from artist and makers winter 2014 (pick up your copy at michael’s)
I’m just a regular guy, nothing special—I just happen to be an artist. As an artist, I assumed I needed to be in a gallery for people to see my work. Yet galleries seemed to shut me out and preferred my bio to be much more impressive. I figured if galleries didn’t want my work, then maybe no one else did either. Doors weren’t opening for me, and I wasn’t sure what to do next.
I began to frantically look for new avenues, hidden pathways or mysterious portals to show my work—anything to keep my dream alive.
That dream was, and still is, the easy part. I started to realize I needed to stop fantasizing about what I wanted and make a conscious decision to use the skills I had to pursue the next stage. I had art—it was time to use it.
I set up a trade with a photographer friend: I gave her some art, and she took some great pictures of my work. Using those images I made simple photo book portfolios to send to retailers I found on LinkedIn. I contacted websites that sold art and asked to speak with their buyers. I packed my wares and traveled to art shows and craft fairs I knew little about—I just knew I needed to be there. I hired a friend to be my agent. I purchased a template and made my own website. With no formal studio, I worked out of my garage. I borrowed space from one a friend, then another. Slowly but surely, people started to answer me, and buy from me.
My methods weren’t always the best -I made mistakes that at the time seem to set me backwards. that were costly. Slowly, a few more people got to know who I was, and a few more paths cleared. I was starting to be kenT, the artist.
Eventually I heard from a major retailer who had been sent one of those little photo books. That company ordered 300 of my original pieces, and they sold out in seven weeks. Finally, doors were popping open, and folks were starting to know my name.
I’ll never forget the inquiry from a gallery owner who previously told me I needed my master’s degree in painting before I could show in her space. She was now interested. I smiled inside, and politely declined.
Bottom line, I learned that no matter your talent, a magic fairy is not going to drop by your home, studio, or secret lair and volunteer to make you a success.
Through it all, I learned that no matter my dream or my desire, a magic fairy was not going to drop by my home, studio, or secret lair and volunteer to make me a success. (to replace above paragraph)
My advice: My two cents to get you kick started: Start with great photography of your work. Show it. Post it. Link it. Pin it. Work it. Use your son or daughter to help, or ask a local college student. Trade art for photography or website work. Make contacts. Keep in touch. Make more art or jewelry or clothing or whatever it is you make. Work your backside off. Show up on time. Surprise somebody.
Soon enough, we will know your name.