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Being a Working Artist

Over the years, I’ve had many people say to me, “Oh! You should sell your artwork! You’d make tons of money!” or perhaps, “Sell your work online! People will just snap it right up!“, and still yet, “Your work should be in a gallery! It would sell itself!” These comments were intended to be complimentary, and that’s how I took them. Most of the people who were giving me these compliments didn’t have experience as successful, working artists. A significant portion of them were not even artists.

What most didn’t seem completely aware of is that art is hard work. And if you want to have even a small amount of success at it, you have to work your tail off to achieve it. Nothing in life is easy. I know this. What some may assume is that because the physical art-making process is more or less easily accomplished, that the next step of selling said artwork would be just as easy.

This is not the case. There are several truths that I have discovered for myself regarding being a working artist. And they make the aforementioned kind compliments seem outrageously simplistic.

A Steep Learning Curve:

The first lesson I have learned is that selling my artwork is HARD. It does not in any way, shape or form, ‘sell itself’. Just setting up my shop online took the better part of two solid weeks of work. And this wasn’t the fun kind of art-creating kind of work. This was eight hours a day or more sitting in front of a computer entering data. My brain was complete mush at the end of every day. Besides being physically sore and knotted up from being hunched over a computer tapping away on a keyboard all day long.

This was all done after I spent hours and hours deciding on what artwork I would offer for sale in the shop in the first place! I agonized over my choices. Would this piece sell? Or would this piece be better? Is this something that people I’ve never met before will like enough to buy?

At at a point, I was throwing things at the wall and seeing what would stick. Hoping something would stick.

Computer Time:

No one told me exactly how much time I would be spending on a computer trying to sell my artwork. Spending so much time online working is still not something that I enjoy a great deal. Part of me thinks that all the time I need to spend on the computer shouldn’t necessarily be super-happy-fun time. It’s part of how I am creating my business. I’m using the internet as a marketplace. The computer is just one tool to help me achieve the level of success in the marketplace that I desire.

Always on My Mind:

Exactly what I’m creating artistically and how I’m managing my online presences are never far from my thoughts. No one told me that I would almost constantly be thinking about my entrepreneurial endeavors. Having thoughts like “I wonder if I move this weekly announcement to another day, I could get more views on my website?” or “Maybe I should lower my prices. Maybe my work would sell better.

This can be a little annoying. However, I’ve just begun to think of it as the way things are when you’re trying to build your own business.

Making Mistakes:

I honestly think that I could roll my eyes into the back of my head contemplating my own rookie mistakes as an entrepreneur. Things that I thought would be much easier, turning out to be so, so, so much more difficult that I originally planned. Having to go back, fix something online or in my shop. Realizing that I have to keep moving on social media and arts platforms online. Otherwise, my artwork just slips into the abyss, never to be seen again.

Time:

Another thing that I wasn’t prepared for was the dividing of my time between the online/computer tasks and the physical creating of artwork. Each of these are important for my business. I need to make new artwork for the shop and for gallery and exhibitions. Time must be allotted to website maintenance, as well as attending to social media platforms, and creating blog content.

I sat down over the weekend and did some writing and mapping of the projects that I have going on right now until the end of January 2021. That seems like a long way away from today, but it’s really not at all.

Twice Weekly Blog Posts:

I’ve been posting twice-weekly blog posts on Monday and Friday for many months. Lately, I’ve struggled to figure out what I want each of these separate blog posts to be centered around thematically. If I’m being honest with myself, there are only a handful of people who read my blog posts. Yet I want to keep-up with the writing. It helps me to stay on track mentally, and moving forward with my business.

I’ve decided that the Monday post will center around the theme of art creation and art-related topics. I do consider this post as an art-related topic, even though I’m really stretching that definition! The Friday blog post will be more business-oriented. I want to release new products on Fridays moving forward. That being said, I will be adding new dolls to the shop this Friday.

Go Marielle!

I’ve posted the first of many installments of Go Marielle! on my Instagram account. I’ve been wanting to do something like Go Marielle! for some time. I love the idea of taking pictures of my little dolls out in the world. Of all the 12 cm dolls that I’ve created since the beginning of the year, Marielle was the one who jumped out at me and said, “USE ME!

My original plan was to release installments once a week, but that is just not going to work. There are so many parts of her stories that it would take months and months to tell just one that way! Hence, the plan for releasing the installments of Go Marielle! have been revamped. Go Marielle! will be released twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) through the first week of October. I will also be creating a Go Marielle! Instagram page, so it’s easier for people to read and enjoy Marielle’s adventures around Jyväskylä.

Artwork Preparation:

During the month of January 2012, I will be showing my artwork in a small gallery at Matara here in Jyväskylä. I have several pieces that I want to build from scratch. There is a theme that I’m building on for all of the pieces that I want to include in this exhibition. Finding places to exhibit my artwork that doesn’t require fees is a god-send for me. I don’t want to waste an excellent opportunity to show people what myself and my artwork are all about.

Getting my artwork in front of people locally is incredibly important to me. Positive contact through my artwork with people in the community will hopefully aide me creating more networks and contacts throughout the community. In addition to getting to express myself creatively, I will also have some great publicity for my art business, as the exhibition space will allow me to sell artwork from the exhibit, without taking a commission.

Conclusion:

Making art can be an easy process, especially for me. It’s just what I naturally do. Very little effort is needed. Making an art business,well…that’s hard. Well, at least much, much harder than making the actual artwork. There are so many places to make mistakes. So many places to just fall flat on your face. There are so many pieces and parts that I have to keep moving, or moving along together so that I can be as successful as I wish to be. So, for right now. I’m going to keep moving forward and learning as I go along.

Thank you for reading, and I will see you again next week,