In my local gallery I had a chance to be the artist of the month.
During April I put up a solo show in the Mesquite Fine Arts Gallery. I was the “Brown Bag” speaker and I had an article published about me in the local paper. All of this is great publicity; but more importantly it helped me expand my thinking as an artist.
When you make art seriously the primary consideration might seem to be selling to the public.
The bigger question is how do you find or create an audience who is willing to buy your art?
At a recent art opening, a fellow artist mentioned to me how selling provides her with validation. There is an “ah ha” moment when an image an artist creates gets purchased. A little voice says to the artist “Someone gets the message” “Someone appreciates my hard work” “They appreciate my creativity”. In my opinion, sales in the short term is only one aspect of feedback and validation.
Lectures and presentations are something that I found to be helpful in building an audience for my work and helps me as an artist clearly articulate what I do and why. At a recent lecture at my small gallery; I gave a presentation to an audience of artists and non artists. The presentation was called “The Metaphysical Quilter”. In addition to galley members, the lecture attracted several quilters and crafters.
I decided that instead of an exclusive slideshow of my own work; I would use the time to educated the audience about the art quilt movement. Using the SAQA definition in an opening slide (a creative visual work that is layered and stitched or that references this form of stitched layered structure.”) I immediately got the attention of audience members who are traditional quilters. Next I provided some background information. I highlighted the groundbreaking show at the Whitney museum in 1971 ” Abstract Design in American Quilts” which built a bridge between the art world and the world of quilt makers.
I moved onto a explanation of process. For any audience interested in art there is always deep curiosity about how the product gets made. During the general description and pictures of my studio and the tools I use encourage and received numerous clarifying questions. Questioning helps an audience became more engaged and interested.
I took the time to set up my own process and to pass around examples of my work including an unfinished large work. It was encouraging to see people looking carefully and getting connected to the materials.
The last portion was showing off. I included a resume with some recent successes including work on display in three states, at the Textile Museum housed in George Washington University and in the International Quilt Festival in Houston. By the time I showed the slides of my work the audience had a much greater appreciation of my work and of art quilting in general.
After the event; several people came up to me and said “I had no idea”.
I encourage artists in the quilt world to participate in education like local lectures; if they want to develop the kind of audience that will place enough value in the art quilt to become purchasers.
Until next time……..