Monday, September 8, 2014

Ms Sonia asks (round two)

Here's the finished piece from last time
Sauer-Beckmann Barn

Now down to business, because Ms Sonia asked:

"Where do I start?"

Good question. 
You start by creating. If you are a painter, then paint. Writer? Write. You get the picture. It is way too easy to get caught up in all the "busy work." Social media marketing, fluffing up your website, drawing up new business cards… all have their purposes, but the important thing is the art. The rest of that stuff can wait. 
So forget everything else and obsess over your work. (Heck ya! Right!?!) From what i hear, galleries and collectors want to see consistency. Find your niche and run with it. Always look for ways to improve your current work and know that your next piece will be better than the one you just finished. That's a good thing! 
I avoid Facebook and twitter like the plague because they are total and utter time wasters- but blogging is a different animal altogether…. or it can be. 

About five years ago (I think) I started this blog to keep track of my personal/artistic growth. I was in a very dark place and needed some direction. I loved flipping through the daily painters's posts and seeing the progress they made over a six month (plus or minus) period. Progress is always good. Back then, I made a point to post frequent pics so I could go back later and see what worked and what didn't and possibly pinpoint where things went south. (Thats a habit I should really work myself back into) Often times, I would be able to see things I needed to change in the photo that I had overlooked while staring at the painting in front of me.  
Knowing my online painting journal (this blog) was out there held me accountable. I HAD to paint as often as possible because I had to post a pic about what I had been doing. Motivation comes in all sorts of packages. 

And since you came to this blog and asked these questions on one of my posts, I know that you will get this- every time we advance personally, and we share what we have learned, we contribute to another person's well being. How awesome is that!?! I'm not saying that blogging about how lusciuos a particular brush stroke was today will end world hunger or anything, I am saying that every time we grow and we share our learning, others benefit because they can learn from our processes. We are all learners learning from the learned's learned  Haha! The great thing about a blog is that you aren't shoving your learning down some poor sod's throat- Its way easier to navigate to another page in the event of overwhelming boredom than to walk away from Aunt Mildred while she's in the middle of sharing every minute detail with you regarding doily construction. (Don't get me wrong, I love doilies. And tea cups. Old fashioned, delicate little tea cups that have long lost their set..... I digress.)

Back to the questions!

"How do I find places to show my work?"

Look for galleries that show work in a style like yours. If you do abstract sculpture, don't waste your time on a gallery who shows only paintings in traditional realism. I'm really big on paying attention to the vibe of a place. So if you find yourself in a sweet gallery where your paintings would fit right in, look and listen. Do you click with the salespeople? Do you like the atmosphere? I have noticed that the folks at Whistle Pik (I'll use them as an example because they rock) always have wonderful things to say about their artists. They are helpful and kind to every person that walks through their door, even those who obviously can't afford to buy (speaking from personal experience, here). 
That's what you look for in a gallery. A good heart! 

I didn't start in a gallery, so here is another option. Many many moons ago, my aunt suggested I give Etsy a try, and am so glad I did! I sold my work for next to nothing, but my confidence grew with each painting that flew out the door. Pieces were going all over the world. That was soooo exciting! I love Etsy because it caters to a rather eclectic group, and you can play with advertising, learn a bit on how to price your work, and really get a feel for what sells and what doesn't. Some folks like to go the Ebay route.. not my flavor, but hey- to each their own!

"To pay or not to pay...." that is the next question.

My personal opinion, pay only if its a percentage and the gallery works for that percentage. Which is really the norm. Some galleries charge an artist for wall space and then take a percentage of the sales as well. Places like that are taking advantage of artists, in my opinion. But if that's what it takes to get you rolling, then its a good thing! No experience is really a bad thing because we always benefit from it in some way or another.  
I do think it is important to have someone represent you, take care of the marketing and sales, keep track of, and keep up with collectors. Anything that frees the artist up to create is worth the money. 
If your spouse is a savvy business person whose main interest is promoting and selling your work, then you have a sweet deal going! 

Some folks sell a lot of work on their websites. (If you need a website, I use and highly recommend Fine Art Studios Online. Their customer service is amazing and their websites are affordable and easy to work with, even for the technologically impaired... like me) 
Personally, I like leaving the business end to the gallery. I like being able to paint, turn the painting in, and get a check when it sells. Lower stress levels keep the creative juices flowing. (I'll give that one two snaps in a circle!)

Aaaaaand getting back on track again..... you really need to know and trust your gallery/s. These are the people that are either talking you up to every possible buyer, or they are tucking your work on a shelf somewhere and have already forgotten your name. Building a relationship with your gallery is easy and fun if your personality meshes well with those of the gallery personnel. How do you build said relationship? Go to their openings even when they are showcasing someone else's work, show up for the art walks, pop in for a howdy-do when you have a chance, enjoy your time with those amazing people. They are worth it. 

Oh! Remember that trust goes both ways. 
Brian Grimm told me a while back to always remain loyal to your gallery/s. If a buyer comes to you wanting a piece, make sure any sales go through your gallery. Or if you have multiples, direct the buyer to the gallery that introduced them to your work. Galleries work hard to promote and sell your creations/name, so make sure they get their cut and it'll be a win/win situation. You can be the Wonder Twins- your powers combined will make you INVINCIBLE!!!!! ok, maybe not invincible, but it feels that way. 
Their time is valuable, show your appreciation with your loyalty and top it off with lots and lots of gratitude!
Some people like to try to go around the gallery and buy directly from the artist thinking they will get a better deal. Some artists are into that and sell their work online or on the side for less than their gallery's prices because the thought of a quick buck is very alluring. All that does is hurt the artist in the long run. Why should the gallery spend their money to promote an artist in that sort of situation? I wouldn't.  

A good gallery can MAKE your career. Treat them well. 

Finite!!!!! Summing up: the more you create, the more you grow, the more you grow, the higher your quality of work becomes. When the quality of your work is good enough, you WILL be picked up by a good gallery... Unless you are hiding in a closet somewhere or have some seriously self destructive patterns that don't allow you to advance. (Been there, done that, never again, thank you very much!) Life is way more fun when you allow yourself to be who you are and enjoy your being-ness. 

So go paint. Draw. Sculpt. Garden. Chase a cow.... Whatever floats your boat. 

Enjoy the creative process :)

Oh!!!!! And aim high. As Neale Donald Walsch put it in today's daily devotional: 
"Dreams are the container of the Soul...
So dream big, yes, because the bigger you dream
the more of God you let in!" 

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