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How I Derailed My Art Career - The Hidden Pitfalls of SOS

You are probably thinking about now - what on earth does she mean that she derailed her art career? And how is an SOS a pitfall - what is an SOS anyway?

OK, let me fill you in. Back in early January 2000 I had my first Solo show at a Sydney gallery - Charles Hewitt Galleries. Good heavens - was that really twenty one years ago?

Now you might be thinking - well that's a pretty good start to an art career - and it was. However six months later my dad died and I went into a pretty bad space. I ended up painting a series of works which helped me move through my grief and came out the other side having lost contact with my gallery and looking for a way to make some money as I wasn't selling any art.

Portrait of my dad

This is where I really stuffed up big time. Why I never stayed in touch with the gallery I'll never know. I think I thought Charles would contact me and because he didn't I just never followed up. I think I also thought that he wouldn't be interested in the new works as they were not in the same style as the show I'd had at the gallery. IMPORTANT LESSON: Always follow up!!

Also during this time I was dealing with a family member having major mental health issues and I was under a lot of stress. So I think this all contributed to me taking a 'U' turn in my art journey and abandoning painting for a while.

I did paint something - which may give you an insight into where my head was at at the time.


In the mean time, I got involved in another project with a girlfriend - dying and printing silk velvets. This endeavour lasted for at least a couple of years - I spent a lot of money - part of my inheritance and made zippo! All I can really say about that experience was that I enjoyed the challenge of creating beautiful things but my art career was totally smashed at that time.

This is the hidden pitfall of the SOS ( Shiny Object Syndrome)! I thought the fabric project seemed like a good idea at the time. You know - whip up a few cushions and flog them off - easy. Hm-mm not likely. One of the main problems we ran into was the technical side of the dying process and getting consistent results. Talk about getting sidetracked!!

A selection of our fabric

Then once we came anywhere near the marketing side of things, my partner retreated and I wasn't up to the challenge either. So eventually we petered out - poorer but hopefully wiser. I still wasn't really thinking about getting back into painting and by this time it was 2005. So I went to Venice instead! Now that - was fun!!

In all of this I think the biggest problem for me was marketing - selling myself - and staying focused, whether it was the art or the fabrics - or later on cosmetics. And that I think is the moral of this story - an artist must learn to sell them selves in a way that works for them. And like many other artists I had a huge lack of faith in my own abilities as an artist. Plus I had no clear plan - I was all over the ship!

Many years later and with the growth of the internet, I have found at least a decent part of the solution to my marketing woes. Selling work on line has now become a highly acceptable way to market ones art and last year was my best year for sales so far, without all the hassle and energy it takes to put on a solo show. Below is one of the works I sold last year through Bluethumb on line gallery.

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