Sunday, 6 April 2014

The Other Side Of The Artist Coin

I am being dragged, not kicking, not really even wimpering, into our brave new world. Not only do I now Blog, Tweet, Face, Link In, Follow, Join, Favourite, Pin, Share but now I also have set up shop on not one, but two, on-line galleries. I am feeling quite smug really. On one of the on-line galleries, Artfinder, I even have 9 followers. No sales yet after 4 days of being “open” but 9 followers which is something. I gather the aim is to collect as many followers as possible, follow them, click, tweet, share, etc. all these connections and hey presto! Ker-ching - sales galore!

This week I was talking to an artist friend whose work and practice I admire. I have been impressed by how often he sends out an email to say he has a few pieces in a show here or there, or another solo exhibition in another town. I asked him if the galleries found him or if it was the other way round. He laughed and said that 99% of the time he found them and along the way had been rejected by more than he could count. But still he was buoyant and ready to send off another round of emails introducing himself to yet more galleries. I was impressed with his energy and resilience.

And yesterday I attended a lively and informative talk about galleries, and contact and marketing at Pallant House Gallery, organised by Unity Arts Trust. Many and various aspects of and approaches to increasing sales and contacts were covered and I realised that no matter how good or bad a piece of art is the artist still has to not only stick their neck above the parapet of their safe and private studio workshop but has to be fully prepared to be shot down. On top of this the artist has to dedicate creative time to this side of their art practice: not quick, tired 5 minute snippets of time here and there. Marketing and networking need to be embraced with a positive and thick skinned attitude. As Edmund De Waal, one of my heroes, so wisely said when being interviewed by Alan Yentob last year just before his big New York show opened, the worst thing that can happen to a piece of art is not that it will be criticised or rejected, but that it will never leave the studio.

Those words resonated with me as I am a scaredy custard when it comes to saying, please look at my work, please like my work. It is too close to asking please like me. And although I think on-line sales would be great, (the other (on-line) gallery is Saatchi of course) there is nothing like the real thing and it really is time for me to toughen up and find that voice, get out there and put it about, so to speak!