So you have decided that it is time. You are going to follow a creative's path. What next?
Well you are going to have to be organised and disciplined. You may have to learn a few new skills. I don't pretend that I know exactly what I am talking about here. I am not talking about a subject with which I have experience. My sister was an artist and I had many discussions with her about goals, being commercial and picking material. Sadly she died, nearly ten years ago now, so I was never able to see her achieve her potential. She made ends meet by working part time at the Roundhouse Gallery in Sennen Cove. This was my first close introduction to galleries and their workings. I have been taking courses with some very accomplished local artists who are also excellent teachers. In fact, this is one way to make a decent living from art, combine it with being an educator. Pass on your experience and skills.
It is New Year and I am absolutely refusing to set any resolutions. This makes things sound like tablets of stone. You need to experience and learn from that experience. There will be elements of experiment and trial and error along the way.
How do I propose to move forward? Well, I really need more time to de-stress and to get myself on an even keel. I need to be rested and comfortable with my judgement again. I have not had the luxury of being on a level playing field for years and this has seriously upset the view I have of myself and of others. For me, this stage is essential.
Then I need to plan the year ahead. I will be starting fairly tentatively.. I only recently took up painting and drawing after a gap of more than 30 years. I am still building my confidence and relearning long dormant skills. I am also looking for my own "voice".
This idea of voice or style is something that jumps out when looking at established artist's work. They tend to specialise subject matter, say landscape, and often in one medium. This has the obvious advantage that you can establish a clear, identifiable presence in the market. You have a trademark style. It also has the advantage that the more of a single type of subject you do, then the better you get at it. This has got to improve your chances in the market.
So you need to start several threads. Build your skills and confidence, plan how you will market and set some goals. Underpinning this will be your new found organisational skills and discipline.
So when I do feel my batteries have recharged then I will be producing what I have been focussing on the last two years. Mainly botanical art. I love flowers. I am still trying to master water colour. This is a tricky medium. There are certain techniques you need to master. Opportunity for correction is limited. Botanical art is very exact and demanding and I like it because of the precision and detail required. I feel if I can at least become reasonably accomplished with this, then I can try more loose compositions.
Choosing media can be interesting. Each has it's strengths and weaknesses. A few artists have matched the media with the subject matter perfectly. I attend workshops with an artist who uses acrylic to brilliant effect, painting wildlife. The acrylic finish is great for getting a believable fur effect and how she applies the paint gives real life and colour to the subject. Another artist, based in NYC, uses pastel to recreate giant images of the Antarctic. I think it is another perfect match of media and subject. So pick one or two media and stick with them until you know you have to drop it, or you are hooked.
Keep working. Every day.
How will you sell your output? This needs a bit of thought. You need to have an idea of the direction you want to head. You will need a plan. I have been loaned a copy of "A Professional Artist's viable Practice based on hands-on experience" by Harley and Cally Miller. They give a detailed, professional view, of how you can earn money through your art. I recommend you try and get hold of a copy.
It gives advice on assessing where you might fit best. Then describes and analyses six distinct paths to becoming your own professional art business.
I read on an artists blog somewhere that roughly half their time is spent in production and half is in promotion. This is probably a good rule of thumb when you are up and running. First though, I must work at finding my style. I also need to build up a portfolio which will provide enough content to open a shop.
I will then test my output on a small scale with local fairs and an on-line shop. If no-one is interested, then I expect I will find out soon enough and have to rethink.
I need to develop my photo editing and printing skills, or find a reasonable printer during this period. I need to do research on the market. Look at material on line. Go round local galleries and have a chat with them about what they do, and what they offer. I must keep up the courses I have been attending. Maybe add one or two more. It is good to interact with others, and you can always learn something new, from the teacher or fellow students.
I came across this web page recently. It will be my starting point for an online presence.
This blog and an etsy shop selling cards and prints will be my start position. And when I have them, a few originals. I want to add photos, too, but this might be a bridge too far.
Another idea is selling different material through different outlets. Some, like etsy, seem more like a market place. This will lower price expectation. Something you don't want if you wish become a commissioned artist. So it might be better to sell originals through a more specialised outlet. Similarly with photographs, although I am probably delusional about my ability in this area. Still it is good to dream. Rochdale AFC may win the European Cup one day.
And if all this isn't enough, I need to organise my web site with all of the supporting paraphenalia that goes with it.
So I can't sit here typing. I have to get some rest. See you on the other side.