|Clouds in My Coffee by J. Binford-Bell|
Respect yourself enough to walk away
from anything which no longer serves you, grows you
or makes you happy.
A year ago this month I made some tsunami like changes in my life. After more than 17 years deeply involved in art organizations in my valley I quit. Never one to do things half way I decided to no longer do art fairs (decision based on sound financial analysis), and to leave a gallery I had been involved in for nine years (decision based on independent market research - I talked to my customers). And I decided to take a break from painting to devote my energies to photography for a while. We all need a vacation.
After winning several prizes for my photography and selling quite a few I am diving back into the shallow end of painting. By that I mean I have given up the "production" painting that doing fairs demands and working on pieces that mean something to me. Some are from photographs that as always were a springboard for my paintings. I tried plein aire and it isn't me.
I have no regrets about the decisions I made a year ago. It was time to move forward and apart. But as in any change their are aspects one will miss. The good part about fairs was the networking with art friends. So I will be attending Artsfest this year as a visitor instead of a player to say hi to friends and then back to my open studio to welcome art tourists to look at my paintings, my photography, my jewelry, and my sister's photography.
That is where studios have it all over fairs. An artist can show all their work; not just the medium that was juried in. And for the collector that is where studios have it over galleries. Galleries exhibit the taste of the gallery owner not the soul of the artist. At a studio you can see the whole range of an artist's work and not just the 4 to 10 pieces the owner of a gallery chooses to show.
The economic crisis of the last few years has been the death of a lot of galleries and some of my artist friends have lost work in the untimely closing of a couple. Fairs too are hurting because of cheap prints and Chinese knock offs. Fairs I had to struggle to get into once are now calling me after deadlines and asking if I want to get in late because they have open spaces. Artists are cutting costs and pulling back into their studios and small exhibits. Doing fairs was horridly expensive. But artists are still creating art. And I like to think better art because they are not dancing to the fiddle of fairs and galleries. And open studios and art trails are springing up everywhere for the art tourist to explore.
So has this sea change been wise? For me personally yes. For me artistically yes. The jury is still out on financially. I have cut expenditures by cutting out fairs. And sales have been steady but needs to grow. Marketing is an ever changing dynamic. My work is better displayed than in the gallery where it was. I am discovering daily new ways to cheaply promote my work but I do not think I have totally maxed that potential because for years I depended on the gallery and the fairs to be my agency for promotion.
I am happier, and that is probably the key to it all.