So if you, like me, are a hard-working woman passionate about doing something you love and are trying to figure out just how to make it into a successful career, I have a tip for you: visit www.taramohr.com and read Tara's "10 Rules for Brilliant Women." They are really inspiring! The ones that really speak to me are #4 (Get a thick skin), #6 (Question the voice that says "I'm not ready yet"), #7 (Don't wait for your Oscar), #8 (Filter advice) and #10 (Let other women know they are brilliant).
In a nutshell I think all of these rules come down to trusting yourself, believing in yourself, taking risks and not letting other people's judgments and opinions define who you are or what you do. It's about trying to be less modest, less considerate, less self-deprecating and go after what we want. We don't need permission. We don't need endorsement. We can help each other.
As I write this, I'm still in a back and forth with a potential agent. I'm exploring this route as an alternative to representing myself at a trade show. That's still something I plan on doing in the future, but in the meantime I wonder if I might not learn (and earn) a little bit by partnering up with a good agent. So far it's been a great learning experience working with their direction on a sort of audition-basis. Last week that resulted in a textural series I ended up being happy with. This week I'm going to work on an ethnic (new for me!) series and see what happens ...
I know that challenging myself to test the boundaries of my comfort zone (florals) is a good thing, and that if I can take direction and magically transform it into something that is just the right balance of what the agent/market is dictating and my own unique perspective and aesthetic, I will have succeeded. But there is a fine line between testing the boundaries of your comfort zone and selling out and trying to be something you're not. So I really hope I don't cross the boundary and fall off the cliff!
Because it's not really about whether the agent decides to take me on in the end. It's about whether I can respond to his direction in a way that is suited to his market but also reflects who I am as a designer. That is the challenge.
If you too are in the throes of the decision about whether or not to work with an agent, here is an interesting article at Joan Beiriger's blog listing the reasons agents don't take artists on. It might also be helpful to consult this article if/when coping with rejection. That's because there are, in fact, quite a few explanations for not being "accepted" by an agent, besides just that the work is not "good enough". Maria Brophy, who handles all the licensing deals for her husband Drew Brophy, writes extensively about art licensing on her blog. She recommends that artists represent themselves anyway. After all, who is going to be more committed to your success than you yourself?
For inspiration for my upcoming ethnic/tribal series I'll be heading to the Museum voor Moderne Kunst (MoMA) in Arnhem, NL this weekend. They have an exhibit of Vlisco fabrics. Vlisco is a fascinating company which has existed in the Netherlands for almost two centuries, and is responsible for supplying the West African market, for all those years, with it's most desirable printed fabrics. Think 'the Chanel of West Africa'. There's a fascinating article about them at Slate.com if you'd like to now more about the history of "Dutch Wax Prints." Or, just enjoy the images ...
Oh, and before I forget, as for #10 (Let other women know they are brilliant), I've been thinking a lot the last few months about what I want this blog to be. A couple of weeks ago I learned that a couple of former Sellable Sketch classmates had made it to the final judging round in the Threadless loves Gap contest after reading about the deadline on this blog. That made me feel really good!
My dream is to be able to be of some use to people who share this passion and ambition of mine. So, I have talked to a few brilliant women who have agreed to be featured here on my blog. More about them in future posts :)
If you have work or thoughts you'd like to share here, please get in touch!