Saturday, January 8, 2011

"I would NEVER buy that..."

I feel very fortunate to have worked in a small gift shop in Nelson, BC called The Mermaid Gallery. Before I became an employee I brought a few small paintings in for the owner to inspect hoping that I would get a chance to hang my work in her eclectic, colorful space. She was very encouraging and generous as well as she kindly offered to take in some of my work and shortly thereafter gave me a job. I loved working there since much of the gallery contained work made by Nelson locals. It was inspiring and uplifting to meet and interact with them and of course see their beautiful wares. 
When I look back on that time I see that I learned some very valuable lessons from Susan, the owner, and also from the gallery's clientele.  Perhaps the most valuable lesson came from watching people view and comment on my work.  Of course many people did not even notice my work, but some did and they commented freely, not knowing it was mine.  There were some very unflattering comments and then there were some sort of encouraging comments and also a few complimentary comments.  They ranged from, "I would NEVER buy that," to "My kid could paint that," and on to "It's not my favorite thing in here," (I put that in the sort-of-encouraging category) and also included other personal triumphs like "It's too simple. It's boring," and so on.  Some people liked my work, some could care less and others found it somewhat insulting to the senses.  But the good bit is that it made me realize that selling art is like that and it always will be and it's nothing personal.  While some will think your work is great, others will think it is greatly overpriced and still more will think nothing at all because it hasn't managed to inspire a glance.  Ouch, but not really.  Art is something you make, but it is not who you are.  Just like your dog may be sweet and adorable but that does not mean that YOU are sweet and adorable.  Or conversely, your dog may be a an obnoxious, yappy mutt, but that does not mean that YOU are an obnoxious, yappy mutt.  Or, you may be a shitty skier, but that doesn't mean you are a shitty person.  Or you could be the best skier in the world, but that does not make you the best person in the world.    

The whole point of this meandering tirade is to say this: you are not bad if your work is bad, and you are not good if your work is good.  In Buddhist philosophy this notion is called non attachment -- worth investigating if you want to create full time. 
 I chose these three images because while I always liked them, no one else did. C'est la vie. So I gave them to three deserving surfers, Lars Andrews, Dean Thompson and the beloved David Moldofsky, aka Moldy.