Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Pretty Is as Pretty Does
As I've written here before, I started riding horses at a young age and have ridden and owned horses most of my adult life. For some reason, most of the activities and sports I liked to do on horseback (until the last ten years or so) involved riding at breakneck speeds across fields, through woods, jumping fences, ditches and obstacles of all kinds and generally raising hell on horseback. As I got older and noticed that I did not bounce as well as I used to, I developed a rule for selecting my horses called "Pretty Is as Pretty Does"- meaning, that I didn't have to have the fastest or best looking horse in the field. I just wanted the one who had great heart, good sense and could scramble when the need arose.
A couple of years ago, I realized I needed to apply the same rule to my art career. Early on, I spent a lot of time building a resume. As time went on, I started to get invitations to shows and other events, invitations to show in several galleries, as well as opportunities to teach. I had worked so hard to make those connections, it was really hard to say no, and besides, I was still in the resume-building mindset. Once I started actually trying to make a living as an artist, I suddenly got a lot clearer about what was and wasn't important to my art and my career. This past year I really pared things down- doing only the shows and events which had resulted in good sales or which offered very good opportunities to make connections with collectors. Pretty is as pretty does. No matter how much fun or prestigious an event is, if it doesn't make economic sense, I don't do it. I've tried to be mindful of this rule in new things I've tried (like Internet sales) . This year has been my best year ever as far as the income from art sales is concerned and I've also had much more time to devote to R&D. Its impossible to know what 2009 will bring- things will surely be different and selling art will be even more challenging- which I think means sticking to this rule will be even more important. As a working artist, I am in this for the long haul- I just need to have heart, good sense and the ability to scramble when I need to.