No reading in bed this morning. I had to set up my table at the Slocumb Galleries Holiday Art Sale + Silent Auction, which features the work of many local artists and art student organizations on ETSU campus. The sale is up from December 3rd – 13th, with a reception occurring on December 6th, I believe.
My table has an assortment of Christmas cards, gift tags, gift bags, prints, and paintings. I still have a lot to learn and refine, obviously, but this has been a definite improvement. I have signs! And everything is clearly priced! And there’s kind of a display! As long as I look semi-human instead of like some weird muppet trying to sell cards with baby Jesus on them, I’m doing well in my mind.
People often ask me what the cards and prints/paintings are to me, as in, “Is this your artwork now? Or are you just doing this for money?”
First of all, I like working in a lot of different mediums and there are a lot of different aesthetic sensibilities that appeal to me. I enjoy really graphic, bold prints as well as delicate, hand-stitched embroidery pieces. Aggressive, rough mixed media paintings and finely rendered, tight paintings. If I try to confine myself, I start to feel like that awful girl in The Exorcist. (I won’t even link to it. Will not.) If making posters and flyers and so forth was good enough for Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Picabia, and many, many other great artists, it’s good enough for me.
Although I do make these items with selling them in mind (unlike my other work), I don’t believe they are less a product of my personality, interests, and training than that other more “serious” work. It’s not as easy as it may sound to design and print a really good card. Designing things according to a certain set of values and aesthetic for an audience is a challenge every time you attempt it. Literally every time I make some new items available, I learn something valuable about the exchange. For example, I recently had a sale in which no one bought anything, and I think that’s because I failed to really consider my audience’s sensibilities. The work was good, but it didn’t fit well enough into the audience’s sense of themselves. They weren’t interested. Put the work in another environment and it sells really well.
If nothing else, making these printed materials and quick paintings and stencils keeps me working and anyone that has stopped working for any significant duration of time has thought, ‘If only I had been working on something!’ But I always come away with more than that.