September 2, 2011 in Art Blog
Ugh, if I see another gallery making this statement.. I’m gonna! (fist shaking-quickly up in the air with the most annoyed look one can muster)
What is an emerging artist to do? How can an unrepresented artist pierce this barrier? Should you? Has it worked for you? What about the old-school take your work under your arm and do a face to face? For some this has worked like a charm, but for others like me- the idea of showing up to a gallery even if it is the right gallery for your type of art, seems like the scariest idea ever concocted.
“The best way to face fear is to push through it.“
Artists looking for a gallery are much like the chronically unemployed looking for a job; a sad lonely puppy looking for a home with the ever looming end always close. Well OK, I exaggerate, on the worse days it might feel like the latter but on a good day it is always a hopeful interesting day filled of possibilities. The real questions is how is your business-of-art-machine working, is it in need of some lube, (stop it you guys!, I’m serious! 😉 I’m talking about the art of making the process of submitting your art to responsive art galleries and other opportunities a well oiled machine. A somewhat of a unemotional endeavor that has noting to do with the quality of your work but more of a process in which you are able to find the right art relationships where you are right now in your artistic journey. So where are you? Out of college, mid career, still searching for your art voice? Well, if you are like me maybe you have been all of these at some points of your art life.
The practice of sending your work as artists submissions is indeed humbling work, where it takes a bit of courage, confidence in your abilities and persistence to get results.
I was told waaay back in the beginning of my career that it averages 5 years to get started in an art career with gallery representation as well as a regular exhibition schedule. Now, I believe it depends. It depends on you and the amount of energy you put in this part of your artist career. One thing is to have an art practice and another is to have an artist’s career.
Artists also need to take other things into consideration i.e., living expenses and life in general (hum.. duh!?). Sometimes life in general is the very thing that takes the art right out of the artist because it seems impossible to sustain both. Years back when I lived in NYC I was at an opening in Chelsea and met this young attractive artist who from a distance had it all, she lived in a city filled with artist’s opportunities and the youth and care free independence that are soo necessary to get started in this artistic endeavor. We engaged in casual conversation and I started to ramble about the gallery I was starting with a good friend and this and that and of course my kids. She looked at me visibly distressed and responded to my rambling “Wow, you have kids too? I can’t seem to get any time in the studio.. let alone get a gallery to see my work. I’ve stopped working… I’m thinking of moving out of the city”. Her eyes wondered into the distance and I could feel her anxiety and all of her punishing self-doubt. All these years have passed and I’ve always wondered what ever happened to her and her artist-spirit. Did she move? Did she continue working?
I also remembered her when I felt exactly the same way and up-rooted my family outside of NYC feeling quite defeated. I still remember her when now, just occasionally, feels like things are stalking against my time at the studio or when I’m feeling like surrendering to life’s demands..
Agreed, it is at times challenging, and let’s face it, other times, making art seems impossible, but, I can tell you from experience it is attainable. The saying that goes “you CAN have it all” -a very American/feminist thing to say- is at its core true but the saying submits itself to “time” and “efficiency”. You cannot do all at once, well, I guess you can, but something’s got to give (and that usually is the kids in my house). So my interpretation is that you can have it all at different times. There are times for school, marriage, for children, there are times for a good job and there are times for art.. to name a few big ones.
Personally as a mother, wife, daughter, and then if I’m lucky artist- oh yeah, I forgot my “real” job, well today is (pick one): web graphic designer/small business owner/jewelry designer (geez I’m tired just writing about it.).
So what is important to you: The business of art or making art? -Both is also a good answer.