Australian Fine Artist

Free Event for Artists and Art Collectors held by the City of Kingston

Venue: Woodlands Golf Club, Mordialloc Victoria

Along with several other Councils and shires around Victoria, Kingston is busily building up it Arts contacts and interest for the community. This is not only good for artists, but everyone who has an interest in any of the arts. Bringing together people who would normally be isolated helps to build community and more understanding of cultural differences. It also educates and entertains.

As a practising artists who is still studying and building a business I am interested in these events as they are an opportunity for me to make new contacts and learn more about how I can expand and grow not only as an artist but also as a business. Listening to the voices of experience can help to avoid costly and time consuming mistakes or directions, which I am keen to avoid.

For the session I attended we heard from Bridget McDonnell, gallery director for over thirty years who is interested in encouraging emerging artists and who spoke about collecting art. Why a person starts and why they continue. Why they may choose a particular artists or style and what the long term benefits are.

Jon Cattapan is a successful widely exhibited Australian artist, who showed a presentation of his work and talked about how he approached galleries and got started and has kept his business going over they  years.

Emma Davies is also an Australian artist who uses found materials for her three dimensional works. Not exactly a sculptor, not exactly a craftsperson, she builds her eclectic mix of artworks of mostly netting materials into different finished designs. She also showed us a collection of her work in a presentation.

This event was held in the same building as the Kingston Art Show, so I also came to check out the venue, how the works were hung and the type of people attending to look at and hopefully purchase the art.

My partner made himself busy by checking off the solds and award winners whilst I caught up with a few familiar faces from Chisholm Frankston. As has been the case for a few years, there were only about six paintings sold out of the over one hundred and fifty two hung. A colleague from the pastel society did very well both winning the pastel award and making a sale out of the two works she submitted. (well done Lyn Mellady!!!) Overall though, sales this low are disappointing as those of us who are making a living, or trying to, as professional artists can not survive on sales as poor as this. After costs to produce the art, entry fees and delivery costs, most of us end up making a large loss on these events unless we make sales.

For this event the plus was the networking event held in conjunction. These are often something we have to pay to attend so at least this time there was some benefit. For me it was having a chat with Jon afterwards. He gave me some valuable advice about how to approach a gallery owner after they had an initial introduction to my work by a mutual friend or acquaintance. I was not sure about whether to just ask to show my work or look at it from another angle which is more to how I am as a person and friendlier. He went for the friendly and helpful approach which I am pleased about. He gave me advice on how to do it and the wording to use so I don’t come across like a used car salesman (apologies to car sales people!)

I also caught up with the deputy director of the McClelland Gallery who was there, for a quick hello, and was able to look at art by a tutor I have done workshops with and several fellow artists in the exhibition.

The overall message of the three talks was perseverance and determination. If you decide you are going to build your own arts practice, you need to keep at it. It isn’t a part time job, as a matter of fact it can be nearly life consuming. It has become my life recently. Not that you feel like you are “working” because you are following your passion. But you need to keep putting your work out there, keep showing it, keep talking about it, blogging about it, entering exhibitions, showing it to any one who will look at it, do the not so comfortable thing of approaching galleries and collectors and searching for new and innovative ways to market your art as well as product it. Hopefully that one “break” will come along and you will actually recognise it when it happens, in time to take advantage of it. It may be the “launching pad” for some of the future successes you desire.

That is why I try to attend these functions, and why it is important to actively and without fail, work and work to succeed until you achieve it.

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