I’ve been working as a freelance artist and educator for four years now and it’s about time I evaluated whether the direction I’m heading in is really the way I want to go. The educator side of things is ticking along nicely but the art side seems to lose money nine times out of ten.
Everyone in the art business says it’s an expensive thing to be an artist and they’re not wrong. The cost of materials is relatively small but the cost per hour to make the stuff is crippling. Trying to pass this cost on to the buyer is a difficult thing. In the art world there are so many people trying to get seen that people will cut their prices just to get ahead and there are also so many hobbyists out there who do not realise the value of their making time. Then there’s the cost of logistics to transport the art and the costs of hiring gallery space. Nothing comes for free. Everything is at a price and I’m sick of making a loss at everything I do.
My CV is looking very healthy on the back of four years hard work and I do not need to crawl over other desperate artists to get seen any more. I don’t have to blindly enter ‘Open’ exhibitions where there is a slim chance that my work will be accepted (and every chance the gallery will keep my money and run). I don’t have push at every door in the hope that my reputation as an artist will grow. I definitely do not need to volunteer or intern for any of these places. I refuse to continue to operate at a loss in terms of my time and my efforts. My time and my money are better spent elsewhere.
Instead I will start choosing quality over quantity. I will only allow my art to hang with exhibitors and curators that are supporting me (rather than the other way around). I will enter shows with curators who are fun to work with and who respect me already as an artist. I don’t mind if I go a few years without a solo show or if I only have a handful of group exhibitions a year. I will focus instead on making art I want to make in my own time. It’s about time I started enjoying what I am doing and slowing the pace to suit me.
So today I’ve done a little more work on H but I don’t have a timescale for completion. There is no exhibition lined up to take this work. I will take my time and allow myself well deserved holidays and days off to do other things. There’s no rush anymore. I have arrived at a place I am happy with and I refuse to move until the conditions are right.