I’m tapping back into my fine art roots, and I’ve been creating some paintings. I’ve missed this part of my art journey, and it’s been a lot of fun putting my ideas and inspiration on a canvas. I’ve missed connecting with fellow artists and seeing the work they produce. Lastly, I’ve recently realized that I want to move in this direction with my art career.
I am not abandoning my graphic design side which I completely enjoy. Rather, I’m simply adding this piece of who I am to my life as an artist. Included with this is my intent to start an art school in Port Orchard. I know I have a lot to learn about the fine art world and operating an art school, but this is something that I really want to do. I know if I commit to building it day by day, over time it could grow into something beautiful.
In order to learn from the experts, I decided to tour some galleries. I went to Gig Harbor and Tacoma last week. This week I spent time on Bainbridge Island. I met some amazing people in my travels, and the galleries I visited were all full of wonderful pieces by talented artists. I had the privilege of meeting some of the owners and curators in the galleries and picking their brains for a few minutes. I was honored by their generosity and their willingness to help me learn.
One thing that became apparent is that there are a few best practices they all seemed to follow whether they were intentional about it or not. When it came to the concept of pricing the work, there was a lot of variation based on the popularity of the artist. One key tip to becoming a successful fine artist is similar to that of any other enterprise; you need to build a following for your brand. In the coffee world, Starbucks is a household name. If you think of real estate, just about everyone knows who RE/MAX is. One of the things that creates a brand is consistency, and it seems that just about every famous or well-established artist has seemed to find their unique voice.
One of the exhibits I saw today was by Alfredo Arreguin. He is an established painter from Seattle, WA. The images on his website do not give justice to the work he does. In person, they are breaktaking. They are rich, vibrant, highly-detailed, Mexican art mastery. I am drawn to the large format of his work. These pieces sell for thousands of dollars. His work is very recognizable once you know his style. If you look at one of his pieces from 1993 and set it next to one from 2018, you may not be able to tell the difference.
If you read Alfredo’s biography, you’ll see that he was a high-profile artist for at least 40 years. I’m 39 years old today, and it reinforces that one of the keys to success in being a fine artist is playing the long game. I often wonder if that’s why so many artists don’t make it. At some level, every one of us wants to “eat today”; not 40 years from now. So many artists give up and do something else to pay the bills. Yet for the past 14,600+ days, Alfredo has been painting. I don’t think fine art is something you can “try”. I think that you have to invest in developing your gift day after day believing that one day, you’ll develop mastery over your craft.
I think that if you love something, the forty years are worth every minute of the journey regardless of how much money you make. From an economic standpoint, I hope the market loves my work and puts a high value on it one day. However, the most important aspect of this is that I will have gotten to do something I loved for that long. If we can get over this American expectation of instant gratification and embrace that there is no shortcut in mastering anything, then with God’s help, we just might experience the freedom to become our best selves and contribute something beautiful to the world.