Monday, December 29, 2008

Midlife artist, Michael Bailey had this comment a while back on this blog:
As a member of the mid-life group hoping to emerge successfully into the art world I am faced with all of the daunting forces every artist has at the start, how do I market my art, do I try and land my art in a gallery, am I better with an online presence to introduce my art around and work at getting my art into shows and competitions? And of course all the questions of how do I finally price my work when I have it complete, am I too high or too low, will my customers perceive my work as an actual item of worth to spend money on?

This says it all, doesn't it? Galleries? Online? Shows? Can we do it all? Should we do it all? At the same time? Conquer one at a time? I would love to hear more input from others on this but I do have a few thoughts.

For me, I picked one of the above. It's so daunting, especially for someone unestablished, unknown, and inexperienced! There was no way in heck I could have walked into a gallery 5 years ago looking for representation!! Here's my true story, and go ahead and laugh, I do!:

After I had done enough practice pieces that I felt reasonably sure I could pull of a commission, I made up cards and took my Brutus the boxer on the chair portrait that was nicely framed around to vets and pet stores in my area. Now, what you don't know about me unless you know me in real life is that I'm very outgoing. I love talking to strangers, have always dealt with "big shots" in my real life jobs, have no difficulty at all getting up to give a speech, etc.

But that day, whoa boy! I sat out in the truck with my dogs (who came for the ride) with butterflies like crazy!!! Finally I talked myself into going into my first place with my cards, a pet shop. I walked in, showed the kid behind the counter my portrait, said, "I'm a pet artist, and I was hoping I could leave some cards here" in a too loud/too high/too fast voice.

"Sure, ma'am. Leave them here on the counter," he squeaked, sounding like the burger flippin' counterboy in a Simpson's episode, his voice changing.

What was I so afraid of? That he'd say, "NO! You are no artist! You're an imposter!!"????

For many of us, it takes some dipping the toe in the water to get over that fear and to feel like yeah, I'm an artist.

So where to start getting your work out there? I'm glad I did commissions first, but that's a skill to learn too. There is SO MUCH to learn about promoting your work in any fashion, and the first thing? You need lots of pieces. IMHO!


The Epiphany Artist said...

Being a midlife artist is wonderful. I can pick and play and check out and try. Since my primary income at this point is from my husband, I don't have to worry about feeding, clothing, and shelter- so I don't need to make desperate and sometimes wrong choices. I still sometimes make wrong choices but ultimately I am more concerned with art end product and not the money aspect. Not all of us are lucky in that aspect. May be the push has been more recognition in art circles for me. Yet I have found at the end of this year that even this is not that important to me now. 2009 might be about creating :)

Cat-in-a-Box said...

It takes some effort to say 'I'm an artist' with confidence when you're starting out at this point in life doesn't it? At least it feels that way to me!

I think the midlife artist has one edge over the 'just-graduated-from-art-school' crowd - I think we know ourselves better, and I think we know other people better.

For my part, I'm focusing on local (non-gallery) venues (coffee shops and businesses related to my art), having an online presence and building an art resume (juried shows are my big project this year!).

Robin said...

Terri (Epiphany), I'm so glad you joined us! You ARE lucky, that you don't have to worry about the money aspect. It just does get twisted up at times. I hope you'll visit often!

Pam (Cat in a box), I think we all (by this stage of life) know people who want to BE artists, but not DO art, and don't want to be perceived like that.

Good luck with the local/coffeeshop venues. I know that is a great path and is a great way to build a following, as well. Let us know how you progress!!