A few weeks ago I was having a rough time. I was doubting myself and my ability to really make this artist thing work. Now I'm like most everyone out there in the social media world, I post on Facebook the highlights in my life, the painting sales, the commissions, the good times. No one wants to hear about the 3 week stint where I made a total of $12 on my art and babysat so I could pay the water bill. That's not interesting, it's unexciting, and a few weeks ago, I wasn't feeling too happy about the way things were going. My mood wasn't a secret to those close to me and I hated not feeling like myself. So I decided it was time to make a choice. And for the first time in a long time, I decided to let God in on this choice. Being rusty on prayers, forgetting where the inspirational sections in the Bible were, I took out my paints, my pens, my canvases and I spread them out on the floor. I sat down and I started writing. I wrote on my canvas in my thick silver sharpie asking all the career questions I didn’t know the answer to. How could I let my confidence stay in tact when I wasn’t making money? Was being an artist really the right career for me? Should I go back to finding another part time job to supplement my income?
[Now, side note – during this frustrating time, I was in the process of preparing for an art show called “Pixels” being put on by RAWartists, an organization you can read all about by going here. ]
I ended up writing to God, and in a sort of bizarre artistic religious experience, I felt we made a deal - to wait until the show before making any big decision, if I didn't feel satisfied, I would go out and look for a job. So I put my frustrated feelings aside, I made as much art as possible for the show. I priced my work low, hoping to sell as much as possible. I didn't have high hopes, but I felt excited to make a decision - to find out if this was really the right path for me. So the time drew closer and finally it was the night of the show. My mom came with me to help set up my work at the Hippodrome theater, Ben came over after work and we put up the finishing touches and the show began at 8:00pm. About 20 minutes goes by, no one has come into my booth and I start to panic, what if this is really the end? I'm really nervous. I don't know where to stand, if I should sit and try to look casual, like "Hey, I'm in complete control of my destiny, look at my art if you want to....whatevz" or if I should just start pushing people into my booth. Then a few more minutes pass and more people are filtering into the Hippodrome. It starts to get crowded to the point people don't really have a choice, they have to come into my booth and take a look around.
Then at 8:34pm a woman, a wonderful lady named Ivory, walked in. She quickly looked around and then I heard her start saying how much she liked my painting, "The Deal" (pictured above and left) to her friend. She talks about how it speaks to her, it's caught her eye, there's something about it she's drawn to. Then she turns to me and asks how much I'm selling it for. I tell her $80. She says simply, "I want it." I'm seriously in shock at this point. I just stare at her, "uhh.....now? Like, you want to buy it?!" And she says yes! She tells me the first thing that caught her eye was that in the bottom right corner it says "God". I tell her that I sometimes pray through my art and she loves that.
I'm not a superstitious person or an overly religious person. But if that wasn't a sign, I don't know what is. I mean, I was pretty clear with the big guy upstairs, basically telling Him... if I don't make some dolla bills man, I don't know if this whole thing is going to work out. And I honestly believe he sent this sweet lady to buy this painting to show me, it's not time to give up just yet.
Now I'm not a flake, I worked my booty off to make my art and my booth look as good as I could. I spent weeks practicing how to display my work, how to talk to potential customers, even researching particular colors that are popular in the interior design world in hopes that that would give me a leg up in sales. So when I sold more work in that 4 hour show than I had in 3 months, I was completely amazed but it was also such a relief – all that work was worth it!
The rest of the night was really a dream come true. I talked to so many people about my work, I left with the contact information of people who wanted to know more about my work and I made friends with great artists who are going through this same process. Now, I know I'll have tough times over and over again in this unreliable, exciting, and sometimes depressing, and amazing career of mine, but I feel like now I really know who to talk to next time I'm feeling totally out of control. God is pretty cool.
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
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