Friday, July 12, 2013

Being my own Theo

I'm assuming you know the story of Vincent Van Gogh and his brother, Theo.  I think there was a movie called, "Vincent & Theo".  Maybe I'm a bad blogger because I'm not posting links and references, but this is the age of Googling things, so if you're interested in their story, google it!
Anyway, Theo was Vincent's brother and helped sell his art, he helped Vincent all that he could and promoted his work.
This is wonderful!  Every artist should be so blessed!  But how often does this really happen?  I mean, we all have our proud parents and siblings and various relatives that brag about us and embarrass us by pulling out some chintzy high school painting in front of our friends (ugh!) but do they market us?  Do they hit the pavement, and get our work into galleries?  Do they build our websites and organize our receipts (yikes!)
I'm thinking I need to get used to being my own Theo.
The major obvious reason would be my hoof-in-mouth sydrome, lol! (I am a proud Sagittarius, hoof-in-mouth syndrome is one of my many calling cards), But don't most artists have that?  I mean, we can let our art speak for itself, and that's easy.  It sells itself.  But people need or expect more these days, they want a tagline, a story, a sales pitch, an explanation.  They want niceties and returned favors and etiquette......oh my gosh...  And I'm telling you, with my best intentions ever, it's so hard to measure up and do all that!!!! (Theo, Theo?  Where's my Theo when I need him?!!!)
It's not that I mean to be rude, and I don't think any artist does, (we all wanna be loved, right?)  It's just, we're out of practice.  We're loners, intellectuals, visual thinkers, visionaries, if you will.  So when it comes to parties and press know, the room goes completely silent right at the moment that I hoarse-whisper to my sister, "I have really bad gas, I'll be right back"!  (Unfortunately, this really happened). It's so embarrassing!
Since I don't have Theo to help me, I am trying to learn to do a lot of things like this myself!  Please forgive me if I mess up, hahaha!  I'm trying!
But I'm motivated, and I'll tell you why:  While trying to get artists to join a group is like herding cats, it helps the artist, and helps elevate the art scene for everyone.  It's important.  And I realized lately that though I pretty much despise contests and awards (they are usually the inner circle of people awarding each other, right?  Am I cynical?) I think it can be important in regard to selling my work.  People that buy my work are proud of it, and they want to brag about it, and it definitely helps if they can say, "Yeah, she won such-and-such an award, and she belongs to this Art Organization", which is validating for them, and validating for me, and validating for the organziation, and validating for future awards, see?  It raises the bar for everyone.
Let me just add now that I will get back to you on this, and let you know how it pans out for me!  Right now, it's a theory.  I've had some wins & I've had some rejections.  If I keep having rejections, I might say, "forget everything I said!  Every Artist for him/ herself"!!!
Because, you know, I'm not typically a "Joiner", and aren't I looking for any excuse to get back into my comfort zone and say it wasn't worth it?  It didn't work for me?  I'm going back into isolation!
Frequently, people say to me, "You're art is awesome.  Why aren't you doing this full-time"?  That question irks me, I admit.  But I've recently begun to view it as an opportunity to educate people and say, "Hey, Painting is the easy part for me.  The business/ marketing side is what I'm working on.  Knowledge on how to do that just doesn't come naturally, you know"?  (again, THEOOOOOOO!!!!! Where are you?)
It's a challenge, and I accept.


  1. Dear Jennifer!!!

    I love your blog... I love your writing... and THEO equals Rusty Harden!

    She is there to help you network and to market... (vimeo, youtube, the gallery, FB...Sun Art.... the choices are so many.... its there... you're there!!! USE IT!!!! Woohoo.. Love this blog!!!!

    1. Thanks, Betsy! And you are so right, that is a great point to be made. The Art Challenge Gallery is a great marketing tool to be used, so we don't have to do it all ourselves, thank goodness! We have shared marketing and promotion for all of our survival, yay! Thanks for checking out my blog, and thanks for your kind words!!! Hope to see you at Studio 14 soon.
      Jen :-)

  2. I love it! I agree wholeheartedly. I spend WAY more hours behind my computer than behind my camera lens. I am hoping the more I post, repost, embed, blog, mass email, etc., the easier it will become and thus more expedient. And, then, of course, there is the bookkeeping and paying sale taxes!!! I really wish my business manager (my hubby) were able to do more than taxes and carry my tripod :( ALL I WANT TO DO IS GO TAKE PHOTOGRAPHS!!! Good to hear I am not alone. Keep up the good work, Jennifer. Your work is amazing. And, yes, Betsy . . . Rusty is our Theo. God bless her and you (Betsy) for all your hard work! Gina

    1. Thanks for your comment! You reminded me to thank my boyfriend, too. He does so much for me, he builds my frames that I stretch my canvas on, and he builds beautiful frames for my art after it's finished, as well. He helps me load and unload the van for gigs, and drops things off and picks things up when I'm at my day job. So I do have help, I'm not completely alone. But I am learning to do the marketing and promotion stuff....I feel like a new little Buddha in this great big world of marketing!!! I am glad to have friends like you, Betsy, Rusty and others in the Art Challenge Gallery that can offer a helping hand and mentoring. Betsy's right! These groups are the "Theo" that we need :-) Thanks, guys!

  3. Jen,

    This is awesome!! that's a great story, too. I knew nothing about Theo. Matt definitely seems to qualify. It's really sweet how you two work together. I would say sometimes it's hard to "toot your own horn." Most of us were raised not to "brag" or talk too much about ourselves. Although it may be a fine line, it also comes down to loving yourself enough to promote your work and overcoming fears that may be holding you back. Maybe?? I don't know. That's what came to me when I read your awesome very first blog!! Congratulations!! That's awesome and a first step to overcoming whatever it is that holds you back! I love your work and can't wait to read whatever comes next!! xoxoxo Angela

  4. Hey Angela! Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and leave such a thoughtful comment. I read it last night and thought about what you said. I think you're right! And part of what holds me back is fear of rejection. Selling my own art is different than selling someone else's product in a retail environment, you know? I definitely have an emotional attachment to my art, and a fear of rejection. I think this is why some artists have agents! Thanks again, and have a great day! Looking forward to seeing you soon, Jen :-)