A month and a half ago, I started setting up a booth at the weekly art show down at the beach. It’s hardly pioneering, even though I’ve never done anything like this before if you don’t count the one holiday bazaar I went to and you can’t count that because it didn’t count on SO many levels. (We call that a lesson learned.) At any rate, there’s been an abundance of advice on how to do just about everything. Which hasn’t been as fun as it sounds since the advice part is easy. The implementing it isn’t.
There’s one issue, one topic that I can not bring myself to agree to, no matter how many times people tell me it’s the whole point: You’re there to sell. You’re there to make money. It’s a point, I agree, but not the whole point. I’m a hair splitter that way.
I knew way before I ever started thinking about art shows and booths and displays and long, long hours: It’s not selling, no matter how many pieces I have for sale, not even if I were to get all shop-keeper-y and put little price tags on things. For me, it’s showing. Inviting people in to see what I see, to play with the way we think.
Artists and writers have a wonderful job of opening doors and windows and small cracks in the fabric so the imagination can sneak in and think in a whole new way. It’s why I do it in the first place, so there’s a tiny world of my own invention, where I put the things I believe are possible and could happen in the real world.
I say this to no one. I hint at at, but the looks come quickly: you’re naive. I’m not naive, though. I want to make money. I like money and the money artists make is valuable, the same way anyone’s money is. It’s a beautiful idea, money is, that lets us thrive in so many ways. But I’m not doing anything I love for the money.
Maybe because I’ve done it. I’ve drawn, animated and written things without love, with corporate detachment and cool mind and they are not things I care about. I was pleased to be paid for my skills and my services, of course, and admit I lost nothing in the process (you know, like a soul), but neither was I happy and I definitely didn’t feel like I’d helped nudge the world into something good or at least better.
In a month and a half, doing it my way, I’ve sold quite a few paintings. I’m thrilled every time someone wants it in their life. It’s something extraordinary every time someone says to me, their hearts pouring it: These make me happy.
I have some things to learn, still. Principally, how to not get so excited when I’m talking with people. I don’t want to talk TO anyone and there’s a line my head doesn’t always recognize, especially when I get tired. Luckily, I have this painting and it reminds me that as powerful as words are, they can disturb simple moments.