Wednesday, April 29, 2009

how gardening is a lot like building an art career

I am a novice gardener. I have spent the last 10 years and two houses developing a garden, or garden style. Both my first house and my second house had little to no landscaping and decent sized city lots. As I was working in my garden over the weekend, it occurred to me that creating a garden is a lot like building an art career. 

For example, both take planning, based on what you have to work with. If you have a flat lot with lots of sun you will plant differently than a sloped lot all in shade. As an artist, if you have loads of talent with drawing characters and people you would focus your attention differently than if you are fantastic at landscapes. 

Over the past 10 years in my garden I have nurtured plants, moved them, pruned, divided, and flat out removed ones that were not fruitful or didn't belong. My art career has been very much the same process. I have experimented with styles and with disciplines, seeing which would bear fruit. Some styles were pruned, portfolios were divided, and paths were abandoned. 

I have planted many many seeds both in my garden and my career. Some never germinated while others flourished until I tired of them or they evolved into something else. All the plants in my garden require some attention. Either to help nudge them along, or to ensure that they have the nutrients they need to succeed. Career wise it tends to be the same. If I am not creating the art, I am promoting, marketing or working on how to bring about big bountiful blooms. 

As I look out at the clouds and the rain today, I know the weather is making my plants happy. Inside as I chip away at new works of art, fine tuning, adding, deleting and planning who to send them to, I can't help but long for the sunshine. Both for my garden, and my own state of mind.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

deflation and what that means to me

I was reading the newspaper yesterday and read a small article on deflation in Spain. I knew what inflation was but quite honestly didn't know about deflation. For any of you who don't know, it is when prices drop rather than rise like inflation. Doesn't sound bad at first, paying less sounds good right about now. However, it is bad, it is downright terrible. The obvious downside is that if prices drop, businesses make less, pay less, hence workers make less, buy less and everything starts to circle the drain.  I don't know about the rest of you, but I have been seeing deflation creeping in over the last 6 months, I just didn't know what it was called. 

For me deflation is the project I lost because someone underbid me. It is the customer who asked for a discount, who negotiated a slightly lower rate due to the recession. Yes it is the projects I get calls for that pay less than they did last year for the same amount of work. Obviously deflation is bad news. And deflation is here in all of its glory. For how long no one knows. The part that really concerns me is how do we get our fees back when things start to turn around?  

Monday, April 13, 2009


If you have ever heard of the movie Rudy you know that it is a football movie. But if you have seen it, you know it is NOT about football. For the record I LOVE the movie Rudy. I have seen it enough times that I don't even need to see the whole thing, I really just need the last 4 minutes or so. 

As I said it isn't about football. It is based on the true story of Daniel Ruettiger, and is about determination. In a nutshell, Rudy wants to play for Notre Dame, and all the odds are against him. Through hard work he manages to play on the practice team for Notre Dame and gets beat up for years, never making the real team. Finally in the last 10 minutes of the movie, he gets to dress for the last game of his senior year (see here). And through the respect of his team, against the wishes of the coach, he ends up playing two plays in the last few minutes of the game. He manages to sack the quarter back and is carried off the field. 

Of course Rudy is an inspiring film. It is supposed to make you cry, make you feel good that his hard work paid off. You're supposed to get teary eyed (I do). And every time I watch it, I find it relatable. No I never wanted to play for Notre Dame, but really making a living as a professional artist, that is not what your average high school counselor advises you to do. It is a dog eat dog profession where talent is as important as timing and good luck. But beyond talent and timing, is sheer will. Because any artist can tell you, there are countless occasions to give up. Between the first 'Thanks but no thanks' letter, to the next 'Thanks but no thanks" letter. It takes an immense amount of dedication and desire to get up, dust off and keep moving forward. 

I think every artist needs to have the last 4 minutes of Rudy saved on their desktop. God knows we need to remember, never, never,never give up.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

sunny days and staying on task

I love working from home. I love being an artist for a living. But man when the sun comes out it is so hard to stay motivated. This is how I manage it. 
Rule number 1) Get up and get to work when the weather is crummy. Just hunker down and work like crazy. This means you can take a slow start or an early departure when the days are nice. 
Rule number 2) Give yourself deadlines even if you are working on pieces that have not been bought, yet. This helps you to accomplish things to again justify the sunny day enjoyment.
Rule number 3) Do allow yourself to sneak out for a peek of what is to come. This lets you get a taste of the sunny glow to keep you motivated to finish whatever it is.

Really three rules. And I think these rules only apply to people who live above 43ยบ latitude. Ok, maybe only to those of us who live in the ever so rainy Pacific NW. For the record it is really lovely out right now, and the rains are coming back tomorrow so I have to finish the post and go soak up a little Vitamin D.