Say that you’ve managed to make a connection with a local gallery and they are currently the only gallery representing you. They’ve been showing a few of your paintings for almost a year now without garnering any sales. In the back of your mind you wonder if they’re going to drop you soon; then one day you get a call from the gallery owner apologizing for doing exactly that, dropping you. Even though you’ve been half-expecting this call, your heart still sinks.
These are hard moments. We typically make them harder, however, by sinking too far, getting too disappointed and demoralized, and announcing to ourselves that our career is over and that we no longer have any chance in the marketplace. We may try to say to yourselves, “When one door closes, another opens,” but we may well not believe our own words and feel nothing but defeated. What now? What can help you get back on your feet? Here are three tips:
+ Remind yourself that this particular loss isn’t so great. For a year already none of your paintings have sold there; it’s not as if your source of income has dried up, given that this gallery has never become a source of income.
+ Decide that you will use this event as an opportunity to squarely face the marketplace. Create a short list of marketing and promoting activities that you might sensibly pursue—reaching out to new galleries, entering a local show, hosting a home show or studio open house, building your network, etc.—put together an actionable list for each of these activities, and get to work on them.
+ Conceptualize this as a practical matter and not an existential crisis. You have no need to doubt the meaning of what you’re doing because one gallery didn’t manage to sell what you make. If you were already on the cusp of not believing in your paintings or in the meaning of making art, then this event may send you over the edge into existential despair. Repair that meaning leak as quickly as you can by announcing that making art still matters to you and still counts.
A gallery that represents you may drop you. That’s not so very unusual an occurrence. Take such an event as a setback but not a crisis. We have countless setbacks to deal with in life and turning each one into a crisis makes life harder than it ought to be!