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You can do it! You are ready now! It might take some time and loads of practice and hard work, but in this post I will go over a few things that you can do to make your art cohesive. Making art cohesive is not as necessary as it used to be. Like with the old music industry that went bankrupt, the internet has made it possible for you to show and reach others with your work in very cost-effective ways, eliminating many of the gatekeepers that used to have a grip where and how work was shown. So here is a no bull sh*t approch to creating art in a cohesive way.  There might be grammer and spelling errors but I am an artist and not a teacher so give me a pass maybe for all the free information packed in here for you.  If you do not get anything out of this I’ll be sure to send you a refund at the end.

This article will cover the topic of creating art that is cohesive for those looking to submit work to galleries, shows, venues, platforms, or collectors that require a cohesive body of art work to gain access to their buying community. However, know that if you can buy cars and 52 inch flat screens online and have them delivered to your home, you can also market your art in very much the same way. There is no such thing as talent. Just practice and hard work to build skill.


Build Skills In The Basics

Just like riding a bike, there is no way that you would simply hop on and Lance Armstong it out and get big wins on day one. Creating art that is cohesive takes time to build and to learn skills, techniques, and processes. I have no idea what bad art might be, and only a little about what it is not. But I do know that poorly done work with lack of attention to construction, detail, composition, shape, color, size, materials, texture, line, research, and others can give you a real bad time. I would suggest making a lot of what you make, and then make a lot more of what you make better. Repeat all of that a bunch of times.

It may take fifty, one-hundred, or maybe a thousand or two to get the basics ironed out, but it is very important on your way to creating a cohesive body of art work if you wish. The start to making art cohesive is simply making a lot of bad work as practice, finding and pushing boundaries, finding what might work best, taking chances, putting yourself on the hook, being brave, and working to eliminate any resistance that always crops up. But you can do it! You are ready now! Start by making your first pieces right now! Give yourself permission to mess it up bad and go to it. Just do something! And do it a lot! Once you simply start things will begain to work out and you will feel great creating the work. Even the terrible stuff. It’s all practice.


What To Say To Whom

The next step I would say in making your art cohesive, is after creating a bunch of work, and building the skills in the basics, is to find out who you would like your art to be for and why. Take some of your the strongest work and have a look at it all from way back. Also think about what you wish to say and why. Answering all these whys is very important as it will assist you in whom to show the work to and create work that matters for the folks who care.

No need to make work for everyone but for the minimum viable audience. You only need maybe ten people who care to start. If you are successful in communicating and what you create speaks to that community and they enjoy what you did they might tell another ten folks and before long you have a few raging fans or collectors. It sure makes it easier to sell work or submit pieces to art shows, galleries, art shops, and online platforms if you have some idea what your work might say or how it is read and knowing your “why”. A great book on the topic is “Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.” by Simon Sinek listed below.

.All of this might take a while to work out and you may ask other how it is read. I would suggest not asking friends and family, as they will lie to you to just make you feel better and not enjoy being honest if they believe what they truly think might cause you to have a bad time. So I would have some folks you might not know, who might be the ideal person the work is for, to give you feedback. Social media groups are real helpful in this area at times. Then, take what those folks say and go back and rework things and show them again. At this point it might be fine to start submitting work to a few shows and galleries as their feedback can be helpful in knowing what they belive you need to improve on, and how well your work is communicating.

After looking at some of your strongest work from way back you might now be able to see some type of themes throughout them all. A cohesive body of art will start to filter out and you will be able to start to see similarities between pieces in a few different ways. At this time it might be good idea to now emphasize those similarities a bit more while at the same time keeping what you wish to say to who in view. Now go make a bunch more work with your discovery of the themes in mind and repeat the process, and then show that finished work that matters to those people who care. You may not get it correct every time, and you may need you to rework things and not feel good about it, but do not stop! Creating work and finishing things no matter how poorly they turn out is far better than all those who simply thought about making work but never did! You’re doing great!!!

 

Layer Up Like An Onion

After practicing your techniques and skills and messing up a lot real bad and taking the least bad that are now good and finding the commonalities it is time to build creating art and a cohesive body of work that is created for a specific reason , with a specific goal, that might say a specific thing to a specific group, to the least viable audience. Since there are a million ways and combinations this may feel overwhelming at first but after you work it out a few times you will become much better at it. For me personally I enjoy layering the work up with technique and meaning so that I am able to communicate with my audience I am trying to reach.

