Ever since I was a small child I have dreamed about being "an artist." After many adult years of learning and practicing new skills and filling sketchbooks full of ideas, I feel like I have finally settled into a craft that I am enjoying and I have made a body of work that I can now take to the next level. It's time for me to present my art to the world. That is thrilling yet intimidating. I've spent the past two weeks learning how to share my work digitally and on-site. I've gained insight into the real world of an artist, which has always looked so appealing from the outside.
A functioning website is mandatory in the art world today, so I was elated to find out in December that I received a professional development grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council to have my artwork photographed. I spent 2.5 hours in a photographers studio while Aaron Johanson photographed my work. It was humbling and enlightening to prep my work and then see the layered paper shine on the camera and then Aaron's computer screen. He worked his magic with the lens, lighting and editing skills and made my work really look rich and interesting. It's not an easy task to capture the details and feel of artwork, especially ones that are as small and intricate as my 4" squares. Following my photo session with Aaron, I excitedly shared his shots with my Facebook page and on my website and Instagram. It was fun to share my work digitally, now I needed to prep a real life display.
Every year Da Vinci Middle School hosts an art fair. It usually happens right before the winter holidays but this year they pushed it to February. I felt honored to be chosen as one of the artists to sell my work at the fair this year and while preparing my artwork also became preoccupied with how I was going to exhibit my work. I bought small shelves, and several frames for buyers to choose from, and even made a laser engraved sign with my logo and business name. I was happy with what I organized and then I arrived to see vendors who are seasonal pros at booth displays and was instantly embarrassed by my novice attempt. I was still happy with what I had but realize there is so much more work to do.
I am realizing that being an artist is not just about creating the work. There is a lot of unpaid time and money invested to bring forth not only the craft, but also the vision. I spoke with several artists this past weekend at the art fair that just scrape by. I overheard one artist say that she was tired of feeling like she had to work 12-15 hour days just to be an artist. You have to promote your work in several ways just to be able to sell a few pieces. The presentation of your work and yourself is key in being a success and those things all take an enormous amount of energy.
I guess I am finally getting a real taste at what it feels like to be an artist and I am feeling overwhelmed. I thought teaching was stressful and tiring. I am starting to wonder if making a career of being an artist is just as exhausting.