“Before people can begin something new, they have to end what used to be and unlearn the old way.” — William Bridges Not exactly a deep philosopher, but its completely true.
I’ve spent the last few weeks unlearning everything I’ve been ‘training’ myself to focus on… …then re-educating myself in other areas.
Unlearning is incredibly hard.
At times I feel really torn – I’ve put myself under a lot of pressure to make changes and at times I’ve thought ‘is this really worth all of the effort?’ Working for someone else – being employed that is, is ‘safer’ – You know exactly what you will earn every month and it’s almost completely effortless.
Making a living as an artist is not.
I will hastily add here that I am not giving up my day job, until I can replace each day’s pay with a guaranteed income. I am still in preparation.
It’s just over a week to the studio tour and preparing for it incredibly stressful. I find myself wanting to just go my old ways, showing one of my installations and leaving it at that, but I know now that I must show a complete range of work.
I still haven’t decided on the framed works yet as I change my mind all of the time, but I will have something. It feels so much work for what could be very little return – especially as I’m annoyed at myself for spending so much on materials.
But it’s a change I will try.
The struggle of what to show is clouded by the need to make saleable items – adding cards and would you believe it, necklaces.
It’s an area that’s crossed my mind but I didn’t feel a need to explore it further before. Its too ‘craft orientated’ and didn’t fit with my other work. I’ve enjoyed making them though – rolling paper and threading but the sudden urge to show them seriously came about in quite a bizarre way…
I decided to set up some evening classes. Playing it by ear, I‘ve booked just 3 evenings at the local art gallery and I will be teaching handmade books. When I went there to meet with them to discuss my proposal and show my books, I happened to be wearing a paper necklace I’d made. ‘We can sell them, along with your books, in the shop’. It never even occurred to me to sell either. My head isn’t and never was, geared for selling things.
So I went home, thought about it (a long time as I was too stunned to just go away and start a completely new career) and eventually began making. Though still at the back of my head, I am realistic. I had looked in the shop and saw the prices of the handmade goods. There were broaches for £7. The gallery takes 40% of that, so someone is working for incredibly low pay.
It’s a sideline I can consider doing while I’m watching TV at night, but I couldn’t give up a day for it.
Not being paid by the gallery for my workshops means that I have to tout for business. I had the stupid idea of charging a fiver for classes, as I thought that the lower it was, the more likely I would get attendees. The gallery set it at higher though – £12.50, or £10 a session if people book 3. To cover my costs, I need at least 9 people to attend. I think friends are under the impression that we can just sit round making one night over a glass of wine. Not now. Now it’s a business.
These changes have been tiring and I desperately need some time off, but I know that the wheels have been set in motion and I will see what direction they take me….