Thursday, January 19, 2012

The Week of WTF

Something is in the water, the moon is in a weird phase, I've been eating too much gluten...whatever the problem is, it has lingered for a week and I'm ready for it to be over!

The week of WTF started last week, when I brought several of my figurative drawings to a local gallery to submit them for their annual Figurative Show.  The gallery owner called my work "Academic".  OK. I can deal with that.

 While the Gallery is a beautiful space in a beautiful setting, the visit reminded me of why I only participate in juried shows the past few years: the gallery owner spent most of the time congratulating herself on changing the way her artists work, to create work that will sell to her clients.

Now, I'm not so narrow-minded that I think that this should not be considered in any way - YES - you DO need to know what Sells.  But, what you also need to know, is that most of the time, when Artists like myself are in a mindset of "Hmm...what color will sell?", the work will not be authentic: it will be forced, often uninspired.

Instead of applauding yourself for changing an artist's style, why not seek out artists whose work you like? Would I want you talking to a client about MY work taking credit for how you changed the way I work?  I would imagine a Collector would want to know about the Artists' vision...not yours.

So anyway, the gallery did accept two pieces for the figurative show, I signed the papers and started my long drive home.  By the time I got home, I had a FB message telling me "Oh...I am sorry.  I can't take the pieces in my gallery because you offer prints on your website"

Now...we have been communicating for over a year.  I sent the gallery links to the very same website MONTHS ago.

What I don't understand is: if you know your clients' tastes, if you know they want originals, how is an $18 print on my website going to compete with the original in your gallery?

I know there's an argument for ONLY selling originals.  But here's my arguments for selling affordable prints:

My website is visible all over the world.  I often sell small prints to collectors quite far away, and then these very same collectors come back to buy original art.

Some paintings are very popular, lots of people LOVE the image, but can't afford the original.  Not only am I providing a way for someone to enjoy a beautiful piece of work at an affordable price, but I can often double or triple the income from one painting by selling reproductions.  It's a business model that keep me in business, and I have never had a collector tell me that the fact that I offer reproductions stopped them from adding an original to their collection.

So anyway, that put me in a funk, and the vortex of WTF continued into the weekend.  After a blinding, vomit-inducing headache on Friday afternoon, I forgot all about my bunco night!  Bunco night is usually once a month, and a great time to get together with all of my friends and neighbors.  I have missed a lot of bunco nights this past year, and was really looking forward to this evening out.  What made that worse was everyone said how fun it was, and apparently they were all wondering where I was...but not one of them called or sent a text? Ok. It's my fault for forgetting.  But it would have been nice to be reminded.

And the week of WTF capped off last night with not being able to find a replacement model for my figure drawing group at the studio.  I made 26 phone calls looking for a model after the original model called in sick.. It happens! People get sick!  But 26 people couldn't fill in?  I wasted an entire afternoon on the phone hunting down models, forgoing painting, printing, watching my daughter's dance class, and sitting down to dinner with my family, just to try to find a model.  And I couldn't find one.

The problem with cancelling class is this: I need to have these classes to help pay my rent.  On a good month, this one night a week can help pay for one third of my rent.

And that's really just the icing on the cake: these Wednesday night sessions are not just about drawing the live model, they are about networking, connecting, dedicating a few hours a week to your Art.  Many of the artists are parents, they work hard, they - like I do - look forward to those few hours in the studio.

OK.  I am declaring the week of WTF officially over.  Starting today, I will...

***Set the alarm on my phone to remind me of events I really want to attend.  My brain is not what it used to be.

***Still hold Wednesday night drawing sessions even if my model cancels.  I will call three new models, if they can't do it, I will stop wasting the rest of my day.  We can draw each other, draw a still life, talk about books - whatever!  But I will not cancel again.  The time is too important, beyond just the drawing part.

***Wait for galleries to come to ME and be ready to say "if you think you can sell it in your gallery - great! Buy it from me then you can have the inventory".  I will follow the advice of this article. I will not sacrifice all of the hard work I have put into developing my body of work.  I will not question my vision.  I will keep creating what moves me, I will keep creating Authentic work.

Wishing you all a good week!


Unknown said...

Your work is absolutely beautiful and inspiring. Maybe weeks like this can be a reminder to draw your focus away from the external and back into your creative inside world and remind you why you do what you do. The other doesn't matter.

Helen H Trachy said...

Hi there! I read your post and I totally agree with you. You're the artist and you decide the path to follow.I'm an amateur painter but I can recognize talent when I see it.
You are one of those rare artists who is true to herself, you cannot go wrong. You'll get what you deserve pretty soon, I'm sure.
Congratulations for your fine work.

Vicki Holdwick said...

Oh, how those WTF weeks are. So sorry you had to deal with that gallery and the rest of the misery.

Good for you for making a problem solving plan for the future.

Love your art,


Krystyna81 said...

Tina - I agree! Other stuff will happens, and I need to be able to focus: deal with it and move on. Thanks :)

Krystyna81 said...

Helen - thanks so much! I am going to keep working hard...let's hope it lets me keep living my dream! Happy painting!

Krystyna81 said...

Thank you, Vicki! Now, I just have to stick to the plan :)

Unknown said...

