What Makes Art Sell? I don’t.

I have a little struggle with my art.

I have and always had an urge to draw, enjoyed to make colorful crazy things. Through the years I have found my favorite materials and style. I draw not only because I like to, but also because I have to, I need to, I get restless If I don’t. And through the years I always return to my favorite materials –  black chinese ink and pen for the lines and bold bright watercolors for the colouring- because they feel the closest to what I want and like to express.

‘Where’s ya problem, chick?’, one would say, but you know, I end up making always variations of the same themes and colors. People that like my work mostly say something like ‘Hey, you should DO something with your art!. Yeah, but what? Make postcards, try to find assignments for illustration? Organise and exhibition? Well yeah, trying to SELL my art. But (nags) I don’t like that. I just want to make it. Being picked up by a handful of art directors that beg me to give me a cheque to draw for them, forever.

So, ‘being discovered as an illustrator’ – haha, nice dream, but there seems to be something …unadapted about my art. I DID print postcards and the local artsy coffee shop didn’t see them fit in the concept. That was tough, if my local art coffee shop even doesn’t want to sell my art, who will? I DID an illustration assignment for a policy plan, I loved them, but the graphic designer had a completely other style and put all vectory stuff THROUGH my illustrations. Messed them up, man. So, if a small graphic designer & city isn’t ravished with my illustrations and even wants to manipulate them, who will? And also: you draw like 30 people and some buildings, and then the feedback is: oh, the people should be more divèrse! And can’t you put thàt building thère? My thoughts: ‘Buzz of, you think I draw that in five minutes!’ My answer: ‘Oh sure dear client, that will be better indeed, this week you get the new drawing!’ Maybe I must I change the way I illustrate?

Oh and a local squat DID ask me for a free exhibition, but then… I’ld have to frame them all. And which one to choose? I let that one slip by pure lameness.

And just then I read an article in Flow Magazine about an e-course ‘Make Art That Sells’. It screamed to me: “IF YOU WANT TO LEARN EXACTLY WHAT TO PUT IN YOUR ARTWORK TO MAKE KILLER PORTFOLIO PIECES WHILE STAYING TRUE TO YOUR STYLE AND TASTE, THIS IS FOR YOU” So I just had to take this e-course! Not cheap, I can tell you, but I’m really very happy I did it anyway.

I did make 10 great pieces (at least, I think so :D) in 10 weeks, here they are:


And do I know it now, what to ‘do with my art’? Hell no! Here’s the rub:

‘People Buy Your Joy’ – That is one of Lilla Rogers true and lovely mantras. I learned that we have to make what we would buy ourselves. What gives us joy. But my problem is: what I buy is very different from what I make. The things I buy -the art that gives me that ‘MUST HAVE’-feeling- are very sober, very graphic, often even minimalist. So there’s my problem. I wouldn’t buy what I make, I guess. I see now that I had hoped to find an answer to this following this course. But I’m doubting even more. Maybe I don’t even want to sell my art, and just keep on making it. But then again, I do.

Does any artist out there recognize this struggle, or am I the only freak in town? 🙂

But I want to end this post positively. I just keep on drawing, you know.  I’ve been such a humble follower of every of these 10 assignments. Though they led me to surprising subjects and fun drawings, I want to go WILD again and explore that!

And I met lots of great female artists all over the globe in the e-course, the Facebook-group was like the -coffee-after-class-room, and I expressed this struggle. The greatest feedback I got was this one from (great illustrator!) Claudi Kessels: “Hi Fenna your style and art is unique, some of your images hit me with a bang like the cowboy-woman: your energy, colors pff don’t let that go! You will find a way ‘use’ your art.”

Thanks and hail to that! And boo to lameness – I will work that portfolio (so much work man! 🙂

And to REALLY end this post,  a bit of new mailart (finally, back to my neglected mail-art-friends again!) and a few drawings were squeezed out the last few weeks.

8 thoughts on “What Makes Art Sell? I don’t.

  1. I really like “The Time is Now”. Any one of these artworks would make a great fabric.

  2. I think a lot of artists will recognize what you wrote. I really like your art too. Enjoy the process of making it, promoting it( if that’s what you want). You are adding something beautiful to the world, that is already so big, even though it may seem small, it is not!

  3. Hello there, I’m not an artist, but I’m an art lover person, so I can’t give you advice, but I can tell you that enjoyed the article a lot. Your illustrations/drawings are so cheerful, vivid and bold, they have a great vibe. You shouldn’t be “lame about it”, just be proud! I’d totally buy your postcards or hang one of your colorful pieces on my wall. I like many of them, but my absolute favourite is the Antwerp map, because I’m a sucker for illustrated maps and I love Antwerp as well. Good luck! PS. I’m a big fan of Flow, but not many people know it around me, so when someone mentions it, my heart jumps with joy 🙂

  4. Hi, I’m new here. I totally get where you are coming from. Personally I love your work, because its not the same as everyone elses! Its bold and colourful and filled with things that are meaningful to you. I draw and doodle because I have to, as well. If somebody likes it, great, but if they don’t well, I would still do it anyway. Keep on doing what you do, its great!

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