This past weekend I participated in my second artist market. Each one has definitely been a learning experience. The major takeaway from this one is that the creative community here is incredible. They really have been as a whole, with very few exceptions, some of the most supportive, helpful, welcoming bunch of people I've ever met. When I was setting up my table, one of my neighboring vendors noticed I didn't have a shelter, and noting the weather that day, offered a loaner to me. I was floored by their generosity to me, and having a pop-up over the table made the whole experience of sitting in a Florida parking lot in pre-Summer much more enjoyable. (The excellent ciders at the venue also helped, I'll be honest...) I need to rethink my setup, as well as what I'm offering. In all, it was a nice day spent with my teenager serving as my booth-buddy for the day. I have two group art shows coming up, and then the plan is to take a part of the summer off to move to a house in a new community and get my new studio space set up. I'm really looking forward to it.
Has it really been 8 months since I've posted to this blog? And that last post was nothing to write home about. Wow am I ever terrible at this...
But here I am, making an update and trying to keep myself accountable to...well, to myself, I guess. I do keep the newsletter somewhat current, so that's probably a better bet for news and updates, but I want to do a sort of year-in-review/preview here. Because I'm deep into 2018 planning and events, and that makes me reflective. I like to compare where I am with where I was, so to speak. So! Let's do some stats!
In 2017 I submitted to seven local group shows/exhibitions, two markets, and eight galleries or retail shops. I participated in all of those shows and one of the markets, for a total of eights events. I didn't actually hear back from a single gallery, but the one local shop was a maybe. Of course, that shop has since closed. Since that was my first year really trying to get into shows and sending out feelers for different opportunities, I considered it an incredible success and was pretty proud of my accomplishments.
So far in 2018, I've applied to and been accepted into six local shows, signed up to have a table at a local art market, queried one gallery on the other side of the state and been invited to participate in a show there, applied to an international art magazine, and submitted something to a national contest by a large art supply company. Not to mention the several promotional postcards I've sent out to different publications and the business cards I hand out like I'm at Mardi Gras (with considerably less boob flashing action). Since it's only February, and this list only extends to April/May events, I think I'm on track to surpass last year, which would be great.
The fact that I am doing all of this while maintaining a full-time job and my adult responsibilities and home and family life sometimes actually surprises me. I mean, it's a lot. A LOT. And it takes a lot of juggling to make it work. Plus burnout is always there, on the edges. The other thing that I'd like to make more progress in is actual sales. All of these events, and a growing network, haven't really resulted in selling a lot of art, however. In 2016 and early 2017 I did have some steady sales, mostly from friends and acquaintances, but that has slowed down in the last several months. I do have a commission I have waiting to be finished and another project I back-burnered that I really need to finish. I'd like to take on more commission work, but I'm hesitant to commit to things I can't really say I would ultimately enjoy.
I plan to stay pretty busy through May, but I'm seriously considering taking a break over the summer months to enjoy some free time, maybe catch up on a backlog of reading I have that's been piling up. And we'll be moving into a new house in a nearby town around that time, which is obviously going to take a lot of my attention. For now I'll continue to say yes to as many things as I think I can realistically handle.
...I'll remember someday.
I just got back from a brief holiday in points farther north. It was quite lovely, and relaxing. It's nice to be reminded that seasons are an actual occurrence in other parts of the world. Everything was so lush and cool, and there were flowers in bloom everywhere. The best word I have to describe it would be verdant.
Now I'll focus on creating and pursuing some opportunities for the next few weeks. I gained my third Patreon subscriber this morning, and sent an inquiry for a local artists call. It's a hectic time of year at my day job, and it's a challenge to stay focused right now, but I'll do what I can. My aim is to publish a new post once a week, now. I'll schedule them between Friday and Sunday as my schedule will allow, and try to remain consistent.
Up next: I review some of the art books in my growing collection.
It's alive! It's aliiiiiive!
Patreon! It's a thing! I know there are probably A LOT of questions about how Patreon works, so let me break some of it down for you:
- Q: What is Patreon used for?
