Friday, October 12, 2007

anyone home?

the world's most unpretentious bungalow

Contrary to the image I have been projecting lately, Anyone Home? is the title of this painting (see the light on behind the door?), not an examination of what's (not) going on between my ears. As a matter of fact I have been thinking lately, thinking about the future and my never-ending struggle with inconsistency. Some artists have trouble with self discipline, some with marketing, some with creative blocks, but those are chicken feed to me compared with my inability to stay on a consistent enough path to help my development as a painter. I flip back and forth between wanting to (a) continue my symbolist experiments and (b) do more impressionistic west coast landscapes, while thinking that maybe I should ditch both of those for awhile and paint more of these houses (they're fun). Meantime I have a really strong desire to further experiment with collage and do some pure abstract pieces. See what I mean?

I thought for sure I'd have ironed out this, my biggest creative dilemma, by now. I have both my creative and economic futures to consider and so far all my work seems to fall neatly into one of the categories to the detriment of the other.

Then there's Etsy vs. galleries. For example, there are a couple of good gallery possibilities if I paint more houses and landscapes, and my work really is better suited to a gallery market, but let's face it: the economic future is Etsy. I have seriously neglected my Etsy shop since the beginning of summer, mostly because I just haven't been able to figure out how best to exploit this fantastic direct sales venue. For example, the above painting is 12" x 12" x 1.5" -- small enough for Etsy but large enough to hang in a boutique-style gallery. But its strength is also its weakness: on Etsy its $250-$350 price tag is too rich for most shoppers. Prints are the thing. But $300 is also a bit too modest a price tag for the local commercial galleries. To avoid shooting myself in the foot I need the prices to be reasonably consistent wherever I offer my work (i.e. no selling the same piece on Etsy for half what I would ask in a retail gallery). It's a dilemma, boys and girls.

I could "puzzle three hours`til my puzzler is sore" (thanks, Dr Seuss) but I don't think there's an easy answer to this one. Meantime, I didn't document this painting's progress properly, but I did get a couple of 'in utero' shots. Click to enlarge:


Blogger zooms said...

Boutique style Galleries for the houses, Etsy and Fine Art Galleries for the Symbolism.
On the other hand, what's your agent doing for you?
Or you could just listen to what the little bird on the chimney top, in this delightful painting, is saying. x

12/10/07 4:18 p.m.  
Blogger Janvangogh said...

Oh I understand your dilemna.

I have decided that the really nice thing about Etsy is that it is portable-- ie, if I move again, I dont have to bother with all the trials of entering a new art market. That has been my focus as of late.

12/10/07 4:39 p.m.  
Blogger Angela Rockett said...

I really like this charming little bungalow.

Ah the never ending dilemnas of our chosen profession. Makes you just want to kick something, doesn't it?!

12/10/07 5:05 p.m.  
Blogger susan said...

goodness i love that second shot. i would love it done there as well as the done done one.
sorry about the rss feed. we FINALLY figured it out.
should be rollin along ok now.
sheesh. can i call you next week? we should talk.

12/10/07 5:18 p.m.  
Blogger Heather said...

One of my favourite things about your paintings is the emerging layers. I love the way the sky started out re and then transformed with the layers.

12/10/07 5:21 p.m.  
Blogger Toni said...

Andrea i think a lot of us are feeling the same. I have come to the conclusion I like to many avenues of art. So i am going to keep creating and see what comes out on top.

Have you thought about licensing your work or looking into it. the houses I believe would be good for licensing on different products. The landscapes and symbols should do well in galleries. think about swapping out your landscapes at Kada gallery and try some paintings with symbolism.

12/10/07 7:53 p.m.  
Blogger kj said...

i have the same problem, andrea, in words: one day it's poetry, the next self help, then short stories, then essays. and on i go.

if i knew which were or should be my "bread and butter" medium, i might be happier doing everything else!

as for your house, i love it. i would know it was yours, you know, from the little bird to the upright bush. your style is your own. that's one true thing that carries from one inconsistency to the next!


