Draw from words, an illustrated show featuring three Bowen Island artists opened June 22nd and ran through July 17th. Since then I’ve been wanting to write and share my experience, what was involved, and the steps I took to bring it to fruition.
I’d exhibited a piece here and there in galleries before, and contributed to a friend’s show with photography years ago, but I’d never really put together my own show, start to finish. Thankfully I was sharing the gallery walls with two other artists; Adrien Deggan, a very talented illustrator and Ron Woodall, a multi talented and extremely accomplished artist who happens to be our local cartoonist. Knowing I was going to be exhibiting with such talent made me nervous but also gave me the drive to push my own limits.
Recently I quite my day job as a VFX compositor for film and television in order to pursue my dream of being a childen’s book illustrator. I know my old job sounds glamorous, and it was! A well paying, creative job working with a great team of artists. It was was very hard to leave, but in the end I want to make a difference in the world. Being an illustrator, inspiring young minds, helping children learn to read is something I felt I needed and wanted to do.
The show was scheduled to run during the writter’s festival, which was a perfect venue to showcase my illustration style to authors. My goal has been to find that special story, something enchanting and magical. So, I decided to do 15 illustrations based on the classical children’s books that are out of copright, such as “The Princess and the Pea”, “James and the Giant Peach”, “Alice and Wonderland”, “The wizzard of Oz”, “Thumbelina”, “Wind in the Willows” and other nastalgic stories that everyone loves and remembers from their childhood.
It took me about a year to plan the show, and more that 6 months to create the artwork. I worked tierlessly, especially during the last month before the show. It’s not just the artwork, there is a lot of promotion involved. Website, blog, invitations, posters, business cards, I even went as far as to create a little book of my artwork. I made prints available from my website, and I also made cards from the original artwork so that there were a veriety of different price points for the veriety of visitors to the show. In order to get every thing done I made lists. Lists apon lists. Every day I gave myself goals. As a creative person I find deadlines nessesary, but I also find them to be creativity squashers. Any artist will tell you that they have good creative, artistic days, and days, where no matter how hard you try you end up spinning your wheels, so you have to give yourself a little room for those days, and anything else life might throw at you.
In the end it all came together, despite the mail strike and having all my invitations kiboshed by Canada Post. Like planing a wedding, you have to accept that at least one thing will not go as planed, and you just have to go with the flow.
We decided to do the Artists reception on a Friday evening to bring more of a party atmosphere to the openning. I went to the trouble of getting a liquor license, bought wine (I suggest getting beer too … next time) as well as an assortment of food; breads, cheese, fruit, veggies, cookies etc. I did the catering myself, with help from some fabulous friends in order to save money.
There was a fantastic turn out of people, and it went off better than I could have expected.
I priced my pieces to sell, not so low that I gave them away, but I did make them affordable, as I am not yet a well known artist. This is an important point for artists that are starting out, after all, it was my first art show. Out of 16 pieces I ended up selling 13 which ended up being a record for our little gallery. As well, I sold out of books and had to have more greeting cards printed. When I tallied up all the materials, framing supplies, promotional costs, 25% gallery commission and fees… never mind my time, I came out ahead, but not a whole lot. However, what I did get from the show was worth far more than money. I gained experience, exposure, several commissions and most importantly some great future possibilities, not to mention a visible progression in my work. For a little gallery, on a little Island, on the west coast I couldn’t have asked for more.
All in all it was a fabulous experience, that I would recomend for any artist, young or old, experienced or just starting out, submit to the call for artists. Even if you don’t sell a thing, the process will bring you much more that you ever thought possible.
I’m also now the new curator of our Art Gallery!