As my daily work to create has become a long term practice, a habit of at least 15 years now, I have different questions and new issues with my life as an artist/maker.
Firstly, what do I do with all that much loved finished work? Yes, I do still love much of it; it was created with care, attention and love. And it conveys something to others, not just to me; I do know this now.
What do you, the artist, do with your work as it accumulates? Even commercially successful artists, those who market and sell their work regularly, generally have a stockpile of finished work, work they are proud of, but which has not been sold. Only a few artists are so lauded by the commercial art world that they have waiting lists for their work.
I am an introvert. I am happy, most of the time, to work alone. But I am still a social animal, and I do try to communicate with my art, so I do need an audience. How do I get just a little bit more, just enough, interaction and engagement around my artwork?
Secondly, some modest audience for the finished work seems necessary to me, and I have come to want more than I currently have.
I certainly have my friends and family, who will certainly not respond and engage with every piece, but are supportive and often appreciative! I love this. And I especially need and enjoy a few fellow artists I work with regularly, who are willing to engage with me at a meaningful level about my work in progress or finished. This is a mutually beneficial arrangement; we work together one evening a week, and we enjoy and engage with each other over our own work and work by other artists. I see this as very important both to my enjoyment of art, and to my development as an artist. I want to grow, change and improve; engaging in dialogue about art, and about specific works, is very valuable to me.
But I have come to feel this is not enough, I want a little more visibility and more engagement, although I really do not know what that could look like!
I do sell and gift my work to friends and family. But I try not to burden anyone with work they do not love, or have space for, although I am sure that has happened a few times. I have felt great satisfaction from both selling and gifting. It is very pleasing to have my work appreciated and more than that, wanted. To know that someone enjoys work I made enough to hang it in their home, or office is an affirmation. It tells me that I have communicated with someone, and shared something meaningful. It is human nature to want this; we are social animals.
Selling and gifting to friends & acquaintances only accounts for a small percentage of the art I produce! I have my own favorite works hung in my house, and hung much more densely, in my studio. And I have plenty of artworks stashed in layers in my large flat file drawers, filed into multi-page clear sheet portfolios, or only in a digital existence on my computer! I have drawings, hand pulled-prints, and digital prints galore! And I am satisfied and would be happy to share many of them. Of course some are more of a personal record of my own journey toward first calling myself an artist, and then improving my proficiency through practice.
So I am still left with this twofold dilemma: what to do with all that lovely finished work? And how best to get sufficient rewarding interaction and affirmation?
To be continued … in Art Making, the Journey #3