We just finished up a long weekend at Artsplosure in Raleigh, NC. The weather was great, the people were awesome, and the art was spectacular. We had a really great time, we sold lots of art, and talked with so many amazing people that I’m a little froggy today! We weren’t on the main drag, so if you skipped the side streets, you missed out and we missed you!
We have been doing a lot of shows this spring and we have really learned a lot. Our set up in constantly changing. Our packaging and products are evolving. We are learning what we need to do to make it as professional artists. I have been reading a lot of blogs, talking to a lot of people, and digesting everything I’ve learned.
One thing that has struck me and given me a knee jerk reaction is anyone that throws out negativity into the amazing art world. Whether that be complaining about not making enough money, that their time invested in shows isn’t worth it, or that we aren’t doing it right. It all boils down to spewing hate into the world. If art and the world of art is making you that full of muck, maybe you shouldn’t be in it in the first place. I would like to touch on each of those topics a little.
One of the other artists I met this weekend started the show out with a really positive attitude. He was talking about treating it as a hobby and that whatever he made would support his trade and expand his ability to learn and grow. I felt this was a good attitude to take – although I was a little hesitant to call something of this magnitude a hobby. For me, a hobby is something I do to pass the time that is just for me. I don’t expect to make any money at it. As soon as money is involved, it is a business. Unfortunately by the end of the show, this artist’s attitude had completely changed. He was calculating hours and fees and subtracting expenses and lamenting.
I really wondered what changed his attitude. Was it a loved one that was asking about the validity of this venture? Was it a nay saying voice in his head that got the better of him? Was it the heat, humidity, and maybe a low blood sugar? I can’t say. All I know is that I saw this very positive person go from bouncing and happy to dejected and yelling at people within 72 hours. We all have bad shows. Cross this one off your list if you don’t feel it is right for you and move on! Yes, your time is valuable. You have chosen to pursue something that (in theory) you love to do. Time time time! How do you value your time as an artist? Do you pay yourself a minimum wage at the expense of growing your business?
Myself, I do look at this as a business and it is MY business. I am giving my time to it until I can pay myself, but I realize that a lot of my time will not be immediately compensated. John, Jason, and Ian all do the same. We all realize we are creating something and it isn’t just the art, it is the business. It is why we banded together. We can build our business faster working together. An event like Artsplosure isn’t just about our time. We exposed people to our artwork. We talked to thousands of people and while not all of them bought something, many did and many will in the future. People have started recognizing us. We were on the news. We were blogged about. We connected with shop and gallery owners that want to carry our work whether it be originals or cards or prints. We put ourselves out there and, hey, when we have people coming up the street that instantly recognizing us, our art, and our brand and screaming “ZENDUSTRIA! YOU’RE KILLING IT!” – we know we are doing it right.
On the subject of “doing it right”…I have recently encountered some artists that don’t like the fact that we sell prints. I hear “if your a painter, paint. Why are you selling prints?” with snide condescension. We are painters and sculptors and photographers. We make beautiful art. Original art is worth something. We price our original art competitively with the market, but you know what, not everyone has the cash to buy an original piece of work. Do I turn my back on these people that want a little piece of something we are creating? If I did, I would be a pretty lousy business person. Maybe I’m an odd bird in that. I’m an artist that was brought up in a family of entrepreneurs. I understand business. I understand that I need to grow my business and my brand. If I didn’t sell prints and cards of our work, I would be turning hundreds of people away. I would be losing out on a huge source of income that helps me to build our business further. Yes, I’m investing a lot of time sourcing printers, proofing, calibrating, purchasing, packaging, and tracking inventory. The time and effort comes back to me in money I can reinvest in our company and our brand so we can make more art, we can help more artists, and we can reach more people. I guess my response to those people is, you’re missing out. While I might have only sold a few original paintings, I’ve sold thousands of prints, I’ve brought our art into many lives, and, who knows, that little boy that spent his $5 on a print for himself might grow up and buy 10 originals. We sell things anyone can afford so everyone can support our business and our art. I treat every customer with respect and appreciation. To me, that’s how you “do it right,” because we’re Zendustria, and we’re killing it!