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Don't Get Too Comfortable


OK, today is the first day of the month. I've paid my rent, and plotted out what I want to achieve this month. I've even strategized as to how I'm going to pay for it all. But I'm still feeling as though I'm building my business on sand. There are so many dark things that can, and very possibly will, happen that are completely out of my control. I figure if this is a worry for me, it just might be a worry for you too.

How do we re-open our businesses, and rebuild our lives, when there are so few assurances? Between the pandemic, the economy, the presidential election, not to mention the changes in the way people are buying art.... it just seems really, really frightening. For example, before Covid shut us down, we applied for entry into a big, four day art show in Dallas. The show is rather expensive, and we knew we needed to sell well to make back our investment. We were confident in February, after having completed a really successful solo show at the start of the year, so we were ready to pull the trigger. You can't make money if you don't spend money. Right?

We were accepted, allotted booth space, paid a down payment, and then we were unceremoniously shut down. That is totally understandable of course, given the circumstances.

Now it's six months later, and we've just received word that the show has been rescheduled for October, and of course, the balance of the registration fee is now due. That's what we were hoping for... so why am I not excited?What should we do? We're far less confident now than we were in February, and who knows what the coronavirus has in store for us by the Fall? And since the time when we signed up for the fair, my dad died and we became the primary care givers for my mother. I can't just leave her alone for four days. So much has changed.

So we have to ask ourselves some hard questions. Are we now poised to lose money we no longer have on an art show that will only expose us to the virus? It seems like all the conventional wisdom has changed. How many mistakes can we afford to make as we navigate into the new normal?

At times like this, I like to step back and remind myself of what we're doing with this creative business, and why we're doing it. We've only been running this business full-time for 5 years now, and the uncertainties we faced when we first started were no less daunting. We didn't know where to start, whom to trust, or whether customers would be interested in our art. Granted, we have a lot more to lose now than we did 5 years ago, but the angst is not really dissimilar.

We survived for the past 5 years because we absolutely love what we're doing. We were not experts at business or finance. We didn't have marketing careers or even a fine arts education. We had passion, and a dream for something better. So why should I not recognize that tiny voice of insecurity. I've heard it before. I could even make the case that it was that very fear that propelled us to where we are today. I don't have to ignore or drown out that voice. It's an important warning bell. But I shouldn't allow it to ring louder than it needs to.

We'll go to the art show, and continue to apply for open calls. We'll continue to create work, and navigate compromises in displaying and promoting that art. We did not choose to become artists because it made good financial sense. We didn't.... It hasn't. We make art because we have to. If we must find employment somewhere else in the midst of a jobless economic crisis, we will. We have to stop considering our art careers as though it were like any other job.

So hold your breath, and join us, as we take a step into the dark night, and trust that there will be pavement beneath our feet. It's not as though we will stop creating artwork, and it's not as though we didn't know the darkness would come. We all can adjust our vision, and appreciate that the night can be beautiful in it's own way. So get out there and paint it.

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