Wow. 2014 is gone. What a transitional year it has been for me! So many new gifts, friends, and opportunities. Only a year ago I was struggling through my divorce, I had a foster child, and I was working without pay under very stressful conditions. Thanks to my men’s work, I found the inner strength to quit my job, I went and lived like a monk for a while, traveled around the states and then went to Canada where I built a canoe and paddled nearly to Alaska with Indians. Upon my return I became inspired to make art and build community. I started Up Wood Working within two months of conceiving the idea. Now I’m ready to take the next step.
When I started out, I knew there would be a period of time, at the beginning, where I must learn my tools and research my craft. Visions of piles of scraped projects and a box of broken bits, were in my thoughts, next to the idea that I might retire, an old man, with never making a cent from my passions. I kept telling myself that I was going to do everything right, I was going to go slow and be cautious, but my overwhelming drive to move forward took over. I have hit the ground running with no plans to slow down. I have broke somethings, and I have made some lame pieces but I’m not incompetent, I am capable and what I have is desired!
This week I worked hard at building my internet presence through social media and a lot of personal messages. I spent hours searching friend lists, looking for people I knew, and then I contacted them each individually. It was nice to reconnect. Now I have plans to meet up with some of these individuals and others may commission me for work. After all the effort I have 49 “Likes” and a lot more work to do but I feel my field of influence growing. While the Up Wood Working website is still developing, I feel the pressure to have it complete and polished with ideal content and a growing fan base. At the same time I am working on many pieces, some are only in my head, some are drawn up but not cut, and some are laying in my shop waiting to be finished.
Since the new year I have been feeling a shift. I know my tools better then ever, I have confidence that I can make a great art piece, and I am starting to sell myself. It feels great to walk into a shop and say: “Hi, I’m a local artist, would you display my work?” and to really feel it, or to go to a thrift store with that creative twinkle in my eye like: “I’m an artist collecting materials.” I enjoy spotting construction sites, introducing myself to one of the workers, sharing my mission, and walking home with a load of reclaimed wood. All of this is culminating within me, and I feel that shift. It is the feeling of arriving.
Next is Phase II. Now that I “know” what I am doing, I intend to spend the next year working street fairs, farmer’s markets and conventions, building my audience, and honing my artistic style. I plan to step it up with my internet presence even further and use marketing with a planned expense budget. At the end of the year I will have a huge portfolio and hopefully many fans. Then I can prepare for Phase III, which can be one of two things. If I am happy where I am with the work load and the commissions I am receiving, then I can focus on building and maintaining the vision of traveling up and down the west coast selling my art at different shows and markets, or if I want to ramp up into a bigger set up then I will start a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to rent a studio and buy larger equipment. With more space and better tools I can make finer detailed pieces which are also much larger, such as custom doors and furniture.
I don’t know what the next year has in store for me, but I am ready and excited. I will keep talking to people, and meet more artists. I will keep pushing to sell myself and become a fixture in the Portland art community. I can’t wait for the day that I meet someone for the first time and they happen to own one of my pieces.
Ever dropped by a shop and asked them to display your art? Let me know in the comments!