That gallery doesn't seem worth your time. I think that rule about selling prints is complete crap. Making it as an artist is hard enough without all the road blocks. Your work is great, don't let that lady's ego get you down. I know the feeling of having a model bail. Sometimes just not even showing up w/o leaving any way to contact them. Definitely frustrating.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! I love your don't let them get me down attitude!

Dee Doyle said...

God, what a great narrative! I so relate, and now I have a name for the syndrome. Thanks for that for starters.

The gallery thing ... I have had a couple of similar experiences, and boy, did I get a bad taste in my mouth. The sting remains when I think about it, but, for the most part, I am gaining confidence and a modest following and reputation and I need to remember that.

It may sound trite or hackneyed to say "it's their loss," but it is. Your work is wonderful, and I so look forward to your blog updates.

Re the model issue, yes, the sketching of others is sometimes way more valuable than the model experience. My students refer back to the times we sketched each other.

Thank you so much for sharing. Sometimes we are in our studio space, isolated, and wondering if what we do has meaning. The internet has allowed linkage with others of like minds and support of what we do. We are all more so much more alike than different, and your story affirms that!

Crystal Cook said...

Lately I have heard quite a bit of griping by some people about how artists should not sell prints if they want their originals to sell. I'm not sure I understand it. Sorry you had such an awful week.

And your last statement really stuck with me. Creating authentic work that is true to you. THAT is how your masterpieces are made for sure! :)

Shayla Maddox said...

Yes yes and yes. I attempt to remain open-minded, but my personal experience with galleries ranges from lackluster to unethical. Two years ago I left a gallery after they told us that we're never to hand out business cards at shows. I will never, under any circumstances, agree that an artist should not communicate with their collectors. No way.

As far as prints go, I think they're great! About four years ago I was an originals-only artist, but I had so many people requesting them, I finally realized that it's not just about making extra money on a sold painting (which is great!) but also about connecting with your fans! Not everyone can afford originals, but they should be able to participate with you and support your work! That's what it's all about. :)

(And yes, print buyers have come back and bought originals from me.) Totally worth it!

Great post, sorry it was inspired by a bummer week.

shealeigh fine art: paintings & drawings said...

i'm sorry to hear about your gallery woes! you should definitely look for a gallery who is excited about your work..someone who wants to sell it... that gallery sounds horrible! your work is beautiful - i have a BFA in painting and show my work in juried competitions as well in a gallery here in kansas, and i do not think your work looks 'academic'. i don't know why she said that. i would definitely take your business elsewhere!!!! as much commission as galleries take, they should WANT your business.... keep making beautiful work. i'm trying out watermedia for the first time and looking at your work for inspiration!

Susan Roux said...

With the title "the week of WTF" I totally expected to see failure after failure of paintings posted. No not here. What do I find, but a lovely light-bathed model rendered with care and emotion. Most galleries would be thrilled to receive her.

Funny post. Sorry. Sometimes listening to someone else's week of horror makes you laugh at your own. I had to keep reading on... I like how you declared this week over. Such a definitive. Go girl, take control!

I don't deal with prints, so have never faced this problem with galleries. I do understand your point and feel it's totally up to you how you sell your work. I'm certain there are galleries out there that won't mind if you offer prints on your site. Don't give up just because one gallery was so negative. From what I've experienced, one has to push to get into galleries. They don't just come knocking on your door. (would be nice)

Paint your passion. It's always the best! And have a better week...

Anonymous said...

I think I know that freakin' gallery owner. I am pretty certain. I was selling pieces there and she wanted me to paint like some other artists out of state. I thought WTF, too. Right after telling me that she said it wasn't working out, despite my paintings selling there, and then got those artists on board. Everything is her gallery looks the same, and the funny part is the one painting she didn't like of mine turned out to be a huge hit and has gone viral. Seriously. You are great at what you do, bugger off d.a. gallery owner.

Nika said...

As frustrating as your week sounded like it was... the good new is that it's over. Now you can take a step back, breathe (breathe in paint anyway), and let this week make you grateful for all the others that go better. You're work is beautiful and that gallery owner sounds egotistical and uninspired. Also like you said, if you can't find a model for your Wednesday nights, paint each other, critique each other, or do a still life (like egg cartons lol). Don't let precious time go to waste. Good luck with the next week and I hope it brings the ying to last weeks yang.

Cherie said...

Well given that I am your friend I know I am completely biased... but it seems logically a gallery owner should view your work and then if she decides she likes your style?? Then she has you show in her space because she can trust your vision. You have more than enough examples of excellent work that there should be no question. I can say for one that I am so excited about what masterpiece you come up for me! Let me know if my comments try to squash your artistic gift ;)

StormcrowNaturePreserve said...

It seems to me that not selling an original painting because the artist sells prints of that same painting is the same as a musician not being permitted to perform live because his or her songs are already on the radio. Am I right?? We artists need to take back the power. We are in charge--not the galleries. Not the curators. US! Ha! Wow... WTF??? Where did that come from... :)
Keep on keeping on.

Lisa Graham said...

I am sorry. What does "academic" mean anyways? Your work is lovely.