Face Your Fears - An Artsy Journey #21
In my heart I knew it was a smart business decision to print reproductions of my originals paintings, yet I squirmed in my seat. This was a costly endeavor on my start-up art business budget, but these limited edition offset-lithograph prints would provide an option for the mainstream customer – where most of the sales in the art industry were made. In the early 1990's. Numerous award-winning artists, such as Thomas Kincaid, Bev Doolittle, P. Buckley Moss had proven that. They were printing and selling single editions of 10,000 copies!So to offset the higher price of my originals, I wanted to offer a lower price by creating prints. This desire to produce limited editions increased because I scheduled a wholesale art show in New York City. The show was an opportunity to build relationships with galleries outside of where I was living – Bismarck, North Dakota. Also, I felt selling limited editions would be a key ingredient to having a successful show.
Up until this moment, I had done everything I could to assure the success of this printmaking investment. First, I painted my best selling image – birds, planning one large, focal-point piece and two complimentary smaller pieces, also calculating that the art could be displayed as a matched set or stand alone.
But, I was still feeling nervous as this inital step of this comlex lithography process which was having the photographs taken of the original paintings.
I was crossing and uncrossing my legs trying to push down the tension as I sat waiting for Larry Weller. at his photography studio.
The studio door swung open. “Welcome back,” he said in way of a greeting. His carefree smile was pure, beach-worthy, reminding me of home - West Michigan - and made me feel fidget a bit less. This was my second time to work with Larry. Little did I know he would have a way of developing into my life months later?
I picked up my art case and entered the studio. Within minutes he clipped the three paintings to a pristine white background and then adjusted the high-powered spotlights. Maybe it wasn’t the carefree smile that slightly eased my jitters, maybe it was the way he could take my art, beam lights on it, and make it glow.
Whatever the reason, I was glad he was clicking with confidence because as I sat waiting, I was sitting on the edge of my seat.
“That should complete this first step,” Larry said, turning off the parade of lights he had lined up on the art. “Next, I’ll have the photographs developed into transparencies and we’ll proof them with Bill Serig.”
A bead of sweat broke out across my forehead, and it wasn’t from the heat still penetrating from the lights. Bill Serig was the owner of Serig Advertising Agency – a nationally award winning agency. I hadn’t heard his name since that day in his advertising office almost a year ago when he looked at my art portfolio and declared I was “too fine art” for his graphic department. Now we would be face-to-face again.
Larry went on to say, “I work with Bill on all major printing projects.”
It made sense a commercial photographer and an advertising agency would team up. I wiped my brow. Insecurity burrowed into my soul as I grew concerned about working with Bill Serig.
We met the next week at Bill’s office. It turned out I had no reason to be concerned about what Bill would say. The entire time, he and Larry had their heads buried, bent over the transparencies, one eye peered through a loupe – a squatty magnify glass – and the other eye squinted shut.
“The light values separate well,” Larry said.
“Uh-huh,” Bill answered. “The clarity is crisp.”
“Uh-huh,” Larry said.
No wonder these two worked so well together, they sang “uh-huh” in unison.
I took their “uh-huhs” as approval and signed off on the transparencies.
Once the eye-squinting project was completed, Larry left for another appointment and Bill said he would meet me in the conference room.
I took a deep breath. Fearing Bill's critique of my artwork, I had two choices. I could turn and run or I could march in and face his review.