Sunday, 4 January 2015

Matchmaking is a Fine Art

Susan Lee Stephen's“Greedy” Seal in sterling silver, bronze, & copper.  
Photo-etched, pierced, riveted 980mm x 65mm x 23mm, 2013, photo: Eric Walsh
When you are self-employed it is very easy to slide into working 24/7, which is not the best thing for keeping the creative batteries charged.  So this holiday season I vowed to take some time off and that meant I worked only two days last week.  It was spent excavating my in-box of my e-mail.  This is what I found in no particular order: inquiries from Phd students who see me as an information resource, artists looking for letters of reference, artists hoping I might pitch them to a magazine, magazine editors casting their nets for suggestions for story ideas, craftspeople to profile, an editor's update on one of the books I'm involved with, and two rejection notices (one regarding a curatorial proposal and the other regarding a review I was pitching).

I decided that the editors would be on the top of the list.  When an editor asks me for a suggestion for their magazine I always try and give them a choice–a menu of ideas and makers.  For example, I recently suggested to editor Janice Hudson of East Coast Living magazine that she consider the work of metalsmith Susan Lee Stephen, printmaker and textile artist Janet Davis, and painter and book-artist Tara Bryan. This inevitably reflects my personal passions but at the same time it gives the editor room to navigate.

I have a deep respect for an editor's knowledge of their publication and their readership.  They know what else they are planning for that particular issue and future issues for that matter.  I recall dealing with the editor of EnRoute magazine on one occasion and when I suggested a St. John's based topic the response was "no, we have two other Newfoundland stories in the pipe".  In contrast, the review idea I was recently pitching met the response "we'd love to have something from Newfoundland is there anything else you'd like to write about".  So, I always need a variety of themes, approaches and people that I think are worthy of notice.  As a result, I spent the rest of the day stomping around Quidi Vidi Lake mentally reviewing what I had seen in the past couple of months that had positively impressed me.  The difficulty is getting the right artists at the right time in their career paths (no one produces great art all the time) and then having that align with the magazine's priorities.  Matchmaking is a fine art.

Jack, an artist-book by Tara Bryan.  This is a delightful creation
that riffs off of all the jacks you can imagine…


  1. And how grateful we local artists are for your matchmaking passion!