After spending the past week thinking about my business, I realized that one important thing I neglected to do in the past is identifying my market.
Who is interested in my work? Who do I *want* to be interested in my work? Should I change my work to match my market? Or should I ditch my market and find a new one who is interested in my new work?
I think what I would really like to do is form some sort of collective. Not a cooperative; not a Co-Op. I really like the independence I have working from home; I have a studio that is exactly how I want it, and I don't have to keep set retail hours. It has all the benefits that I sought in being my own boss. I don't want to lose all those things by opening a retail space with all of the extra responsibility that entails: a significantly higher overhead, employees, inflexible hours, etc. I can already see disadvantages to running a co-op. I can see the gallery/space losing momentum because there are too many opinions on the gallery's operation, personal drama being brought to work, and confronting artists who aren't doing their part. I am already worried about it! What I would like to do instead, is to manage a COLLECTIVE of artists, all working and promoting themselves independently, but supporting one another and sharing ideas with each other, and coming together occasionally to do events at various venues. This is a very vague idea, of course, but I think I am on to something.
In class, this week's discussion was about creating a brief speech about your business. I should be able to answer the following questions briefly and in such a way to generate interest in, well, myself!
WHO AM I? WHAT DO I DO? WHY SHOULD YOU BUY FROM ME?
Our small group didn't get very far in addressing these questions in class tonight, but we did have another interesting discussion. My classmate and I both agreed that it is easy to call ourselves artists but difficult to explain in detail what that means. For example, she is a graphic designer, but her passion is painting, and she has a hard time saying, "I'm a painter and this is what my paintings are like ..." Likewise, I often introduce myself by saying, "I'm an artist and I make jewelry," and people are more inclined to ask details about my jewelry than my artwork. I think this is because non-artists feel like they can't talk about art because they feel like they don't really know enough about it to say. It's the only field of arts like this. People will easily say what kind of music they listen to, or their favorite movie, but when it comes to art, they'll say something like, "Oh I don't really know much about art," or make some obtuse reference to a cousin who draws horses or something else to that effect. My classmate says that she feels like non-artists put artists out in some other world. We commiserated that saying we were art history majors in college was a conversation stopper. So we're trying to figure out how to make saying "hey, I'm an artist!" Sound interesting and accessible!