Pushing Passed the Little Things - AN ARTSY JOURNEY # 23
I’ve been wrong before. Oh, heck, if I’m being honest, I’ve been wrong a lot. But I have never been as wrong as when I passed over a little detail on my to-do-list.
Generally I break big projects into smaller doable tasks. Make a dent. Then do the next little thing.
However, printing three limited editions was not a little thing. It was a big thing. And to pull off this big thing of selling 650 copies of each lithograph, I had to tackle the last little thing —printing a promotional brochure.
Several weeks earlier Bill reminded me I needed a promotional handout. “Make sure to include the size and price of each piece, also an artist statement,” he said.
His words rattled me because I had maxed out my art budget while printing the limited edition. Where would the additional money come from? I felt pushed into a hole so dark I wondered if I could climb out. Should I simply let the darkness absorb me and give up on living off the arts?
But I had made a commitment. Not to others, but to myself. Besides, the cost of the brochure was small compared to the investment in producing the lithographs. I was so close to completing this big thing. I couldn’t let one little thing stand in the way.
Luckily, I found a ray of light – a local art festival. In the early 1990’s Bismarck, North Dakota, did not have retail art galleries as part of its shopping mix so festivals provided a rare chance to display art and possibly generate income.
The Bismarck Presbyterian Church was sponsoring a two-day art celebration where artists could submit up to three works of art. Hundreds of entries would be judged for cash prizes and ribbons. Better yet, the paintings could be sold! Selling an original painting, or two, was the light at the end of this dark hole.
Preparing for the festival, I painted, and re-painted several images to submit the best art that I could generate. I never had been an artist to spend a lot of time on sketching out an idea. I liked to dive in and take action right on the crisp white paper. I was captivated by the complexity and independent nature of the watercolor media. Colors often mingled or separated from each other on the paper.
Opening night, I entered the large church reception room, rubbing my sweaty palms together. It was a sea of paintings. I felt my legs tremble as I circled around the portable wall units seeking out my artwork. I knew I had done my best work possible. I was thankful for the opportunity to exhibit whatever the outcome, yet deep inside worry buried in my gut. I needed just one sale to cover the cost of the promotional brochure.
Warily I peeked around the last partition. I gasped so loud, heads turned. A vivid cobalt blue ribbon dangled from one of the paintings! I not only won first place prize money, better yet, I had sold all three pieces!
The next day I bounded to Serig advertising agency ready to produce the promotional brochure with some art samples in my case for review.
Bill fondled one of the handmade papers I had textured. “This pattern is your trademark,” he said. “I think it should be the background to offset the limited edition prints.”
A zing went up my spine. It was a great marketing idea, reinforcing why Bill had a successful advertising career for more than twenty years.
At first when Bill reminded me that I needed to print the promotional brochure, I thought it was because he thought I had foolishly not planned on the concept. Now I realized, all along, Bill had my best interests at heart. Every step of the way he had been helping me succeed. After Robert's ordeal, he boosted my once-abused trust factor of people up a notch.
However, the concept of using a textured paper background meant another trip to see photographer, Larry Weller.
Larry greeted me with that familiar, playful grin that appeared in the corner of his mouth. This was the third time to watch in awe as he brightened my art under his powerful spotlights.
He clicked the camera and chatted.
“So, you make this paper yourself?” he asked, making his short dark mustached dance.
I gave him a polite nod.
“Does it take much time?” he inquired a bit more.
“Yes,” I said. “We apply a variety of layers and let the paint dry in between each one.”
The camera continued to click, along with a litany of other questions. I shrugged it off as idle chit-chat. I didn’t mind the distraction. Larry’s carefree laugh was deep and rich and infectious like the two other times I had worked with him.
The photo shoot went smoothly. I left innocently, not realizing, months later how these random questions would end up in an unusual project – my texturing techniques collaborating with his photography.
But for now, with Larry’s photographs and Bill’s design, I had a first class brochure for my first wholesale art show in New York City.
I showed the promotional handout to Beth and Bobbie-Jean, the crafty duo who created the petite art collages of my cottage industry.
“Wow!” Bobbie-Jean said as she ran her hand across the photographed textured background that looked three dimensional. “It’s dynamite!”
From her words, I let pride swoop in.
Then Beth asked, “What are you going to wear in the Big Apple?”
Pride whooshed back out.”