Friday, March 2, 2007

WORK makes the world go round!

Before I started painting and going for a career in the visual arts, I had a decent career as an opera/ musical theatre actor singer and voice teacher. I had been to some of the best music schools in the country on scholarships. I usually got cast in everything I auditioned for , and I had what most people would call a career. I was lucky. I had a great ear, a somewhat photographic memory ( which is both a blessing and a curse now in my art work), and I loved to learn music just for the fun of it. I never waited until someone hired me for a gig to prepare a role or learn new music. I never really worked at it, things fell in my lap. The problem with that kind of early success though is that you never really know how to cope when work, focus and discipline are what are really needed. As I started to mature and the offers came less and less frequently, I liked travelling less and less. I recognize now I had not built the marketing machine and discipline to keep myself in front of the ones who made those kinds of casting decisions. I slowly let my performing career move to the back ground and settled into teaching private lessons. I recognized even as a (once again) self-employed voice instructor who was a great teacher, and one that loved teaching more than performing, that I still had not learned the skills I needed to sale and market myself in order to build the kind of private instruction studio that would pay my hefty living expenses in the Washington, DC area where I had settled. But the more important thing I realized was that I was in the wrong field. Between lessons I would sketch. I began to paint and develop my techniques using oil pastels. Immediately people were collecting my small work and the response I got from people has been steadily growing. A year ago my business partner Michael convinced me to take a stab at painting professionally and at developing my art as a real business. We took a class last year through a local group called Empowered Women International - a training program for women entrepreneurs in the arts. Then another offered by the very competent Catriona Fraser and Lenny Capanello of Fraser Gallery in Bethesda, MD. I found that I was excited about learning to market. I get excited looking at options for production that can make me more expressive in my art, and at the same time reach different audiences. Believe it or not I am thriving on learning to read a cash-flow chart. Me... the girl who my whole life thought a budget was what you got at the car rental agency is learning to balance my expenses with my sales... and deduct deduct deduct! Michael and I have gone through the necessary steps to incorporate as an LLC, we have Tax and business licenses now and next week we open our Business checking account (at my favorite small and personable bank in the area Burke and Herbert Bank and Trust - which has also used my art work for the lobbies of two of their branches! ) We are still hitting all the galleries that seem appropriate for my work while at the same time developing product lines for other outlets! I am an artist. Before I was a painter I was a singer. Before I was a singer I was a professional dancer. I have written and published all my life.. articles and poetry, and yes I am still working on that first big novel. I think of myself as being about as feminine, helpless, (and hopeless financially), and right brain as one can be. And yet I get excited everything I find a new possibility for an exhibit where I can SELL my art work. I have learned ( and am learning) that by being business savvy I can REALLY make a living at my artwork and enjoy a pleasant life as an artist who REALLY can survive and compete in the world. A year ago I did not have a portfolio of any kind. I had been in one exhibition a friend asked me to hang a work in, and had sold several works to students and family members who saw them at my home studio. Since then by PAYING ATTENTION to my business and committing myself to working every day as a artist I have been in 10 national and international juried shows. I have 14 shows lined up this year up and down the east coast already and many more in the works. I have place best in show in Two Competitions. I have been accepted in two local galleries and have two others vying for an exclusivity contract. I have been in the press numerous times for my art and my achievements. I was awarded Artist of the Year for 2006 by for my achievements after completing their workshop. I have several works in corporate and private collections and I am starting a new wholesale line of affordable work for national distribution in galleries. On top of that . I complete 247 paintings last year and this year have created two new series. (and at this writing it is only March.)
For me learning to take care of business has given me an immense new freedom (and motivation) to create! Til next time Create beauty and fill the world with love! Wynn