I just spent 8 hours in a car with my best girlfriend for a trip I could have avoided. The time wasn’t a waste, we had a good time and saw some lovely country but we both could have been doing something else with our time, together. We drove to one of my galleries to pick up my work. The gallery closes for the winter and is only open by appointment. The gallery owner and I had spoken about the end of season but when she said she was closing, it was implied I needed to get my work. When I found out that she would be showing the gallery by appointment, I wondered why she no longer wanted to include my work.
I came to pick up the work and we had a face to face that went something like this:
GO, “I really love this piece, I’m sorry that you are pulling them. You know I show by appointment, right? I have sold work over the winter. Would you like to leave some of these?”
Me, “Which ones would you like me to leave?”
GO, “All of them.”
WHAT!? Turns out, we should have had a clearer conversation before I left home. She thought I needed the inventory for shows. I didn’t need anything until March which is when I was going to see her again. I was incredibly gratified to find that not only was my work wanted but the Gallery Owner was delighted that I would leave them with her.
Being an artist comes with a lot of doubt and uncertainty. When you are a professional, quadruple it. We worry that the piece we are working on won’t be good enough for the shows we are entering. We worry that we won’t have the ability to finish it. We worry no one will like our work, Gallery owners or show promoters didn’t like us enough to want us back. We worry about selling nothing or selling so much we won’t have anything for the next show (yes, it happens). We worry we will lose our muse or that our styles will change so much no one will like us at all. It is easy for us to become anxiety ridden nervous wrecks that jump at our own shadow and constantly second guess everything including how people see us. It can become very easy to jump to conclusions and take every rejection or conversation personally.
I can’t allow that. It isn’t personal.
The Gallery Owner knows me from 15 emails, 6 face to face meetings of 30 minutes or less and about 5 hours of phone conversations total. Hardly enough for us to be close personal friends. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the Gallery Owner. She likes me but really what she likes is that I am agreeable and easy to work with. The same goes for show promoters, they don’t know me very well except when they see me for 3 days one weekend a year. That is if I get invited. If I don’t, it is because they have a certain look or clientele and my work won’t fit. I found out if you apply as soon as they open the application process, you do end up with a better chance. How did I find this out? Research and communication. I should have done that with Gallery Owner. I really should have communicated better. I should have researched what her marketing strategy was for the offseason and offered to leave my work up. I wasted time brooding about her not wanting to keep me in her gallery. I took it personally. OOPS.
Professionals forget to be professional every once and while. Thank god for tolerant friends who are happy for a chance to get out of town. Taking it personal could have cost me more if the situation had come out differently. Remember, always ask the question and don’t take the answer personally. They are taking it on faith that you are a professional too.
The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this blog belong solely to the Spokane Art School Artist-in-Residence, and not necessarily to the Spokane Art School.