Thursday, December 23, 2010

Creative silence

I enjoy silence. As a matter of fact as much as I enjoy visual/auditory stimulation, I am also drawn to the emptiness and silence. In those quiet moments I can hear the fizzling noise from my 7up, or I can hear the faint sound of a passing car through the closed window. One habit I kicked for good three years ago is to stop watching television. Today I can't even recognize some of those "famous" people names that everyone talks about. The noise of television and unnecessary information is being replaced with more purposeful search for meditation and silence.

In those moments when the loudest sound is the fizzling 7up in my cup, the creative thoughts and ideas come like never before. We really can't think of anything new if we are always filling our mind with what already is, or with someone else's words and thoughts. To start anything creatively, a pause is welcomed and absolutely necessary.

I am constantly being asked why I created a certain peace of art.... how do I get ideas....
I think that everyone can create and have ideas if they stop thinking about them... the art for me is more a matter of happening than thinking. The best creations are not intellectual but rather intuitive. The intuition is something that at least in my case was not nurtured very much until my adulthood.

The creative energy works the best when allowed to reign in its own unexplored direction of happenings... Once in this zone, I start loosing time. If I loose time, I am certain that I'll create something of value. It is an interesting experience that only happens in certain occasions. Little children loose time while playing, and many creative people loose time when immersed into their activity. What I mean by loosing time is that you have no idea how much time has passed since you started something. The energy draws you to finish no matter what.

I remember once I was helping with my children's school project. Even after everyone fell asleep, I continued on the project until finished. Once I finished, I was very surprised to find out that it was 5:30 AM. It felt like a blink of an eye and I was not tired one bit. It was a three-dimensional art project that involved building a model house.

For me, making art is like that three-dimensional project. I make art when I receive a surge of creative energy and it mostly happens out of a creative silence. To have a general direction is good, but to over-analyze everything is bad. Creativity is born out of silence.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Two year retrospective

It has been almost 2 years that I have actively promoted my art products with pretty good results. In retrospective, I really appreciate all the people who helped me along the way. While reflecting on all the rejection and success I have experienced, I am drawing some conclusions. One of those conclusions is that I have art that sells well. It is modern, occasionally amusing and childish and sometimes pretty crazy. The market for my product is there, and I am slowly learning how to capture that market. In two years, my paintings ended up in some of the most beautiful modern office spaces in Des Moines: Wellmark building overlooking the multi-million dollar Pappajohn sculpture garden, and Davis Brown Tower downtown. I could not be happier about that!

Being an artist is a tall order since we make product, and most product available today is made in other countries where labor is inexpensive. The American companies send really great designers to China and other countries to design fantastic products that are manufactured abroad at low cost and then imported to USA. Some of these items are pretty artsy and well made, and that makes it harder for US artists to create something that can compete, and win the consumer. A lot of imports are still poor quality and that is where handmade and US made can win the game.

I talked to more experienced artists - ones that have been full time artists for 20+ years. There was a time in America when an artist was able to make a living with their art. Today, it is very hard, for many impossible.

We also have a bunch of artists and creative people who are trying to motivate our shoppers to buy local. In my experience supporting local model is not working, and it is a very poor business plan. Since the consumer is the one ultimately deciding, prices play a big role on what is being chosen and purchased in every area, including fine art. Those artists who kid themselves with keeping the prices of 2005, find that the work is harder to sell then ever. The ones that negotiate and reduce costs a bit, do better.

When I run into obstacles, I don't blame any one reason for my problems. The obstacles are only there to teach us to become better at whatever we are doing. Therefore I try to always think how can I create better art, be more engaging and original, how can I offer better, safer value to the art consumers.

It is entirely possible that we overspend our time and resources on marketing to the wrong audience. While operating an art gallery in a declining mall, I have learned that who you market to is even more important than how much energy you spend in doing so. It takes some time to find that target audience, and I think that art audience will grow on-line.

My buyers range from a teenager to a retiree; it is a very broad range. Usually people who choose my art are pretty sophisticated and have quite a bit of cultural exposure. My first collector is a retired man from New York, where he spent most of his adult life. He gave me a lot of confidence to continue without changing what I think my art should be about. These individuals that supported me in the past two years are invaluable for my growth and future success. These art buyers have laid a foundation where I'll build my artistic brand for many years, or as long as the creativity muse sits on my shoulders and whispers in my ear.