Success doesn’t come easy in ‘The Art of Making It’

Anderson Ranch to screen award-winning documentary film Wednesday night

Artist Gisela McDaniel works on a painting as seen in Kelcey Edwards’ documentary "The Art of Making it."
Wischful Thinking Productions/Courtesy photo

The film “The Art of Making It” explores a kind of existential question for artists entering a crackling contemporary art scene.

“Why would anyone consider pursuing a career where the chances of making it, whatever that means, are less than 1% — even with a degree from the top school?” said Debi Wisch, the producer of the film that’s showing at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village on Wednesday night. 

Anderson Ranch will present the documentary in partnership with Aspen Film. Immediately afterward, Anderson Ranch’s curator-in-residence Douglas Fogle will moderate a panel discussion with Wisch and artists Felipe Baeza, Andrea Bowers and Lisa Corinne Davis.



What: “The Art of Making it” film screening

When: Wednesday, June 29. Drinks and light bites begin at 6 p.m. with a screening at 7 p.m.

Where: Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village

Tickets: $40 for Aspen Film members; $50 for the general public

More info:

Wisch was also one of the producers on “The Price of Everything,” an Emmy Award-nominated 2018 documentary that examines a searing-hot art market and the artists and consumers who are and have been a part of it. 

“That was really more about the relationship between art and money, and focused more on kind of the treetops and the high end of the market,” Wisch said. “This feeling is closer to the ground.”

“The Art of Making It,” which was directed by Kelcey Edwards and won a 2022 Audience Award at the South by Southwest film festival, takes a closer look at younger, emerging artists in the contemporary art world.

“It’s sort of looking more at the relationship between artists and society and kind of the career choice of becoming and what it means and how artists develop,” Wisch said. 

The career choice these days is challenged by more financial costs in the steep price of higher education and the weight of student loans that young artists bear in addition to the cost of rent and studio space. But there are also new ways for artists to get their work out into the world, too, online and at regional festivals as well as the big global platforms. 

“Usually, you know, it’s a nonlinear path with no guarantee of success,” Wisch said. “So I think those pressures (are there), but I do think that there’s opportunities in a way that there weren’t before, which is sort of social media and the ability to kind of control your narrative and go directly to (the) consumer. … And I also think the art world has grown.”

So, about that existential question: Why would someone pursue a career with such a slim chance of “making it”? 

“Most of the artists I know, whether they’re superstars or just starting out, say that you become an artist because you can’t do anything else. You just need to do it,” Wisch said. “And I think musicians, actors, writers, philosophers feel the same way. It’s almost like a calling because it’s such a precarious career path.”

And navigating it takes guts and brains, Wisch suggested. 

“Even (for) those who are hugely successful by all standards, it’s a hard field,” Wisch said. “You have to be very resourceful, and you have to also know how to market and you have to be nimble and you have to have a stomach for rejection. … In the end, it’s coming from your soul.”


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