Going it alone, together

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

I have had quite an enlightening week. When I set out on this art adventure nearly three years ago I vowed I would do it my way. Largely that involves making it up as I go along. But then, that's life.

Having just had a very successful group exhibition with two likeminded artists at Dove Gallery in Winchcombe, I'm even more convinced I should pursue my own path, rather than taking the tried and tested route of tradition.

For gallery representation, you are often signing over 50 per cent of all you earn, even some art groups want quite a hefty slice, while art competitions want you to compare yourself to others and go up against other creatives to fight it out for a prize.

Many I'm sure are finding great value, in terms of money and experience, from some or all of that. But I'm finding none of those scenarios appeal to me much. Hence why I will remain independent for now.

We all need exposure, opportunities, experience, a support network, contacts, prestige and publicity to be in with a chance of making a success of it. But at what price?

As an emerging artist, it sometimes feels like everyone wants to make money out of you before you've even started making money for yourself. Some are upfront about it, others more subtle, but it often comes down to commission and fees and how much you can generate for a third party.

That is not what art should be in my mind. I create because it is a passion, something I need to do because I love it and, frankly, can't stop. I create so I can keep on creating.

Artists struggling to make a living from their art and fighting to be taken seriously for their work are the wrong people to keep asking for a percentage of this and a percentage of that. Most I know just want to spend any profits they make on art and art materials.

I think one of the reasons our exhibition was so successful was because we did it ourselves. No-one else is more passionate or heartfelt about what we do than us. We are the best people to promote what we do because we believe in it completely. Every opportunity to talk about art and the journey we are on as artists was seized upon, to share and inspire.

It was all done with an air of co-operation, fun, positivity and a recognition that the more people are doing art and enjoying art the more we raise art as a whole. There was no competition or snobbery. And every penny went straight to the artist to cover costs and to be reinvested in their artistic endeavours, without third-party involvement. So the creating can continue.

We had a lot of fun at our pop-up gallery. We kickboxed, we danced, we laughed, we talked for hours about our passion for art. Yes, we made lots of lovely sales, but it was about so much more than pound signs.

Walking into an art gallery shouldn't be a stuffy, intimidating, elitist experience and so we set out to make our space fun, warm and welcoming by generating an open, honest and approachable vibe.

Personally, I'm quite cynical about the art world, the pretence, the people, and what it represents. It's not my scene and so I'm devising an environment that is my scene and for the last week I found it, because three artists on the same wavelength got together and created it.

I have explored membership with several art groups and am finding out more about what suits me and my mindset. I'm coming to the conclusion that the model of a collective is much more my thing. Independent artists working together in an equitable way for mutual benefit so prosperity can fuel the creating process and so we are free to keep pursuing our passion the way we want.

Because a world without art is soulless, and art without passion is soulless, and, particularly in these unsettling times, there are some things you can't put a price on.

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