Updated: Sep 12, 2018
Last night I wrapped up my 5th art show in 6 months. Before continuing to happy-cry into a bottle of Maker's Mark, let's pause for a sobering moment of self-reflection.
After years of pussy-footing around showing my work, I mustered up the confidence to submit for an open artist call in early February. I was prepared to face a blunt rejection - ya know, the soul-crushing kind you're confronted with when you apply for your dream job with no experience? To my surprise, the curating team was interested and voilà! I became a showing artist the following month.
The night unfolded beautifully and I was learning a mile a minute. It was a party and I assumed no attendees intended on purchasing original paintings. To my surprise, several cost inquiries came in for pieces that were barely dry and not yet priced. I didn't have business cards, so I brought several dozen red roses and attached tags with my Instagram handle and website URL, which were gone hours before the party ended. I was prepared for small talk about who I am and what I do, but instead faced in-depth and quite uncomfortable conversational topics. I left feeling exhausted, inspired and ready to push forward. I was hooked.
Fast forward 6 months - I've never been more done with a thing, ever. Okay, maybe not ever. But
high on my list of Things I Should Never Do Again, right next to my ex and smoking cigarettes : multiple back to back art shows.
After my first show, similar opportunities came pouring in. Clouded by flattery and my own disbelief, I accepted one, and another, and another. Until finally, I had to turn down the final 2 offers over concerns of quick turn arounds and lessening the quality of my work.
I am a highly selective person when it comes to just about everything - food, friends, ways to pass time and most surely, what I put my name on. There is an idea in the art community that you're either a starving artist or a prodigy from the start, with little variety in between. The effect is feeling powerless and a need to be agreeable. The fear of quickly becoming irrelevant or invisible, along with lack of experience made me a "Yes Man" to every opportunity that came calling.
Pros: Hands-on experience, signing up to do things I didn't know how to do and struggling through the process, has taught me more in 6 months than I could have learned by less intimidating methods in years. I was able to chat with gallery owners, artists and curators about their experiences with failure and success. I learned what to do and a hell of a lot of what not to do. Moral of the story: Shoot your fucking shot.
Cons: I signed myself up for more trial and error learning than my mental fitness and bank account could support. Many lessons I learned involved me being lured under false pretenses and left me feeling disappointed. I entrusted my name and brand with several people who chose not to handle with care. Moral of the story: Pick which shots to shoot.
First, I want to sincerely thank the surprising amount of people who have supported me this year. I can't believe how many of you bought tickets, made the far drives and showed up for me while I got my bearings. If I never told you how much I needed you in those moments - I needed you, so much. I'll never forget it. Thank you.
The learning is never over, but with a renewed sense of self-worth and direction, I can confidently say that I am ready for more. I plan to spend the rest of 2018 in the studio with heavy concentration on making new work and finally turning my brand into a business. Things you can look forward to: an interview with Voyage LA Magazine (coming soon), the launch of my website store and in 2019 - an art show curated by yours truly.