art process and business process (from a non-type-A personality)

Recently, Frivoli-tea inquired about my process in making my 4"x4" paintings. Right now I am starting part of the painting on a loose leaf paper, and then completing the painting after I glue that down. But the real answer is that my process is constantly changing. I am always trying to keep them fresh but at the same time find ways to streamline my production. Selling them at $22-$25 each (and $2 in materials) they are not the most cost effective thing to be making. However, I like doing them for several reasons:
  1. It keeps my painterly/drawing hand in practice.
  2. I come up with new ideas while working on them.
  3. It feels good to be able to offer affordable, original art to people. Some people say this is what prints are for, but holding a one of kind artwork in your hand has a unique and special feel.
So I am always trying to strike that balance between affordability for my customers, profitability for me, and a continued sincerity to my work. That said... I am finding myself at a crossroads with my art. I met with my Mother's friend Debbie a few days ago (She is a greeting card guru~ Check out her business!) to seek advice. I quit my day job two years ago, and my art business has grown exponentially since then. At first it didn't feel like a business. It was more like I would paint a painting and then be ecstatic when it sold. Now, I feel blessed to be able to say that it has morphed into being my passion but also a small business. I am still pouring a lot of the profit back into the business, but it is working. Of course I still feel excited when I make a sale, but I feel more confident and practical about it too.

Somehow it is working.

Sort of...

I feel like I am hanging on by an ity-bitty thread sometimes. Trying to look put together and respectable, but in reality it feels chaotic much of the time.
Things like trying to take photos for my Etsy site during a nap with my so-so quality camera, and the baby waking up after I get it all set up...... And going to check my email and I will find out it has been days since I last checked it, and there is a time sensitive question in my inbox........ Packing my orders at midnight, picking the cat hairs off the tissue paper because I am putting it together it on the living room floor........ Things like the 15 offers/inquires about consigning or wholesaling my work that I have yet to even respond to........ Or even the small things like taking the 30 mins it would take to figure out how to ship my orders from our mailbox instead of dragging my two kids to the post office twice a week....... These kinds of things keep piling up, and I just want to go hide out in my studio... you know???

So I met with Debbie to gain some perspective. How to make the most use of the scraps of time I have. How to make that leap into going wholesale if that is what I want. How to think about the bigger picture and reach for it. HERE is a wonderful post from Jill about this same subject. It is very comprehensive. It was perfect timing that she wrote this~ I read it right when I got back from talking with Debbie and I felt so pumped up and inspired.

I get so bogged down by my own doubts and wishy-washiness. I worry my work isn't cohesive enough. I worry that I am not working towards being in a gallery. I worry what I am creating now is cliche somehow. I have several friends who have MFAs and I always hear their voices critiquing my work and my business decisions in my head. To be fair, it is always MY voice I am hearing and not theirs. But there is some truth that many artists feel uncomfortable or resent the idea of making a money from art. The voices in my head say if it is a crowd-pleaser, or would make good "Coffee table art" it isn't authentic.


Why is that inner critic so mean sometimes???

THIS is a great interview from artist Dolan Geiman about the reality of creating a living from art. He totally dismisses the idea that you have to be a starving artist if you chose the artist route. It is a stance you don't hear spoken aloud in the art world very often.

So here is what I want:
  1. To be creating authentic art. Authentic to my heart.
  2. To be creating art that other people fall in love with and subsequently buy from me.
  3. To let go of the fear of being successful and step into a mind space where anything is possible.
  4. Let go of complete control. Allow Alex, wholesalers, reps, printers to do some of the work.
  5. Be gentle with myself. So what if I don't answer all my emails promptly. I know it would be better if I did... but I can only do so much. There will come a time when I don't have a 6 month old and a 2 year old~ Remember my priority is Lili and Seo. Always.
  6. Keep showing up.
Keep showing up.


Edibeth said...

You are doing so amazingly well! It's great that you process the journey, you seek advice and counsel when in doubt, and you accept the restrictions of being a mother of young children. Can you imagine those children who play second fiddle to the artist?
Keep showing up. Absolutely.
Love you, Kelcey.

Anonymous said...

I second Edibeth!
Love you too,

Linda said...

Edibeth tripled?

You are both an amazing mother AND artist. It's all a struggle so worth it in the end. Your awareness, your questioning, your passion will all guide you on this journey called your life. Thanks for sharing! Oh - and you are an amazing daughter, too ♥

I love you

Kathleen said...

You know I am a died-in-the-wool pacifist, but after reading your post, I've come to believe drastic measures are needed here...Something I should have done years ago. It's time to shoot the inner critic and fly free!

A late-blooming gypsy

Anonymous said...

Fabulous post!!! I am going to check out your links after I write this comment. Anyway, I think your work is beautiful - not cliche. I have an M.A. in art history if that adds any substance to my opinion. I love being able to buy your art at $22. But that is selfish of me, as I think you could make bigger pieces and sell them for much more.

Missouri Bend Paper Works said...

This is wonderfully heartfelt and honest post that speaks for so many of us! The inner critic, the juggling and making the work that is authentic, but somehow affordable...oh and then somehow having it be a business venture!?! Bravo to you, your work and your future! Thanks for sharing your struggles and your tips!

Caren said...

Kelcey, you are on a beautiful journey! I am so proud of you that you are able to keep making art and be so present to you children, husband, family and friends. You are able to "show up" to so many things. You are an inspiration, and your art feeds my soul. I love you so much!

Anonymous said...

Think you have a great illustrator's eye. Especially like the drawing of the heart.