On Alternative Ways of ‘Doing&Doing’, with Local Artist-Slash-Art-Activist, Dan Siney

Images via @doing.and.doing

Local artist and arts educator, Dan Siney is the man behind Doing&Doing Fine Art – an alternative, pro-artist platform for promoting and selling art, that we think is super cool.

So far, Doing&Doing has been doing its thing online only…but that all changes on July 15th when its first in-person exhibition, Flavoured Soup, hits the walls of 560 Gallery (560 Clark Drive), kicking off with an opening reception from 6-10pm. If you aren’t already keen on the digital incarnation, now is the perfect time to get hip to what Doing&Doing has been doing so far – and what lays beyond its 2D world ahead – via our Q&A with Siney below…

First of all, in your own words, what is Doing&Doing?

Doing&Doing Fine Art is an Instagram-based project dedicated to showing, promoting and selling art for artists from across disciplines, creative cultures, backgrounds, geographies, and levels of experience. Viewers interested in an artist’s work contact them directly. Artists pay no fees and keep all profits (or as coordinated with their representatives). Participants include contemporary artists and so-called ‘Outsider’/’Folk Artists’; artists who base their work in culture and religion (including Salish artists and youth in Haiti); illustrators; designers; animators; experimental filmmakers; photographers; and comic book artists – many of whom work across disciplines. Doing&Doing also collaborates with non-profit organizations supporting underserved populations to earn income through art sales. So far these include New Vision Art School (Port-Au-Prince, Haiti) and Arts of Life (Chicago).

How did you come up with the idea? What motivated you?

I was printing and promoting my photographs for sale via Instagram, and I wanted to expand the practice. I started thinking about artists promoting and sponsoring each other. My wife Zoe belongs to an artists’ collective and she suggested I try a similar approach. I reached out to some favourite artists who I hoped might be interested in collaborating. Artist Jay Isaac was especially supportive in workshopping the original idea and getting it off the ground. I ran the name and logo by artist/designer, Courtenay Presber. Jaret Penner made the first post, which I think nobody wanted to do… We launched the project in March of last year, along with Ali Bosworth, Robert Dayton, Jiyan Direk, Angus Ferguson, Simon Hauck, Lee Henderson, Justus Kempthorn, and Niall McClelland. Then I had to find a teenager to school me on how to properly use social media (thank you to L*** at UNYA!). In short, the account needs to be constantly active, which means always inviting new artists.

As the project expanded, so did my ability to explore social interests. There are a lot more artists than there are professional resources. In our economic system, creative expression is inefficient fuel for profit, so the arts get ignored in the same way we disincentivize other social, cultural, and environmental essentials. Obviously, there’s more to it, but that’s central to my thinking. I don’t have specific outcomes in mind, but it feels like a good move to help stoke a healthy interest in creative culture. I think if I set my compass by that, then whatever happens along the way will be good. There are predecessors to this kind of platform as well: Tim Barber’s tinyvices.com from the early/mid 2000’s being an important one for my generation.

Sum it up for us – if there was a mission statement for Doing&Doing, what would it be?

To promote creative expression as fundamental to human nature and cultural health.

Images via Doing & Doing Instagram

Are there any criteria for artists to follow in order to be represented by Doing&Doing?

I put creative expression and artistic integrity at the centre. All participants are genuine practitioners. We work hard in our artistic practices, and we work hard to sustain those practices in prohibitive cultures. Otherwise, it’s pretty open – I curate to my interests and challenge myself to expand them also.

Many participants are respected internationally, and some national-award-winning artists lent their support early on. Zoe and I met one participant working in his family’s bakery; his practice is personal, and his works are not for sale. Artist and teacher, Lesly Pierrepaul’s students at New Vision Art School range in age from about 8-19, and make incredible paintings to help pay for basic needs like school and rent. (Working with NVAS and Arts Of Life has been especially inspiring. I plan to post a feature on NVAS soon, for which Lesly introduced me to some of Port-au-Prince’s arts history.) I also feature past artists, which so far include Maud Lewis and Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett. The number of artists who have something of genuine value to offer seems endless.

My sense is everyone on the platform knows they belong. Enjoying being creative produces hard work and nurtures talent, which produces artistic ambition. We all share a basic recognition of – and respect for – that.  Any artist on the platform could create something similar.

