I was intrigued by a recent blog entry by Lori Woodward expressing frustration with the current art market. In the article she describes a radical shift in her career. She suggested that rather than pursue the usual path for artists–find galleries and hope they believe in your work and promote you–she will be pursuing a different path; a less aggressive strategy of pursuing a creative bucket list.
I like the idea. To cease striving to get into galleries, shows, and events is a refreshing idea. Is it possible that the minutiae of art marketing actually distracts artists? Would a more project oriented model serve artists better? In her article Woodward reflects on the oft-heard but depressing suggestion that artists spend 50% of their time with business promotion. Is it possible that such advice becomes a self-defeating burden for many artists?
In my approach to my career I’ve always been more project oriented. Plus I have an eclectic skill set that is hard to sell following traditional business models. Devising projects to accomplish seems a more productive path than the interminable and seemingly trivial detail of typical business solutions. Now that the idea of a project oriented career occurs to me it seems obvious that artists need to pursue a radically different business model than typically suggested.
As a way to shift from the typical business model to project oriented promotion I’m starting a Creative Project Bucket List. Here’s my list so far:
Go to Antarctica for two weeks. In the tradition of 19th century exploration create a series of sketches, woodcuts, landscape paintings, and abstracts while blogging and posting video accounts of the experience. Upon return mount an exhibit in conjunction with The Leonardo (a museum dedicated to the exploration of art and science). Visit Iceland and paint a series of realist acrylics of rocks, ice, and sea and give a woodcut workshop while there. Teach art at least one semester at Southern Virginia University
Will I accomplish all these goals? Possibly not. But I like the list because it energizes me to contemplate the possibilities. Conversely when I think about contacting galleries and buying ads in magazines and all the other ideas suggested by art marketing gurus I feel depleted.
As artists we need to be as creative in our careers as we are with our art. If a business approach seems out of harmony with who we are we need to find a more authentic solution.