I'm having this realization that the people who buy your (and by “your” I mean my) art are in this weird friend-acquaintance-turned-customer zone. I guess I always thought that at some point I'd be selling things to strangers and living in my own little art cave and only having to interact with other humans when I leave its protection to buy paint and groceries. (Or maybe that's just my anti-social fantasy masquerading as actual expectation.)
But what really seems to be happening is that people who I once would have considered friends but haven't interacted with in years – or even people who I still consider friends but haven't seen in months or years because NY life is crazy busy and everyone moves away – often emerge from the periphery of my Facebook to become a customer. And I'm not complaining; it actually gives me nice warm-fuzzy feelings. But it's making me really re-think how I think about “selling art.”
I guess that's why the standard advice is to not discount your work for friends (a difficult impulse to resist). When it is said that your friends become your first customers, I always assumed that meant my close friends, and thus that it didn't apply to me because the vast majority of my close friends are also broke artists. I didn't think about the intermediate-friend-circle people. The people who “knew you when” and keep an eye open to see what you're up to. The people who are subconsciously just tuned a little more to your wavelength above all the other great creative noise out there.
The struggle for me, then, is: How do I build new relationships that fall into that category? I'm not looking for more close friends. I don't really have the time and I'm not naturally voraciously social. But how do I grow a passing connections into a potential friend-customer for whom my work rises above the background noise? (I could write a whole other rant about this, but I just briefly want to point out that this is NOT an issue of quality or talent. Yes, I think quality of work matters. But there are a bajillion really talented artists out there who are struggling and a lot of really awful artwork that sells really well.)
Just the other day a friend-customer mentioned something that they had seen on my blog, and I was astounded. So often the social media thing feels either really performative and disingenuous, or like speaking to the empty vacuum of space. In my mind, only my mom reads my blog. And I haven't even posted anything in the last three years except a couple of posts with skeleton shirts. But when I flip the situation around, do I enjoy reading other artists' blogs about their creative process and professional progress? Yes. When I find someone's work that I really like, do I end up digging deep into the archives of their website? Definitely.
I guess this is my roundabout way of saying – maybe even justifying it to myself – that I'm going to try to blog more.