“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.