I read a timely post in the forum here this morning on the subject of the different styles a single artist may have. This is something we here at Grin HQ have been giving a lot of thought to lately, now we're in our own place again. We are now in a position to start approaching bricks-and-mortar outlets, but with so many things on the go, where to start?
Since reading an article on a very successful artist/crafter who went bankrupt simply by trying to do too many things at once and tripping over his own cash flow, I've tried to restrict myself to testing my theories one at a time. The 'regular' artwork is something I do anyway for the technical practice so that's always been top of the list to get moving.
Fortunately, it's also the easiest- a trip to any store will tell you people for the most part like drawings of regular things- flowers, animals, landscapes. On the downside, this is where I have the most competition too and for an emerging artist, it can be difficult to get noticed. I've got round this by visiting local events and licensing work. So long as I move enough pieces to pay for that time, I'm happy- its necessary but not that exciting at the end of the day.
Then there's the masks we make, so far as we've been able to ascertain, nobody else is doing anything quite like them, which means it's either a genius plan...or everyone else knows something we don't :) Because it's a new venture, we've started by selling them online, keeping our overheads down and allowing us the most control over how fast this thing grows. That in itself has attracted other businesses, some of which we've worked with and some we turned down . On a personal level, sometimes it's just plain nice to sit down after a day of 2d black and white, to create something three dimensional in such brilliant colours. So, it's proving commercial and makes us happy.
Then, theres the....other stuff. Some of it, I'm not sure I like, but it's what my brain does so I've decided to make a feature of it. This work is harder- 'fantasy' work has to be so much more realistic if anyone is going to see it as real. For example, how many times have you looked at the sun shining through grass and thought 'if I painted it that shade of green, nobody would ever believe it'... ? Well, I've currently got a thing we know as Stephen running round my head, who has made it very plain he's not going anywhere until I've drawn him. So, hours spent online looking up human arms, spider eyes, you name it, to try and re-create the horror that has nested in my imagination.
Why? Certainly not for any commercial purposes, though I am tempted to collect this stuff until I'm a sweet little old lady then surprise the hell out everyone by exhibiting it all at once :) Until then, this is just for my own personal-what, gratification? That's not quite right, it's such hard work and most of my time is spent trying just to get my head around it, to tune in if you like. It's more a sense of this being the thing I was really meant to do, the one thing only I can do, simply because I'm the only one that sees them. I do know that nothing feels quite so exhilarating and terrifying as those times I've got it just right and I can see something come to life on the paper before me.
We've added some sketches in this vein to one of our shops, by way of a bit of variety but I guess what I'm trying to say is that for me at least, there's a big difference between the work I do for myself and the work I give to the everyone else. You really can't please everyone- so maybe the key is to look at what you do with a fresh eye, see where it might fit into the commercial market and anything that doesn't – well, that's where you get to please yourself.
Besides, by not doing everything at once, you can give your full attention to the task in hand and if that plan doesn't work, you've still got something in reserve...