Sunday, December 28, 2008
2008 in review
I'm reviewing my year and seeing what new avenues opened up to me, what I accomplished and where I am going. Its not until I write them down that I realize what I've achieved or not completed in the course of a year. I've asked myself a few questions that help give an overview of my art presence in 2008 and through those I can see where I want to go in 2009.
I am not going to be too ambitious though. I will tackle a few projects and help them move along to fill gaps that I see. The old adage of 'under promise and over deliver' works well in all paths of life. I outlined a few goals in October that I am heading for and will continue to flesh those out when I outline my plans for 2009.
I've analyzed my online presence and watched it grow - double in fact - compared to the previous year.
There are a variety of reasons why an artist becomes more well known, but the main reason is communication. By visiting other artist's blogs, joining projects, both real and virtual, communicating on other blogs and forums as well as being productive all help provide a presence that allows people to know you better. I think the statistics show that I have increased my readership and become more visible in 2008.
I continue to draw or paint on nearly a daily basis. This is a combination of sketches or completion of saleable pieces. I have completed 25 - 30 saleable pieces which include commissions. The rest are practice pieces and pure pleasure for me.
I created a dedicated sales blog - The Starving Artist's Daily Sale. I admit that it hasn't done quite what I anticipated and it needs to be reviewed in terms of visibility, marketing and use. The economic crisis that continues globally makes artists look at pricing and sizes of pieces to attract buyers and I am no different. I will be inviting input to help me look objectively at the realities of selling my art online. Katherine Tyrrell's posts on art and the economy provide good reading on the realities.
I also moved into jewelry creation and sharing some small art pieces in an online Etsy store. Its slowly picking up in sales and provides more exposure and lets me alternate jewelry with art.
As in presence, interaction is a big part of others being aware of your existence. Its karma; you have to give as well as receive. This year, I've stepped into several projects online that keep my skills honed and help me move out of my comfort zone as well as give me an opportunity to meet other artists and share in their world.
Virtual Sketch Date was created by Rose Welty in April as a way to provide a reference for others to practice drawing skills. This grew into a huge success with many people participating monthly. Now Rose, Stacy Rowan and I administer VSD as a separate blog.
On December 1st, Watermarks was launched. Watermarks is a small community of artists who make art from water. They like to sketch, draw and/or paint water - the sea, the coastline, beaches, rivers, streams, waterfalls, fountains - in all contexts, styles, genres and media. The brainchild of Vivien Blackburn, Lindsay Olsen and Katherine Tyrrell, I was one of the additional six artists invited to participate in this project.
For the first year, I decided to participate in WetCanvas annual portrait swap. I got enthusiastic and did two portraits which are now in the hands of their new owners. The experience was unique and good fun. The drawback is that not all the participants move at the same speed so completion may lag in your chosen partner and I am still waiting for portraits from the individuals that I was paired with.
I completed a drawing tutorial for Drawspace, where I volunteer as a moderator and teacher. I haven't had time to do more this year as many other projects have taken my time, but I do have a couple of tutorials in the wings that I will make available once I figure out the logistical side of hosting them to make them available on my blog.
There are other projects that are in the works and will be revealed in the 2009 plans.
Tools of the Trade
I finally set up a dedicated studio that will allow me to be more productive and focused. I have room to spread out and do several projects at once as well as room to teach small groups of people.
I purchased a new 17" laptop that provided speed, clear graphics and consistency for writing my blog and viewing art well. I also get satisfaction knowing that the laptop was paid for purely out of funds received from my art.
I am rediscovering oil paints again after a very long absence. I was determined to get into painting and let it free me from the tight drawing that I had gotten into. While I still love detail and realism, there is also satisfaction from creating almost abstract pieces with paint.
I played with different supports this year, from drafting film to colourfix paper and made a big dent in my 'stash' through my stash diet.
What I didn't do
I didn't create the website that I planned on and I wonder if it really matters. There are times when I want a dedicated site to host tutorials and other interactive information. I will have to review the benefits once more before deciding which way too go on this.
Marketing is another area that I haven't done a lot of in 2008. And it is something I need to tackle for 2009. I do have marketing pieces such as business cards and postcards available, as well as brochures. Information on these pieces changes over time and needs updating.
Aside from hard marketing pieces, I also need to contact the local public more to develop additional contacts for commission pieces. I also need to build a body of work to enable myself to approach galleries.
I will explore the plans and goals for 2009 in my final post of the year on December 31st. I'd love to hear about how your year unfolded and what you have in store for 2009 too.