Saturday, June 7, 2014
Show Your Work!
I've been reading a little book by Austin Kleon called Show Your Work! : 10 Ways to Share Your Creativity and Get Discovered. I liked his previous book, How to Steal Like an Artist, and hoped this would be as down to earth and sensible as that one was. I think it is. Actually I read it quickly a month or so ago, and now am revisiting it and considering how to put its recommendations into practice.
Yesterday I brought this assortment of small pieces home from the local gallery that carries my work. My original thought was that they might sell because they are small, and they're unframed, which keeps the cost down. I cut the mats myself from larger projects (another cost containment measure), and bought bags to keep them nice. They are standard sizes, so fit in a ready made frame.
I liked them. But hey, they didn't sell after six months or more. I might have left them there hoping for a miracle, but the gallery owner is changing her business plan. Instead of selling art, pottery, jewelry and textiles on consignment, artists and craftspeople will lease space for six months at a time, and she will no longer take a percentage. So - I will be leasing a bit of wall space, which means everything at this location will need to be framed. I will need to consider what I take to her gallery much more carefully than I have in the past, and that will probably mean I have higher standards for what ends up in my personal gallery space.
Which brings me back to why these small pieces didn't sell. It could be that the local economy is not strong. It could be that unframed art doesn't grab people as much as pieces that are ready to hang. It could be that since they were in display racks with other people's work, they shifted down the pile and then were not seen. It could be that there was so much inventory in the store that people just never noticed them. OR... it could be that they are not really very good.
Austin Kleon, in Show Your Work discusses some of the characteristics of amateurs. They love what they do. They strive to continue learning new things about the thing they love, and uncertainty and the unknown do not trouble them. Their work may not have the polish of a pro, but it sparkles with energy and enthusiasm. He suggests that preserving a bit of the amateur is not necessarily a bad thing. But, it is also prudent to remember that not everything that gets written, painted, sculpted, or whatever, is any good. Kleon quotes sci-fi writer Theodore Sturgeon on this matter. Sturgeon once said the 90 percent of everything is crap. That's OK, just try to figure out what the 10 percent of good stuff is, and frame that. I suspect my little unsold pieces are, sadly, crap.
Except the puffin...I may still frame him.