And Today's Outlook Is...
Star reports on two artists' outlook on their artistic success.
I recently had the opportunity to chat with two artists on separate occasions and wow...what a stark contrast there was. Now I'm not just talking about the style and medium they work in. I'm talking about the outlook they have on their artistic careers. Both artists are about the same age and have had a certain amount of success...that is however you measure success as an artist. You might think it's all about the dollar, dollar bills ya'all. But after talking with both artists, it's clearly not ALWAYS about the money.
The first artist - I'll call him "Tokyo" - even though that's not his real name - is full of hope and is looking forward to upcoming shows in Tokyo. He hasn't sold a painting in well over a year, but here's the kicker - it's by choice. I know, you're probably saying to yourself "ya, right", but it's true. This guy's work is AMAZING! He has a unique style and in my opinion is a creative genius. He has every right to be a pretentious artist jerk and yet he is not. He's engaging and witty yet humble. I like these qualities in a person no matter what your job title is. He's happy to meet, talk and glean from others and I sense he believes that he's a better person for meeting you. It's part of his artistic journey. Not his words but merely my observation.
Tokyo has a website where just a few of his paintings are posted. On this site NONE of the paintings have a price attached to them. This, in my opinion, is not a good way to market your work as it's a missed opportunity to sell a painting if someone is so inclined. When I inquired about his reason for not listing a price, he told me they're not for sale...at this time. He explained that he's been traveling quite a bit and if someone wanted to buy, he wouldn't be able to ship right away. Okay...that makes sense but I still know he's leaving money on the table. Isn't there someone he can trust and give them access to his work to handle a sale while he's out of town? I guess maybe not, so I leave it at that. After all, it's the first time meeting with him and I don't want to jam my mad marketing skills down his throat. At this point, he's content and confident with where he's at and what lies ahead in the very near future with regard to his art. He should be. He's a star.
Now, in sharp contrast, the second artist I talked with (I'll call her "Identity Crisis") is down trodden. She's doing what she can to get into galleries, juried shows and marketing her work in multiple avenues on line. While I applaud the effort, nothing seems to be working. She's desperate and it shows. There's a fine line between being diligent in your marketing efforts and being desperate and I'm afraid she has crossed the line. But there's something more amiss with this artist. Her lack of sales has made her lose confidence. She gets the occasional commission request but no matter what she paints otherwise, she has few to no takers. She tells me she has even tried many different price points, to no avail.
Okay, who doesn't go through a dry spell now and again? But it doesn't take me long to diagnose the problem here. I look at her body of work and it's all over the place. If somebody tells you an artist's name and you've seen their work before, you should have an immediate vision of what style that artist is known for. Don't get me wrong, most artists dabble in other styles and/or mediums but as an artist you should have a distinctive style about your work. Otherwise you get lost in the massive sea of every other artist out there. Identity Crisis has painted everything from A to Z and as a result, I don't know what her artistic vision is. It's a mistake that many artists make. Nothing really stands out as being unique about this artist's work and therein lies the problem. Collectors want and look for something unique. I would be hard pressed to even think for a minute that Identity Crisis has ever had a real following for her work and - "hello" - that's a critical part of an artist's success. In any business, repeat business is huge. Without it, you will more than likely fail. An artist has to build a following, work to maintain it and always be reaching out to find new clients. If you haven't built a following, you need to be asking yourself "why"?
Ultimately, Identity Crisis needs to find her calling as an artist. The talent is there, but continuing to paint what so many other artists paint is going to leave her in a sea of sameness. Worse yet, she'll end up in a constant state of spinning her wheels and never really knowing why. I don't ever like to see an artist give up. But for Pete's sake, create something unique or save yourself the grief.
- Star Noble