I studied business and finance my first three years of college. Not only was it stressful to keep up with difficult homework and tests, I found the whole thing empty and meaningless. I didn’t want to be in the business of being in business, I didn’t like making money from money alone. So my junior year I dropped out and studied art thinking I would get away from all that. But in order to paint I had to sell my paintings,. So my salesmanship skills immediately set in. Also making money that way I had to count the money and keep track of it, how much I was spending and how much I was making. A simple spreadsheet or finance software solved that problem. Already, I had to revert back to the accounting skills I learned in college. Selling in various coffeehouses and small galleries, I had to set accounts to see where I was selling, who I was selling through and how much. I also had to keep an inventory of where the paintings were and which ones had been sold. Then, I set up a both in the street market and that had to be handled differently by paying rent and keeping a large stock of how much to sell my art for, which ones were most likely to sell and how much I had to charge to make sure all expenses were paid. I even hired young lady to watch the booth when I wasn’t there in exchange letting her put own paintings in a fraction of the space. So in essence, I had an employee. My father and my brother volunteered to drive a truck and get everything there and back. They would also help set up the booth, the canopy, the display stands and the table. I would then hang the art and display my books, music cds and other items on the table. I also developed a theory that market value determines itself. If people didn’t want to pay for an item thinking it was too expensive, I would have to lower the price. If they really liked the item, they would actually pay more. As I’d become more of an actual business, I realized my college studies were paying off and with products I made and believed in.
But there was another interesting lesson I learned, your business doesn’t belong to you. If I am commanding a ship I own, I can’t just drill holes in the deck and destroy everything. That may sound ludicrous, but in my business, that’s easy to do. You have to please your customers, your customers own your stand. Without them, you have no shop. You have to sell them what you want, not just what I want to sell. For example, I love life drawing, but nobody wants to go to the street fair and see pictures of naked woman. You have to pay attention to what they want and make it. I found a certain percentage of people didn’t like any of my work and didn’t like art at all. I talked to them about what they diid like and they all liked sports. So I got out my pens and drew pictures of known basketball players, football players and boxers. Soon they were all at my booth buying. Rather than painting expressionsist or abstract pieces, I found myself painting celebrities, actors, musicians and religious imagery. I enjoyed that and it sold. But I knew it wasn’t my gallery because I couldn’t just paint what I wanted.
I also had to answer to the government with laws, taxes and a resellers permit. The museum who I rented the space through had their rules as well and the people in the community would protest if I hung up something they didn’t like like like a political piece featuring Che Guevara or a drawing of a marijuana leaf. My business is not my business, but then what am I? I am a servant of the community. I am not a corporate raider, I am not a temporary con man, I am not a commodities broker. I am a person, I am an artist, I do not own the community, I belong to it.