Q: I am known in my town for my landscape paintings, mainly marketed to tourists. I just fell in love with ceramics, and I want to start working on them more and sell them instead. However, I am only known as a painter and people seem unwilling to accept my new focus. The stores that carry my work keep asking when more paintings will arrive. I attempted to explain that I am trying something different, but they think the new work won’t sell. How do I get them to understand my new focus? I don’t want them to stop carrying any of my work. Should I just go back to painting and forget about ceramics?
A: Moving on isn’t always easy and can be fraught with problems as well as rewards. People you do business with may not be as excited about your new direction as you are. Change isn’t necessarily a good thing for everyone involved. The stores you have been working with as a painter have built a business for you and them selling your paintings. The stores might be right; they probably won’t be able to sell your ceramics. If these stores have represented you for a while, no doubt people come to them specifically to buy your paintings. Further, you have to be aware that the painting buyer might not be a ceramics buyer.
So what does this mean for your future plans? Remember, you are the most important player in the game. As an artist, you have given up many of the perks most people take for granted—paid vacations, health care and retirement funds to name a few. In trade, you get to follow your heart and do the work that makes you happy and keeps your creativity alive and growing. The work of a bored, uninspired artist clearly reflects this state of mind.
However, it is important to go forward with realistic expectations. Perhaps most importantly, your income may be affected until you create a demand for your new work. You invested years developing your painting career, expect the same to be true for your career in ceramics. It will take time to develop the new venues you certainly will need to market your new work. Assuming you haven’t totally lost interest in painting, maybe you could divide your time for a while and continue to paint while developing your ceramics.