A question that arises quite often especially at times like this half term when I sit out at a table setting and turn my art tools over to anyone who wishes to take part (rough 4 years plus rule).
When I started to draw and keep sketchbooks in 2015, just 6 years ago I discovered Letraset ProMarkers which gave me an option of adding colour through drawing instead of having to paint. I gradually developed a collection of the markers and would let others try them trusting people to respect that they were my pens.
I have lost maybe two pens in 6 years to over enthusiastic use by a child and an adult. I have usually found that being entrusted with the chance to use my professional tools – now Winsor and Newton ProMarkers that the child, teen or adult respects them and apart from using up ink the pens remain in good condition.
I always share my story of how my art stemmed from a way to switch off from work and support my own mental health – this has never prompted a negative response. I offer Art for fun as an activity because I believe that art as a form of creativity offers a chance to feel positive.
Even after 28 years of teaching or maybe because of, if given a choice I would share my intrigue and interest in our geography as I love the subject, I wouldn’t do it if it had to be linked to any sort of graded outcome, this cropped up in a conversation with a young man today. My art is the same, I wouldn’t presume to teach someone how to ‘do’ art as I am self taught, my work has developed through practice. If I was graded on my art I don’t know how it would do and I don’t want to be graded because I enjoy it for its own sake. I want to share that love of something because it appeals to that person, it is not about pleasing others.
So art for fun is to be enjoyed. I offer it initially at least with a piece of paper and access to my markers collection soothers can see if they like it.
Yes it can also lead to sales of my artwork but that seems reasonable as my business is self financing. It doesn’t aim to earn a salary for me but to pay for itself. When I first sold work in 2017 I asked the question whether my art would sell as I had no idea. Then once I had sold things people would ask what my sales target was and my simple answer is to ‘sell some art’. This in its simplistic form is still the case in 2021, the difference now as I approach my second anniversary as a shopkeeper in Swanage is that I have more costs – namely the rent / bills to cover the shop unit. There are other bills in terms of insurance etc, art stock, art tools and so on. I now look at needing to sell a minimum of £3000 of art each year.
Take me back four years – selling such a figure wasn’t even something I would consider. I looked up in 2017 what the definition of a professional artist was and found that a common definition was someone who had sold over £1000 of art – I didn’t believe that was achievable. Why the mention of the finances? Because since I became a shopkeeper my sales have increased steadily even with the whole covid lockdowns situation and months being closed. I make enough sales without having to increase my prices beyond the accessible affordable prices I like to charge that I can afford to let children and any adults who want to, to use my professional drawing tools.
If my sales decline and I can’t afford to do so then I may have to stop offering art for fun. Yesterday a young girl expressed the hope to move to Swanage when she was grown up and bring her children to do Art for fun with Andy, her parents and I worked out that this might be in 30 years time – now that sort of confidence from one so young fills me with hope that the guy in the pith helmet and hand drawn boiler suits has a positive future as an artist in Swanage.
What do you think?
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