Sometimes it feels like as a professional artist I am living the dream! I get to spent long days in the studio, make beautiful things, get work into shows, get to feel like an art star, have flexible days, etc, etc. But, as I like to say, artwork is still work, and it's not always glamorous. In fact, the past two weeks have been simply frustrating. Some frustration or disappointment is normal, of course. Not getting into a juried show I wanted to be in, having an exhibit proposal turned down, not receiving the grant I spent probably a month worth of life applying for, these are things I expect. But this last two weeks was a whole different level of frustration. A lot of things haven't worked out the way I planned or hoped. There were three major things happened/didn't happen:
1) A gallery "lost" my work and didn't display it in time for the opening reception. (It was found and hung later.)
2) I had a deadline for a show with a quick turn-around. I needed some new printmaking supplies. One order of crucial supplies was delayed, and when it did arrive, I hurriedly opened an empty box. Then I cried. Just a little.
3) I used up nearly $200 in printing supplies and still ended up with nothing that looked good.
Such a frustrating two weeks. However, I try to learn from everything. Here are lessons from each of the big disappointments:
1) I learned to check in with the gallery to which I ship my work. I also learned that shipping with FedEx with signature required was a great idea. That way I knew who signed for my work when it was delivered.
2) I learned that good customer service includes the company overnighting the items that it didn't send me.
3) I learned that a significant increase in print size means a significant difference in process. Despite my success with smaller plates, this larger one presented very different issues. I also learned that I can't push my creative process for a quick deadline. I work with processes that take a lot of time, attention, and careful adjustments. It's just not possible to push it quickly and still have the quality that I want. I had to submit a print in a different process in order to still get work into the show.
Although I already knew this, today I see it very clearly: I chose a extremely difficult career path, and not just because it's hard to make money. A career in the arts is filled with uncertainty, frustration, disappointment, and sometimes a lot of wasted materials. However, it is also varied, exciting, and rewarding. Although this week was frustrating, and although I had some disappointing days in the studio, tomorrow is always another chance to make something beautiful.