I have found myself questioning my choice of career on many occasions. I know that comparatively, I am experiencing a certain level of success. My paintings have sold across the world, from Russia to California. I have several galleries supporting and selling my work in the UK. However, it is rarely a breeze…
In spite of my relative success, I would have to admit to worrying every single month about covering my bills. I have another source of income and I would definitely recommend this to anyone wishing to embark on a career as an artist. Keep the day job!!
As far as I understand at this stage in my life, the artists who have huge commercial success have had to let go of something that is hugely important to me: integrity. They focus solely on image and marketing, spinning a web of lies around their brand to fool the buyer. Once the brand is built and has its own power and momentum, their paintings will sell whether they are good paintings or not.
My approach is more purist. First of all, I love to paint. I would not be happy producing mediocre work and attempting to trick the buyer. I understand the importance of marketing my work and do use social media. But the sole purpose of my work is to improve, to become better and better at what I do, so that I can feel proud when a painting leaves my studio and goes into someone else’s home. There, I hope it will bring joy to the owner for many years to come.
This approach has its downfalls however. There will be many moments of insecurity because I have pushed myself and tried something new. Does it work? Is it good enough for galleries? Will it sell?
It can be torture and any other job in the world can seem more appealing than being an artist. So why do I continue? Well, the main reason has to be that I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Every day I spend in the studio is special to me and fulfilling. I love playing with new techniques and witnessing the painting emerging from the strokes. Sometimes, it feels like magic. I love to empty my head of thoughts and allow a deeper, more beautiful energy to come through. And although the response may not be immediate and my confidence will waver, there is a power that comes from taking risks and witnessing something emerging that is beautiful and delicate and full of light.
And although there have been some quiet moments in my long career, these have served me well to take a good look at what I am doing, where I am going and asking whether I am being true to myself. And in spite of worrying about paying the bills, I somehow always manage to do this and my art has never let me starve.
So continue, I will!!