by Courtney Davis O'Leary
Teil Duncan is no starving artist. She's not struggling, she's not tortured, and she even has both her ears intact. And yet, despite lacking these idealized, romanticized aspects of artistry so many covet, she's able to produce copious amounts of attractive, appealing art. So attractive, that is sells nearly without effort. She struggles with acknowledging her business acumen, the brainpower that goes into running a successful business, which hers is. Her artwork is well known in the design industry. But don't be surprised if you haven't heard of her as her efforts at promotion have been entirely online. Think blog posts and online magazines. She has shunned galleries for their high mark up and low viewership and with that brilliant play, has shifted her artwork to the forefront of many a computer screen, and just as quickly, into living rooms and homes. But that said, she deserves a local following, which is why she's having a party.
"While I couldn't be more grateful for online publicity, I think it's a little unfair to the town I live in. I would like to have a tangible presence and give local viewers a chance to see my work." That chance comes April 10 at a unique, one-night only show at Stems titled Bask. She traded one of her paintings for the one time use of the space on Cannon and Coming. There will be a live DJ, cocktails, prints, and of course, more than 30 paintings. But, the catch, there's no promising how many will be available for purchase. The paintings are going to be virtually for sale two days before the show. When questioned whether she could sell out before the event, she turns shy as she reveals, "Well, it's like a secret, in order to create a demand, if a couple are sold, it creates urgency. You know you're buying something of value."
And Bask features Duncan's most in-demand work — wildly colorful beach scenes. "At first I was concerned I was going to corner myself into a coastal niche, selling to people with beach houses, but it's appealing to the masses in a good way. You don't think just beach scenes; people are drawn to the colors. Color is at the core of what I'm doing. And it's abstract as well," she says.
And just as stores on King Street are starting to put shorts and T-shirts in their windows, Duncan is also using the shift in seasons to promote her work. "With the beach scenes, this is the second summer I've painted them. I love keeping it only in the summer. It's like selling a bathing suit in December; I'm not excited about it. By doing it seasonally, it builds a demand, exclusive to the summer time."
Duncan holds up a painting of a lovely somewhat abstract coastal scene of beachgoers, with patterned umbrellas and lounging figures blending into less obvious shapes. She flips it to prove her point — the detailed chairs and bathing suits slip into the overall amalgam of shapes and there is no discernible image, but it's still pretty. It's not edgy work, it's not life changing, but it's really quite appealing. With pink and pastels dominating the 30-plus canvases that cover nearly every inch of her gallery wall space, it is no surprise that her market is young women. What is a pleasant surprise is to run into an obviously talented artist who is able to turn her passion and ability into a career by being able to identify her market.