Artist Miles Jaffe in front of his Artist's Color Series. 

If art is business, is it still art? 

Featured artist Miles Jaffe asks himself this question through his work as he explores the relationship between artist, medium, and product. 

Manipulating scale with a mix of pop culture references, Jaffe's playful sculptures then contemplate the very nature of art itself. "It is a parody of parodies," he says, "which makes it a tribute as well, with no small irony."

Jaffe believes that "Art—long before the capital 'A' Art of the Renaissance—has been driven not by creative vision but by commerce, and as such, is a near-perfect reflection of society."

He reflects back on his fondness of taking things apart as a child, usually to the point of no return. "How things are put together —how they work—was a mystery that I had to unravel," said Jaffe. 

"Trying to discover how things work was eventually followed by trying to find out why things work—including human and social factors like behavior and economics."

He now uncovers the "why" of how things work through his giant sculptures and through a bit of humor as well. 

There's a giant colored pencil set with the name "Fool's Gold" in his piece called "Conceptual Artists' Pencil Set."

In his sculpture  "Strategies for Sucess," a giant thumbtacked note to self, he has a crossed-off list with to-do's such as "make beautiful work," "make political work," "write manifesto," "reject concept,"  and more. The final line item, "make giant kitsch" remains unchecked. 

With his tongue-in-cheek sculptures, Jaffe pokes fun at and immerses himself in the financial and cultural structures of art as he observes his own environment in a larger-than-life manner. 

You can see more of his work on Discovery and read about his approach to his art business and career below. 


Shared from the Artwork Archive Instagram account during Miles Jaffe's Featured Artist Week. 

Has your work changed over time—do you find yourself understanding your art career through different periods of expression?

My art is largely about my experience as an artist.

As my career progresses my attitude and perceptions change, and this is reflected in my work.

Miles Jaffe in his studio (photo courtesy of the artist). Conceptual Artists' Pencil Set by Miles Jaffe. Wood, pigment. 67 x 32 x 2 in (170.18 x 81.28 x 5.08 cm)

Do you have a favorite or most satisfying part of your process?

It’s pretty simple really. I like making things and I am good at doing that.

The more difficult and challenging things are to make, the more satisfaction there is in successfully completing them. But it’s important to focus on improving the things you aren’t good at, and there is satisfaction in that as well. Happiness is not doing what you love, it is loving what you do.

A look inside of artist Miles Jaffe's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

What has your artistic education consisted of (formal or not)? If you did receive a formal education like an MFA, did you find it necessary for your artistic growth, or did you find that elsewhere?

I literally grew up in my father’s architectural office. Later I studied Industrial Design at RISD. My experience and education in design—in particular, analytical problem solving—is the driving force and a strong influence in my work. My artwork is, like architecture, carefully planned from the start.

A look inside of artist Miles Jaffe's studio. Photo courtesy of the artist. 

What routines—art-making and administrative—are essential to success in your art career?

As an artist, I single-handedly perform all of the functions of a major company that designs, manufactures, markets, and distributes products. All of these tasks—and many more—are essential for success.

(Left) Tomato RedMiles Jaffe. Mixed Media, 56 x 19 x 12 in (142.24 x 48.26 x 30.48 cm). (Center) Artist Miles Jaffe, photo courtesy of the artist. (Right) 4 Color Process, Miles Jaffe. Metal, polymer, pigment, 39 x 12 x 8 in (99.06 x 30.48 x 20.32 cm).

Why did you decide to inventory and archive your artworks?

At a certain point, it simply became impossible to keep track of all of my work, especially when spread across a number of galleries around the world. Artwork Archive makes this easy.

Miles Jaffe's Public Profile on Artwork Archive.

What advice would you give an emerging artist during this time?

Remember that art is business.

Carefully research and vet galleries before showing with them.

Have a clear, simple consignment agreement. 

Document everything. Don't pay to play.