Saturday, April 1, 2017

My Four Year Artiversary - All on April Fool's Day

I've been doing art in some form for most of my life, but over four years ago I made the decision to leave my job of..... how many years did I work there? 16? (It seems like a lifetime ago.)

There's a lot of misconceptions that I started out with. One is that if I had a web page the people who wanted my work would FIND ME and orders would begin to pour in. Another is that I would be alone in my studio day after day painting away. (My husband was worried that I'd be lonely - being a social person by nature.) Talent will get you wherever you want to go.... another misconception. Never underestimate the power of good marketing.

The truth was that I had entered a life filled with friends, challenges, learning opportunities and days much fuller than I ever dreamed of. All of a sudden I was learning computer programing, bookkeeping, marketing, to name a few of the challenges I would face.

I started out in my studio listening to pod casts of Artist Helping Artist with Leslie Saeta. Turns out, it was an excellent place to start. I knew nothing of marketing, social marketing or very much concerning the business end of art at all. I learned a lot in those 300 podcasts including how to run a biz page on Facebook, Instagram, u tube, Pinterest, pricing, commissions, art shows to name a few.

One of Leslie's suggestions was to join the local art group. I joined the Rockford Art Guild in February of 2014. They were preparing for Spring Art Scene - a city wide art party held two times a year. Getting involved in that show helped me get to know some of the members a bit better. I was hooked. I started going to the monthly board meetings. This gave me a closer look and better opportunities to learn more about the business. Most of all, it provided me with an incredible base of artist friends. Some of whom would become my mentors, advise me in marketing, teach me new techniques, ask me to show with them, paint with me, and on occasion, drink with me.

You can't embark on something like this without a lot of help from those close by. My husband, Mark was incredibly supportive through this whole process - as always. He encouraged to follow my dream, built my first booth for shows and went to every show hauling and setting up all my equipment.

Probably the most significant thing he would repeatedly say to me was,  
"This is not a sprint, it's a marathon." It's a great thing to remember whenever I feel things are not moving fast enough. Things take time. Don't give up.

When my daughter Samantha, a graphic artist, joined my team I began to have a more polished look.She helped me move from my old web page, that I loved but couldn't program to one that was intuitive. She became one of my roadies, along with my son, helping set up each show and staying for the duration, crocheting behind the scenes waiting in case I needed anything. My family and friends have purchased a lot of my work and scheduled private painting parties. They continue to do so and I'm grateful to them.

One of my favorite things about this profession is the roller coaster of good and bad days. One day you're incredibly talented, the next you're some schmuck artist wannabe. The highs boost your confidence and the lows push your creativity and motivate you to work harder. Both are necessary for success.


Four years later, I'm
 still chugging along. 
 Things have changed. I know there is nothing else I want to do other than my art business. I never feel as if I have enough time to paint - I'm working on it. I have a new booth. Classes and workshops as well as public speaking have been added to my venue. I'm taking classes at RVC to sharpen my business skills.  There's some great shows coming up. I'm looking forward to moving into the front half of my studio/gallery soon. (Thanks to Mark again, for building it for me.) I even may have some
exciting "news" in the very near future.

Best of all I know what I want to do today - paint. 
And it all started on an April Fool's Day. 
Turns out, it wasn't foolish at all.

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