It’s been a strange time for me right now. Over the past few years, I’ve created an amazing amount of work for my Birthstone Goddesses project, but now I’m in a place where I feel overwhelmed by the prospect of getting all that work out into the world in a meaningful way! I’ve been learning as I go along using my background in Arts Admin to fly by the seat of my pants, but as far as knowing anything about fine art marketing, I don’t feel my knowledge is adequate.
And that’s why Emily Jefford‘s Making Art Work course has piqued my interest of late! Emily’s name has floated to me over the past couple years as someone who has mentored some amazingly talented folks I know, like Naomi VanDoren, Emily Hare, and Kiri Leonard, to name a few. Her course focuses on fine art marketing from the ground up, from exploring your motivations as a creator to how you can build a sustainable business out of your art. It sounds perfect for helping me feel just a little less crushed beneath the weight of my unorganized ambitions!
As such, I’m hopping on Emily’s free preview course Share the Work 2021, which challenges you to 5 days of prompts that help you explore some basic thought processes for getting your business and your art organized for success. I’ll be sharing my progress here as I complete each worksheet! Enjoy this rip-roaring ride because I’m starting a little late. Share the Work goes away on the 25th (in 6 days)!
Feel free to take the mini-course with me and share your thoughts here in the comments (or on my Discord).
I gotta be honest, guys. All these questions about why I create art and what meaning my art has for others proved really difficult! I’ve never tried to dive too much deeper into why I do what I do, except when I’ve been forced to for school assignments and artist’s statements. I’ve always loved making art. It’s been second nature for so long that I’ve not really questioned it!
Was there any deeper meaning than ‘because I like doing it’? More particularly, I started creating my Birthstone Goddesses because I love Mucha and wanted to create something that channeled that sense of awe and beauty I get from my favorite Art Nouveau pieces. What more meaning did I need than “because I enjoy doing it and maybe other people might like it too?”. The answers I found through this closer examination intrigued me!
Day 1 Challenge Worksheet
Why do you create? What keeps you coming back to the process?
The joy of realizing ideas for things I love and want to see more of in the world. The happiness that comes from mastering a skill. The joy of learning new things.
What meaning does your creative work bring to your life?
Creating images, characters, and stories that resonate and teach people how to be people be better people brings me joy. Spreading an appreciation of nature, beauty, and stories also fulfills me.
How does it benefit others?
Try to go a little deeper than “it’s pretty” — though that totally counts!
I hope that sharing my art helps others gain a similar appreciation that I feel from stories and imagery that teach and empower others. My goddesses, in particular, provide aspirational magic and beauty to empower those individuals whose months each goddess represents.
What messages do you convey through your art?
My Birthstone Goddesses convey a respect for the primal waxing and waning of life and death, the cycle of human festivals of life, love, and death. They pay homage to the cycle of the year that reflect human existence, while also empowering women, the unseen, and underappreciated.
Why does this message matter to you?
I see a lack of the kind of stories about empathy and complex morality in the world and I want to explore them. I also want to see more people who look like my multiracial family. I want to normalize different types of human beauty and to empower myself and others by telling stories that relate to them and motivate them towards positive change.
I was very surprised to see many of my answers leading back to the idea of female empowerment and personal empowerment, though it made sense once I dove deep and connected the dots to the things I personally love, like the history of historical women and other underappreciated figures. It was not an accident that my Birthstone Goddesses span a more diverse range of races, which represent my own colorful family, starting with my olive-skinned Latina mother for December.
These answers also reinforce what I’ve seen at conventions in the past. For example, many folks would pick up the Lady of September (my most popular print), because they liked that she represented an interesting depiction of their personal birth month. She empowered them in a way that other depictions of September by other artists haven’t.
I’m also realizing I’ve been marketing my Birthstone Goddesses more as an illustrator would. I’ve been very focused on the fantastical lore I’ve come up for their function as goddesses. Fine Art, from what I’m gathering from the lectures thus far, is more focused on what a buyer sees of themselves in a piece of work or what that art says about them if they display it.
Hopefully, I can figure out how best to combine both of these approaches! I love telling fantastical stories and I’d love for people to feel empowered and awed by my goddesses without requiring them to necessarily read their lore write-ups.
Tomorrow’s challenge is Sharing Your Vision With Your Audience, which asks probing questions about inspiration and our ideal customers. Should be fun!