Random thoughts and bits of life of a coffee loving artist

Friday, October 11, 2013

An Artist's Reality

This past month had been busy and this month seems to be continuing on with the theme as people hurry about doing their Holiday shopping. As I work on running my little business and seeking out new customers, some recent events in my life which echo something that occurred the same time last year made me realize something and found myself needing to share my thoughts.

'Golden Prince' by Dawn Star Wood
For those who have been following me on Facebook are aware that last month I had paintings in 2 different art auctions, one for KVIE and the other for Pence Gallery. Having done a lot of advertising for both events to let folks know that my work would be available for bidding, I waited with bated breath to find out what the results would be. I was thrilled when I was called by KVIE staff who let me know that a local woman was the winning bidder, purchasing my piece Golden Prince for $400. With the information I received, I went ahead and sent her a letter thanking her for taking interest in my work and for supporting public broadcasting station. A week later after not having heard any results from Pence Gallery on the painting I submitted titled Lady of Shalott, I emailed my curator there to find out how their auction went only to be told that no one showed interest in my painting and that I could pick it up when I come back down to put some other work in for the month of November.

'Lady of Shalott' by Dawn Star Wood
Sitting at my desk staring at the email in utter shock and disappointment, I found myself remembering a conversation I had last year while at Blue Moon Gallery with a patron who was attending one of our monthly artist receptions. During the course of talking to the gentleman, I had found out that he was an art collector. It was then he asked me a puzzling question – If he was to purchase just one piece of art that evening, who's piece should he add to his collection? One of mine or that of Kennith Potter (a world renown artist who showed at the gallery and whom I had become friends with who sadly passed away at the beginning of 2013)? I answered truthfully saying it completely depended on what captured his attention more but also if he was after a piece by a more established artist, he would probably go for Ken's work. After seeming to think over my answer, he gave a nod and said that I was half right. He explained that he would purchase one of Ken's paintings not just because he had more notoriety then I did but because his initial investment could easily be matched plus more if he chose to sell the piece at a later date. The gentleman continued on saying that though he did enjoy my work and admired the amount of detail work I am able to accomplish in my pieces, purchasing one of my paintings would be indeed investing in an up-and-coming artist but there would be no guarantee on that investment since he would not know if I would still be creating art in the next 5 years.

Could it be that the only reason that my work never even received a bid on it was due to the fact that I am unknown in the Davis art scene? If that is the case, then how can I possibly get myself noticed if people ignore purchasing things they like because the name in the signature is someone they aren't familiar with? I have been lucky and persistent enough within the Greater Sacramento area to make my presence known to the point that I have been receiving new customers as of late because either they had seen work that I had done for friends and asked about me or have seen my work at Blue Moon Gallery, Sacramento Fine Arts, Elk Grove Fine Arts or KVIE.

Sadly I know that other up-and-coming artists are basically in the same position where only a handful of venues will even show their because the curators or owners of the locations were struck by their work that they're willing to take the chance on showing them. Even then there's not any guarantee on any sales unless a customer enjoyed their work enough to pay for that piece and make it their own. Why? It's because there is no notoriety but we can't receive that recognition if we can't make those sales, win the competitions that we enter, or get into the galleries other known artists are in. The majority of us will be too discouraged that we will end up giving up on our chosen fields that we put our blood, sweat and tears into. Of course there will be that small percentage that will push on and force ourselves to climb over the hurdles but we too get tired of the double standards that have been created not by fellow artists but the customers.

I know that the whole 'shopping by artist's name' scenario isn't true for some shoppers but it is a bit of a conundrum that I've both seen and experienced over the past years that I just couldn't stay silent about any longer. So I ask you, when purchasing art, which route do you go? Do you buy the piece that speaks to you that you really like or do you go for the piece by an artist who's made a name for themselves so that you can have bragging rights when people come to your home? 


  1. It is rather fucked up. You could consider it as falling under the same category as places that require you to have experience in the job you're applying for before they'll even consider you, but then no one else will hire you to give you the experience. You could volunteer, but volunteering doesn't put food on the table, pay the bills, or any of those other things that are required of us in our society. Rather than forcing the person applying, or in this case the artist, to search among thousands of people just to find the right person willing to invest in them, people should start giving them a chance. Otherwise everyone just gets caught in a circle-jerk.

    1. Pretty much and unfortunately, like I stated on my Facebook page, this is an across-the-board issue that plagues the arts since it happens to those in theater, literature, and music as well.