In the last episode we talked about the importance of change in the creative
process, and in the one prior to that (about blocks and lack of motivation) we
mentioned that these are sometimes harbingers of change. Given how important
it is in the big picture, what are some reasons we may resist it? The outside world
of galleries and collectors can be a big reason we avoid change or worry about it.
For artists that rely on sales this is a major concern. Known for something, making
sales… what kind of response will you get if you change directions?
Legitimate concern---yet I don’t feel it is right to let that hold you back. Once
again allowing for risk-taking can lead to better results that you might imagine.
We fear rejection yet if the work is better, we should proceed.
It can lead to a new audience, and being seen in a better light, perhaps more
developed, sophisticated, on a new level
Hardest to navigate is the transitional phase when you have not yet hit stride with
new stuff. Be patient and open to continuing to show older work until the new
stuff has reached a similar level of accomplishment.
General advice for navigating public showing of new direction:
GALLERIES: may mean loss of a gallery—but galleries need to serve us as creative
people just as we serve them with our work. Part of that is giving new work a
But even if the gallery goes along with it, it may not be right for their clientele. No
guarantees with change. Need to trust in the process.
It may also be a welcome change, bringing in new collectors or reviving interest
from older ones.
Shows your growth and seriousness you give your career, you are not just
IN FACT the change may not be as dramatic as you perceive it to be, or there is
still strong connection to older work so both may be shown together (Atlanta
show) Changer is internal as well as external and you may feel it more than others
Big noticeable is a risk worth taking--such as moving from realistic landscapes to
non-referential abstract work –could be seen as positive, interesting move by
gallery OR flat out rejection.
Be prepared for either. Put your work first. Know that it will find its audience.
Make sure the new work is as well-developed as older stuff; don’t try to show it
too early in the transitional phase or you may impede its acceptance
For already-scheduled show: do you need to focus on getting the new work to the
point of exhibition? It’s the usual urge--we tend to think our current work is the
best and want to show that.
If at a commercial gallery get their input and realize it’s a business; they may
decide to hold off on the newer work or mix with older.
Not good to pull a total switch if direction just before a show. Allow them time to
adjust to the change if they do not embrace it.
save out enough of the older work if necessary. Send images of the newer work to
get the response.
At a self-curated show/noncommercial—much more leeway. Set your goals and
go for it.
If you need to include older work and newer work in a show it can be presented
as two different series-- allows viewers to make connections between the two.
Consider making separate sections on your website for the two bodies of work
but if not clearly related, let the older work drop off as soon as newer stuff is well
Know that you may be asked to go back to an older style by a collector or gallery.
As in, “can you do some more of those realistic landscapes?” how will you
Maybe fine if you’re not firmly settled into new approach,
OR some people do work in more than one style, always.
Conclusion: change is a necessary process and try to embrace it in positive ways
but be prepared for some obstacles in its marketing. They may or may not
happen—BUT if it’s truly a change for the better believe that good things will