Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Pretty Is as Pretty Does

Christmas Moon (2007)
6 x 6
Private Collection

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.


Anonymous said...

Great advice for all of us.
Happy New Year to you, Deborah

Anonymous said...

Your post is quite interesting and thought provoking. As an artist trying to find a footing in the art world is like finding a needle in the hay sack. It takes a strength of character to be able to say "no" to certain opportunities and "yes" to others.

Nevertheless, your discipline and hardwork definitely paid off in terms of the boost in sales and recognition. I firmly believe that if you believe 2009 would be just the same..........then it would and may turn out much better.

Wishing you all the very best and God's favour in the New year.

Judy Wilder Dalton said...

I was trained up with the resume-building mindset also. We had two choices, a gallery or art fairs. To get into great galleries you had to have a long list of shows and awards and name dropping and art fairs were for novice and crafters. And we were told we need an artist agent to manage our business.
Now we have websites, and virtual galleries, and art marketing gurus.
And like you, I ask myself the question "What do I Want?" from this and "Is It Worth My Time"

Adam Cope said...

Enjoy being 'time-rich' in your 'time-out'.

Sounds like you've done a lot of foundation work! And are now planning 2009 calendar (me too).
A little thought: in my experience, local audiences don't always buy first time but frequently return & buy a few years later. Hence the importance of keeping a profile & a following in your local patch, even if the returns aren't always immediate.

Wishing you a happy, healthy & creative 2009 ... with lots of time to paint & 'r&d' as you say.

BTW, do you know Thich Nat Hanh? He writes of the importance of mindfulness & of awareness of the present momment.

TSL said...

Beautiful painting, Deborah. For lack of time to address the second part of your post, may I just address the first? I envy your life with your horses! I use to dream of being able to saddle a horse at any given moment, and ride through a forest.

Deborah Paris said...

Happy New Year Maggie!

Thank you Nkolika for your words of encouragement on this post and others- wishing you all the best in 2009!
Hi Judy -it does seem we are on a bit of a merry go round doesn't it- the one thing that stays the same- the work has to be good!

Hi Adam- I agree- some efforts need a bit of time to take root.

Hi Tina. This is the first time in many years I have been "horseless" so I am riding on memories as it were. Happy New Year!

Cooper Dragonette said...

Deborah, I'd love to chat with you about your workshop experience. I'm hoping it's part of my 2009 plan.
All the best to you in the New Year!

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Cooper- I'd be happy to share- just send me an email and we can set up a time to talk.
Happy New Year to you and your family!

Jan Blencowe said...

Really enjoyed this post and the link to the R&D post. I think we are very much on the same page when it comes to being very selective about where we focus our efforts, a realization that I came to his year, learning to say "no thanks" to shows and "opportunities"is sometimes the most productive thing of all, and the need to spend time in as you say R&D. At first it seems like a luxury but soon you realize it's a necessity. Thanks for sharing. Happy New Year!

Celeste Bergin said...

beautiful painting..happy new year!

Deborah Paris said...

Hi Jan. Learning to say "no" is an art in itself! Thanks for visiting and Happy New Year to you too!

Thank you Celeste and Happy New Year right back!