Only art today, but that was yesterday.

Yesterday morning’s status update was simple:

Only art today. No other bullshit.

I’m 1.5 months into my leave-without-pay, and while I’ve worked like a demon, and already accomplished a lot, I still don’t have any sense of getting ahead. Or rather, I don’t have that specific sense of result.

The biggest drag on my enthusiasm these days is my online gallery/shop (does it help when I call it that, when I try to dress it up as something more than a vendor?). If I can get people to go there, I can usually sell them something (I do try to make interesting, affordable things). But getting people to go there is increasingly difficult.

Using Facebook as just one example, I can post links and images ’til I’m blue in the face, and all sorts of people will ‘like’ them, but hardly anybody clicks through. And this clicking-through problem seems pervasive. People want a steady stream of eye candy, but they can’t be bothered with the sugar behind it.

Okay, fine. I don’t want to be yet another writer/artist whining into my boy beard about the noise of the internet. For the record: I am not whining. I am simply positing a problem that has no answer.

Even worse, I’m sure I’ve complained about this before.

Yes, in an alternate reality, I’d love to make a living by just making things –– just putting them online and having people buy them and mailing them out to people and then making more. Nice. We’re all allowed at least one outrageous fantasy.

Anyway: I did what I always do when I have no solutions, which is to just keep making stuff. Yesterday that meant finishing a whole whack of small paintings on cradled wood board that I intend to put in the new Labyrinth Handmade space (along with some mounted drawings and some cigar-tin stories). I think this is the last of my ‘noisy’ paintings –– images built upon successive layers of ruin, these scratched and stratified compositions of exposed roots, all broken thoughts and things crashed in. I certainly enjoy the adding subtracting adding aspect, but with snow and Christmas somewhere in the calendar, I’m feeling something quieter and even muffled is in order.


About to start listening to the audio book version of Chang-Rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea. My friend Ariel Gordon  didn’t care for it, which immediately motivated me to go sign it out. Hooray libraries, which facilitate contrary behaviour!


6 thoughts on “Only art today, but that was yesterday.

  1. I know the feeling, not as an artist but as a writer.

    I don’t know if this will help you or not. Track your work and find what sells the most and what people buy the most. Make more of that.

    Sell those and take the proceeds and buy more materials so you can sell more of that. Give the public more of what they want to buy and less of your experiments. Invest your profits.

    The with a part of your profits and with a part of your time make whatever you want to make.

    You have some interesting experiments. You’re obviously good.

    But that’s not necessarily a popular market.

    You can do both. Godspeed. I’m gonna start following you.

  2. I think Etsy just keeps getting worse. During my first year as a full-time artist / writer, I sold quite a lot on Etsy and it was even the base of my income, but then it became more and more focused on “local” shopping – how stupid is that, on the internet? – and barely anyone could see my (Swedish) stuff anymore. Exhibiting in galleries is nice and all, but they tend to take a lot of commission and I run a business so I have to pay a lot of tax off everything I sell. I make more money now writing articles and taking photos for those, or other commissioned work which is more journalistic, but I’m thinking of trying to get more licensing deals, maybe book covers or advertising. I’d love to have SOME kind of steady income but haven’t been able to find one yet.

    1. Thanks, Maria-Thérèse. Yes, something seems to have changed for me as well –– I have a lot of people liking my shop but no one looks at the actual work inside. Perhaps it’s just a culture of ‘likes’ now. I’m doing some fair/sales events this pre-Christmas season, then I’m going to give it all a rest for awhile, and spend the winter on large work and writing. Best of luck with everything, I think your work is lovely and warm.

  3. I keep hearing this over and over … like like like and yet no engagement. I don’t quite know why other than it’s so frigging easy. I know for myself I still prefer reading longer web posts but I’m guilty of not reaching out to let the author’s know I appreciate their thoughts, their creations.

    re: making vs selling … Nicholas Wilton wrote a great post about just that topic recently. worth a read. if you have a minute or two (

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