Friday, June 11, 2010

Artist Interview


Have you met Sarah yet? Sarah is an artist who lives in Paso Robles, CA. She is a painter, knitter, teacher....okay, I could go on, but let's let our interview speak for itself.

1. How did you come to be an artist?

Growing up I showed a strong natural talent toward creative thinking and I was encouraged to pursue artistic challenges whenever presented. My high school art teacher recommended me for a job at a local frame shop and gallery which further enabled me to see art as a career. As I continued on to college studying fine art was my only interest. I spent a few years without being focused on the business of being an artist and allowed other distractions to keep me from taking it to a professional level. A couple of years ago my sister started working as the assistant to the director of the San Luis Obispo Art Center (now the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art), one day an instructor couldn’t make their scheduled class and my sister suggested me as a replacement. That opening allowed me to continue to instruct over the following summer as well as develop a relationship with the Art Center for additional showings and sales. Over the last couple of years I have found a motivation and an interest into creating a body of work that is becoming stronger with each piece.
Currently I spend the majority of my days working solely on my artwork or on the more tedious business aspects. Although a couple days a week I spend a few hours working at The Art Works; a frame shop and gallery in Paso Robles. I have worked there for several years at different levels of involvement developing a relationship more akin to family with the freedom to allow me to focus on my artwork when necessary.

2. Do you show your work in galleries?

I am a continued featured artist at The Art Works; in addition ALTAMIRA Gallery in New York features a selection of originals and prints from my Surfer Series of watercolor paintings. I am also an artist member of the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art participating in their Business Exhibit Program which allows me to create and hang a new show every four months at a new location.

3. How do you market yourself/work? What is your best means for this: galleries, markets or internet?

Aside from the galleries and Business Exhibits I already mentioned I primarily market online. I live in what is still a very rural area of California with limited local events that feature fine art. Having global access through the internet is the only way for me to see any substantial viewership. I maintain several social networking venues as well as two shops on Etsy, one for my artwork and one for handmade crafts. I have only been selling and marketing online since February 2009 so I feel it is still a learning process to see the best use of my time.

4. What has been the best internet site/resource for getting your work viewed/sold?

My Etsy shops maintain my highest source of traffic, specifically my art. I have heard Etsy referred to as “social commerce” which to me perfectly describes the keys to having success via Etsy. There are different ways to stay involved in the Etsy community; through teams, creating Treasury galleries as well as the forums. Many Etsy sellers continue marketing throughout Facebook and twitter which further develops the social aspects and networking.
Earlier this year I joined Flickr which has become a wonderful source for views which in turn has sent buyers to my Etsy shops.
While I do not use Twitter to sell directly it has allowed me wonderful feedback from followers when posting images of work in progress. It has also given me invaluable connections to other artists and exposure to art I would not have otherwise seen.


5. How important is money versus the making/selling of your art? Do you make art which has more sellable qualities than others works?

I will admit that having sales in certain subjects does motivate me to create similar pieces but at this time the creation of my art is a high priority for me. I will list new work in my Etsy shop or post an image on Flickr gauging what has the strongest reactions by number of views as well as repeat sales in prints. While some series have developed I still enjoy exploration which leads to work in several styles with various subjects. There are a few signature textures I repeat and I am ever drawn to create images associated with water such as my Umbrella Series, Surfer Series or my abstract paintings filled with bubbles.
My Surfer Series of watercolor paintings has been my most popular work by far, winning awards and selling rather easily compared to some of my other work.

6. What has been the biggest struggle with your art?

As I mentioned my corner of California doesn’t have many venues for shows so finding the right marketplace is a challenge. I appreciate having global access via the internet, but which sites will best represent my variety of artwork to the most interested audience is difficult to gauge. I plan to expand my exposure through additional galleries online this year in hopes of finding a broader base of fine art buyers. The business of marketing is not a task I enjoy; it can be extremely time consuming as well as a huge distraction from creating art. I struggle daily with scheduling all that needs to be done online while finding time to paint and still have a few moments not “working” in some way.

www.sarahjohnafana.etsy.com

3 comments:

Sarah John Afana said...

Thank you Ali for letting me share some stories.

Justine, juicygraphics.etsy.com said...

Awesome interview, Ali! Excellent questions. Thank you for highlighting such a talented and interesting artist. I love Sarah's work, and her wry sense of humor. Her blog and item descriptions on Etsy are always fun to read.

Michelle said...

Thanks so much for sharing this interview Ali!
I adore Sarahs work and
to know a bit more and see a bit more behind the Scenes is wonderful!!!