Others may simply have one of two layers to enjoy communicating simplicity. I find it easier to make a list with columns on a paper with those things that you found common in your work. Then list out the thing you might like to say to who using the many techniques, subject manner, lighting, line, sound, symbols, texture, patterns, planes, shape, depth, height, weight, size, history, research, and many other ways to communicate. To me personally good art is simply a form that communicates clearly and/or in some interesting way. Next layer things up in a way that communicates best based on the goals you are trying to achieve.

It is possible to become cluttered and have to much going on in the work to where it is a distraction. But if you chart out the project first you can begin to add or subtract even before you begin taking the time in constructing the actual body of work. At this point it might be good to make up a few small samples, test pieces , or studies to work out a cost analysis and to decide how many to make in the collection on the particular topic and also to begin to help visualize what it might look like.

Can you see the collection in your mind? Visualize how it might be if you walked though a room at a gallery or shop that was filled with your work. How would you want it to feel to the viewer? What can be done to make an impact or to communicate what you might like to say? Once you are able to visualize it in your mind then you might be able to have a better feel for how to set up the collection and the way it communicates. Also think how it can communicate on other platforms, like when on a website for example. How will you shoot photos? What feeling do you want the online viewer to have as they click though the gallery?


Do The Work

With all the planning and testing completed it is now time to do the hard work of doing the work. Actually doing the work can be the most challenging part as many things will start to crop up on why we should not do the work. A lot of resistance and issues will arise that will give us excuses not to complete the project. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome, material issues, issues with technique, and other set backs will stop by every day for coffee but keep going!

After some time when you reached the amount of work that you planned for make a few extra pieces so you have the option to choose what to use to fill out a showing. It is also at this point of doing the work you might want to show others who care about what you are doing what you are working on to build interest and excitement about the project. It might even benefit you to post updates to your email list or do social media posts and live streams of the process to get those who care invested in what you are created and trying to communicate. It is my belief that the total work is the planning, the construction, the showing, and the buyer enjoying it .

Doing the work might take days months or years but be sure at this stage to have good project management as no collection is complete if it is only partially done. And remember at times done is better then perfect. While it is very important to pay attention to details, fine craftsmanship , and technique do not let waiting to release the work until it is perfect become an excuse. Keep working though the dips, both the good times and bad, and wrangle it out.

Doing the work is the most intense part and can be a struggle but keep climbing the mountain. While doing the work take small breaks at certain planned stages along the way to review what you are doing and that you are staying on message and reaching your goals. Reward yourself at certain stages and be kind to yourself. Creating a cohesive body of work is no easy task and sharing work that matters with people who care can feel like your are exposing yourself some to the world but push on you almost are ready to put on the finishing touches and show your work as a collection!


Show The Work

Great job! You did it! Now you have a bunch of work sitting around your studio, basement , or in storage. Now it is time to show your work to people who care if you have not started the process already. Take all that work someplace and set it up and look at the collection all together if you can and start to decide which work should be shown together, separate, or not at all. Some pieces will be stronger then others so take note on those things and why to remember for next time. It might be beneficial at this point to create an artist statement about the work for promoting the work and explaining the project, technique, and ideas and also some background about yourself.

Depending on the platform you might be able to get help with these types of statements based on what the gallery or selling platform requires. It might be beneficial to see how other artists have gone about this process. Planning this all out now will help later and make things run more smoothly if you work should be accepted into a gallery or on a platform for a show. There are a verity of ways to show a collection of work to people who care and one way would be to find a gallery or selling platform that might be a good fit for you and can help you show your collection to people who care. Like writers you should ready yourself for rejections, these rejections can be beneficial as they can provide feedback on what you might need to think about when creating. On the other hand the work and message you are tying to tell may not simply be for them or a good fit so keep going and try not to feel down about things. You have created a cohesive body of work and that is far better then all those who simply just sat and thought about it but did nothing.

Some may disagree, but you may need to separate yourself from your work in your mind so that you are able to sell it better. Your work is not you but simply an extension. Just because others might misunderstand, misinterpret, or simply dislike the body of work that does not mean they dislike you personally. I try not to take anything personally and if others reject the work it simply was into for them. However, if your goal was to agitate or upset and you caused a ruckus then congratulations your cohesive body of art work is working!


