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‘How tempting is the abyss of art and its infinitive fringe, that begs for interpretation.’
Born in 1963 in York, Maine, Daniel grew up in Naples, a rural town within the vast, quiet spaces of Central Maine. One of seven children in a creative, artistic family, he taught himself to paint at a very young age and used his art as a method of reflective play throughout his childhood. He studied mechanical and architectural design at the Central Maine Vocational Technical Institute. While still in school, he applied his dimensional skills and passion for architecture in the family’s design and construction business.
He then turned his talents to the commercial art field, working as an architectural and commercial illustrator for a number of multi-national corporations. Merriam’s illustrations received numerous awards including several first-place Broderson Awards (the annual Maine advertising industry award) and the first-place New England Scholastics Press Association Award (for editorial cartooning.)
Yet his true passion remained painting the expression of his own vision. In 1987 Daniel shifted his focus solely to fine art and had his first solo exhibition at Abacus Gallery in Maine. In the same year, the artist received an Honorary Masters of Humane Letters from the University of New England in recognition of the potential social contribution of his work. Since that time, Merriam has had over one hundred exhibitions throughout the United States, Europe and the Middle East.
Listen to Daniel Merriam talk to Pure Founder Lesley Samms about his life and artist journey
Here in his own words Daniel gives us a brief insight into his personal views on selling on the Internet among other things;
I do link to all of the usual social media platforms. Their effectiveness comes and goes as they change their revenue efforts. In the early days you could get organic viral growth, but now, most of that gets intercepted. Once they've got your audience coming through their portal, they control whether or not you and they connect. It is a ramping curve of pay to play. You must maintain email and phone contacts as your primary means of keeping in touch with clients. Even direct email services like constant contact will usually fail at getting your announcements out. We still need to reach out in person to make sure we aren't being screened.
Optimising a website has been a popular buzz phrase, but it has little meaning unless you reach your target audience and find a way to convert those views into sales. Most larger corporate internet marketing programs use smaller grass roots organic content like mine, to create circulation back to their holding companies sites, or simply pay to have you filtered out of the competition. Today's social media drivers develop underground cult like, participation. I'm not sure how many of those participants would be potential art collectors.
I'm constantly being asked to produce content such as videos, to feed the social media beast. It's entertaining and can result in sales but over time, we can become a slave to it. I'm more keen on keeping my nose to the canvas rather than the screen.
My favourite thing about being an artist is….
I know what I'm supposed to be doing. So many people aren't happy with their careers. I've known many wannabe artist’s who weren't passionate about any particular creative ideas, only the idea of being an artist. For me, I've always known what I want to produce. It's a destiny filled with lots of free choices.
Other great things about being an artist are I get to meet many incredible people from all walks of life, from top to bottom. I'm my own boss. I can express myself anytime I feel the urge and it will be contemplated by many. I'm always on the look out for qualities in life, and see the world through a very pleasurable lens.
The worst thing for me in being an artist is my work is labour intensive. I've spent countless hours, and many decades, in solitude, physically disciplining my eyes, hands and mind, to produce things of the highest quality I can achieve. Those years take a tole on the body. Much of the great art in the world has required great sacrifice.
What else would I have been?: a musician (although that's still art) an actor (that's still art). I've worked in architecture, which very well could have led me into real estate development. As a young man, I'd taken a turn into journalism. I still may turn my pen toward that one.
My advice for aspiring artists;
First determine if you have any talent. Then decide if you have ambition. Then determine if you have enough discipline. Now all you need is time and materials. Make your market in the bull years, and make your inventory in the bear ones. Do what is in your heart because if you're a good artist, that's your best contribution to the world. Lastly, you will need to be a good business person. Nobody else will look after your entire career, especially not like you will yourself.
My advice to my younger self would be;
Get started earlier on the pursuit of my biggest goals because you will run out of time before you know it.
Some advice I was given and have followed is, don't let anyone else tell you what to paint. Always show your best work. Always do your best work. Collect on your accounts receivable within 30 days, and never discount your art. Your paintings are like currency and you mustn't feel insecure in their face value.
My life and work has been an example of what freedom of expression can afford us all. I'm fortunate to have lived in a time when I could manage the creation of a body of work that's intended to enlighten the hearts of others. I believe each accomplished artists leaves behind a living history of the social consciousness unique to both their time and place in which they thrived. Few other mediums speak to the vividness of our human experience.
Something unexpected about me;
I've warn all of the hats in my paintings. These images are not entirely fiction, as I've lived out my life through my art. My early orientations started on the tails of surrealism, delving into the dimensions of the human psyche. My analytic appetite teamed with my divergent thinking style spawns the very thoughts Freud and Jung argued over. That bridge between linear science and multidimensionality beacons a belief in spirituality. How tempting is the abyss of art and it's infinitive fringe, that begs for interpretation.