12/10/07 9:12 p.m.  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Pop over to Badkitty and read what Heather has to say.
Me? I have pretty much the same trouble as KJ.(insert wry smiley face)

13/10/07 12:09 a.m.  
Blogger Ces said...

If I relied on my paintings and drawings for bread and butter, I'd surely be a pauper. I am so shy, I have no confidence to sell anything.

13/10/07 6:46 a.m.  
Blogger HMBT said...

OMG! I know! I have been trying to firm up an excitement level for my foucs's KILLING me! I was rocking and rolling in my play-time and then I is the time to focus...I dried up like a freaking prune. Nothing...nada. I mean...what happens if I never settle down? Will I never become gallery worthy? Will I never be able to sell on Etsy or auctions or anywhere freaking else? Crazy I tell you...I'm going crazy with play withdrawl. Maybe I'm not ready yet...sheesh, I dunno.
I love your...strike that...I love all your work and find it all to be consistant...I always know your work, no matter the subject. That's what I want to be able to do.

13/10/07 7:35 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Zooms: The agent spot is vacant. Do you know anyone who will pay me to work for me? :)

Jan: Yes! I plan to move to deepest, darkest Africa -- and take Etsy with me!

Angela: Trust me -- I do! (sometimes)

Susan: email coming.

Heather: Thanks -- it can be really distracting to not know how it's going to 'come out' 'til the last moment though.

Toni: Great suggestions. I'm not sure (a) how to go about licensing my work and (b) how to fit the research into my day. Ideas? (And do you think the symbolist works would do OK in mainstream galleries?)

KJ: You're right -- consistency of style is definitely there. Maybe I should try trading on that consistency rather than the inconsistency of genre. Hmmm.

Dinah: Ah yes -- and off I go.

Ces: Confidence, like any other skill, takes practice. Believe me, I started at the same place as you see yourself to be.

Heather #2: I can see consistency in your work, even if you can't, especially in your unique and lovely vision. But focussing -- oh-so-hard.

13/10/07 9:24 a.m.  
Blogger Ian Lidster said...

All the things you wrote apply to freelance writing, too. Much to my chagrin at times.
Love the bungalow and would like to live there.

13/10/07 9:35 a.m.  
Blogger carla said...

I think that you shine in all the styles you dip your brush, and I see nothing worng with doing various series in each style. It's not inconsistent - I would recognize your work if it were a house or a landscape or a symbolic painting. They all look like Andrea's art. I also think that you can easily divide your work into gallery stuff and etsy stuff without getting in your own way. Another thought - you should probably raise those gallery prices! Your work is worth more than you're charging, and if you have lower prices on the smaller etsy stuff (which would be different than the gallery stuff), people who couldn't afford your gallery work would jump at the chance to buy you less expensive "line." Does that make any sense? Finally... I just love this house. It looks like it's happy!

13/10/07 11:07 a.m.  
Blogger merlinprincesse said...

You are good in all! Why choose? :)

13/10/07 2:07 p.m.  
Blogger Bronwyn, said...

You could try smaller paintings on Etsy; larger painting in galleries; & prints of both sizes of paintings, on Etsy.

14/10/07 2:08 a.m.  
Blogger Peter said...

I'm all for brand image and identity, but my brand is me ... not just my work. (Check out Tom Peters on this). That's why the previous comments mention that your work is recognisably 'you' even when you work in different styles. Businesses have a brand image but sell multiple products through multiple outlets (think Virgin). I want to be able to do the same.

I used to feel it was a problem that I don't stick to any one thing but have so many interests and passions, that are so quickly replaced by new ones. But a book that helped me put it into perspective is "What Do I Do When I Want To Do Everything?" by Barbara Sher. It helped by giving me some different angles on things and different approaches.

14/10/07 5:34 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ian: Maybe you did, it being a typical Vancouver bungalow.

Carla: Pricing is tricky, always tricky, unless you're highly sought after.

MP: You're very kind. I wish I was a kid still and could just play.

