BEFORE THE EVENT:
It’s all about planning, becoming an artist/project manager
I am so excited about my Spring Exhibition. Although it is not the first time that I am showing my work, it is the first time I am doing it as “out of the closet”, i.e. in a more professional fashion. It has been a steep learning curve and I would like to reflect on the lessons learned during this experience. I am writing this for myself but also for starting artists like myself, I had to learn it through my own experience and also by asking those who know.
Do not reinvent the wheel, here there are some steps to take for project planning and enjoying the experience.
1. Focus & Coherence. At the beginning I wanted to show everything! In the process of selecting I decided to focus on a particular theme and develop it further. It is not worth to show every single work: it will look messy and disorganised, without a clear narrative. For this exhibition I thought botanical illustrations were the best option, not only because I feel very comfortable doing them, but because symbolically it was botanical illustrations what got me into drawing and painting. See My Botanic Expedition.
2. Documenting. The blog has been a great tool to reflect on the meaning and process of each of the paintings. By doing it every time I draw something new, I have been able to document and record key information about the meaning of the plant/flower (research) but also the meaning it has for me in a particular moment of my life and my creative process. As any blogger knows to keep the blog on is difficult, but when you see the amount of things you are producing and thinking, it is a wealth of information. Most importantly, it keeps a memory of my creative process that can help others to understand how it is done, or future scholars to study my work! For example, the series of Our Garden of Everyday have helped me to document the meaning of the different plants: Iris for eloquence, Crocus of faithful love, Cyclamen for sincere feelings, Pink Hyacinth, Daffodils of hope and poetry, Viola and the practice of flirting, or Anemones for friendship.
3. Planning. Time flies and it is important to plan what you want to do with enough time in advance. For instance, the drawings themselves were completed almost one month ago. But then started the process of finding a good printer, find the framer, design the greeting cards, research on packing. That takes a lot of time. Also the publicity and the process to make public what you are doing, book the venue (almost five months ago), buy some materials you may need (card rack, print rack, tool box, envelopes, sleeves, posters, bags… you name it. It is a lot and lot of money. So, you need to make a budget and to find best quality and best prices too. All of that take much more than you think. Better to have time to do the last details than running at the last minute… anyway you will run!
4. Cooperation & Community. Being an artist can be a solitary enterprise so you need people around you, to inspire you and encourage you to do things. I am very grateful to Lesley Longworth who has been the initiator and coordinator of this idea, she is always full of plans, enthusiastic and efficient. Without her, this would not have been possible. Also, I am so grateful for the support of my husband and friends, who have cheered me up during the whole process, no matter what. Talk to everybody about what you are doing, because there is always new to learn and to find out. Don’t be shy! If you don’t tell what you do, nobody can help you.