Tuesday, April 19, 2011

More Opinion on the "Magazine Art Doll Quarterly"


This is a long rant, just to get it out of my system. I don't expect anyone to read it all, but I have to vent.

Last January, after I wrote my opinion here about being disappointed in certain aspects of the magazine "Art Doll Quarterly" I decided to write a letter to the editor of the magazine, also expressing my disappointment. As a matter of fact, this is what I wrote:

Today I was rewarded for bundling up against the weather and walking to the mailbox – the Feb/Mar/Apr issue of Art Doll Quarterly was snug inside! I made myself a cup of coffee, snuggled down in front of the fireplace, and prepared for a delicious afternoon. I couldn’t help but reflect on what doll making has done for me – I came to it as a means of self-expression, a healing tool, after a difficult spot in my life. I couldn’t help but think of all the late-blooming artists who may be approaching dolls for the very first time right now, and thinking of this publication’s past Show & Tell galleries of dolls from “regular” doll makers; so encouraging to one just starting out.

There was just a bit of concern when I saw the number of big names contained within, especially when I read the paragraph in the Letter From the Editor announcing Adele Sciortino’s “The Business of Art Dolls” column. If I were just beginning doll making, seeking inspiration, I would wonder if this magazine would meet my needs.

Thus, elinor peace bailey’s wonderful article on “The Doll As a Tool” was even more significant. Her premise, that society does not value an item as art unless it can be assigned a monetary value rings true. And, when I read her last paragraph that states “I make art for myself. If you want to buy it, or award it a ribbon, that is your choice, but what I make is art that contains an abundance of myself in it,” well… I wanted to stand up and cheer. (Actually, I did holler a bit, and managed a small fist pump, despite being home alone.)

So about that column on the Business of Dolls? I won’t be reading it. I think it’s best suited to a different publication.

As you can see, I didn't state flat out that I don't think artists like Marilyn Radzat belong in the Show & Tell Section, but I believe that quite firmly. The new issue arrived over the weekend, and all letters to the editor but one were complimentary. There was one letter that stated more succinctly what I was trying to say, that she wished the Show & Tell section could be saved "for the rest of us who are not professional. Professionals have the rest of the magazine and advertising opportunities to market themselves."

The editorial response made sense in one aspect, stating "The fact that a non-professional artist could be published next to a more well-know doll artist means that, in our opinion, the caliber of both the dolls is top-notch!" I have to admit, if one of my dolls were published next to someone very well known, I'd be pretty proud. HOWEVER, the statement "...when we meet as a committee to select dolls for the Show & Tell gallery, the name of the artist is hidden. In fairness to all submissions, we look objectively at each doll and base our decisions on the quality, workmanship, details, techniques used... "

I find that statement incredible, if not an outright lie. Most of the nationally known artists' work is so distinctive, so much their very own look, that whether the name is hidden or not, if those editors don't know whose work they are viewing, they don't belong on the staff of the magazine. Again, not to pick on Marilyn Radzat, but in the winter issue there was an article in the magazine about her work, and one of her pieces in Show & Tell. Come on.

Perhaps it's all explained in this issue's (dull again) Letter FROM the Editor. There's a picture of the editor with the triple divas of dollmaking - elinor peace bailey, Barbara Willis, and Patti Culea. The editor states that she finally met these three for the first time in January. Again I say, come on! I'm sitting here in suburban CLEVELAND for heaven's sake, and I've met these three...and she's the editor of the magazine?

I guess I'm just ticked off. I realize all magazines have staff changes, peaks and valleys, and so on. However, this just is not the magazine it used to be, and I'm thinking a lot has to do with an editor who writes dull columns and hasn't met the best know teachers and pattern designers in the business prior to taking the job.

Every issue from the very first one is on my shelf. However, I may not be renewing this expensive publication, unless things improve soon.

12 comments:

JudiA said...

Well said Sue. I let my subscription go ages ago and for very similar reasons. In fact, I don't subscribe to anything any more because they have all gotten so BORING. Here's a test - go to your shelf and grab 2 issues at random. Now quick... which one is the more recent? I couldn't tell, because nothing ever changes, not the content, not the contributors, not even the color schemes.
Sigh...

