Learning from Success

In 2010 I was unable to attend the opening of the Yakkerboo Art Show, the first exhibition in which I exhibited my art. When I arrived the following day, my friends excitedly told me there was a red dot next to my work. I was so naive that my response was, “Why? What does that mean?”

The piece was “Before the Fire”, a 10″ x 10″ collage in natural materials and acrylic paint and I’d priced it at $100 Australian dollars. I had chosen that price because it was a ‘nice round number’. (So naive!)

Later, another artist commented to me, “Someone doesn’t value their time very much!”
I was taken aback at first and his comment has stuck with me.

So, too, has my mental response. I had very mixed feelings about that first sale. These included:

* Someone likes and values my work enough to pay $100 of their earnings to own it.
* I wonder who bought it. (I never did find out.)
* I hope it stays intact! And that the colours won’t fade.
* I don’t have a decent photo of the finished work.
* I sold the picture – I don’t get to take it home!
* I’ll have to bring in my camera and tripod.
* I’ll ask one of my friends from the Pakenham Camera Club to document it, too. This will be the only chance to get a photo before it disappears into someone’s home.
* I wonder who bought it?
* I wonder where they will hang it?
* I hope it lasts.
* How will they keep it clean; dust is bound to collect?
* With a 25% commission, I’ll receive $75; I wonder how and when I’ll get paid.

Then I wondered if someone would have been willing to pay a higher price; but I didn’t think it would have been right to get more – I was so concerned about the durability of the structure of the work, despite having used the strongest woodworking glue I could find, and spraying it with many coats of sealer.

This experience taught me a lot and instigated a few changes to my Arts practice:

* Always use the best, archival materials I can afford.
* When experimenting and making innovative work, allow time for the art to settle, or cure, before exhibiting or offering it for sale.
* At the design stage, consider what sort of maintenance the piece may require and how to minimise this.
* Obtain the name and contact details of my collectors.
* Attach my business card to the back of my work.
* Document my work with at least one high quality photograph when I complete each piece.
* Pricing is subjective and I needed to learn how to do it effectively.

I also realised I had much to learn about materials and tools, techniques and pricing and exhibiting my art. This, along with one other incident (that I’ll tell you about in an upcoming post), led to me going to Art School at Chisholm Institute, where I graduated in 2012 with the Diploma of Visual Arts and in 2013 with the Advanced Diploma of Creative Product Development.

{ Read about my ADCPD projects and achievements in the book I wrote, An Artist of the TARDIS. You can preview the book on the Blurb site.}


Not that my learning ended there. I continue to research, attend workshops and network with other artists to expand my knowledge and to develop my art. And I am delighted to say my sales have steadily continued. I am also pleased my exhibition applications continue to be accepted and each event generates more interest in my art.

My career is just beginning. But I hope I never forget the parfait of contrasting emotions generated by the sale of my first piece of contemporary art. It was very exciting!



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