Ways Around Gatekeepers

Think of different ways around gatekeepers. Many might say they enjoy the work you do but have no room or you may not get into shows due to other reasons due to a jury rejection. I have heard some artists being rejected for the way their booth looked or how their set up or display was done. If needed work on what they suggest if you need to but also work to break though the gatekeepers. One way to work around gatekeepers is to build your own community of people who care and collect your work.

If a ten year old girl in Tennessee can gain one million subscribers on social media doing a milkcrate challenge then you as an artist should be able to muster up a few hundred or thousand people who care. Like the old music industry that refused to change and went bankrupt, or the book industry, you can also like the song writers, producers, singers, and writers; have opportunities to put your work into the world in many different ways on different platforms to reach those people who care.

There are some challenges you will need to work though but once overcome can give you leverage in promoting your work and speaking what you wish to say. While they are helpful, you no longer absolutely need galleries, art shows, shops, or the old ways to show your work to the world. You can do all of that with your own website or online shop. Size does not matter. A person can buy a car and have it brought to their house and a 52 inch tv shipped to their doorstep. So times have changed and your thinking as an artist may need to also to take advantage of these great opportunities that you now have available to show your work.


What Are You Waiting For?

Time is short and the only thing we never get back and you are the only one who can best tell your message and story to the world though your work!  At the time of writing this if I live to be 86 I only have 14,104 days left. If you do not tell your story someone else will and it might not be the story you want told in the way they tell it. I hope you found some of this helpful and can better  plan in creating your art in a more cohesive way that you can feel great about and also work your buyers enjoy! Below is a reading list of books that I found helpful. I recive no payments or kickbacks from posting this material. I write these articals because I enjoy helping folks just like you at no cost. If you enjoyed this post and got somthing out of it feel free to check out my gallery and shop or just say hello at creekroadpottery@gmail.com.

 

Here are some great books I have read!

Seth Godin:

The Practice: Shipping Creative Work. 
This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See.
Purple Cow.

Stephen Pressfield:

The War of Art
Do The Work

Simon Sinek:

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Steve Blank:

The Startup Owner’s Manual: The Step-By-Step Guide for Building a Great Company
The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win

Free Class:

How to Build a Startup

Donald Miller:

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen
Hero on a Mission: A Path to a Meaningful Life
Business Made Simple: 60 Days to Master Leadership, Sales, Marketing, Execution, Management, Personal Productivity and More

Joseph Campbell:

The Power of Myth

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

Victor Frankl:

Man’s Search for Meaning.

 

Written By,
Al Wayman
Artist/Owner
Creek Road Pottery LLC

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Founder’s Day

I went to a show in my hometown to show up in my hometown to push the pots and say hello to folks. I had to do all of that after working all night at the paper factory. The night at the paper factory was a long one because nothing was running right. So I super rush home and showered and loaded the pots. My wife was a big help as she was so kind and had all the pots that came out of the kiln packed. I almost was late to the show from hugging her and all. So we packed everything in the car and went to the show 40 min away and followed the instructions..

So they had teams of folks there to help unload with set up, so we pull to our spot and unload, and they all help, and we move the car and then start the set-up. Now I don’t have a normal show tent but one that is 5 sided and once up it for sure did not fit in the 10×10 spot but was well over it and was all up in my neighbor’s biz and Even though I was exhausted I quickly realize I was becoming that guy by holding things up. So I say “Hey It’s not supposed to rain so we don’t need the tent, thanks everyone. ”

But the director of the show said to me “Well you might want shade from the sun.” and I said “I got nice trees here so I’m good thanks and I don’t want to be that guy and hold you all up.” So we wasted time and argued a bunch, but she was very kind and overly helpful. But after some thought she told me that she had 2 slots of folks who did not show, and I could move all the stuff to that spot and put up the tent. By this time things were very stressful as we just needed to get set up to look good and all

So we wasted more time and that of the helpers when the kind lady had us all move all the pots and the stuff to the other double space and us and them got the tent up thanks goodness and one helper dropped a container of pots and I told him not to worry as everything on the bottoms are always seconds anyway and all the million dollar pots were home and the ones here were just mugs and all. None of that was true, but I just didn’t want to waste time with him going on about how bad he felt and all and for sure I don’t have any million dollar pots. So we got set up and the work put out on the flip shelves that set up fast and my wife helped me put out all the pots she packed up so nice in nest format from the boxes, and before we knew it we were saying hi to folks who started to stop by and poke around.

