The Artist Roadmap

What To Do When Nothing Sells

start up

In October 2016, I had my third solo show. Animal Magic took place in the little co-op gallery I was a part of, and I learnt a lot from this experience! My second solo show, earlier in the year, had been centred around Tasmanian Landscapes, and although it got off to a rather slow start, I sold a few paintings and a few more found homes in the following months.

I have always loved drawing animals, so I thought why not try something different and do some animal drawings and paintings. I decided on ten pieces, and used a technique of thin acrylic paint followed by pen and ink, to create the pieces for the show.

While this was fun to create and I also made cards using the images, the exhibition itself didn't go to plan. The opening night greeted a small group of people (most of them my friends), and while the paintings and message around the importance of conservation was well received, nothing sold. And nothing sold throughout the following two weeks of the exhibition either.

Now, I know it's not all about the sales, but I was still in my early days and wasn't making much money so it made me a bit nervous about whether I was going down the right path. In hindsight, my change of subject direction probably confused my small group of followers, who were currently enjoying my landscape paintings. 

I used the images to make a little children's book of poems, made some prints and eventually sold five out of the ten pieces, the rest I painted over. While animal portraits made up a substantial part of my business in the first few years, it wasn't until I focused my niche into seascapes when things really took off.

 

WHAT I LEARNED

  • Little failures are all part of the process, and it's not a failure if you learn something.
  • You need a thick skin in order to be an artist.
  • It's always worth trying, as you never know where it may lead. I actually got a lot of commissioned work on the back of this exhibition, as people liked my unique style.
  • Experiment as much as you want when you are first starting out, then FOCUS.
  • Invite people other than your friends to your exhibition openings. Invite them too, of course, in case the other people don't show up.
  • Think about other products you can create around your original art. Cards, prints, designs on fabrics etc.
  • You are still a superstar for putting yourself and your art out there :)

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