You can hope that someone will host an art reception for you or you can plan an appreciation party and sell your art like Artist Lydia Mallison-Jones, of Kansas City, Kansas.
- One, not knowing who my target market are and how to connect with them, how to reach out with them, is it social media, is it face-to-face, you know, how do I get myself connecting with these people and kind of pulling all these people together to present myself to them in whatever form online or in person? And then, classically lots of people say this, a lack of focus, a lack of knowing how to use my energy and time successfully, that would mean that I'm actually building this as as business and I've actually got some income.
What changed for Artist Lydia Mallison-Jones?
I just had a paradigm shift. This is no longer gonna be a hobby. I was, I didn't even like calling it a hobby. I was one of those people that would be like, "My art is not a hobby." But actually-
- It is.
- Wake up call, boom, you know, yes, it was a hobby, basically, and I was pansying around not doing anything, not bringing any money in. Not spending a huge amount on it as a hobby, but certainly, you know, I wanted to sell, and I had no plan, no plan to sell anything, so nothing was happening. And so eight months ago, I had a paradigm shift. I was like, no, this needs to be a business, and I have no idea how to make it into a business. And then it was three months ago that I just came across an ad on Facebook, it was one of your ads by Facebook, and it stopped me in my tracks. And I was like, hmm, this looks interesting. And so then I read absolutely every blog entry of yours, watched absolutely every video.
What "product" does an artist sell?
That art is emotion, or that emotion is a huge, massive part of it.
- It's the product itself.
- It is the product itself, and that's what I had not quite, it was like these two pieces of jigsaw just finally clicked together, and it made me remember the times, previous times, where I'd, the first exhibition I ever did years, it's like 10 years ago now, nearly 10 years ago. And my very, a very good friend of mine, she walked in, and she saw a pair of paintings that actually have a huge, huge significance to me, the reason I painted them. And she just burst into tears, and she could not explain why she was crying.
What are people buying?
- Purchase is the affirmation that they've experienced the emotion so significantly that they want to hold it in their heart, they want to keep it.
- Yes. Yeah. And every time that they look at it again, it re-enlivens all those emotions in them. That's, that's why they're delighted to have it on their wall.
Hosting an Appreciation Party
Good idea, ooh, a really good idea. I like that. Okay, that's scary. At the same time, that really scares me, because there's a lev-, a different level of vulnerability there than I have gone to before. I was like, wow, okay, you know, shaking at that idea, but I think I need to do it, and I kind of procrastinated. There was a few weeks where I was like, I just didn't put the date in the calendar, and then I was like, I just need to pick a date and then just go for it and start texting people, Facebook messaging, you know, just writing down the, the people that I thought would be a fantastic mix to come and, and hang out in my house and just, you know, hang together, and be, be my kind of people, tribe of people, some of whom that had never met each other. I, I was interested in the dynamics of, of that. And so I just kind of went, okay, boom, there's the date. And I was just like once I'd sent the messages out, it was, I couldn't not do it then, because I would've been shooting myself in the foot.
How did you get past your fear?
I'd actually been, I'd been reading a book by Brene Brown called Daring Greatly.
- And, and in it, uh, she says that approval is not the, uh, approval is not what drives, success is not what drives her. Recognition is not what drives her, but courage.
- And on choosing courage. And I was like, ooh, okay. So I've gotta stop thinking about, perhaps set aside what I feel success looks like for this evening, and-
- And just do it.
- And just being courageous. Whatever this looks like, I'm being courageous, and people admire people who are being courageous.
- They do.
- So I'm like, okay, well at least, at least people are gonna vaguely admire me, I hope, for being really out there in, in doing an unusual event, you know?
How did you prepare?
I could in, in the emotion of the evening get all aflutter and not know what to say, and so I was like, right, okay, I have to write this down, and I'm just gonna have to have it on a piece of paper in front of me, read it out. And that was great, because it enabled me to be succinct-
- In control of it, of your gushing emotion, right?
