The New Year always has me reflecting back in time. I was thinking about my different careers as an entrepreneur. I started my first business as an artist rep in 1978. I knew nothing about nothing and certainly not marketing. With much determination, I took to the streets with my portfolio in hand. Let me go on…
When I ventured in to this new career, I started representing my own work. I met an owner of a bank and he asked me to bring some art to the Wells Fargo Bank in Laguna Beach. The architecture on the inside of the building is round and had ample space to showcase work both down and upstairs. I was thrilled! I took a few pieces in to the bank owner but realized very quickly that I did not have enough art to cover all of the walls. I asked him if I could bring in other artisans. ” Wham, Bam!” I became an art rep overnight.
Sounds simple, huh? Due to my youth and excitement it all seemed very easy to get started. I rounded up a half a dozen artists, picked out the most suitable pieces, and hired a carpenter to make a display table for artist’s bios. It was very corny as I remember now.
It turns out that absolutely nothing sold. It looked good but the art sat for months. Oh well! “Why?, I asked my self.” Low and behold, a new artist and mentor came my way. His name is Larry McAdams. He now has a very successful marketing firm in Newport Beach and also an amazing painter. He guided me along the way to represent his work. He told me that I would make more money in the advertising industry. This new enlightenment and some additional talented illustrators and photographers created a real career for me.
I miss those days of chummin’ with the artists and the art directors. Things were more complicated for an art rep back then due to the travel. I would take a loaded portfolio and hoist it on my back. It was very heavy! When I had to take stairs instead of an elevator, I truly groaned. Lucky for me, I was young and fit.
You see, we did not have fax machines then. I would travel back and forth up the crowded freeways with sketches in hand to be approved by the agency, take the revisions back to the artist. I would travel back after a day or so to the artists, pick up the new sketch and back to the agency for second approval. If that was ok, I would go back to the artist. “Oh my goodness, where’s the fax machine or computer scanner?” One more trip to pick up the final art and then I was done. ” She works hard for the money“, says Donna Summer. I think she would agree that I’m a good example of the song.
Back in the day, I had a good eye for talent and chose only to work with the pro’s without attitude. I became a household name as the Orange County Art Rep largely due to their amazing skills. Little by little I started understanding what marketing was all about. Other reps started popping up from Los Angeles so we took ads out in the L.A. Workbook. Eventually, technology stared killing work for artists that worked with their hands and were replaced by computer illustration. To stay ahead of the game, I selected some local artist’s who were adapting to this new tech tool and I found work once again. Unfortunately, I saw the writing on the wall and started looking for a new career. I think there is still a place in the world for art reps as the artist should work and let someone else do the dirty stuff. Today, I rep my own work and realize the tools are easier but the competition is furious online. So, I should blog, link in, facebook, twitter….and so on.
Do you think Michaelangelo would have liked the computer? I think not, but whose to say?