Dean Adams is currently working out of his studio in Bozeman, Montana and maintains a ranch in the summer on which he cuts hay. Dean has traveled all over the globe for art and other worldly pursuits, and continues to live his life as an avid maker, educator, and thinker. He received his graduate degree at the University of Iowa and was a resident at the Banff Center for Art in Canada.
What was most difficult for you when you finished school?
To make sure that I kept working. So I set up a studio and kept making. It was easy for me to show because I kept in touch with people from the residency programs. Time management is really important. Find the time to make work. If you listen to the work, even if you have success, your work still has to grow. Details are just as important as the big picture. The idea that our only obligation as object makers is to make objects is a romantic pile of you know what. You want to make your work. There are two kinds of work: product and your work. As long as you can be making work, you are succeeding. You have to be able to celebrate failure as an artist. You can’t let money get in the way because we as artists have other passions than societal passions.
What do you see young artists struggle with?
A push or desire to want to be showing before they are out of school. I see people want to be successful before they are even out of school. If you are still making objects five years after you are out, you are a success. So you have to think, how can I make a living? Be open to opportunities, and latch onto things and projects. It is important to find your community.
Which do you find exerts a stronger influence on your work, success or failure?
I fail more than I succeed, so, therefore, it [failure] has a bigger impact on the work. Aesthetic failures teach me more than successes. Nothing teaches technical stuff better than failure. What we think is the best, most interesting work of the current time, in five to ten years isn’t so great. Pick your critics. Part of the key to success is attending openings. Every person who comes to see it, and they can buy it. Buying art is like buying part of the experience of socializing in the gallery at the opening. I’ve always sold better at shows where I have attended the openings. I chose art because I wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer. All professions fascinated me, and art was one where I could explore all of them. Now that’s empowerment!
What advice would you give to a young artist?
I was open to all experiences as they came along, so make yourself available and be willing to move. There are different ways to live one’s entire life. You have to be willing to fail when you first try to show. Don’t make work for the market. Galleries will pressure you, but think about this: artists always have to job of making art, and without us making the galleries would have no place without the artists. It is important also to find a job that you enjoy. It’s important to realize one’s educational obligation to your peers, when you are in school and out. Students make school, not teachers. Maintain the relationships you make along the way, and remember that everything is connected.