Being an artist is not that difficult. In fact, apart from having the right qualifications and such, one can be an artist with some talent and a bit of creativity. It is in becoming an established artist and maintaining your reputation which is the challenge. But there are more than just creating art because to build a strong name for yourselves and maintaining it actually requires quite a bit of hardwork.
So what are the common mistakes artists or aspiring ones make? One of them is to think that because you have the work or a portfolio meant that galleries and spaces are lining up with offers of shows. The most important thing here is to first ascertain the meaning of success. Is it recognition and reputation that you are after? Would selling your art in galleries represent your definition of success? If it is, then this is where you need to start networking. Always remember that there are many artists out there who have work ready to sell, the main (and sometimes the only) reason why they are not selling is because they do not know the right people. Some artists think that they are ‘waiting’ for the right people to discover them.
In today’s art world, it is the same like any other industry. You will not be discovered unless you make an effort. You can either put your work on show at public spaces, online or through any other means and then people will take notice. Just because you have the work does not mean you need not have to push anymore.
Each art work by each artist is unique but by no means original. Never think that your artwork is ‘one-of-its-kind’ because you are bound to be influence by someone. While your artwork is different from others, it will surely have traits of some established artist. This is where you can try to stand out by using unorthodox techniques but ultimately, bear in mind that there is really nothing in this world that has not been done before. If your work is too unique, it might take a while before the public is able to accept them.
Regardless of what anyone tells you, you are somewhat a ‘salesperson’. The product is your art. While you might not be going around with a suit, tie and briefcase to sell art, you have to be engaged in various events like dialogues, discussions and such where people get to know you better and to appreciate your body of work. Even if a gallery decides to represent you, you will still have to be there during the opening or pre-opening shows where you will be able to meet the potential collectors. This is the best time and place for you to look at ways of establishing yourself among them. Your art will not sell itself. No products do.
You have to continuously work towards establishing yourself. If you win an award in your university or at the Young and Contemporary Art Awards or even have your work showcased in Singapore or Hong Kong, it is not your automatic ticket to the big times. This is where many artists have done and failed. Starting out with a bang and then fizzling out as they felt that they have ‘done enough’ and the galleries will come. The challenge here is to ride on your success and then move on from there. Never stay stagnant if you have considerable success because it is where you can leverage on this. Instead of staying put, use it to your advantage and include it into your portfolio.
Another main problem with artists is in the pricing of their art. If you price your art too low, it does not mean that you are not serious. It simply means that you want your art accessible. It is truly a myth that the quality of art coincides with the price. Good art is good art, bad art is bad art and hence the price does not change anything. A collector would be more than happy to pay for a piece of art which is not overly expensive but if your artwork is too expensive, then it comes with some really high expectations.