What do you get out of the arrangement? What does the artist get out of it?

I get a lot out of it.  I get gratitude and encouragement. I get to surround myself with art and artists from all over the world, and am able to collaborate with other art-based support organizations. And I get to workshop my ideals ‘in the real world’, while promoting my own work to a wider audience. .

For the artists: Besides being a vehicle to gain exposure and promote sales, artists can use Doing&Doing as a creative, social, and professional resource – not just in a ‘practical’ way, but  also as a tool to remind us that what we do is meaningful, good, valuable, and necessary.

From here it needs to become sustainable. A percentage from sales at the exhibition will be my first income. For online sales, my ideal is to be compensated from other vested interests besides the artists. The backup plan is to ask a sales-percentage in the form of something like a ‘digital consultation fee’, a concept I’m also grateful to Jay Isaac for. We’ll see where it goes. Doing Doing&Doing is how I’m moving forward as an artist in my own life situation.

“Being real with your art and putting it on display is a big undertaking and commitment. Getting better at it is a life path. Also being a confident self-promoter, ambitious networker and strong businessperson is a rare situation.”

Supporting artists outside the traditional gallery/artist structure probably came with unexpected respect for at least some pieces of the conventional artist/gallery relationship; what have those aspects been?

I think many of the participants appreciate being seen as artists first. Being real with your art and putting it on display is a big undertaking and commitment. Getting better at it is a life path. It’s rare to also be a confident self-promoter, ambitious networker and a strong businessperson. Most artists aren’t resourced enough to divide our attention that way.  I designed Doing&Doing to be potentially beneficial to any artist or arts organization, institution, business, or buyer. For me, this has meant not tabling negotiations to inaugurate relationships. Because most of my work experience is in social work, it’s the natural fit for me. I’m finding support in all areas. I’m having good conversations with represented artists and gallerists (thanks to Niall McClelland and Wil Aballe especially) to better understand relevant aspects of artist representation. We’ll see where it goes.

In the process of your work to build a platform aimed at bringing more artists’ work to market and be appreciated, you have also created a support network for artists. Can you illustrate this side of Doing&Doing with an example?

When artists tell me they’re connecting with each other through Doing&Doing I’m very happy to hear it. But because the setup is sort of decentralized, I don’t know who’s connecting with who or what the results are, so I can’t give an example. I have been able to connect some artists with opportunities myself, including via Vancouver Art Blog’s Andrew Booth, and Burnaby Art Gallery’s Exhibition Coordinator, Andrew Kent, who invited me to refer artists to him. Most recently I met Anna Kasko, who will host Doing&Doing’s first exhibition. She is also generously providing discounts to artists on framing. I’m excited to be collaborating with her on this.

“In the context of which I’ve been speaking about creativity, it’s a normal human event. I’m speaking of the kind of creativity that any child demonstrates when they are able to come to grips with a new situation, describe it properly, react to it properly, tell us something about it, think about it in a new fashion and so on. I think it’s appropriate to think of those as creative acts… If it is correct that a fundamental element of human nature is the need for creative work, for creative inquiry, for free creation without the the arbitrary limiting effects of coercive institutions, then of course it will follow that a decent society should maximize the possibilities for this fundamental human characteristic to be realized. That means trying to overcome the elements of repression, oppression, and destruction and coercion that exist in any existing society, ours for example…”

As an art educator by day, you inherently understand and appreciate art’s ability to act as a bridge for connection, communication and growth. Has undertaking this project in any way facilitated those things for you? If so, can you elaborate?

Very much, they support each other. I provide Trauma-Informed Art Programming in Alternate-High Schools via ArtStarts, and I recently started teaching at Big Top Art School in Oppenheimer Park, started by Vancouver-based artists, Andrew Dadson and Alex Tedlie-Stursberg.

Anytime we lose ourselves in our creativity, the results are amazing – regardless of whether we consider ourselves ‘artists’. The ‘creating’ part of ‘creative expression’ brings us into the moment by connecting us to ourselves and our life experience, particularly via our ‘qualitative’ (versus analytical) mental-physical processes. Through Doing&Doing and teaching, I’m drawn more to creative energy and genuine intention in artworks. I love looking at artist’s marks, for example. Mark-making is unique, like handwriting. It indexes who or whatever we are that’s beyond language, along with our state of mind. If we experienced the openness of being creative, if we had fun making it, or felt unsure – it’s in the marks.

