I’ve been meaning to get to this one, it relates to all of us. What’s the difference between a successful, talented artist and an unsuccessful talented artist? The successful artist was in the right place at the right time, intersecting with opportunity at a specific place and time, altering his or her future by connecting talent with market. I call it the incidence of opportunity. It’s really pretty simple, imagine yourself as one leg of an X and some positive event or person that ends up changing your life as the other leg. In order for something to happen to you as an artist, for your work to get seen, purchased or recognized, you have to make that intersection happen. Now, there are stories of artists being discovered, the quilters of Gee’s bend, for example. A buyer just happens in on this backward little town, looks at what the lady’s are quilting and see’s what they have done, isolated and without artistic training. And before you know it BAM they’re work is hanging in the Whitney and the Guggenheim. But that really doesn’t happen too often. So there’s fate and then there’s engineered fate.
The incidence of opportunity is a lot like shooting tracers and bullets up in the skies at bombers. You kinda have an idea of where you are aiming and the more bullets you throw up there the more likely it is you will hit something. In advertising it’s known as the rate of return, usually about a 2% response rate per hundred. That’s why the annoying car dealer and ambulance chaser ads on tv are repeated over and over and over. It apparently works, much to my chagrin. In my case it was doing the plein air events around the country, plus some advertising (which I could be better at) but the more of the events I did and the more awards I received, the more people would notice. It’s how I got invited to a lot of cool events, artists that I knew who were involved with other events recommended me because they had seen me. The magazines will tell you that in a down economy you don’t cut back on advertising, you increase it… and they are right. The other aspect is appearances, to be succesful, it helps to look succesful. Frequency and visibility do that.