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15. My Work in Public

Past: In the far past, I did custom furniture painting. In the last few years, I’ve shown my 2D artwork online, first on an artists’ site and then on my own website. In the last year, I’ve added art fairs and showing my work in person. Why? I wised up. Long long ago, I envisioned that a talented artist could just make art and people would magically know about it and buy it. If only. As I’ve done some reading, I’ve found that even Picasso had to let people into his studio to sell his work (and much like Seinfeld’s “Soup Nazi,” Picasso would sometimes let certain people in and other times refuse them, leaving them to sit outside his studio all morning, in essence saying, “No paintings for you!”)

Present: I realize that a key piece of “an art business” is that, beyond creating, I have to share out what I’m doing. Unlike Picasso, no one is lining up outside our house, just hoping to come in, willing to sit and wait in case today is the day when I happen to be in the mood to show my artwork. In fact, so much has changed just in the last 5 years that, today, many people don’t even go to buy art in person. They take virtual tours of galleries or facetime with an artist for a 1:1 live showing. Other artists sell digital files of their artwork for buyers to print and frame themselves! It’s hard to keep up and, certainly, no “single-peneur” can do it all. So the more I learn, the more I understand that I need to find what feels right TO ME. Admittedly, I’m not sure that I fully know what that is yet. It's a lot: figuring out how to combine online with IRL. (And for those of us still learning new acronyms, that one means “in real life.” lol)

So drilling down on the old-school side: showing in person. I’ve done 6 art festivals now and I do think having people meet me and see my artwork in person– even if they don’t buy that day– at least makes an impression about whether buying my artwork online in the future would be “safe” as a hedged bet.

Beyond art fairs, I have had a piece in two different Member Shows now– one for the Octagon & the other for North River Arts Council– and, again, that artwork exposure in person allows people to see a piece up close, in good lighting, and with privacy to really study it. In fact, to close out 2023, I’m thrilled that my work will be shown in the gallery area of The Village Retirement Community (November/December).

Future: So, for this writing, ignoring all the online opportunities to consider IRL exposure points, I wonder two things.

  1. Should I simply host an open studio at my house sometime over the midwest’s cold winter months when outside art festivals are not happening?

  2. Should I train my eye to find more gallery and gallery-like exposure?

I think the answer to both feels like YES. I enjoy getting to talk with people about my art (#1) and I love allowing “the ‘kids’ to be at sleepaway camp” and knowing that my art hangs in a public setting for a more independent viewing experience (#2).

A year ago, I was imagining a website (I launched that in December of last year) and this sounds like I’m making a couple of plans for 2024… guess I’d better brew up a big pot of coffee again. I'll be grateful for a few cups and willing to share with any passersby who happen upon my doorstep.

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