This past Sunday I took part in a Spring art show. I barely sold a thing. But I had a wonderful time doing it. About 10 women artists got together and we sold our wares for most of the day. There were artist forms of all kinds- glass beadwork, fused glass, paintings, woodworks, custom clothing, essential oil mixtures, and culinary arts like tamales, bonbons, and homemade dog treats. It was hosted in one artist’s gorgeous, spacious home and we filled every corner with unique items for purchase.
While we were standing around waiting for customers to pass through, we got to talking. I learned so much about these incredible women and had great exchanges. Some information we shared was technical. There are differences in glass when used as raw materials- some can become solid, swirly necklace pendants, and some glass is better for making marijuana pipes. There are tamales that you can’t walk past without wanting a taste. Fused glass can be manipulated to look like blocks, pools, or splashes of color. Fabric with the Princess Bride quotes surprisingly do not sell very well (seriously, who is not buying this??). I picked up a few tips on marketing on social media, what festivals are worth checking out, and what apps help artists the most.
More importantly though, I realized from their stories that each artist came into her own on a
different path. One woman stumbled into making fashion when her business partner fell through and she had to fulfill orders on her own. She found that she had the talent and patience for making clothes and a great eye for picking fabulous fabrics. You should see them- you’ll wish all the kids clothing was in adult sizes. The glass artist studied fine art for years but
admitted she fell in love with glass art only after she left school. She played with fire and color and was hooked. Another woman experimented for a long time to perfect her painting technique and create painted tiles that have now taken off in shops across Arvada and Denver. The woman selling essential oils also works as a doula. She completely changed her life from being a lawyer to following a path that inspired her more. She has slowly incorporated more holistic options in her own life and now enjoys helping others. Her whole demeanor is calming and the oils seem to be a perfect match for her character.
The common theme that wound its way through all their narratives was one of combining patience and passion. It apparently takes years to establish your business, perfect your craft, and arrive at a place of confidence in your choices.
As a newbie this was both inspiring and daunting. For all my questions about pursuing art as a career, it seems to always come down to learning as much as you can and then trusting yourself. There is a lot of “getting a feel for it” and “finding your niche.” I imagine this is the same for any profession, or really, any opportunity of taking risks, changing, and working on something exciting but out of your comfort zone. You can learn a lot from others, but ultimately it comes down to figuring out what works best for you.
It’s hard to accept that it could be years before I feel solid in my career choice. It’s sometimes hard to acknowledge doubts and hopes mixed up together. But like those ladies and their stories maybe one day I’ll turn around and realize the start of my own path is much farther behind me than I thought. And my story might someday be as unique and inspiring as theirs were to me.