Alaskan Artist - Elise Tomlinson
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01/31/2006: "Fool me once..."

Well, I turned in my quarterly sales taxes and business property tax assessment thingamajigs today (just in the nick of time) so that has taken some of the pressure off. Sorry if I've been acting like an ass lately. It's a slippery slope that separates art from business and I guess I've been sliding down the wrong end of it for awhile.

All the books I've been reading on setting goals and working towards a long-term plan, I guess I convinced myself that I was making headway in being able to make a living as an artist full-time which is the only thing I've ever *really* wanted (besides being a size 7)...and I could see it happening so clearly in my imagination...and a tiny bit of success fed the fantasy.

I realized today that I have to quit obsessing over this. I already get stressed out if I don't feel like I'm painting enough, I don't need anything else to keep me up at night. I have to quit letting the approval (or lack thereof) of others drive my ambition or make me feel like a failure if the numbers don't add up. I'm not going to starve to death even if I never sell another painting.

So, from now on I'm going to think positively, work on that book cover I was commissioned to do for Alaska Roadside Geology since I have to meet with the author soon. I'm also making a promise to myself to try and not think (or write) about *anything* directly related to business, marketing, or sales, etc. until I get my soul back on track. Can you say REALITY CHECK boys and girls?

Replies: 11 Comments

on Tuesday, January 31st, Daniel said

Don't be so hard on yourself. I don't believe anything is ever enough. Not enough sales, not enough time, not enough annoying peope to tell "shut the hell-up" (wait... I never run out of those).

In 2005, I had my best year to date - and its just a big pain in the ass. Because now I'm stressed that 2006 won't be good enough because I (sic) already sold to everyone that wanted anything. Its a stupid curse to place upon yourself. But don't drop the ball on your PR, because it doesn't effect you now, but two years from now (when you may be out of the funk but wondering why no one calls for paintings). I just went through a month of "dropping" the PR, because I was sick of not getting immediate returns. Now I'm doing double time to make it up and it cuts into painting time.

On a loosely related subject - do you dig your day-job? If so keep it. Not for the $ and security, because I believe the money always comes when you least expect it. I'm very much an "Even-Steven" kinda person. But keep the job for the social interactions. I'm damn-near a recluse, because I stay (by myself) in my studio all week averaging 10-12 hours a day without people to talk to. (Hence, I don't know when to shut-up on someon else's blog.)

on Tuesday, January 31st,">sean said

I just read this quote by Gabriel Garcia Marquez talking about how before he became famous he would think of close friends who might like this bit or that bit of his books, but that after a buncha Years of Solitude, he felt like there were a million eyes out there and that unlike his friends, he didn't know what those eyes wanted.

You probably already have this, and you've certainly heard me talk about it back in the day, but there's a book out there called the Writer's Chapbook and it's a selection of interviews from the Paris Review grouped by subject. The section on Audience is facinating. There are many different points of view, but Eudora Whelty argues that ultimately you have to give yourself over to what the thing itself wants to become. Of course, that's not all that much easier than trying to guess what everyone else in the world hopes it becomes.

Anyway, shine on you crazy diamond.

PS - Where's my coffee?

on Tuesday, January 31st, Elise said

Just a quickie as I am half asleep (I took some tylenol pm for my creeky joint at around 4:00am now I'm too tired to drive into work!) but I had to respond to this first...

To Daniel, I really do love my day job and I think without it I would become a total recluse as well (though that idea really appeals to me right now) did I mention I'm half asleep?

You mentioned that you took a month off from doing PR...what kind of PR have you been doing? (Congrats by the way on doing so well last year!)

I guess I can't be too shocked I did worse in 2005 when I had one crummy solo exhibit of paintings that aren't my normal style...when the year before I had had 3 solos!

I've sold some through this website but it can never be as good as an opening. And I guess aside from beefing up my website, I haven't really done *any* PR...nor have I applied for any shows or entered any contests etc. So...your work ethic seems astonishing quite frankly.

And please, my blog especially is a "no shut-ups necessary zone".
and SEANY!
Hey, so very very very good to hear from you...I miss you already...and the beautiful girls. I will order that book through ILL. It's hard to think of GGM (one of my all-time favs) as ever having self-doubt or considering even for a moment what all those eyes wanted (it's comforting though isn't it?) have you written anything new lately?