After we got set up my wife said she would find me food and coffee while I did some pricing adjustments. She asked me what I wanted in my coffee and I say just cream because you’re helping me added the sweetness and I might have a mouth full of cavities, call the dentist. So after my wife came back with food and coffee, she thought maybe I should shoot a pic and post to social media, so the peeps could come say hi if they were in town. So after six shots of me not sure where my arms should go we finally got a nice one, and then we sat out there all day in the shade in the hot sun and had a nice time chatting with folks and talking about how pots are made .

I was able to sell quite a few pots and made back my booth fee and believe it or not a few hundred over. And I was relived that I had the right stuff for the right folks, as I always worry about it. I appreciated each and every sale as no one owes me anything and I had some strong interactions and also a lady who wanted to learn to fire gas kilns as she only does electric. So I told her to stop up sometime.

Then I walked around a bit to wake up while my wife watched the booth when things slowed and bought a mug off another local potter who had some real nice work and had nice hand-builds. So over all it was a nice time as I sold some work and got some money and a sunburn. We then went home and I went to bed then got up and worked on the Hebrew pots for the opening on Friday, July 1st. Twenty of those pots are drying now, flipped in the sun.

 

Clemmer’s Tractor

I was not the only one out in the sun that day. A cool breeze was mixed in with the heat, so it was a great day for drying hay. They had plenty cut up on the Clemmer place, and they needed to get the hay raked and baled due to threats of thunderstorms. Old man Clemmer was using his new Oliver tractor.

Old man Clemmer was able to purchase his new Oliver tractor with the insurance money he got from when his pole barn full of bedding straw burned down. After the big investigation of the burning hay pile they went with Clemmer’s theory that sunlight from his pickup truck mirror reflected into the barn and set the bedding straw on fire. It also helped out if you were good friends with the fire chief and those who worked the fire company as then there was no need to look deeper than you needed to into things.

Some at Millie’s bar thought the fire up at Clemmer’s was a bit strange, and they all were talking about how much young Davy Clemmer loved fire works. Every year when the night went warm, it would sound like Chinese new years up on the hill. Davy Clemmer would save all his money and have his older friends buy fireworks. Before Facebook, fire working was a form of entertainment for a lot of folks. When M80’s were no longer big enough, there was always quarter sticks to relive folk of the burden of having all 5 fingers. Davy Clemmer was down to three fingers now but was still going strong as he still had a thumb.

Davy Clemmer lost his second finger in a heroic effort to save a friend’s life. Somehow, a quarter stick that was lit got dropped on the floor of the side by side the friends were driving up on Turkey Trail road. And while they both in a panic tried to find a stick among the empty beer cans, the fuse was much shorter by the time Davy Clemmer came up with it. Davy for the better got the stick to the window as the side by side he was driving rolled into the ditch. Davy lost a finger and part of his hearing that day when they crawled out from under the vehicle and celebrated being alive in pain. “So I think Davy Clemmer set that fire up there, and you can’t tell me any different.” said Bob as he took a sip of his beer. “I don’t care what the investigation found. If Davy Clemmer was around the place and there was a fire, you can almost bet that kid was part of it all somehow.”

But Clemmer’s Oliver was real nice and worked much better than the last tractor he had. It always seemed he was working on the old one more than he was using it, and when you had nice days on the farm, it was time to get things done rather than mess around trying to be a mechanic. The rain held off for Clemmer and he was able to bag everything he had down. It was almost like a miracle happened as when the dark clouds gathered a hole seemed to open up over his field. “How lucky am I!” thought Clemmer as the rain went up the other side the road.

Now there may not be an old man Clemmer or an Oliver tractor, but somewhere, someplace, someone was forced to appreciate life a little more. This is my story about my town, so I get to tell it how I like.

Written By,

Al Wayman

Artist/Owner

Creek Road Pottery LLC

If you enjoyed this post and are a lover of pottery, sign up for our newsletter and become a raging fan.

Kick the winter blues for some greens here at Creek Road Pottery on The Bunny Trail 2021
March 19th -21st 9:00 A.M. -3:00 P.M.
Spring is a great time to bake a casserole or shepards pie with a warm bowl of homemade soup on the side. When these comfort foods are baked and served in authentic handmade local pottery
it’s a great way to live a lifestyle with art that’s affordable.
I am currently creating bowls & bakers here at the pottery to help you enjoy those dishes of early Spring like you saved on your pinterest board.
Stop in and say hello! I very much enjoy being your local pot dealer.
Artist/Owner
Al Wayman
Creek Road Pottery LLC