The best and most scary thing being an artist is presenting your ideas to the world. We are full of ideas, our urge to create drives us to try new things but the scary part is to share your creations to the public. To help demystify the experience, I thought I would share with you my experience developing a collection from just a thought and initial sketch to a full gallery show.
First, I invested in myself and by giving myself uninterrupted time to create during an art residency (I wrote another Blog post about it). This was en enriching experience and offered me the gift of time and exploration and research. Since then, I was able to launch collections, get featured in art magazines and podcasts and even be asked to join an International art collective for an exhibit in Brazil next year. It was definitely worth the investment.
Now, you don’t need to go on a fancy art retreat or residency to get ideas, just make sure you carve out some quiet time for you to think and write down your ideas. When you’re thinking about what you want to make, write about it, then get out your sketchbook out and bring it with you everywhere so you can start putting those ideas down on paper. Try to think about what makes you unique, how you see the world, what art makes you the most happy and what inspires you to create. Write and sketch everything that comes to mind.
For me, during the art residency, I knew I wanted to do two things: visiting old growth logging sites and scavenge around in antique stores. While visiting logging sites, I realized I was deeply touched by the deforestation and found a unique way of communicating that through my “Crying Landscapes” series. I imagined the landscape around me pleading to us, crying out to see change. That series led me to a collection idea I knew I had to present in some way. I posted a few paintings in my Instagram Stories and realized how excited my audience felt about these. After taking an online class by Ekaterina Popova and Gita Joshi called “Create Your Own Art Show”, I knew that I had to present this work independently from a gallery.
I decided to collaborate once again with another female artist friend, Holly Archer as she was working on a series that seemed similar in spirit to my new collection. We came together and brainstormed ideas for an overall theme of a show and generally when it could be based on our availability and schedules. We were on a tight timeline as she was expecting her second child in a few weeks. I was lucky enough to find a vacant retail space in our town. The owner had reached out to me after an artist talk I did locally where I announced I was looking for a vacant retail space (it was worth it to talk about it!). We negotiated a great rental fee and proposed some dates. Once everything was confirmed, we worked on our marketing materials and to-do list by dividing the tasks. From ordering rack cards and creating posters to deliver all over the region, to creating a Facebook event page and marketing the event online to create hype. We also wrote a press release for the local media and offered media interviews about the show.
As we wanted to attract families and the media, we offered a fun collaborative community art project that would be donated to an environmental organization once the show was over.
To really get people excited and to ensure it was busy, we decided to have a 2-day only event. This limitation really helped us create urgency and drive sales during the event. We also hired a professional photographer (Kim-Eden English who we exchanged art for service) during the 2-day event in order to have beautiful photos for us to use in the future on our website, social media and to apply for opportunities. Another great way to engage with our visitors was to have a giveaway for a local restaurant if they signed up for our email mailing list. One of our goals was to connect with a wider audience and have them engaged with us in the future, therefore setting up a way for them to sign up to a mailing list was invaluable.
The most rewarding experience from this event was meeting so many new collectors, sharing time with family and friends, talking about our work and getting new understanding from the imagery I was presenting. Art is meant to be a shared experienced, a way for artists to communicate about an idea, an emotion, the way we see the world. I’m so happy to be able to do this in my community and have the support of those around me.