Before I get into talking too much about Art making, marketing, promoting and all that... I thought it would be helpful to talk about my background a bit. I am a visual artist. I paint mixed media and oil paintings on canvas. I have been showing my work for more than ten years, and I am currently represented by 4 galleries and have many exhibits scheduled. I get asked questions all the time about how to get representation, how to market and promote art and artists, and it is a subject I love. I am one of those reportedly rare artists who loves to promote art almost as much as I love to make it.
I always loved to draw and paint when I was a small child and young teen and then I took a break from visual art to focus more on Drama when I was in High School. In my senior year I decided to explore art again, and that rekindled my desire to paint and draw. When I finally decided to go to College I chose art again. I graduated from the University of Oregon with a BFA in painting. This of course is the short version of my background, there was also much time spent wondering if my art was good enough, if I was passionate enough, if this could be done for a living, and also lots of time spent working odd and not glamorous jobs.
I worked in a secondhand store for free clothes, I worked in a BBQ place that was most likely a front for something. I nervously ran a cash register at a huge smoke house/bakery. I washed dishes for years in fine dining to fresh Mex restaurants. Also before my restaurant career, I sold things, and I would sell things off an on for years, and I never thought much about it. I never thought that this skill might prove useful one day.. I have sold studio portraits from a leader in the industry, I have sold newspapers in Arkansas, and Oregon, I have made sales appointments for the driveway, siding, window man to come to your house and give you an estimate. That was truly awful and I have to say they let me go from that one...and I was grateful. I stripped beds and cleaned rooms at an old hotel that no longer stands. I have read text books onto tape for the blind. I have been a personal assistant. I have conducted phone surveys for the University of Arkansas and the Louisiana school for the blind. I have gotten people to sign petitions for animals. I've asked the community to come together and give money and school supplies to a local school while being an AmeriCorp worker. I have written an art column for a online version of a local paper.
So what... Well, the reason I told you of all of those jobs, and I am sure I have left off a few, is that even though they were not the greatest and had little to do with art, they most likely have helped me do what I am doing today as an artist.These jobs have either taught me something I needed to know like -"I hate using cash registers." Or, that I really don't mind washing dishes, so if things fall apart I have options...Seriously, these jobs helped me to learn how to read people. Selling the paper, photos, and anything else I have sold over the phone helped me learn basic sales techniques. These jobs have also taught me how fortunate I am now to do what I am doing for a living.
Life is messy, I say this like I know and accept this. I have a hard time with this concept still. I really wish it wasn't. I am just a person who did art, stopped doing it, did it again, worked a bunch of jobs, learned about art again, and then decided to get out of my own way and go for it. This blog is about how I got out of my way, skills I learned in the process, and the resources I consulted to get me where I am now. I am still growing and learning and I don't have all the answers, but I feel obligated to share what has worked for me with all the other artists out there.
So here goes...