Monday, March 17, 2014

Week 6: Naked Revelations

E-e-e-k! Something is fundamentally wrong!
 I just heard myself say, "Why make this if nobody is going to buy it?" 
Making art has always been the ONE thing that made me feel like I didn't need anything else. If that is really how I have been feeling it explains my discontent with this marketing process (and this constant PMS-worthy chocolate craving I can't seem to shake). Logic dictates that in order to have a self-sustaining studio, I HAVE to make art (or something) that will sell. 

Making Money Making Art with Ann Rea addresses this issue quite thoroughly but the other reasons for the making do not seem to be a topic for discussion. The marketing strategies are viable. Her insights into the luxury market are extremely useful and informative. The portion about being true to individual needs and expectations is validating. The networking and accountability methods discussed look like they would work for me as well as many other artists.  

So, why was I left with the feeling that UNLESS my art can be sold at a very high price, it has no real value? Perhaps, practical necessity has been pushing my mind in that direction all along and this presentation just sent that message the rest of the way home. My angst lies in the ink pooling around the unused Return To Sender stamp swimming around the corners of my mind. 

I am not sure exactly which path of exploration has brought me here but I DO know, without a doubt, that it is NOT my final destination. It explains why my 2014 planning efforts stalled out mid-December 2013. Fundamental changes have to be made at the foundation of my approach if this is going to be the type of endeavor I intended it to be. 

Ann Rea's program promotes the sensible marketing tip of having multiple price points and options in your business plan to minimize limitations and increase the monetary viability of your work . Making it clear that art is a luxury item only purchased by the "haves" and unavailable to the "have-nots," Ann Rea maintains the middle ground by making the point that there is nothing wrong with having a day job while you are transitioning into a sustainable art-based business. Not only is there nothing wrong with it, in all likelihood, it is extremely necessary. 

But here, there is not and can never be a "day job." This is all there is or will ever be. The pressure is on to find a way to make it find a market who wants the work.

Working through Making Art Making Money presentation at Creative Live, the Right Brain Business Plan eCourse, and the 15 Day Zero to Video Hero video challenge with Holly Sugrue, I have discovered that my art studio is a place that has the power to be inspirational and uplifting without being impractical. It is a place to enjoy art while staying grounded in the necessities of life. I have realized that it is very important to me that it remain that way while reaching as many people as possible. Well, maybe what I have truly realized is that: this is a factor I am unwilling to change. 

I recoil at the idea of charging exorbitant fees for my work, fees that I, personally, could NEVER pay...not because I don't value myself and not because I don't value the work but because I DO. I think it is wrong to limit art access to certain portions of the population via the existing economic principals to which we have become accustomed. 

Having these thoughts in the shower on March 12th, it came to me, as so many great ideas often do, that: 
I 100% reject the assumption and declaration that art is a luxury item. 

 Fearing this revelation, this tail I have been chasing for months, would flee in the midst of the getting dressed, which would be interrupted by some household chore that I had forgotten on the way to bed, that would lead to remembering an unfinished studio task, that would remind me that I wanted to research on Google how exactly to obtain an exhibition-required 300 dpi image without Photoshop, which would connect me to the seemingly endless influence of the w.w.w.,and result in the inevitable loss of this fleeting epiphany; still dripping-naked, I stepped out into the studio and grabbed the first piece of paper I could find. On it, in LARGE BOLD GREEN MARKER I WROTE:
AND THERE IT IS, The elephant in the room that has been standing on my chest all this time has finally stepped down. I have been resenting the implication that I "SHOULD" view it differently...that I "MUST" do so if I am going to achieve my goals*. Art is only a luxury item when it is priced and marketed in a manner only accessible to the luxury market. 

To achieve my goals within the parameters of my ideals, I must continue to seek out and connect with others who KNOW the intrinsic value of art, who need it in their lives, and I must offer it to them at an affordable rate. Otherwise, I am no better than the people who charge exorbitant fees for bed sheets or the people who sell bread with no BREAD in it. 

Ann Rea's apparently successful policy, "looking is free, owning is expensive" works for her. 

It is clear that these models won't work for me. 
My policy has to be:
 owning it, giving it, experiencing it, and living with it, is achievable, affordable, and worth it.  

Hence, the day 12 video:
Without Art The Crudeness of Reality Would Make Life Unbearable.
~George Bernard Shaw said that. 
Art IS a Necessity:
Veteran Artist Program
The National Initiative for Arts and Health in the Military
Poverty and the Arts
Artists Striving to End Poverty
Art and Healing
Art Lifting
Signs for the homeless
Artist Builds Shelters
Art is Daily Bread
...and the list goes on.

The challenge/burden of proof: I must apply this belief to my practice in a manner that will allow the work to pay for itself...with a little left over for the other necessities of life. 

These will be my SMARTER goals. 

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