Rabbit on a Skateboard Shadow Box
This is an accomplishment. It just dawned on me as I was rushing out the door to be at another art show that this month, is my 30 year anniversary being a professional artist. It’s true.
In some ways I feel I have come full circle. In most ways, I am still pushing, still creating, still striving for the accomplished skills, accomplished gallery, accomplished notary, accomplished level of comfort, lifestyle..on and on.
I’m still striving to stay relevant, contemporary and relate-able. Each piece I create…I imagine…do they get me? Do they get what I’m trying to convey? Will they see my heart? Will they agree with me? Accept me? Smile with me? Or walk away saying “you want how much for that?”
You see, my art work isn’t just for me. It never has been. I have learned the “process of creating” is for me alone. It’s the journey. But the end of all those hours, the culmination of what I end up creating is for someone else.
30 years ago, I had visions of being an accomplished artist. I would envision my work in galleries and shops but then I would get way ahead of myself. I had scary thoughts of ‘who do I think I am?’ or ‘what if I get so many orders I can’t handle it and I won’t be true to myself and I won’t be true to my art and is it okay to make the same thing over and over?… and the sky will fall and I will never be able to recover from my mistakes. ‘ As budding artists and business people, haven’t we all had those crazy thoughts?
Before 1989 I was a single mom of two little girls, going to Pima College, working as a recreation leader for Pima County and I was trying to get this business off the ground. We were poor but my in-laws helped me a lot!
My girls and I had come back from New York during a Christmas vacation with my family. I had brought a few pieces I had created with me to give as gifts. My whole family encouraged me to sell them. They really believed in me. When I came back to Tucson, I decided to take (I mean borrow) my grant money for school and purchase a kiln with it. In the following months I started to get serious and take the steps to become a business person.
I took a class in art business. I marched downtown and applied for a business license. I set goals for myself. I made sure I visualized what kind of shops I saw my work in…then I began to “beat the bush”. I went to shops in Tucson and landed a couple. Territorial Trends and Tohono Chul were the first to sell my work. These days it is not acceptable to cold call galleries.
Then I decided to attend a wholesale show in Phoenix. It was nothing fancy. I didn’t spend a lot of money on booth set up. I just brought my work. Set it on a generic table and took orders. That show alone gave me the ability to set up a warehouse and hire employees. I had walked away with $10,000. in orders, Cash! I was blessed to finally land a couple of shops in Santa Fe in the 90’s that really boosted sales from all over the country. All that without the internet.
God has a purpose and a plan for me (and for you).
This is my story of how it began. Of coarse in 30 years I have had many ups and downs. But I look back and really believe it was what I was meant to do.
Even though it is tough setting up for shows, 30 years later, I find it stimulating and encouraging to connect with collectors. I don’t worry as much anymore. I have found my niche in what works for me and what doesn’t. I hope this encourages someone who is considering starting a business.
I was not perfect but it is the little things that make success. It is literally doing what needs to be done to the best of your ability. You just have to be true to your convictions, have honest business practices, and be real with folks. I feel God has blessed me because he could trust me in the little things.
Happy Valentines Day!
Two images are available, here on my website.