Is it better to strive for success as a self-representing artist or try to get your feet wet in the gallery world?
That is such a common question these days among artists. I truly believe that most artists will come to a cross road where they will have to decide on which route to take as it’s extremely hard to be successful in both worlds.
About six years ago, before starting my art career, I made sure to research the art market and ask myself that very same hard question. It was very apparent to me back then that the self-representing route was my true calling. After selling over 2,500 works worldwide and amassing a fan base of more then 25,000 fans in less than 6 years, I can definitely say that it was the best decision of my life. The past six years weren’t easy but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.
I’m often asked why my work is not in galleries. For me it was really about being able to do my own things. I have nothing against galleries. I’m just a true entrepreneur at heart. I want to create my own strategies and my own marketing campaigns. I want to create my own destiny. I like to be my own boss.
I get almost daily emails from other artists asking for tips and strategies on how to be a successful self-representing artist. Before I get into a list of my top strategies to achieve success, you have to really ask yourself if your personality is right. Be really honest with yourself. Could you walk in a room full of business people and start at least four conversations? Can you sell yourself in 3-4 sentences by saying more then “I’m just an artist”? To be a self-representing artist, you have to be
a rocking entrepreneur.
Every artist obviously has different ways to create art. Techniques, feelings, emotions & experience all play a role in the finished product. Painting abstracts for me is just plain fun. I really feed off colors, emotions and music. I’m not the type of artist who will take a walk and get instantly inspired by something I see. For me, it’s more the mood I’m in and the emotions I feel when I’m in front of the canvas. I think about colors, shapes & forms. Those items are at the basis of all my artwork.
Music's rhythm and tempo have a big influence on my work. I love big canvases and I love to paint with big brushes. I’m not the best at painting small details so that’s probably why I don’t paint portraits. I find that music can influence the quality and speed with which I apply my large paintbrush or palette knife to the canvas. How I apply the paint will be reflected in the end result.
For some reason, I’m getting more and more requests about giving art courses. I never had any interests to teach art. I’m 100% self-thought and I’m very proud of the fact that I spent hours and hours perfecting my very own techniques.
When I first started painting, I decided that I didn’t want anyone to show me his or her own style. I didn’t want to be influenced by someone else. It was important for me to develop my own originality.
I constantly get emails from fans. I love it as it always makes my day. From time to time I get emails from aspiring artists. They are usually looking for tips and tricks. I don’t mind that either and I often try to help them even if my time is very limited.
The email went on to explain how his class was different from the others. Along with his fellow co-worker Monique, they had created an entrepreneurial concept for a class of grade 4 and grade 5 students in a little village called Saint-Antoine. The idea is that they create multiple projects over the course of the year and have a group of kids manage it from the ground up. From planning to presentation to seeking resources and managing the budget, these kids were immersed in their projects from the start. Since I was working full time back then, I politely declined his offer to spend 4-5 afternoons with the kids, as I couldn’t take time off work to do so.
For every project I work on, I always ask myself how can this be different? How can this be different enough that it will stand out from the crowd? I had the pleasure to welcome an unknown guest in my studio last month and we started talking about a possible project. One thing led to the other, and I've proposed something to him that no one else is doing in this market. His eyes lit up like a young kid on Christmas morning. I'll reveal more about this project next month but the point here is that creativity should be at the base of everything you do. Without it, you're just like anyone else. You'll just blend in the crowd. Maybe that's what you want and that's totally ok too.