Selling art is hard. Not very many people manage to make a living, even a poor one, selling art. I’m no exception. Thankfully, there’s a day job.

Art prices are generally high. That might be part of the reason for low sales or it may just be that few like my art enough to buy it. In any case, sales are few and far between. When they happen though, it’s better than sex. Not really, but it is better than pizza.

Last year, my friend and colleague, Michael Rosen, asked me to share a table with him at the San Francisco Zine Fest. For that we’d need to have some zines. A chance to price the art low and see if it would sell.

We decided to print the zines with Blurb. Science kicked in and we decided to determine the best processing parameters to use to prepare images for printing by making a test book with the same image processed in many different ways. When the book came back, we tore the pages apart and laid out the images on the table and studied them. We finally determined the best processing parameters. Everything was going to be perfect.

Turns out that Blurb printing is not that repeatable. Subsequent copies don’t look exactly like the first. But it’s pretty good for a low priced zine.

The upshot was half a dozen zines of 10 images each of different projects ready for the Fest. Here are a couple of samples:

I sat there all day and sold 6 zines. After subtracting the table rental fee and discounting the cost of the unsold inventory, I made about $0.05 an hour. Guess I’ll keep the day job.

Being obstinate, I’ve made more zines. There’s one (or two or three or four) for most of the projects I’ve done. They are available for purchase through Blurb from the Books link on my web site or you can just send me email. Click on the cover to be taken to the book preview. If you order from me with email, I’ll inspect and sign the zine before sending it to you.

What is it?

I participated in the San Francisco Open Studios for a few years. Nothing ever came of it in with respect to sales and I have decided that except for artists with studios in the big, popular areas, such as Hunter’s Point, it is a waste of time.

But I did get one good story from the experience.

A gay couple came to my studio and looked at the photos. Then they went back to this one and spent several  minutes studying it:

Finally one of them came over to me and sheepishly asked, “What is it?”

I answered, “It’s a pubic mound.”

He replied, “So that’s what they look like. I’ve never seen one.”


Women at Scott Nichols Gallery

This month the Scott Nichols Gallery is showing Women. The show highlights women photographers photographing women with some images by men mixed in. As is normal at the Scott Nichols Gallery, there are a lot of works by notable and justly famous photographers, many of them from California: Dorothea Lange, Ruth Bernhard, Judy Dater, Edward Weston, and Wynn Bullock are a few examples.

Portrait of America: Shaly is in the show:

Hey, that image is by a Californian photographer too. Although he isn’t famous. Yet.
The show’s thesis is that there is a discernible difference between images made by women and images made by men. I don’t know, maybe you can tell the difference. I can’t.

Several years ago, I photographed a lesbian activist for Portrait of America. She liked the project and recommended it to a friend of hers who ran a small local gallery. The gallerist was interested. Then she got in touch with me and was aghast, “I didn’t know you were a man! I only show art by women.” I guess she couldn’t tell either.

Nude on the dunes

Eighty years ago, Edward Weston produced his landmark series of nudes on the spectacular, ocean-side sand dunes of Oceano, California.

If you have some spare change, you can pick up one of Weston’s prints at an auction such as this one at Sotheby’s a week ago

You have a spare $325,000, right?

Today the state of California manages the dunes as a state park. But it’s an unusual state park; off-road vehicle access is allowed and encouraged. Every day, the beach and dunes are covered with vehicles driving in every direction—noisy, smelly, and often piloted by inebriated humans.

But there is one small corner of the park in which vehicles are banned. If you wander into this area, between the towering dunes, you might not see or hear another human for hours.

In April, I made a series of images of my favorite model in that small peaceful area, where the majestic, ever shifting dunes still appear as they did many years ago. Here is a sample image:

More images are at http://thomashammel.com/dune.

Making images of a gorgeous, naked woman is a hard job, but someone’s got to do it. Here I am hard at work on the dunes:



The weekly nude

This is my first ever blog post. Yep, I’m very trendy and up to date. What is it, 20 years since everyone else in the world has had a blog? 20th Century, here I come. Anyway, here goes. I’m going to do this once a week, talking a little about the projects I’m working on or whatever else comes to mind. Each post will include a photograph. Since all my work involves nudity (not really true, but almost), it will be a nude image–the weekly nude.