Nov 022010
Gray Maine Coon Cat

Digital Art by BZTAT

“You have an incredible window… The world is in flux. Judgment is suspended. Change is expected.”  Jonathan Fields

I heard these words from Jonathan Fields, self described “Serial lifestyle-entrepreneur” as I listened to his keynote presentation for the Career Summit last week. Mr. Fields’ presentation encouraged people to seek careers in doing what  “brings them alive”.

Unlike many presenters who give us lofty encouragement to to follow our dreams, though, Fields was pragmatic. He recognized that we have to survive. We have to pay bills. We have to find realistic ways to make dreams happen. We have to be unconventional if we want unconventional results.

He used the example of artist Ann Rea, whose career path I follow avidly. Both Fields and Rea have shared that the world of selling artwork is brutal. Competition is high and traditional opportunities are limited. Art is considered a luxury item, therefore, buyers are not clamoring in lines to purchase your “product”. And the traditional system built for selling artwork is not very favorable to the artist.

Some artists angrily take to the streets and vandalize properties with graffiti to protest that condition. Fields and Rea, however, suggest a more lucrative and less criminal path. They suggest that artists should create their own value in markets that are not yet existent.

Rea, using the so-called Blue Ocean Strategy (creating a market that was not really there before), created her own market by creating  custom artworks for wineries in California. She avoided the traditional gallery/show system of artwork and made her own system by working directly with wineries and their patrons. Her strategy has been hugely successful.

So that brings me to my own situation.

I have chosen to make a career of what brings me alive – creating art. And I have bumped up against the brutal realities of the business of selling artwork. I have also bumped up against the brutal realities of my own deficiencies in skill and/or discipline in operating a business. I need change, and I need help.

I have been developing my own “Blue Ocean Strategy” for the past couple of years  by establishing myself in the pet products and services industry. As primarily an artist who paints companion animals, I have found people with similar interests to my own, and people who value my artwork, in the pet market industries.

My artistic peers look askance, as that is not the way it is usually done. But, at this juncture, I am recognizing that connecting myself to that industry enables me to create my own value and create my own market in an unconventional way.

So what does that mean?

I am taking advantage of the “incredible window” before me and making some big changes.

My first move? Close my studio in the Canton Arts District. After this week’s First Friday, I will no longer operate a public studio. I will keep my working studio in my home (yup–with the cats, all 5 at current count), and I will still show artwork in various places in the arts district. But I will no longer operate a storefront.

My second move? This is the big and exciting part…I will be opening up a gallery in the offices of Embrace Pet Insurance in Beachwood, OH. Laura Bennett, CEO and co-founder of Embrace, has graciously offered me the opportunity to create a gallery of pet themed artwork in the office space, which is truly a perfect place to show artwork. Not only that, she has agreed to mentor me and help me develop myself as an entrepreneur.

This is a good move for both of us. Embrace will have their space decorated with dynamic and colorful artwork, and being a supporter of the arts will bring new value to their organization. I will have the opportunity to engage with new clients and potential buyers for my artwork, and become more established as a creative entrepreneur in the pet services industry.

Although I am saddened about closing the studio, and challenged with a lot of hard work moving my stuff out, I am very excited about the possibilities that I have waiting ahead of me.

And I am excited that I will now be able to participate in all the fun beyond my studio on First Fridays for a change!

I will continue to create artwork as before, and you can contact me through email, social media and the contact page here on this blog for all the same services as before.

I look forward to change. I recognize that the time is right, as everything is changing in our world. I now ask you, are you along for the ride with me on this adventure?

One last note–Okey the Studio Cat is along for the ride for now. His/her (still not sure)  rescue/rehab is coming along, but Okey is still very timid and fearful. I don’t think Okey is ready to be considered for adoption yet, so I will make a space in my home separate from the other guys until the time is right. He/she will see a vet this week. Thanks so much to all who have donated resources for Okey’s care.

  No Responses to “BZTAT's Big News: Look out. Change is expected.”

  1. BZTAT, we’re all so excited you are coming to the Embrace offices. We love that we can help in your next steps. And I think we’ll be mentoring each other. I’ll have to bring the cats in to the office more now 🙂

  2. Best wishes to you on this next phase in your art career. Sounds exciting and can’t wait to hear about the new doors that open for you!

  3. Best of luck. We will miss your studio. It was always a treat on First Fridays.

    • Thanks! I will still be around. Look for my stuff at the Ohio Arts and Crafts Guild, Second April Galerie and Cyrus Custom Framing.

      • We’d love to come give out some free, organic, fair trade coffee samples to your farewell visitors. Let me know if you’d be interested.

  4. Good luck and enjoy this new path in life!

  5. Wow Bz – exciting stuff! How wonderful that Laura is working with you on this new venture. It’s a win/win situation – good luck to both of you!

  6. congratulations on this new adventure. Makes great sense to me!

  7. You go girl, sounds pretty exciting to me!

  8. very, very happy for you (but sad about the storefront), however, everything happens for a reason!
    Couldn’t be a better place to have a gallery than in Beachwood. I went to High School there…lived there through High School and in college I lived there during the summer and used to lifeguard at what used to be “The Beachwood Pool”. Did Laura go to Beachwood High? There were other “Bennetts” who did….I have a feeling she may have.
    My mother still lives in Beachwood, on S.Woodland Rd between Green and Richmond.
    Where are Embrace’s offices? Are they on Chagrin Blvd?
    You should do very, very well there!!
    Extremely affluent area (however we were the poor folks in Beachwood when I lived there! lol)
    Best of luck!

  9. I was raised with the view that art was an investment, the same as a house, jewelry, car etc. but they are certainly luxery items

    • I agree with you, Louise. Art in many ways is an investment. Putting your money into art is much safer than a lot of investments these days!

  10. Good luck with all the changes. You might also try v-e-t offices for your art, and for flyers advertising your work. *purrs*

    • Brilliant minds think alike, Pumpkin. Since Embrace is all about pet health, they are very much a part of the veterinary health community worldwide. I am looking forward to networking with that community.

  11. Sounds really exciting, Vicki! It’s a different approach, but sounds super smart. 🙂 Go go go!

    And… yay for the Okey update! Does he like toys? Treats? 😉

    • Thx D! So far, Okey seems intimidated by everything, except for food in the dish. It just takes time, I guess. I hate to admit it, but I am getting attached…

  12. Wish you all the best on this new adventure! 🙂 sounds like a great partnership!

  13. Perhaps this is silly of me, but I actually got a chill when I read your plan for establishing a gallery in the pet insurance office. What a great idea! Best of luck to you with the changes that are taking place.

  14. Wow! Sounds like a wonderful opportunity. Congratulations … sounds like more great things to come!
    Diane and Cosmo

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