around my home and studio for the 55 years of my career as a professional artist.

To most of us, this is much more of a loss than the disappearance of magazines like LIFE or Newsweek. American Artist maintained its position as an advocate for representative art through times when realism was not that popular. In many ways it helped keep realistic painting alive, during the 50s and 60s in particular. The magazine always addressed its readers on a professional level. The artists featured were always among the best. And most of us found inspiration and direction within its pages.

Yet I have not heard much from fellow artists about this loss. Artist magazine has improved through the years but it is far from the stature of American Artist. One of Artist magazine's biggest drawbacks is that it has tried to appeal to artists of every caliber. It has tried to be the art magazine offering something to everyone. When you do that you water down the whiskey. However, let us wish Artist magazine well. Let us hope that it can rise above its semi-pro status and assume a role of inspiration and learership such as that which distinguished American Artist.

Paul Sullivan

 

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J.V.Schaffer wrote
on 14 Dec 2012 5:20 PM

 I am only a novice but I have subscribed to American Artist Mag for almost 5 years when I got notification that my subscription was being transfered to the artiists [note the lack of the capital A ] magazine I thought who the hell are these arogant assholes I subscribed to the artists mag for a couple of years but it did not come anywhere near the quality of the American Artist mag so I did not renew my Sub. [ I p

robobly spelled arogant wrong but the other part was correct ] if they want me me to leave their website just say the word   .                James Vernon Schaffer

I cannot believe they are discontinuing this great Magazine to the victor go the spoils what a bunch of vindictive assholes

Jim C&C welcomed

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J.V.Schaffer wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 6:33 AM

Until I read Mr Sullivans post I was not aware they were deleting the magazine .I had foolishly beleived it was only to get me to resubcribe to The American Artist  that they transfered my sub. I am not as upset this AM and I realize it was only a cold business decision on their part so I should remove the words arrogant and vindictive from my previous post . But I still feel they are lacking in social graces.

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KatPaints wrote
on 15 Dec 2012 9:27 AM

Paul, I've been aware that AA magazine was facing its demise for several months, I guess it is now official. I recall when LIFE, and domino magazine (one of my favorites) ended; it's sad. One-by-one magazines are losing out - mostly to the internet. As you say, "an advocate for representative art." There are not many. I wish that there were more. I find myself hunting through the internet to find good realism (Let's face it there is plenty of bad realism in the world.) I love it when I stumble onto a lesser known artists who has a certain something. I will need to do this even more now. The light at the end of the tunnel is that IMO realism/representational art is coming back "in style." Abstraction, post Modernism, and conceptual art has taught us much about design, color, etc. and has freed up people to find more expressive ways to create art but it now seems "tapped out" and stale except for a few artists. These lessons can now be applied to realism and eventually create a whole new generation of artists free to take representational art in new directions. I've seen representational art slowly build up steam over the past say 15 years, give it time and it will hopefully dominate the art scene. Until then, we have yet to break away from realist art that is anachronistic and move toward fresh looks indicative of today. When realism starts to say something, people and other artists will take notice.

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Jay Babina wrote
on 16 Dec 2012 9:38 AM

Unfortunately magazines are about money brought in by advertising dollars. Yes, I agree it's a big loss for the art world. Many times publications get into financial trouble because of bad upper level decisions not from the content or writers. I was really turned off when they killed "Workshop" magazine and now American Artist. I think it was one of the only all figurative artist magazines around. Now there's "Plein Air" which is the former editor from American Artist - excellent publication.

 

Maybe someone will re-start up an all figurative art magazine with the playing field open. The toughest part is never content but advertising, printing and mailing / distribution. Unfortunately, the web has become an enormous resource for videos and web sites of artists which has taken an enormous chunk of money out of art advertising.

 

I read Artists magazine at the library and usually glance over the pages mostly because I'm just not that focused into non-representational art (with all due respect to the artists). I do notice a lot of full page ads by galleries representing some of this work. And some full page ads by artists too. So that's what counts at the end of the month. I'll miss American Artists magazine too.

 

This site has " e-magazines" and quite frankly, I find them always a con job leading you into something they are trying to sell.

 

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on 16 Dec 2012 11:49 AM

Jay—

You are right on all points. Not only magazines but all of print communications are having a difficult time. Newspapers have been facing a bleak horizon for many years. We are all well aware of this as we witness the disappearance of publications that have been established icons of our culture.

My purpose here was simply to offer a eulogy for a magazine—to make a statement regarding the loss of a publication which has been a standard bearer for representative art in America for over 75 years. All of us who have received information and inspiration from American Artist know just how much we have lost.

