I realized today that somewhere along the way I lost my way. Not literally, of course, but really: with the amount of strategy and reflection it takes to make art into a business, I lost sight of the passion that drove me in this direction to start.
I thought that perhaps I had just recently lost touch of that spark, but the more I thought about it, it has been quite some time. At least 2 years. Maybe more. Far too long.
Believe it or not, I am very strategic and rather practical, and my mental breakdown of art in business terms comes to this: can I afford this canvas not to sell? No. If I pour my heart into this work, will someone buy it? Perhaps. Or is a safer direction one that is easily marketable... Yes. Or better still, how about work that is commissioned up from (read, paid for up front,) so all I have to do is fill an order? Bingo.
Here you have the practical and easy slide from passion to hedging my bets, to strategy, to straightforward order completion. Not a bad thing from a business perspective. But concerning the well of creativity that drives my desire to create I am coming up dry.
Initially this was not an issue-- and you may not see the discrepancy either, after all I'm getting paid to paint. Done and done. Art business success!!!
But over time I waded further and further away from my artistic voice, feeling a little more like a robotic factory painting machine and less like anything that resembled an artist. Not a great feeling.
And honestly this feels like a telling confession, that on the one hand I do love what I'm doing and in that same hand I feel empty with this work that I do. But there it is. All I can do is be genuine, and with this confession commit to expect more from myself.
All this to say, from here I am setting myself upright in 2 ways. Firstly I am getting cracking on the business side. I am divorcing myself from any notion of "starving artist" talk and strategizing for long term success. And I feel great about that (if a little scared). Because this is what sets this work apart from a side project or a hobby. I am serious. No jokes.
The second thing, that is equally important, is that I intend to do work that I care about. Work that means something. Work that moves me. Because without that, this could just as well be any other business. I should sell shower curtains online if I want to make money without heart. (Not to disparage shower curtains, but they do not move me at my core.)