- Exactly, because, you know, you just get all, like, oh, I'm so glad you're here, that kind of thing. And so it was really funny, because I actually practiced reading it out to my husband the night before. I started crying. My husband started crying.
- He was like showing on, this is gonna be, like, one big blub fest. We're all just gonna cry. And then actually on the evening, and it was so funny, because as, as I was reading it, I was like, I got all my tears out yesterday, okay? I read it out to Steve. He cried, we cried, we all cried, and I'm not gonna cry right now. So anyways, so I managed to get it out, and it was, people were so touched by, by how I'd just loved on them, and picked them up, and told, told each of them, you know, people that had never met each other, the kind of different synergies that they might have, and that, that's why I'd invited them, and it was, it was such a cool, it was such a cool evening, all around. And actually one, a friend, I didn't realize this until after the event, a friend most, the most unlikely guy, the most unlikely person in the evening cried in front of one of my paintings, and I didn't even know it, because I wasn't even in that room at the time. He then cried all the way home, and then, and he, bless him, he, it was so sweet. He didn't purchase a piece of my art, but he gave me some cash towards my business as a, as a gift.
What if you had just exhibited your art?
Let's just say you stuck your paintings on the wall and put out some cheese and wine, and you didn't do the appreciation part of it. How do you think it would've been different?
- Oh, it'd have been completely flat. It would've been-
- Flat Sprite.
- Exactly, exactly.
- It would've been flat, and that's how most receptions and open studios are. They're flat, they're boring.
- They're stuffy.
- People feel weird, insecure.
- The artist's feelings, is feeling insecure, because the artist is worried no one's gonna buy anything. And they're uncomfortable selling their art. They haven't learned how, but with this, do you feel like you had to actually, were you selling, or were you, how did that feel? Did you feel like you were selling and manipulating people, or what?
- No. I-I felt, I felt like I was being genuinely me.
- And I felt like I was giving, giving that a go.
Was it expensive?
No, no, it wasn't desperately expensive. It was, it was, and it was worth it. Whatever, whatever was spent, you know, we are wise about how, how we did it, and got our kids involved in making some little cute appetizers, and you know, and actually people brought stuff that we, that we didn't expect, some trays of appetizers, and drinks, and it was just really It felt like, that we'd all put the evening together. It wasn't just that I had hosted it and done everything. People wanted to be involved in, in the kind of creation of the atmosphere, in a way, by bringing, you know, to the table.
What about those who did not attend?
Actually, there was a lady who, who wasn't able to come, and she really wanted to come, And actually just, just this last week was talking about how beautiful community can happen between neighbors and how, you know, you were mentioning community. and an event like this brings connection between people that otherwise wouldn't have happened. And she's already, she's previously expressed some interest in my work. And last week, even though she hadn't come to the event, which was a number of weeks before, got very excited about the idea of buying a piece of mine and having it over her mantlepiece, the, the space in her house, you know, that's a very special spot. She's, she's going to buy.
Should other artists apply?
Actually enrolling is the next step. And for me, it was like I knew that I needed to get the money to buy the key to open the door. And that, that, this was a critical next step in, in setting the foundations for my business. I, I just, I just knew that this was the right thing, and the right way forward, and that the elements of your, of the semester, and even the order that they're set, is the way to set the foundation for my business. And they should just jump in. I, I, I had to wait months to be able to jump in, because I didn't have the money, and I had to get creative on how I was going to get the money, and it was an emotional roller coaster. I had days where I was thinking, this isn't gonna happen, and feeling really crestfallen that I was gonna have to wait longer to be able to get the material that I needed to then be able to take my business to the next level. If you've got, if you've got the disposable cash, don't, don't go buy art materials right now. You know, sign up. This is, even before having signed up, I knew that this was the right thing to do, and having signed up and started to connect with new bodies on Facebook, this is, I'm super excited as to where this goes and how this blossoms.