Both of today's articles were inspired by a comment that Randy Stromsoe made in his interview last week. Here's a brief excerpt from what came up in today's installment.
Finding Your Audience
When we interviewed Randy Stromsoe for last week's installment of OTL, we wrapped up with a question that we ask every time we interview an artist.
What would you tell somebody that's just breaking in and trying to make an art career happen?
We always get interesting answers to that question, and what Randy had to say was no exception.
"I think I'd find what show fits your work. It's easy to get excited if you have an arena where they like your work and you're a celebrity. If I just tried to make it in Cambria or San Luis Obispo, I would have been so frustrated. If I never took a chance and went to the East Coast then my life wouldn't have worked out. You have to find these arenas and so much of it is word of mouth by talking to other artists and looking at their brochures and what work they've pushed before... Some areas sell a lot of what we do. If I go back to Philadelphia to the Museum of Art's Craft Show I have more buyers than anywhere else. They also promoted me more than anywhere else. That show has been really good to me and the people who go to those shows have bought a lot."
The natural inclination of most of us is to start small, start local, and build up and out from there. That intuition works for a florist shop or a jeweler or a service business like swimming pool service, dry cleaning, or auto repair. But art is a little different from most other businesses. An artist is working with a product that has very specialized and intangible appeal. There are regional differences in taste and interest, and the general public in most towns has little understanding of the pricing and value of art.
Add to this the fact that many of us as artists choose to live where our environment is conducive to our creativity rather than where our natural market is. Windhook, for example, is on the central coast of California in one of the most amazing geographies and climates that we know of. We located here because the creative energy of the place works for us. But San Luis Obispo County is not a major art center. We do have several good art organizations here, and a higher than average concentration of good artists than many places of comparable size. But this does not equate to a local art market strong enough to support all those good artists.
Of course this is not to suggest that you ignore your local market...
In addition to the rest of the article quoted above, there was a second article in today's installment about the role that galleries and artist's representatives can play in solving the puzzle of finding your natural market. You can get to both of these articles and all the rest of our member resources when you activate your full subscription. We hope you will join us soon!
Peggy & Michael
I spent 10 years in the metal trades in Seattle, and 13 years as a technical writer in the Silicon Valley prior to making the leap to the full time pursuit of art.
Throughout that time I was raising 3 kids and hanging around the margins of the art
world, knowing all the while that art was where I belonged. In 2001 I began working with my wife on development of an artists’ retreat in San Luis Obispo county that we call Windhook. That work is ongoing, and consumes most of the time that I am
not in the studio.
In 2002, I left technical writing and the world of salaries and trading-life-for-money to entirely devote my time to the pursuit of my artistic vision and the Windhook
project. At times since then, my efforts have been consumed by Windhook planning
and construction tasks, and at times I have focused more exclusively on sculpture.
But since October of 2011 I have added another wrinkle to the mix. I write a weekly email journal about pioneering a creative life, called "Outside the Lines". With my wife, Peggy Sonoda, I interview people who are doing just that, and write articles about the many facets of coloring outside the lines.