Friends or Rivals?

mosaic stepping stone with water and three fish by Lynn Bridge

Puddle  13

by Lynn Bridge

Do you remember being in 7th grade? If you were a girl, it is likely that, at one time or another, you found yourself in a rivalry with another girl for the friendship of a third girl.  Somehow we girls thought that a person could not have two best friends.  I remember girls who were passionate about ‘beating’ out a rival girl for the friendship of the third.  Someone always got hurt.

mosaic stepping stone with fish and water by Lynn Bridge

Puddle 17

by Lynn Bridge

In those days we also occupied ourselves with being as indistinguishable as possible from any of our friends or our idols.  We had not yet learned that everyone has unique characteristics that make them special.  We did not appreciate each others’ differences- we tried to obliterate differences in ourselves and we tried to bludgeon differences out of our peers.

As an artist, it seems as though I am expected to be at odds with my fellow artists in ways similar  to the seventh grade paradigm of friendship.  Participating in a discussion with non-artists on the topic of marketing art sooner or later leads to a comment regarding “all the competition out there”.

People are usually surprised to find that I don’t feel myself in competition with other artists.

mosaic stepping stone with water and two fish by Lynn Bridge

Puddle 12

by Lynn Bridge

You see, I have the perspective that artists must be friends and help-meets, rather than rivals. We are in the peculiar position of having to manufacture AND sell the goods, which means two-jobs-in-one.  It is hard!  As a small business owner, I need a good product- one which is prized by customers, AND I need a good marketing-and-sales strategy.  However, unlike other small business owners, I cannot teach someone else to manufacture my art in order to allow me to concentrate on sales.  Having my art be mine IS the business.  After a certain point, I can start relying on galleries or some other outside entity to help me market my art, but this does not happen until I generate a lot of sales on my own.  So, I must be two people in my job.

The people who have been most helpful to my career are……. other artists!  They have been the ones to let me know about opportunities to show my work.  They have been supportive in helping me see- really see- my own work and how to improve it.  They are the ones who teach me new techniques and introduce me to potential art collectors and commiserate and offer helpful suggestions when I don’t see how I can possibly DO everything that I must in order to succeed.

I don’t see my fellow artists as my rivals for the reason that I believe in my own uniqueness, and the power it has to attract people to my work who will be attracted to MY work.  I love the uniqueness of each of my fellow artists, the uniqueness that attracts their collectors to THEIR work.

The most pressing marketing job that all artists have is to educate potential collectors about our art! We must keep art and its importance for the community in front of the public in every way possible.

Art can help heal a broken soul.

Art can bring joy every day.

Art can cajole, remind, illustrate.

Art can pull out feelings.

Art can educate.

Art comes from the human impulse to think new thoughts, to celebrate uniqueness, to explore and to question.

We all have artistic instincts squirreled away somewhere, and we all need someone to lead the way for us to find those creative places in our souls.  The artists lead the way!

Have you had a piece of art in your life which has, in some way, small or large, shaped who you are? Please leave a comment and let the discussion begin!