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A New Kind of Guild

Establishing a standard for professional artistic excellence

Visual Philosophy Studio and the School of Visual Philosophy are two separate entities. Whereas the School is dedicated to arts education, the Studio is focused on the studio artists themselves. We like to think of Visual Philosophy Studio as an incubator for artists and to that end offer affordable private studios in one of the most expensive cities in the country. Partnering with the School, we encourage our studio artists to study business and entrepreneurship to improve their art careers.

Our latest endeavor to further this idea is the creation of the Visual Philosophy Guild. As always, our ambitions are grand, yet we understand that establishing a foundation is a vital step when building something big.

It is believed that the first guilds were established in India around 3500 BC. The word "guild", however, originated either from Scandinavian or Middle German languages. Viking guilds, also called clans, were small groups wherein individuals made an alliance to protect one another- a group being stronger than an individual. Later, guilds had a strong and positive impact on trade and commerce in the Middle Ages. The Great Guild of Tallinn (which means Danish City) in Estonia, was founded in the 15th Century and lasted until 1920. The Great Guild was a collaborative organization of artisans and merchants in the city, and was located in the Great Guild Hall until it became the city’s History Museum. Despite the ancient roots of guilds most of us, when we hear the word probably imagine the Florentine guilds of the Renaissance. Today the word "guild" refers to a group of craftsmen or merchants in a specific trade. For example you might find a stone masons guild or a painters guild.

So, after having said all of that, I lead into the purpose of the Visual Philosophy Guild. Rather than be focused on one particular craft or method of working, we are taking the word guild in its simplest context- a group of individuals united toward a common end, in order to draw strength and advantage through our union. What is that common end?

To re-establish the professionalism and standards of art practice.

On the whole, when an artist decides to attend an institution of higher learning to become a Master in their trade, they expect that education they receive to prepare them for a professional career in that field. Over time, through art movement after movement, our institutions have veered away from teaching art as a skill that can be offered as a career- able to be compensated for accordingly, holding the status that the years of study have achieved, into a self serving, unqualified and frankly unprepared degree that does not hold the weight of the term professional quality or even expect graduates to pursue a life as an arts business owner. But that is exactly what artists need to be today. They not only need to know why and how to create their work, they need to be able to market themselves, talk about their work intelligently, talk about how it is influenced by and impacts the world today and, let's just say it...sell their work.

Our Visual Philosophy Guild has met regularly for about 3 months now and is well on its way to establishing a consistent membership and meeting structure. We have determined our strengths and weaknesses as artists and arts businesses owners with the aim of using our strengths to aid our fellow guild members where they might not be as strong. Starting small, building our foundational structure, and developing a solid program of learning, exhibiting and selling our work is what we are focused on at the present time. Stay tuned to see how we grow and re-establish the standards for art practice in our time and place.

Get to know our members on our new GUILD page here!

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