Monday, February 02, 2009

George Bailey, meet Darwin

"Potter's not selling. He's buying! And why? Because we're panicking and he's not."
George Bailey, It's A Wonderful Life

A room full of scared people trying to get their money out of a rickety, broken down, old Savings & Loan before all hell breaks loose. That's the image that comes to mind as I prepare for Art Fair Season --2009.

Imagine the room filled with art fair artists. Imagine we've lost faith in ourselves and we fearful of what we face in the next months as we travel to fairs, set up displays and desperately, hopefully look to each person who comes by.

There's a different feeling this year, isn't there? The last couple of years have been rough sometimes, and that was before the bottom dropped out of everything.

As bad as things are for some people -- and I truly believe that we have to do everything we can to help each other -- it's not bad for everyone. Sure, the media is hyping us in to a disaster frenzy, but let's put things in perspective: There's always a market for good art.

As I head into this new season, there are a couple of things I'm going to keep in the front of my head:
  • I refuse to go into "survival" mode. I will continue to be confident in the quality of my work.
  • I will not cut corners with my materials. I might cut costs, but not quality.
  • I paid attention in high school biology class. The fit survive. The weak won't. I will be fit.
  • I will not slash my prices. I will not give my work away.
  • I will not be greedy. When other artists sell, it's a good sign for all of us.
  • I will be gentle but firm with hobbyists who are selling their work for nothing: undercut me if you want, but I do not consider you a peer. If you want to be treated like a professional, a colleague, you must act like one.
  • I will not grouse about poor sales. Negative energy brings everyone down!
  • I will focus even more on customer service.
  • I will continue my practice to send a personal thank you note to every person who shares their address.
  • I will continue to resist the temptation to copy the style of a more successful artist.
Will this be an easy season or a challenging one? Who knows? Not every artist will have the same experience. I've had terrific shows when my neighbor didn't make expenses. This year, we have to use all the skills we have.

Being a working artist is a lesson in Darwinism: The strong survive. The survivors adapt. The ranks thin and produce better offspring. In our case, our offspring is better art.

I'm not prone to "Pollyanna-ish" sentiment, but I think we have a great opportunity this year. My plan? I'm focusing on my core values: quality, integrity, attitude, graditude.

8 comments:

Cindy Davis said...

Excellent blog post. I am printing it and sticking it on my wall!

Thank you.

Jeane Vogel said...

Thanks, Cindy. I am too! I need reminders of my goals.

MB Shaw said...

Perfect!!! You said it all so well here.

mira said...

Very nice Jeane. I like your style of writing and your bullet points. It's very affirming. Thanks for the post.

jpdmom said...

I love this post and the quote from it's a Wonderful Life....my father (who works with me) has been quoting that movie for months. I think the good thing here is you acknowledged times are tough, I can't stand sitting around with our hands on our ears saying "lalala I can't hear you". But you also are putting up a fight - and that is great! Good luck to you and your sales. I am right there with ya with my art and have taken up many of the same "rules".

Colin said...

Thank you notes are VERY IMPORTANT... I certainly hope everyone is doing this. It's just another part of courteous service, which sadly, some artist's no nothing about.
I'm with you- I feel great about the new work I'm making, and I'm actually excited about this year... and I don't even really have anything going- no shows. I will sell work, I know, but honestly I'm just enjoying working.

Colin said...

...oh yeah, by the way,artist's out there: while I'm struggling to make ends meet at a lowly retail job I HAVE JUST PURCHASED A PHOTO FROM AN ARTIST ON MYSLART.ORG. That's right, I am actually COLLECTING ART in this economy- not as investment- only because of the way it makes me feel and I love it. Your customers buy for the same reason, and if I am doing it, they will too!

Jeane Vogel said...

Colin,
EXACTLY! Thanks for taking the time to comment.
Jeane