It has been awhile since I’ve posted on this blog. Or read a lot of blogs.
My focus went internal, into that closed off little world inside my head where major decisions are made in silence after much contemplation and analysis. In other words, I was thinking.
What about, pray tell?
Everything. Past, present, and future. About the fact that there IS a future, a NEXT yet to be determined. Or to be precise, determining what that NEXT shall be.
Disability changed my life in 2007. Beyond the physical, there are psychological ramifications. We define who we are by what we do. When you meet someone new, one of the first things asked is, “What do you do?” And the answer is usually given in terms of occupation. Our identity is so wrapped up in our jobs that when you lose the ability to work, you lose a sense of who you are. So for seven years, I have been trying to redefine who I am without an occupation while learning to cope within the limitations of my disability. Art has been a godsend, not only as something I still can do, but it has proven to be the best diversion. When I hurt, I can zone into making art and take my mind to imaginary places so I don’t dwell on the pain. When mobility issues have me stuck for awhile, art gives me something to do. Still, I feel like I am in limbo. This is my life, it is not going to change, and I’m just passing time waiting to die. That is how I feel without a NEXT, as if I am living a life without a future. Everything – reading, blogging, whatever – is just something to do to pass the time.
That’s why I need a NEXT.
Earlier this month, I attended an “Art is Business” workshop on writing business plans. I have a hard time thinking of art as a business venture because I don’t think of art as a product to sell. Beyond the reasons stated above, I make art because there is something deep inside of me that says I have to, it is not a choice. Well, everything is a choice. But, it does not feel like a choice. Ignoring it does not make it go away. Choosing other occupations does not make it stop. It does not matter if my art sucks, if no one in their right mind would ever want to buy it, I still have to make it. That might not make a lot of sense, but that’s just how it is.
Am I being down on myself or just being realistic?
I am never going to be an exceptional artist capable of netting $75,000 a year (the five year goal of the fictional fresh out of college visual artist who paints unique abstracts in acrylics used as the example in the business plan workshop), but I could tailor a business plan in line with my own artistic potential and physical limitations. In other words, I need something else going on.
That’s what I’ve been doing… researching that something else.
Tell you how my mind works: first question I asked myself was, “What could you do if you lost your disability check and ended up homeless living in a handicap accessible cardboard box?” Answer: become an itinerant retailer. Yes, a street vendor. So, I researched the city ordinances pertaining to itinerant retailers, which is how I know that they are called itinerant retailers. (I also learned how to spell itinerant.) But, that was my launch point. Next question? What would I sell? Art, trinkets, handmade things… but would I earn enough to move out of that hypothetical cardboard box? No, need something else… a money maker, something that people actually want or will buy on impulse. I have been racking my brain and researching options trying to decide what that will be.
Not should be. Will be. I picked a something.
If I let myself dream out loud, I would open a store… sell art and trinkets and handmade things, hire people to do what I can’t do (one way to wiggle around physical limitations), and this “something” would be the bread and butter money maker that keeps it all afloat. Of course, I would have to hit the lottery first as it requires a serious investment. Well, as they say, there is more than one way to get somewhere once you have set your sights on NEXT.
OH… couple FYI’s.
1. The mosaic guitar is finally DONE. (I will give it it’s own post, with photos, as this is getting awfully long.)
2. BeesATC (my other blog) is participating in the “Blogging from A to Z April Challenge” this year. It is proving to be exactly what I needed to get back into drawing daily.
3. If you live near Youngstown, Ohio, stop by the Mocha House in Boardman sometime within the next month or so. They have good coffee, a full menu that never disappoints, and cheesecake to die for. And right now, you can see my art there. Below is a sneak peek, a cell phone photo shot on hanging day. Arrangement was limited to existing nails within my assigned section. If you go see in person, please let me know what you think! Thanks!
7 thoughts on “Defining My NEXT”
First, congrats on the show, it’s a good feeling to have one’s work up in public view, even in a cafe. I’ve had a couple of those but found the only draw-back was that people don’t like to view the art over the heads of others eating.
Second, you are not alone and are not the first or the last to angst over existential questions such as ‘am I just filling in time until I die?’…I know people who are stuck there (not good), people who visit there occasionally (healthy), and people who say they never go there (fooling themselves). I certainly often find myself there. We are in the company of many great philosophers, writers, poets and artists…it’s a very human predicament.
Third, I also attended an Art as Business workshop, well 8 week course actually, had to take it to complete a certificate program at Vancouver’s Emily Carr University. Dreaded it because like you I don’t think of my art as a business and create for all the same reasons you do. However, I actually enjoyed it although it was geared for the younger, ’emerging’ artist. It required that I look closer and deeper at what I do and why. It required that I create an on-line presence that resulted in Art Rat Cafe, such an important part of my life now…and it gave me some tools to use if at some point I should want to get out there and sell something plus the confidence to do so, and I have done so, albeit on a very small scale. You are now exhibiting and must have learned something to help you sell your art and to look for other venues to exhibit..
Fourth, and last I promise, although I did want to make my comments longer than your post, just for the hell of it 😉 Nancy your art does NOT SUCK!!!! Yours was one of the first blogs I ever joined and I subscribed because I thought your ATC work was brilliant and inspiring. One thing I’ve learned about selling is that, unless we move around in the ‘Gallery’ realm (and I don’t think either of us do) the people who might buy our art are not wealthy…most pieces I’ve sold are small and priced so that Mr and Mrs Joe Average can afford them. I believe that ATC size or maybe a little larger, matted nicely and priced right would be very popular…worth a try anyway…
Most likely there is a ‘NEXT’ but no doubt at all there is a ‘NOW’ …you have so much creativity to share Nancy and Now is the time…Keep on Truckin my friend…
Dear John, your comments are so appreciated as you let me know that I am not the only one who questions such things. And I look up to you, not only for your education and experience, but you are so gosh darn creative and insightful. I am often in awe of your artwork.
I agree with you on pricing so ordinary people can afford to buy art. My 5×7’s matted and framed 8×10 are $35.00 (with ye ten of that in framing cost) and the wee ones are $9 in a plastic sport card case (which costs about a dollar) displayed on a special frame that holds 20 (far right in the photo – one was missing on “photo day” as it sold before I snapped the photo.) So far, it is the only art that has sold. One thing learned from selling years ago (flea markets, craft shows, and online at Ebay, Etsy, etc.) that most people want to buy something, if they can afford it.
I shall have to think about the NOW, be proactive in the NOW, as without the NOW, there is no NEXT, Thank you for helping me to see that. Sorry I took so long to reply… I wanted to mull your words first. 🙂
Just the thought of a “NEXT” is so important. Thanks
Oh, thank you. Yes, it is.