So I wanted to reflect on Market Collective, how it went, what I learned, would I do it again, so on and so forth. Some may or may not know why I started to draw again and what kicked off this one year venture back into the visual arts.
How this all started
At the end of 2018, my wife and I were frequenting the Millarville Christmas Market when we came across an artist's booth who was making very quaint little paintings of birds. She was also making a killing. I asked myself the question that many others constantly asking myself, why aren't you doing this?
Why aren't I doing this?
Well the easy answer is that it's hard to do this. And it is. But still...why am I not doing this?
I can't really answer the question. I can cop out and give excuses, but I can't answer it completely.
The fact is, I've always viewed art with a very "holier than thou" attitude. I've never allowed myself to make work for the masses such as wildlife art. In a sense, this has always given me an excuse I could tell myself if people reject the work, it's that they don't know any better. That's a really negative way to view high art. It's not meant to be held over others.
Also this leads me to the next question, is there anything wrong with Kitch or low art? The reality is that I paint and draw birds not because I think it's a great selling point, but because I love wildlife and nature, and I have had a passion for birds from a young age when I had a pet bird, or even further back, visiting owl sanctuaries in BC as an adolescent.
So after taking a hard look at myself and my nonexistent art practice, I decided that I am no longer "not doing this". I am going to try to do this, and I am going to be selling my art within a year.
What did I learn
So this is a lot harder than it looks. First of all, I am not really a salesman. I am an artist. I suppose I could use that as an excuse, but instead I choose to use this as a learning opportunity. I will go through all my learning points in a list:
How it went
It went well, but not amazingly well. I made money on the weekend, and even more so based on sales surrounding the market (before and after sales online). I handed out a lot of business cards. I was hoping to do better, but as one vendor pointed out to me, "everyone wishes they did better". Well yeah...also "everyone starts out small".
That's the real thing to keep in mind, you can't just start out making fists full of cash. You start small, you build a fan base and you exercise some patience. You take what you learned, and you apply it to the next time. I suppose by now it's obvious that I will try this again, in fact, I've already started applying for spring shows. I also want to try other markets aside from Market Collective (not that I have a problem with them, on the contrary, I think they put on a great event), I just want to see what other events look like as well.
2018 - 2019
2018 has come and gone, I set out and I achieved my goal from that morning standing in a cramped building in Millarville making a life decision to start making art again, building a body of work (27 finished works in total), and developing and honing a new skill (watercolour and gouache painting), to applying for 2 shows, getting accepted to one, and following through with the show. I've sold work online, to friends, and coworkers and complete strangers. None of this would have been possible without that fateful moment in the Christmas Market where I made that decision. It also helps to have a very understanding partner and wife who encourages me to pursue my passions and takes on the regular life duties on her own when I am sitting at the BMO center talking about birds and art.
What does 2019 hold for me in terms of art? I am going to continue drawing and painting birds. I have also made the decision to branch my subject matter out to Canadian wildlife, so if you like my work, but you don't want a bird hanging in your living room, stay tuned for wolves, and bears, and other great Canadian wildlife! I will continue to challenge myself and develop my practice and skills.
(some examples below of some new sketches that I worked on during Market Collective: DaVinci Travel Brushes round #6 and #12, and M. Graham watercolours set in a travel airtight Mijello palette on 9x12 hotpress Canson block and pen on paper)
If there is anything else you'd like to know about doing an Art Fair, or making art, feel free to email me through the site!
and have a happy 2019!