Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Heart of an Artist

The Heart of an Artist

Last week I experienced my first brutal art critic.  Certainly, in the few years since I’ve begun to call myself a photographer, I have been very lucky.   The urging of friends, following a summer trip to China, prompted me to cull, crop and agonize over a few dozen of the hundreds of photos I’d arrived home with.  Once I had a nice presentable portfolio assembled…I couldn’t imagine who might possibly want to buy them.

Thinking rejection might come more gently in the Midwest, I made my first sales attempt in Iowa during a visit to family.  I began with one of my favorite shops specializing in Asian antiques and one-of-a-kind metalwork furniture in the historic, funky, East Village of Des Moines.  Despite being kind of nervous and trying really hard not to show it, I sold five or six of my matted photographs that day which gave me the courage to continue going door-to-door with my portfolio whenever I happened to travel.  As a result, my photographs have been sold around the country in restaurants, shops, galleries and art shows. 

Late last summer I opened a shop on Etsy.  If you’re not familiar with Etsy, it’s an online international marketplace headquartered in Brooklyn, NY.  Sellers are from every corner of the world and their amazing, creative products are all handcrafted or vintage.  It’s fabulously fun and seriously addictive shopping.  You may find yourself wandering through the shops on Etsy for days if you’re not careful. 

In addition to buying and selling, another popular Etsy addiction is creating Treasuries.  Here’s how it works:  select sixteen items from sixteen different shops and arrange them artistically to create a piece of art -- a collage, or mosaic if you will, of the sixteen items.  A treasury may be random, or based on a theme, like the beach perhaps, or a color - pink is always popular - or an event, like Father’s Day.  Treasuries are very popular within the world of Etsy and creative-types may spend hours or days putting together the perfect Treasury.

This is how I learned I have the heart of an artist.  An Etsy member made a Treasury featuring one of my photographs alongside the work of fifteen other potentially tender-hearted photographers and titled it “Not Fine Art Photography”.  Through their comments, this person made it very clear that our work was not up to standard.  Several of my fellow photographers had already posted indignant, upset comments -- one declared their intent to “report” the treasury-maker for breaking the rules.

After my first moment of surprise, I experienced a little burst of fear and maybe just the tiniest hint of shame.  I had finally been found out – here was the confirmation of what I’d always feared: that I couldn’t possibly know what I’m doing.  Then, the moment passed and I chuckled as I discovered that I didn’t much care what my critic thought.  I love my photographs, which is probably the only reason I can offer them for sale.  I love the way they look and feel (I print them on very special paper) -- I love the rich, vibrant, textured color that I capture and painstakingly reproduce and I love the composition of the items in each photograph.

Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting in his lifetime.  Stephen King received thirty rejection letters before his book Carrie was accepted for publication.  Elvis Presley was fired by the manager of the Grand Ole Opry after just one performance.  Now I know why those artists persevered.  They were driven by a personal, unique vision to produce something wonderful and to share that creation with the world – appreciated or not. 

Ahhh, the heart of an artist.

Visit my shop on Etsy:  www.etsy.com/shop/ninedragons

1 comment:

  1. wow. i am constantly amazed by people. love your attitude and your ability to let it go. and of course i had to go check out your shop. lovely photographs, especially the doorways!