Bronwyn: Good ideas -- I just need a printer now. Not having one is defintely holding me back, but it's not something I can afford right now.

Peter: I'm not acquainted with Tom Peters. Maybe you could eleaborate further on your blog? And now I will see if Barabara Sher exists in my library group...

14/10/07 8:14 a.m.  
Blogger Ed Maskevich said...

Boy, do you and I lead parallel lives. But now I have pharmaceuticals and they have been a big help.

14/10/07 8:19 a.m.  
Blogger nadine said...

Wow. This post and the comments it has generated make for some pretty heavy stuff for we right brained people. The reason I have pretty much completely stopped doing freelance graphic art is because the business side was killing all the joy in the creative process. All I did was stress over quoting and estimating and billing. Ugh. Puts my stomach in a knot just thinking about it...

15/10/07 7:03 p.m.  
Blogger tlc illustration said...

Barbara Sher sounds interesting. I'm not sure what to add in addition to all the good comments other than why not do your different things for different markets? Big stuff=gallery, smaller stuff= etsty, etc...?

(An agent would be a great idea - I don't know how to shop for one in your market. I do know there are agents for just licensing...)

15/10/07 8:18 p.m.  
Blogger Cynthia said...

One thing is for sure, your style so far is consistent. I would recognize your work anywhere.

I agree though with what others have said. What about lesser works or prints for etsy, and then some of the other ones you mentioned for galleries. Just don't overlap the two so you don't jeopardize your gallery contracts.

16/10/07 6:09 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Ed: Legal or street? :)

Nadine: I love it when the comments are the best part of the post!

Tara: I ordered a couple of Barbara Sher books from the library. I'll let you know what they're like.

Cynthia: Thanks and the advice has been good. I have to sit down and really map out a plan ... one of these days. :)

16/10/07 10:23 a.m.  
Blogger Jana Bouc said...

Heck, Picasso didn't limit himself to one medium or style, why should you? I found it odd you'd be worried about consistency since your work is more consistent and recognizable and unique than most. It seems like the decision might come down to whether you want to make lots and lots of little paintings (or make prints of a few) and sell them on etsy, or ebay, or make fewer, larger, "serious" (whatever that means) paintings that would sell for lots in galleries (but the gallery would lop off half the price). Another artist I know (who sells most of her daily paintings and charges $25-$70 each) calculated that she needed to make $50K a year. So she divided that by the number of paintings she'd be likely to paint in a year and determined she'd have to sell a painting every day for $138 in order to make it. It's an interesting idea to count backwards that way.

19/10/07 9:13 p.m.  
Blogger LDahl said...

You wrote:
I thought for sure I'd have ironed out this, my biggest creative dilemma, by now. I have both my creative and economic futures to consider and so far all my work seems to fall neatly into one of the categories to the detriment of the other.

I can so identify with this!
I almost wonder if it is the inner conflict that keeps us going, fired up to try and make sense of it.
I had a friend say "do what you love and the money will follow."
It is like loving your three kids though... how can you follow one and not let the others wander off on their own?
I just have noticed when I play with the kids, it works out one way or another. It's when it gets turned to work that the dust devils start to blow.

21/10/07 2:19 p.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

Jana: Funny -- I found myself thinking about Picasso after I wrote this. If that's not both commercial and critical success, then what is? Certain events lately have me convinced that I need to think smarter economically and control my own destiny rather than depending on galleries to do that. Unethical galleries have been the order of the day for the past few months and maybe I should take that as a clue?

Ldahl: Wise words and the idea that it's the inner conflict that keeps us moving forward is a good one and probably true!

21/10/07 2:49 p.m.  
Blogger A Kite Rises said...

I love this painting, however you decide to sell it! Thank you for letting me see how you brought it through the stages. I am a complete beginner artist, just cracked out of the shell and am still all gloopey, knock kneed and unsure of myself. Painting number one sits half done, I know where I want it to go but am experimenting with it till it looks something like the picture in my head! I am totally in awe of your talent.

22/10/07 12:09 p.m.  

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