This week I met a beautiful family, who traveled all the way from Manchester to Leeds to buy a painting from me. For the past 4 years I've worked in the comfy confines of my little office studio in the box room of our house. My communications with customers has mostly been done by messenger and email and my work safely carried by Royal Mail.
The family in question had previously commissioned work from me, which conveniently fitted in the post. This time was different, as it was a bigger painting and a bigger investment for them.
I nervously waited for them to arrive and when they did, the nerves soon went away, because they couldn't have been nicer people!
It was a strange experience for me, seeing someone react to a painting I'd done. Watching them lean in to inspect the detail and be awed by the quality. Talking to them about technique and source material and how best to frame it. Actually, 'strange' isn't a good word to describe that particular half hour of my life. Profound, inspiring, humbling, all are much better words to describe the experience.
From that moment, I felt that I was finally an actual artist. Suddenly, the reality hits me: I have fans and followers, people who love my work and are interested in what I do. People who will find the money and take the time to travel across the country to own my work.
I guess that also means that I have a responsibility to those people, to all the people who show an interest in my work.
Meeting people, interacting with them face to face, inviting them into your home, is a lost art. I use Social Media to promote myself and to sell my work, but is it really 'social'? You're probably reading this on Social Media, and believe me I'm not slating it! What I am doing, I think, is coming to the conclusion that I need to get out there and meet people. I need to take up the invites to Comic-cons, or find a place to 'set up shop' and sell directly to the people.
This week had a tremendous effect on me and I'm forever grateful to the Paradny family for coming into my life, for being an amazing family and for opening my eyes.
Being an artist can mean spending a lot of time on your own, nothing but your work, maybe some music and the cat for company (if she feels like it). But it doesn't have to mean that! That's what I've learned this week.