Sue said...

Judi, I've already let Quilting Arts and Cloth Paper Studio lapse. I used to froth at the mouth, waiting for my moment to sit down and relish those magazines. Now, I have back issues that I haven't even opened, still in their protective sleeve, hiding in the drawer. What does that tell you?

ADQ got such a bad name for not returning submitted dolls in a timely manner, or returning them damaged, and being generally non-communicative, I can't help but wonder if they are getting way fewer submissions.

Tami @ Lemon Tree Tales said...

Hear, hear!! I agree that the quality of those magazines has gone down hill. They tend to put in the same stuff and no, the show and tell shouldn't be for professional artists. I haven't bought any magazine for the last few years. Most of the artists submitting work are on my google reader so I already see their artwork. In fact I went through all my old issues of Quilting Arts, Cloth Paper Studio and Art Doll Quarterly (all magazines I used to LOVE to get) and ripped out the articles and inspiration photos and trashed the rest. They were taking up valuable space in my studio and frankly they're just too expensive to buy all the time. Especially since most of the magazine is advertising.

Mary Ann said...

I have to agree with what you have said. I don't buy the magazine any more. Waste of time and money.

Shashi Nayagam said...

Too expensive for me to buy for what they publish. I too don't buy any magazines anymore.

TerriMoi said...

I agree, Sue. My subscription is just about to run out and I'm not sure what I'm going to do. Thumbing through each new issue just makes me sad, mostly because I was inspired to begin making dolls by what I saw in ADQ and I miss the inspiration I used to find there. Kind of like an old friend whose personality has undergone a transformation...I mourn the ADQ that made me believe I could meet the challenge and have my dolls included in its pages. Now it doesn't feel like I belong there any more.

Sue said...

Oh, Terri! You are EXACTLY the person I think of when I write things like this (and the one last January). You sent in, and had published so many great dolls. You were prolific and inspired - and I've missed you!

TerriMoi said...

I've missed you too, Sue...it's been a long time since we did that round robin! But I check your blog from time to time, just to see what you're working on. I too have every single issue of ADQ...I keep hoping each time a new issue comes out that I'll see what drew me to the magazine in the first place. So far it's just not happening (but I'm keeping my fingers crossed...maybe the next issue will be better...ot the one after that...sigh).

paperpest said...

Most of the nationally known artists' work is so distinctive, so much their very own look, that whether the name is hidden or not, if those editors don't know whose work they are viewing, they don't belong on the staff of the magazine. This is so true. Thumbs up for starting this discussion.

Wendy said...

I was going to comment but realised that JudiA already said what I wanted to say. I suppose it is a case of 'been there, done that', I kept a couple of issues and sold the rest on Ebay.
There is no excuse for not returning work in good time and in the condition they were sent. The magazine makes income from the readers work and should cherish each and every one.

:Diane said...

I have dropped a lot of subscriptions in the past year or so. I still get Handwoven because some years back they said they were going to quit publishing unless they got enough people to ante up a lifetime subcription amount. So for $250 dollars I am still getting the magazine. I believe I have broken even on the investment by now, but they haven't published anything that inspires me lately. However, I do like to write an article for them every once in a while - got one in the works now.

Someone said recently - I forget who - that magazines run the same ideas, the same techniques, the same menus, the same tips and tricks every two years or so. Once you have two years worth on the shelf you have it all.

:Diane

BumbleVee said...

I buy one occasionally...if the cover induces me to look in side and perhaps there is one thing that I really want to read or see a second time. I liked the little man on the cover done by Daryle a few back...so I bought it.
This time I bought one to take on holiday with us...never got around to even looking at it...today I did and remember why I bought it...Ankie Daanen....how I love her dolls.
Also some little ones by Michelle Schafer... think that is the spelling..which more or less look like Jane Desrosiers Gritty Jane pattern...
But.... you are absolutely right Sue.....it is getting ridiculous...and sure not much to entice me to buy it.... some of the stuff is so ugly and freakish...forget it....