It’s been 3 years since I closed my beloved boutique and ventured into the unknown of “What’s Next”? I seriously wanted to pull my hair out whenever somebody would ask me that. I thought that I knew at the time what was to come, but the universe often has different (and much better!) ideas.
Art is what got me through this uncomfortable time. As I have done more of it, I have gotten better at it and more confident. Truth be told, though, I’ve felt extremely bashful about showing my art work, especially to those who have known me as a fashion designer and boutique owner. Here I am in a new role and I’m freaking out. Is my art good enough, will people like it, and why am I not sticking with a career and job that has worked for me in the past? I have a mailing list of customers who have supported and loved my fashion work. Most of them live in L.A. and I live in London. Will they like what I do now? Do they care? Will they make fun of me? And yes, all of these insecurities have come up. To make matters worse, they usually come up as I am preparing for a show, ruminating over the inward journey and the difficulties that I have encountered as I have made my way in the past few years.
Here I am, putting fashion on the back burner. For 30+ years, I worked in the fashion and retail industry. And dare I say - I was very good at it. I didn’t have a global empire, but I created a community of women who loved my clothing line and friendly boutique...and that made me really, really happy. Don’t get me wrong - I often miss my clothing line, but usually when it’s time for me to refresh my own wardrobe and I’m confronted with the options that are either too trendy or don’t work for my body type. Here I am, now, though, calling myself an “artist.” It all feels strange and new, but all good at the same time. I’ve always felt that it was far scarier to stick with the tried and true and the worn down path than to venture into the unknown. Whenever I think about doing a full on collection of clothing, my heart seizes up and I can feel my eyes about to twitch. It’s like my love affair has ended and I keep thinking that the flame will be reignited. So far - no luck. I’m moving on.
Recently in London, I showed at my first art fair and it was a lesson in so many things - how to market, wall curation and display, publicity and prep beforehand, and so much more. Meeting other artists in all stages of their career was hands down one of my favorite things ... there were so many styles and mediums used. Most artists were from the U.K., but some travelled from Munich and Scotland and Ibiza. Wow. And so many of them weren’t spring chickens, just starting out. They had full fledged careers and amazing talents before that they were willing to put those behind them to move on into the ether of the art world. The one thing they all had in common was that they felt the need to keep making art.
As I find my way in this new world, I’ve been lucky to meet so many people along the way to cheer me on and become new friends in this new city. The cool mom with her fashion background, making her way into a writing career mid life. The guy I met while checking out an art studio who came to see my work at my first art fair preview night and bought (thank you!) My new artist friend who cracks me up and tells me her methods to approaching galleries alongside snippets of her former fashion career. In addition, I have friends I’ve known for years who are cheering me and collecting my work. From my “SPREAD a little SUNSHINE” poster to original paintings, to my first zine.
Trying to explain my art and what I do to people (and to myself, even) has felt daunting. Years ago, I taught at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. I specifically remember the class where I taught the art of the elevator pitch. Nowadays, we are all trying to brand ourselves and make a clear statement. I don’t think any of us are a pure brand, nor should we be. The act of creating a simple statement can at least help people to understand where we come from. I used my first “zine” to tackle this concept. Working nonstop up until the show, I printed up a mini book from a hand created 28 page art journal that includes things that inspire me. During the art fair, collectors would browse through the zine to get a better understanding of me and my work. Yay. The back of it sums it up:
“I am a London based artist creating mixed media work infused with sunshine.”
I keep an inspiration wall at home that is mostly populated with trinkets from my daughter. But lately, I’ve been adding more things that feel authentic to me - my artist statement, a list of priorities, a lanier of my first art show, the sweet home that I purchased almost 20 years ago. I’ll be adding the zine to the wall as well. And maybe, just maybe, sketches for some new clothing designs.
Tell me, tell me. Have you switched careers big time? Fill me in and let me know how it went and how it’s going.