Jason Horejs, the owner of the Xanadu Art Gallery, recently has been posting some helpful blogs about what it takes to really make it in the professional art world. This is not to say that we can't see some amazing art by non-professionals, especially in the Lao community, but I think he provides some excellent places to start from for those of us who are keeping productive enough that a career solely as an artist is possible and viable. One of the articles I've recently been reading by Horejs asks "Artists: Are you Consistent? A Gallery Owner’s Perspective."
One of the key takeaways from his post was: "This is not to say that I am not willing to stretch and take risks with unproven artists, but I am far less likely to make such an investment if I see inconsistency in the work. My concern is that I will make the investment and begin to build a following for the artist’s work, only to have the artist make a sudden and drastic change in their style, forcing me to start over again. It can sometimes take years to build a following for an artist, and during that time a steady stream of consistent work is key."
I can see his point, although he's approaching it from the view of a gallery owner. How would this work for Lao American gallery owners, especially those who really wanted to showcase the work of Lao artists or artists inspired by Laos.
He also suggests that we need to edit, give ourselves parameters, but also evolve and choose, among other things. I actually also find this an apt approach to poetry.
In another project of his, he was discussing a number of skills an artist needs to know to get their work out for the galleries. He would talk of:
How to create a consistent body of gallery-ready work
What you should do to present your work in a manner that will appeal to galleries
How to price your work
How to organize your work and track your inventory
How to best allocate your marketing efforts and dollars with an eye toward getting into galleries
How to build your resume
How to pick the best markets for your work and how to find the galleries in those markets that would best suit your work
How to confidently approach galleries and what to say when you meet the director or owner.
I agree, these are critical skills, but not necessarily ones I've seen among even the best of Lao American visual artists. Perhaps we need to have some renewed conversations on this and step forward with greater ambition. But what are essential skills you think professional artists need?