Through teaching I see how we can learn to let go, and connect with this basic part of ourselves, and how a lot of us are encouraged to repress and even fear it. Many of my Alt-School students seem like they’re about to explode for lack of creative outlets. Some self-identify as artists, others have never been encouraged to make art or have been actively discouraged from it. Some students don’t take to it, but they still get something out of giving it a go. Everyone just needs someone to say it’s ok to have fun with it, and maybe ask them about their preferred creative process, medium, or even general interest. At Big Top it’s the same: people either dive in or cruise slowly by, looking on, seeming nervous at first to sit down.

The ‘expression’ part connects us also though our qualitative intelligence. Everyone pauses when we unfold an ‘Exquisite Corpse’, before laughing and exclaiming together as we take it in. Whatever we do, we get excited and inspire each other to explore further. Over a season it becomes normal. I also find these to be useful experiences and environments for expressing our beliefs, and for challenging our negative self-beliefs.

Social aspects aside, it’s the same experience looking at artworks for Doing&Doing. We share that mental space whether we’re in the room with the artist or not. Artworks themselves are generous that way: having art in our life engages that part of our brains and can further connect us through ideas. They communicate across a wide spectrum.

While working on this interview I came across this quote. It’s about creativity in a more broad sense, but it still applies. From Noam Chomsky, who’s currently 94, debating Michel Foucault on human nature (full YouTube video below):

The Doing&Doing community is growing, and you’re making the jump from online connection to in-person… what can we expect from your exhibition at the 560 Gallery on July 15th?

Our first show, Flavoured Soup, will be a salon-style exhibition at Anna Kasko’s 560 Gallery (also Kasko Frame Works). The show title is courtesy of my friend, studio-mate and one of my favourite Canadian artists, Mark DeLong. The walls will be full. I invited 58 current and former Vancouver-based artists (everyone who had posted/was confirmed to post at the time Anna and I agreed to put on the exhibition) to contribute a work of their choosing. Most works are under 20×20” and most are for sale. We’re excited. Come see a small sample of the creative talent from in and around Vancouver. Take away something good for your space, something real to enjoy and learn from for a long time.

There are many artists, organizations and people whom Dan Siney wishes to shout out and/or thank for their support. Click on the links below to find out more…


Jay IsaacNiall McClelland | Courtenay PresberJaret Penner | Lee Henderson (@leehendy) | Simon HauckAli BosworthAngus Ferguson |
Justus Kempthorn (@justus_sounds) | Jiyan Direk (@goodborning) | Robert Dayton | Tim Barber (time_and_space) | Patrick Cruz (@gentrified_amateur) | Lesly Pierrepaul (@art_lesly_pierre_paul) | Maud Lewis | Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett (post 1 & 2) | Andrew Kent (@awmkent)  | Wendy Francois | Andrew Dadson (@aandrewdadson) | Alex Tedlie-Stursberg | Rayne Voyer (@raynevoyer) | Mark DeLong (@ronald_delongs)

New Vision Art School (Haiti) | Oppenheimer Park Field HouseCarnegie Community Centre | OUTSIDER ART w/ Adam Oestreich (@folkartwork)| Big Top Art School (@bigtopartschool) | VSB Alternate Secondary SchoolArtStarts | Community Art Council of VancouverUrban Native Youth Association (UNYA) | Canada Council for the Arts | Arts of Life (Chicago)

Equinox GalleryMonte Clark GalleryPaul Petro Contemporary ArtMark Christopher GalleryBurnaby Art Gallery | 560 Gallery (@560Gallery) |  Clint Roenish | WAAP

Kasko FrameworksPrintmaker Studio | Vancouver Art Blog (@vancouverartblog) |  | Nathan Chen LAB Digital Printer| Post ProjectsThe LABEfi Badem bakeryABC PhotoIris Film Collective | tim barber is reorganizing the internet (i-D Magazine) | |Nardwuar  Debate Noam Chomsky & Michel Foucault – On human nature [Subtitled] via withDefiance

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