Tuesday, September 01, 2009
The Business Of Being Myself
The worst days are not those in which I have a lot to do. The worst days are those in which I have a lot to do and I'm totally ill-prepared.It has taken me a long time to get to grips with the demands of a successful artistic career. It's not just the constant output of my studio – after two years, I'm only now refining a process that enables me to cope with a large number of commissioned works or works committed to shows and still have time to develop new ideas and experiment with other media – but also the responsibility of managing myself without too many intermediaries. At any given time, there are logistics – production schedules, shipping, customs, publicity, and so on – to plan for shows in two or more countries. There are private sales to be negotiated and works consigned. There is a constant flow of other commercial enquiries that might range from a fashion company seeking to license one of my images to a publisher wanting me to contribute a few words or an essay to an upcoming book.And there are the regular updates of words and pictures – small drawings, watercolours and photographs I create every day – to this blog, along with scores of one- and two-liners to Twitter, all of which keep me closely connected to those most interested in my work.There was (and maybe still is) a part of me that didn't really believe that I'd 'make it' as an artist. So, for a long time, even when my work began to sell well, I paid scant attention to the lessons other tried to teach me about how to get a handle on the growing number of things that had to be done in a working day. I ignored the simple utility of making daily 'to do' and call lists and sharing a weekly schedule with everyone who worked for or with me. I resented the hours I had to spend overseeing my improving finances – which led to more than one tense conversation with the tax department and several hair-tearing reprimands from my accountant – or reviewing contracts and business correspondence.I'm more realistic now. I recognise that if I'm to be truly independent and self-determining as an artist, I have to adapt the intelligence, imagination and discipline that are elemental to my art to taking care of the business my art has created. If I don't, then my art – and my life – will end up, once again, being controlled and exploited by others.