A: Patreon is a funding platform for creators, makers, musicians, artists, and storytellers of all kinds to share their work with a community of patrons who help support that creative work. Sort of like Kickstarter, but for sustainable fundraising over a longer period of time and not necessarily associated with a specific project or campaign.
- Q: How do I become a patron on Patreon?
A: You can sign up right from my account by clicking the Become a Patron button on the right side of the screen OR by clicking on any of the reward tiers right underneath it. You will be asked to add a credit card or Paypal account. My rewards are set up as monthly contributions, so you will be charged one time each month of $1, $3, or $5, depending on the reward level you choose. (Patreon has a simple guide to walk you through the steps.)
- Q: What do I get for my financial contribution?
A: Every Patreon is set up a little a little differently. In my case, I'm asking for contributions to help pay for higher grade art supplies, and later I may be able to use contributions to participate in art calls and events, as well as expanding to better audio/video equipment and software to record process videos. In return, all patrons will receive access to exclusive content I will only be sharing on that platform, including discussions of process, how I come up with ideas, and the opportunity to see progress images before anyone else, for starters. I will also send out an initial welcome package to every patron who signs up, regardless of the support tier they choose. Second and third level supporters will receive physical art in the mail. In the beginning, if I don't have many patrons at those levels, all tier 2 and 3 patrons will get mail, once a month (schedule TBD).
- Q: If I don't want to sign up to be a patron with Patreon, are there other ways to support you?
A: Of course! The easiest thing is to share my stuff! You can share posts from my Facebook page or my website at any time. That will help me reach more people, which is really important. If you have any pieces of my art that you love, let people know, and send them my way. Let them know that I have prints for sale on Society6 and Redbubble (the direct links to those shops are on the About section on my website). You can also choose to contribute to my supply and art-book collections by sending me items from my Amazon wish list. Whatever you choose to do to help with this effort is greatly appreciated, from encouraging words to actual financial contributions - it's all meaningful and helps keep me motivated.
So now that I've made this leap, the next steps are to start posting updates on Patreon and work on making some graphics for myself, like banners and buttons to use for cross-promotion. I have a tendency to do things in reverse - launch the thing and then work out formatting, structure, and all of those elements that help make it all cohesive and less like a slapdash attempt. I'm likely going to mirror this post there as an FAQ overview. I'm open for feedback and ideas for additional tiers in the $5 - $10 per month range, so let me know what you think.
As always, thanks for taking the time to stop by and thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last couple of years. I literally couldn't have done this without some of you. I may get discouraged sometimes and have occasional visits by the Fraud Police, but you give me encouragement and sometimes the kick in the ass I need to keep going.
Wow. It's been over half a year since I posted an update here. Well. Let's fix that, then. It's been an eventful few months. Since that last post in October, I've participated in my first public exhibit (and sold my first painting to a non-family member!), took part in a public juried show at a local gallery, had a few pieces on display in some spaces, and tried my hand at an outdoor market. I've received some commission requests and sold a few items here and there - there are pieces sporting my initials from Connecticut to Oregon and from Canada to Florida. But I've kind of hit a lull right now in my motivation to make art to sell. Part of it is upcoming travel that will make projects a little difficult to tackle, so I've decided to focus on drawing for fun and working more on some fundamentals of composition. Expect lots of photos of terrible hand drawings and messy watercolor studies, and with the themed months of "Mermay" and "Junicorn" maybe I'll be self-indulgent and do mermaid and unicorn sketches.
Plus, in the meantime, I have too many little illustrations and mixed-media pieces that I didn't sell at the market that are taking up space, so I'm going to go through and offer a lot of things for sale. The other thing I've decided to look at is creating some collage and different mixed-media pieces. I have a collection of bits and pieces (what people call "ephemera"), as well as a painting that I'm planning on incorporating a 3-dimensional element in. And there are the commissions I haven't finished that I should also be working on. So it's not like I don't have ideas. I always have plenty of those. Motivation and energy and follow-through are where I bottom out.
A possible topic for my next post may be social media: where to find me, what to expect, how it works...and doesn't. In the meantime, catch me over on Facebook, and taking pictures of food on Instagram.