Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I've spent much of the last week designing new pieces and prepping them to be quilted. The tops themselves sometimes take days or weeks to ponder over until I'm satisfied, and then the rest goes quickly. And, as seems to be my fashion, I like having a small stack of work to quilt one after the other. Maybe I'll start on these this weekend -- maybe not, we'll see.

I've been in a bit of an artistic funk lately. It's not the "lack of inspiration" kind of funk, more like the "what the heck am I doing and where am I going" kind of funk.

I really like my work, my surface design and my art quilts, and apparently a lot of other people do as well -- at least they tell me so. But I have always had an enormously hard time selling my art, whatever medium I've been working in. I've always had an inclination to sell because 1) I produce a lot of work and I want to get it out there, and 2) I am frequently encouraged by others to do so, or to try, anyway.

But all the marketing and networking and friending and connecting I've done over the years in an effort to sell myself and my work, all the Open Studios and Open Houses and Arts Alives and Art Shows, all the mailing list building and postcard printing and event inviting, and all the press release sending and online venue developing, has netted me nothing, really, in terms of building a base of clients or customers or supporters. It's really been demoralizing.

I live in an area of the country where there are maybe five artists to each potential art buyer in the county...where tourists to our area want to buy inexpensive artsy stuff...where there are no decent art shows at any time during the year...where there are no real galleries and thus virtually no dedicated gallery space. And this is what it was like before the economic downturn!

And speaking of the economy, there seem to be signs of recovery all over the U.S., at least according to the multitude of artists who's blogs I read, who have successful weekend art shows, numerous and regular customers for their wares, well-attended gallery shows, ad infinitum. I guess the point I'm trying to make is that while other artists seem to be expanding in countless ways, I find myself having to contract just to stay afloat in the world these days. Because everything I've attempted in the way of getting my art out there -- for at least the last ten years -- has disappointingly failed as well as virtually bankrupted me.

So I'm left thinking, maybe what I do ain't so great, after all.

My intention here is not to do a "woe is me" kind of thing, rather to get a grip on What's So, insofar as my art life is concerned. How it's been for me is How It Is. This has been my reality as an artist. I admit that I feel angst over the whole scene, of which I like to think I am a participant, but from which I usually feel more like an outsider, because I haven't yet found what works for me...and I often wonder if I ever will.

I've begun considering other options with my art, maybe teaching workshops and writing more...channeling that creative energy in new ways for me. So stay tuned to see what develops. And thanks for coming along with me.


Chris Gray said...'re not alone in this situation! It's the same here with me fact I could have written your blog post for you.

Bits and pieces sell....small, inexpensive bits and pieces...

..but anything more, forget it!...and it's REALLY irritating to see less well-executed stuff fly out the door of galleries/shops!

I'm not even trying to sell at the minute...too much "stuff" going on that needs to be dealt with; and I'm needing the creative space to find where to go next.

There WILL be somewhere though. I also need the creative side of my life to keep the reality side going:-)

Hold in there...

...something will happen...

Emma said...

I just caught up with this post - I think many of us could write it, I certainly go thru patches of being seriously fed up. For now, I'll ride the recession & try to do what I want for me, propping it all up with other bits & pieces. What else can we do?

The Idaho Beauty said...

Ditto here - the creative funk, where am I going part, as you know from my last few posts. I haven't worked nearly as hard at marketing myself as you have, but I have had supposedly great opportunities to sell my work and it ain't happinin'. It's hard not to feel jealous when you see others being successful with work you question. Reality is reality, though, and I've heard many say that to really make it financially as any kind of artist (unless you are extremely fortunate) is to supplement with things like teaching and writing. You alone can decide if taking that venue is worth the time away from making your art. I decided for me it was not. But then, I have another source of income and can afford to be choosy.

Thanks btw for your positive comment - my first impulse was to say, "really? You like where I'm headed? Why?" Which just emphasizes the funk I'm in! Thanks for making me take a second look at my work.

tiedyejudy said...

I echo the other commenters. I am not nearly as prolific as you in the art quilt area, and to date I have not sold one of my art quilts. I have made up some small pieces that I have framed and offered for $20 - $65, and have sold some of them. I haven't made an art quilt since last fall, because my tie-dye is a more profitable venue, but even that only nets me enough to continue buying my supplies and paying booth fees at shows. I think percentage-wise that very few artists can make a living wage off of their art sales. I do think classes and workshops are a good way to supplement your income, and have watched a couple of artists doing just that. In fact, I will be teaching my first dyeing class in a couple of weeks! So definitely pursue venues where you can share your knowledge and insight!
P.S. Love your new blog look!

Lorraine @ creativedaily said...

Love the new look on your blog. I stop by to visit at times as I always enjoy what I see. Have you considered doing video workshops? Just a thought...

frazzledsugarplummum said...

I don't know...looks to me like even the very well known artists still have other jobs or partners to support them.