Meta-Practice

To exhibit or not to exhibit? Try a Decision Table

Along the lines of This is the Level of Nerdiness You Should Aspire To, actor and director Bryan Cranston shared a system of determining what projects to take on. Presumably it also helps him arrive at decisions faster:

he’d constructed a grid in blue ballpoint: the Cranston Project Assessment Scale. On the left were rankings from Very Good to Poor, and across the top, in decreasing order of importance, were Story, Script, Role, Director, and Cast. A very good story was worth ten points, a very good cast only two. Story and script count the most, he said, because “an actor can only raise the level of bad writing by a grade. C writing, and I don’t care if you’re Meryl Streep—you can only raise it to a B.” After factoring in bonus points (high salary = +1; significant time away from family = –3), he’d pass on a project that scored less than 16 points, consider one from 16 to 20, accept one from 21 to 25, and accept with alacrity one from 26 to 32.

(Tad Friend, “The One Who Knocks,” New Yorker, September 16, 2013)

What might such a ranking system look like for a visual artist? Artists often want to say “yes” to every opportunity that comes their way, so when they should say “no,” they deliberate about it for a while. Perhaps something like this could help artists?

Proposal for an exhibition opportunity ranking system. As each artist values each category differently, you'll have to fill in the values. Getting the math to square across different opportunities was tricky; I'm sure scientists and mathematicians who are more knowledgeable than I in designing experiments could advise on how much to weigh each cell.

Proposal for an exhibition opportunity ranking system. Since artists’ priorities are different, you’ll have to fill in the points. It also helps if you have some math/science sense to properly weigh each cell.

For me, how much I’m personally invested in a project matters. The curation should be minimally, appropriate, and ideally, compelling. Funding is always a consideration, though how significant it is depends on the project costs and the precariousness of my financial situation. The venue‘s physical spaces and upkeep, exhibition design, and organizational capacity are important to me too. Audience appropriateness, relevance, and foot traffic are factors too.

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