Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Finding a Balance

Here's a struggle that I am constantly facing. I would like to have a body of work to approach galleries with, to participate in solo or group exhibitions, and to market to collectors. Galleries usually want a minimum of 15-20 paintings when reviewing new artists. You need a good number of paintings to be in an exhibition. And what I have learned in the past year, is that it is important to create series of work. I have several ideas for a few series of paintings that I am working on now. In opposition to that, is the need for immediate income.

Art is a very expensive profession. I have three tubes of paint that I am out of, and they cost about $120 total. Not many people realize the supply cost that goes into creating a painting. I go through almost a set of brushes per large-size painting. I prefer linen to canvas. Then, there are the obligatory monthly bills—the cost of living. The immediate need for income surpasses the need to build up a body of work. I feel like I am caught in a spin cycle, trying to fight my way back on top of the water.

To fulfill my immediate monetary needs, I take commissions, I sell my work to interested buyers, and I teach. I like doing all three. Commissions are important because you know that the work you are creating is already spoken for, with a partial deposit. Direct sales are the goal of every artist. There is nothing more satifying for an artist than to create a piece of work and have someone fall in love with it and claim it as their own. I also enjoy encouraging beginning artists in the foundations of painting, helping them grow in their understanding and skill.

However, I have recognized that to make it to the next level, I need to do more. I need a great body of work that sets me apart in the crowd. So, I am trying to figure out how to do it all. I think it is important to set goals and revisit them daily. What shows do I want to enter this year? What kind of advertising do I want to do? In what galleries would I love to be accepted? I guess I am recognizing the need for a business plan. Artist's don't like to think about business much because it leeches away the creativity. I am blessed to have a wife who helps me with the business side. I don't know how people like James Gurney do as much as they do, but it is encouraging.

I must find that balance between immediate need and future goal. I must document my goals on paper and revisit them daily to keep myself on track. I'll let you know my progress...

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