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Saturday, January 29, 2011

What got you started?

When did you decide to 'go big' and really seek to make a go of art as a career? Who inspired you? Were you striving to drop the day job and throw everything you had into your art?

This hit me recently as I was rummaging through old binders in the studio.  I came across one dusty old green binder that I had not opened in quite a long time... several years, in fact.  It's interesting to say the least when you discover a time capsule of sorts from when you first got really serious about growing your art and taking it beyond "enjoyable sideline" and making it your career.

The bulk of these documents, all neatly categorized with dividers, wore the date of June, 2002. This truly was when I was really seeking to grow and expand.  There wasn't a whole lot on the internet for art business then. I'm not positive but I don't think that even Alyson Stanfield had her weekly art biz newsletters then. At least, I hadn't found her yet. I was a subscriber of Robert Genn and his twice-weekly emails, but beyond that I spent hours and hours searching and compiling and making lists from the internet.

Most of the material in my trusty old research binder was written by Geoffrey Gorman. He had produced articles under Art Matters and a really nice art business development packet under Tailwind. Sadly, I cannot find any of this online now.  Thank goodness I printed out hard copies of all that and put it in a binder! Note to self (and all of you!) Never trust that the good and useful information you find online will remain where it is.  If it's that useful to you, save it!

For someone who was just starting out, and more than a bit fearful, this stuff was a goldmine. Although I was showing in galleries and gift shops, and had been for 12 years at that point, I knew I wanted to do more.  By running Google searches for art shows in Western Washington, I soon found that we had a wealth of such opportunities in this region.  It wasn't long before I had a good-sized list of potential shows to try and enter.  What I still lacked at that point was courage.  It was easy to see that lack of knowledge was the cause of that and I began seeking the what and the how.  Geoff Gorman provided many detailed answers to this beginner's questions, as did Alyson Stanfield when I found her valuable information online, and soon I was attempting the local shows.  It was terrifying to make that plunge, but the rewards were big. I won some ribbons, I made some sales. And I gained confidence. 

As I tried more and more shows, soon trying larger ones that I never dreamed I would be able to participate in, I continued to seek more and more information online.  That art biz information was increasing in availability, as it still is.  I knew I had to build a better online presence and left Geocities for better options. I got busy participating in lots of online art forums.  It soon became apparent that the more places one could be seen online, the better. And if you're doing more than merely showing your work but actually participating, all the better.

It's been a long and continual learning experience, and I am still learning... at times learning as fast as I can.  I'm going to go back through that binder more slowly and see what's changed and what still applies.  There's not much call anymore for slide submissions for shows, but I do have that info in the binder.  One bit that was very interesting to revisit was the section in Tailwind that asks ""Where Do You Want To Be In Five Years"?  Now THAT was interesting, especially considering how much of that had actually been achieved in five years' time!  I wanted to be in print, to drop the day job, to be selling in shows and galleries, to have a nice studio,  to be well known for my work...

You hear stories of this happening when someone gets very specific about goals and intentions, but it really is something to see for yourself that it really does work!  It may well be time to draft another five year plan. ;-)
Happy Weekend! :-)

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