There’s no question that 2011 was a difficult year in the art world around me. Local galleries were closing down and some are still teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Several artists I know were forced to give up their studios and take their practices home. Although I realize that many artists thrive in home studios, the ones I know were wistful about leaving the artistic support and community of a studio building, but resigned to the fact that they could no longer afford it. Other artists had to put their art on the back burner and take up better-paying jobs. During this year’s Culture Crawl, I heard more people speak frankly about the financial aspect of collecting artwork, saying that they loved a lot of the work that they saw on the Crawl but they couldn’t afford it. British Columbia bucked the trends for a while, but the economic turndown has finally caught up with consumer attitudes.
I have to consider myself fortunate in all this turmoil, my art sales have remained steady and while I haven’t experienced the growth I’ve had during stronger economic times, I’m happy with my art business.
Each year, I try to set up a general goal for my art. In the past, goals have been to get more public gallery shows and to generate more media coverage of my art. Although I have a business background, I never set specific goals, such as: “Increase sales by 25%,” because that would be pointless. I can't control the market, and while a big art sale might increase sales temporarily, it would harm my sales in the long term. My goals are more general. When opportunities arise, I take those that move me in the direction of my goals, all the while maintaining my painting practice and my regular marketing efforts.
This year my goal is a little different, it's a philosophical goal. I’m calling 2012: A Year of Giving. Being an artist, I work alone in my studio, and operate my art business is in a vacuum, and while I have donated art to institutions like the Vancouver General Hospital and the National Nikkei Museum, I’d like to be more mindful of my part in a world that needs a little generosity right now.
What I mean by giving is not just giving art to different charities and auctions, because I already have some strong opinions on that subject. I’m thinking about giving in terms of donating art supplies to programs that need them, donating time, promoting other artists I love, and even giving a little joy to all the people that like my art.
I’ll blog about some of these endeavours as they occur, since this blog is always a place to freely give: information, amusement and advice. Meantime, stay tuned for more!