I've had nothing to write about and no time to make a drawing from this cool photo (below) I took of a pussywillow going to seed, but after a half hour of noodling in Photoshop I thought the above image would fit the Illustration Friday theme nicely this week.
Thanks for the great response on my little quiz last post! You guys are the best. The results slightly favoured the top one, but if you add my three boys, then they were even. What I found most interesting was the slight gender bias: women tended to prefer the first and men the second. I have decided to use the first for reasons entirely prosaic: birdwatchers who buy art are more likely to want a more accurate representation of the species ~ and that would definitely be the first.
Trying to decide which to send got me thinking about who my potential customer might be. Vicki's interview with Miriam Weeks on Monday touched on the subject when Miriam told a revealing anecdote:
At a dinner party, I sat next to an artist who makes limited edition, hand-bound journals and photo albums. I asked him who he thought his customer is.
"My customer's name is Shirley. She lives in a fancy neighborhood near a large city. She's a busy professional who travels a lot. She has a lot more money than time. She's planning to buy my most expensive photo album at a high-end crafts gallery for her sister's 50th birthday."
who do I imagine will be interested in my work
male/female or both
where would they shop for art
where do they live
do they have a ethnic cultural, religious identity
how do they dress
what's their home look like, how decorated
why will they buy my work
will my customer buy one piece or collect my work
As for me, my average customer at this gallery (not for these bird drawings necessarily) is a well-educated 60ish woman whose husband works as an executive in the oil and gas industry in Calgary. She plays a philanthropic role, her hobbies are decorating, the theatre and tennis, and she lives in an upper middle class neighbourhood with a holiday retreat in the Rockies near Invermere, BC. She prefers to collect contemporary art rather than the highly realistic cowboy art that is so popular in Canada's Texas. She buys my drawings for her second home because they are 'local', original and being drawings, cost less than the paintings she buys to decorate her main home.
There's nothing left on the walls of this home except vines:
This is the old Pratt farmhouse (bought in the '40s but built in the late 1800s) that my cousins lived in until the ‘60s when it was no longer fit to inhabit and abandoned. I rarely pass by it any more, but every time I do I stop to see how much more of it has been reclaimed by the land.
I wasn't satisfied with my first attempt at a 4" x 4" chickadee drawing so I tried again. Now I'm really confused. I only need to send one to the exhibition. Which would you choose? (Reminder: drawings on black paper don't scan or photograph well ~ they really are sharper and more vibrant in person.) If you play along I'll tell you (eventually) which one I plan to send, and why.
Here are a few more of the mini bird drawings I'm doing for the upcoming Wings Over the Rockies birding festival happening this May in Invermere, British Columbia.
I had an email from talk-show host, Seattle resident and former blogger (and cousin of a friend)Vicki St. Clair today, regarding a topic she will be addressing on her show this Monday. Vicki would like to find artists or those involved in selling art to...
...direct some questions on a show I am doing this coming Monday, March 16 on "The Artist as Entrepreneur". I want to drive the conversation around questions that serious artists have about selling and marketing ... what are the big issues, roadblocks, challenges etc. I'll read any emails on the air and hopefully my guest has the answers!!Miriam Works is a gallery and artist consultant who helps people market themselves and their craft. She's extremely well known in this area and I actually went to one of her workshops several years ago and was very impressed. She works with a lot of artists on an individual level as well as at gallery level.
This could be really interesting so before Monday I'm going to try and figure out how to listen online! You can find out more here and email Vicki with questions here.
A few years back I was at Jenkins Showler Gallery in White Rock and came across the work of Toller Cranston. Toller Cranston? The Olympic medal-winning figure skater? Sure enough it was the same guy, painting and selling his colourful, stylized art for prices I can only dream about. It got me thinking about the celebrity-turned-artist phenomenon and what a huge boon it could be to galleries. Why promote and risk time and money on gifted but untested artists whose submissions they have to turn away on a daily basis, when celebrities at all ends of the talent spectrum can trot their work in and it will fly off the walls?
Not long after that I was listening to singer/songwriter Jann Arden being interviewed on the radio and she started talking about her Calgary restaurant and how she'd done a few paintings to decorate the place and how well they were selling. I got hopping mad and wanted to blast her for ignoring her so-called responsibility to real visual artists who hadn't yet made it and who might need a place to hang and sell their work. (Too bad it wasn't a call-in show but I'd probably have been too cowardly to call anyway. :) It was probably one of those days when I'd received a gallery rejection. In any case, it was a serious moment of sour grapes on my part. The truth is, I've never actually seen her work and she's probably quite talented!
It happened again a couple of days ago while looking at best-selling author Jon Katz's blog. He mentioned how a Vermont gallery would be selling his evocative photographs of farm life in upstate New York:
March 9, 2009 - A few years ago, I would never have imagined that a classy art gallery would want to show and sell my photos. Now, it has happened, a big step for me, and an affirmation of the creative community of encouragement that was one of the ideas behind Bedlam Farm.
I'm not proud to admit it, but I blew my cool. It has been a bit of a bad run for me lately: a long winter, backfiring hormones, very little inspiration, too many family/community responsibilities and very high levels of distractibility. In other words, bad attitude on overdrive and very little work produced. Note to self: never answer the phone or write emails when the fight or flight (in my case, fight or fight) instinct kicks in. Oops. I wrote an email to Jon Katz, who did not accept my whining graciously. He called me on it and forced me to think about my attitude. Eventually I started thinking about my son, Adam, the actor-writer-artist. He's good at all these things. What if he becomes a success at one, then wants to explore one of the others? Would I begrudge him that opportunity just because he'd already been a success elsewhere? Maybe I should just leave the judging up to the 'consumer' and stick to painting.
Taking it one step further, I realized that there are bona fide visual artists amongst the ranks of celebrities in other fields, Joni Mitchell being one. And if you think about it, she could be the world's most amazing painter but since she won acclaim, icon status even, for her work as a musician first, she will always be a painter second, no matter that she was a painter before she was a musician. How fair is that? Well, I for one am not going to cry in my beer about poor old Joni's fate, but it definitely puts a different spin on things.
Attitude restored, I'm just happy that in spite of economic juggling I get to paint, period, rather than spend the rest of my life at the front of a classroom or behind a desk. How lucky am I?