Where Are You Going? Where Have You Been?
Can you know where you're going if you don't know where you've been?
As a market and festival artist, I find myself having a lot of similar conversations with a lot of different people. I tell the same origin stories about specific art pieces and I repeat my own origin story as an artist if a potential buyer asks.
I realized that I've been doing this art thing for almost a decade which astounds me. I've spent most of that time trying to stay true to myself. I explore different images as part of my own spiritual journey. Some of my pieces (one billion cats can't be wrong, can they?) are admittedly more commercial than others, but I like to think that I've developed a decent sense of who I am and the art that seems to reflect my inner self.
This is why I'm never quite certain how to respond to this conversation which repeats at almost every market or every festival. A well-meaning browser will tell me what they think I'm doing wrong as an artist and what I should be doing instead.
The most common suggestion is that I need to focus on more Louisiana-themed work. Why aren't you painting fleur de lis or pelicans or oyster shells?
That isn't who I am. I think the appeal of my work is that it's mine. It reflects what interests me.
Another popular suggestion is that I should make x y or z because that's what they want to buy so, clearly, that subject matter would sell like hotcakes. Maybe those pieces would sell. Maybe they wouldn't. I'm always open to custom work but otherwise, I don't really act on those suggestions.
I love being able to make what I want to make.
I do make Louisiana-themed art, just maybe, not the way the well-meaning suggestions meant it. I love the brilliant colors of New Orleans. I love the architecture: both in the city and in the cemeteries.
The Zebra Kitty was one of my earliest pieces, dating all the way back to 2013. I still like to slip them into the occasional New Orleans art piece. I enjoy that moment when browsers notice the strange little cat tucked away on a porch or in a corner.
I do appreciate that suggestions are kindly meant, but I need to stay true to my path and to who I am. I love what I do and I will happily engage in conversation with you if you stop by my booth sometime. I will tell you the origin stories of my artwork. I will tell you my origin story as an artist and I will listen to any suggestions that you want to make. I may never act on them, but I do appreciate that we are sharing the same space and the same creative moment together.