There is much controversy in the art world as to what is the best avenue for an artist to take in gaining notoriety and wealth from their work. The old adage was that the creative one was to paint as many pieces as possible and do them as well as their abilities could muster, then, with canvases or papers in hand traipse around as many galleries as possible to find someone who would be willing to add them to their stable of other artists and see what happens. The other is to pay, and sometimes hefty fees, to enter shows that promise great exposure and specific marketing for the event where just being juried in will garner the artist raves and promises of future interest and sales.
There is a problem to this advice as it just does not work any longer, if ever. In this fickle age of art collecting, galleries are having a hard enough time just keeping their doors open. Most often they represent many more artists than will ever rate space on their walls and so work will sit in vertical slats in the storage room perhaps never to see the light of day. Only the tried and true artists will be shown and even they will likely lose stature after a few months of fallow interest. The gallery just wants to have enough art on hand to pull for whatever subject matter a prospective customer may request and most times those customers are from very high end corporations which require a certain type or style and do not vary as they are trying to please the masses within their structure.
The other coo for galleries and so called arts associations is to devise the “artist’s exhibition” whereupon a fee is required to be juried into a show judged by someone who already has an idea of what they deem to be “good” art whether they are qualified to judge or not. The array of these exhibitions is amazingly limitless and preys on the small coffers of most artists who are desperate to be shown anywhere, anyplace. Many times these “exhibitions” will garner great amounts of money from these artists who hope to be seen or even make a sale when the founders are well aware that they can only accept a very small percentage of entries. This is a travesty for the very good artists who are rejected simply because of space allowance and creates highly unnecessary stress and doubt for their self esteem.
The truth of the matter in this day and age is that an artist can no longer depend on galleries or exhibitions for their livelihood. They absolutely must develop their own sales initiative and devise ways to get their art in front of the masses using formats even more creative than the way they apply mediums to their supports. Artists must take a cold, hard look at their work and their target audiences and then decide what is the best avenue to travel to get the two together. To work hard and diligently on a portfolio of works and then hand them over to a half-hearted dealer is foolish to say the least.
Every now and then artists must take off the painting beret and don the tradesman’s derby and set foot to pavement to truly represent and protect their “babies”, as that is a close analogy to what their art means to them. Then, looking eye to eye and soul to soul they can decide for themselves what kind of waters to set their offspring to sail upon. To create it is not enough as the artist’s creations must be seen to be appreciated.