Oh, and as for the coffee situation, I feel really terrible...I had it all packaged up to take to the post...but then I ran out of that particular blend so I ended up drinking yours because I thought it would be a snap to buy more but then the company who sells it went quit roasting that blend though they might bring it back in the future...did I mention I'm a loser?

But don't worry, you're on the top of my list if it becomes available again. It's really good.

BTW, why don't you have a blog yet?

ok, can't keep my eyes open, I'm going to pass out on the couch now...hasta

on Tuesday, January 31st, Daniel said

You asked for it...

I blanket galleries/museums with portfolio materials, e-mails and phone calls. I send (1)CD-Roms, (2)letters with directions to the website and (3)actual photo reproduction portfolios to about 1200 galleries/museums year. It does take a lot of time, but I average half a dozen good shows per year (and a couple small ones that I don't even list on my resume). I only mess with one or two juried shows/year. Just can't get motivated to pay that fee.

Currently, I'm printing tri-fold full-color brochures as an even cheaper and faster way to mass mail. It displays 4-5 images and lists contact info and my statement.

I don't deal in prints at all. I produce about 200 paintings/year, so it would cut into my process if I had to stop to deal with an outside printer screwing-up my colors. Plus I'm pretty much about the process (I make my own scrolls and the ink/paint), so once I finish a piece its all about the next thing.

But that said, I spend just as much time on PR as painting and makes me angry. I have a rep that started as a patron, she got me a couple big sales and representation, but it has been spotty at best. She has a day job and has just been repping for me in Montana since I set-up the Santa Fe studio (20 hours away). I still get more sold/shows if I just take off from painting and do my own repping.

on Tuesday, January 31st, Elise said

Holy S%$! Batman!

You're obviously on an entirely different level than I am... but it makes me feel better somehow, I'm sure if I did all of that I would make more sales...though I honestly don't know how I could and still produce as much work as I do (plus the full-time job, life, etc.)...

but it is something to shoot for...someday.

Thanks for the info

on Tuesday, January 31st, ann said

I don't know if you want advice about this... but here's a suggestion that you are free to entirely ignore:

You have a mailing list, right? And those people very likely don't know that prints are now available for sale on your website. You could send out a mailing with that info... I'm sure you would get some sales that way.

It'd be one way to increase your sales without too much effort. And while you continue to paint what you want to paint.

on Tuesday, January 31st, Elise said

That's a really good idea Ann!

Maybe I can make a nice post card or something and mail it out. They aren't very expensive to make and who knows.

I've also been playing with the idea of offering a special, like "free shipping" for the month of Feburary (or a 20% discount for people in Juneau)...something like that.

But I'm afraid it may reek of desperation.

You'd tell me if I reek, right?

on Wednesday, February 1st, ann said

I'd definitely tell you if you reek! The discount idea is good, I think. It would make interested people be sure to check your website that month... maybe soon after they get your postcard.

Oh, and I might just use the discount if you offer it :)

on Wednesday, February 1st, Elise said

Cool, maybe I'll just put the "coupon" or whatever on the postcards...I could make it for the month of march in celebration of st. patty's (being irish and all!)

on Wednesday, February 15th,">Tim Randall said

Stumbled on your Blog and noticed you must live real close or in the old Duplex I used to own just across the street (up a block) from Louie's Bar. I lived in J/D from 1965-1975 and graduated or should I say was poured out of the JD High School in 1971. Lots of fond memories and hope to return one day soon (love the Water, the people and the "weather" yeh right! Remember all the picnics down at the Douglas public beach (even in the Rain) Also I was one of the early pioneers of the Sno Cat and tows up to the Eagle crest ski area. Have a wonderful time in Douglas and be safe, happy and whole!!

on Wednesday, February 15th, Elise said

Hi Tim, yes, I live right up behind Louie's in downtown douglas. I do love it took awhile for it to really grow on me but I honestly can't see myself leaving any time soon.

Eagle Crest has been having a few rough years with barely any snow so the skiers in town are getting a bit peeved... myself included.

Anyway, thanks a lot for stopping by, did you see my painting of the water pump on Sandy Beach? There are a couple I've done of that image, it's one of my favs.

take care!