The first time I saw Amber George's beautiful encaustic paintings was two years ago when I was doing a random search of encaustic artists. I stumbled upon her work and fell in love with her paintings depicting leaves, intricate patterns, and lovely textures immediately. What can I say, I like twigs and leaves, as is apparent in my previous series, and Amber does nature extremely well. We became Facebook friends (I guess it really is good for networking) and she has been a tremendous source of information in my quest to become a full-time artist, even though we have never met in person.
I had a ton of questions for Amber and she was nice enough to answer them and give me some sound advice. Here is a summary of what she said:
1. Before quiting your day job, get your money stuff squared away - pay off what ever you can and save up as much money as possible.
2. Figure out what you'll do for health insurance since you won't have a full-time job that pays for benefits anymore.
3. Consider either going part time or plan on teaching a couple of workshops or one-on-one sessions to transition into quiting your day job. This helps on the months that nothing or little sells. It's piece of mind to know that you have some income that is steady and it helps you continue to network and be social.
4. Look at galleries across the country to represent your work and do your homework. Is your work a fit? Do they represent only abstract when you paint figuratively? Do they represent emerging artists?
5. The key ingredient is the work. Make sure what you send them is a good representation of your work. If they like the work, it could take up to a year before a gallery decides to represent you, so be patient. If not, nothing you do will change the fact that the work is not a fit.
6. Talk with artists about which galleries to work with. How do they treat their artist? Do they pay on time? Are you comfortable with their policies? Not all galleries will have what you need. Just because a gallery wants to represent you, doesn't mean it's a good fit for YOU.
7. When submitting, look at the website and see if they have a submission policy and follow it. Nothings annoys a gallery more than an artist who doesn't follow instructions and wastes their time. If the gallery has no submission guidelines, then send a brief e-mail with a small jpeg or two of paintings, a link to your site and a 2-3 sentence abbreviated statement. State that you'd be happy to send any additional information per their request and apologize in advance if this is not their preferred method of submission.
8. Market the hell out of your work. Send e-mails, cards, packets to galleries anything you can do to get it out there.
Great advice Amber! Thanks again for answering my thousands of questions! To see more of Amber's work, visit www.ambergeorge.com .
Image by Amber George: "Sewing Strips", 18x18 inches, encaustic, sewing pattern paper, auto repair manual, thread, 2009. Courtesy Julie Nester Gallery.