Wednesday, June 27, 2007

being an artist

Whitney Smith is an American ceramicist and has a fascinating blog called "This Artist's Life" Recently Whitney has been blogging about the progress of a "Five figure order" with all it's trails and tribulations. This is interesting reading for anyone who is, or wants to become a professional artist.

For a long time I felt that being an artist wasn't a "Real" job, and needed to justify my profession to myself and others when I was asked about it. Once I quit the last of my part-time jobs and decided I had to make a weekly wage with art I began to pay attention to all the parts of the artist job that I had previously let slide.

My least favourite part of being an artist is publicity but I realized that without being good at this I would not make it as an artist. So.... I picked my lovely sister's brains about how to present myself to galleries and what direction to take within the esoteric area of art pottery. I learnt how to use Photoshop and paid for professional photos. And did the nerve-wracking horrible business of approaching people I didn't know by e-mail or in person with my photos and seeing if they were interested in my work. Every time I steel myself to walk into a gallery, feeling like a total dag, I remind myself that there are parts of every job that are horrible and being professional means that you become good at all parts of your job.

The top three things I have learnt over the years are....
1. Don't go banging your head against a brick wall or always go through the door that's open. - No matter how good a gallery is or how much you want your work to be there it is no use persevering with things that are a bad fit.

2.Excellent photographs are the best money you will ever spend.
-More than anything else it is good photos that have got me more work.

3.Make your work for yourself.
I took a while to learn this as time after time I took commissions to make items I really didn't like so I could be in a show or gallery that offered me a spot. Now I only make things that I like, they are better works and easier to make, things go more smoothly when you are inspired.

This is a commission that I recenly loved doing. I based the shape on a 1930's shape that I saw in a photo of Virginia Woolf's house "Charleston".


Florence said...

thanks for the good advice, Shannon. It encourages me to keep on with my style even though it is more restrained that most of the currently popular types of toys.



Chi Le (aka Peppa) said...

Isn't Whitney's blog great? Thanks for your three advises. The thought of cold-selling makes me cringe too.

TG said...

You are now a superstar of networking, evidenced by your recent visit to a VERY exclusive gallery - who invited you to exhibit on the basis of a 10 minute conversation and a quick look at a photo of your work!

laissezfaire said...

Hi Shannon, I stumbled upon your blog and really like the honesty and advice you gave on this post. Thanks! Will be checking in often. =)