The only magazine that can come close to the caliber of American Artist is International Artist. And Jay, as you implied, I will be surprised if Artist magazine doesn't turn their entire opperation into an e-magazine—one big huckster-site trying to sell you everything from old canvas to used brushes.

Paul

 

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on 2 Mar 2014 2:45 PM

Hello Paul--do you still feel the same way about Artist Magazine today? it is 2 years later and what other magazine do you think fills the shoes of the American Artist? I bought an issue now and then of International Artist--it seemed to be pretty good quality in my opinion.

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on 3 Mar 2014 12:14 AM

Dawn—

I believe that Artist magazine has improved from the magazine it was some years ago. Although, I do not believe it is on a par with American Artist for several reasons.

Much of this has to do with markets. There are a lot of people out there having fun painting and trying their hand at art—some for the first time. This is a big market and Artist magazine is addressing this market. This means more issues purchased and possibly more advertising. However, Artist magazine has made some efforts to appeal to more professional readers at the same time. There is truth in the axiom, "if you try to please everyone you will wind up pleasing no one."

I believe America should be able to produce a quality magazine for professional artists that focuses on realistic art. Such a magazine may have to be a digital publication. The concept of the "magazine" has to be rethought. Magazines have to be rebuilt for the world of the 21st century or they will not survive.

If Artist magazine wants to appeal to professional artists, it should feature only the best of the best. The layout should be pushing the edge of the envelope. The color and printing should be top drawer. There should be at least a few articles written by men. Looking at the latest issue, you would think Artist magazine was produced by some women's club.

American Artist magazine fell short on some points but I never felt it was talking down to me. I always felt that it was a professional journal produced for professionals. At the time, American Artist was something of an institution. It could get away with being a little stuffy at times. The layout was not exciting and its color was nothing exceptional. In short, it was in need of a good overhaul.

International Artist magazine is printed much better than either Artist or American Artist. Usually, the artists and featured articles are very good.  The page layout works very well. It has a rather exciting look. At present, I think International Artist is the best magazine available that focuses on professional artists who are producing representative art.

Paul

 

 

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Jay Babina wrote
on 3 Mar 2014 7:29 AM

Paul, have you ever picked up "the Art of Watercolor" magazine?  I often get it at the news stand and it's a bit pricey at $15. It's great and showcases some of the best of the best in watercolor along with some how-to type of articles as well.  Nice printing on quality paper etc. Granted it a WC magazine but my point is that I think there's room for more specific medium oriented magazines. Maybe a little less advertising dollars but a higher price offsets it. Another one I really like is Plein Air magazine which is another specific type of art magazine. Everyone puts out E-magazines (on line) but people hate them. They want to sit back on the couch and read from paper and not have to be glued to the computer which we do all day anyhow. Hopefully more of these medium specific things will emerge because I think there is a desire for them with the public. Publishers have to realize that it's not always the way to riches but something they might want to do to satisfy their artistic needs and still find a great deal of monetary and personal satisfaction.

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on 3 Mar 2014 11:58 AM

Jay—

You bring up some excellent points.

No, I have not seen "The Art of Watercolor" but I am certainly going to find it somewhere. Thanks for mentioning it.

I agree with your thoughts on specialty magazines oriented to specific interests. You and I remember the golden age of print media. We would much rather have a printed magazine in hand rather than reading a digital publication online. Today all of print media is having a difficult time.

Consider the next generation. They will be using nothing but monitors, pads and devices yet to be invented. For this reason, digital magazines have to be totally re-invented. This may take a clumsy evolution to eventually arrive at a new, truly effective form of digital magazine. Otherwise magazines will not survive.

There is no excuse for mediocrity. By its very nature, Artist magazine should be a premium publication.

Paul

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on 3 Mar 2014 4:37 PM

Looking online for "The Art of Watercolour", you can subscribe to this magazine for $37 euros a year, four magazines, I believe it said.  They also offer a two-year subscription, and past magazines.  There is nothing like leafing through a magazine, is there.

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on 7 Mar 2014 1:59 PM

 

Yes, all print media may be suffering but I know of a cross over creating a new path. It is helping every artist willing to participate. The book in print has no illustrative art inside it. Folks choose the original art if any, and collect it directly from the artists. This way each copy of the print book becomes an original collection of art. It is sure to inspire more wonderful creations helping artists in new ways. See the "Shared Images" here:

 

http://www.santassongbird.com/

 


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on 10 Mar 2014 2:10 PM

D.S.—

I have checked the link you have provided. What ever it is that is being proposed is confusing and at best vague. Also, it has nothing to do with the subject being discussed.

Step lightly. What is being presented as "Shared Images" sounds very close to copyright infringement. The printer of these happy-go-lucky books could be just as lible as the one ordering the books.

Paul

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