Although I may struggle to remember, I have learned that the path to success is not linear. Many trials, obstacles, and unpredictable factors disrupt the journey. Living in New York has completely changed my perspective on the city. Even though it appears to offer an abundance of opportunities and contacts, it is difficult to find consistently available resources. Disappointment typically precedes satisfaction along a pursuit. However, giving up guarantees failure.
Despite my passion and diligence, the same situation applied to my first New York art show. I made my city debut as an exhibitor with RAW Artists. The worldwide organization offers a platform for rising creators of all mediums. Visual artists, performance artists, makeup artists, and fashion designers congregate for pop-up group expositions. Rather than paying an exhibition fee, individuals secure an opening by selling tickets. Fulfilling my ticket requirement served as my first stressor. Although the structure incentivizes exhibitors to invite a larger audience by generating revenue from promotion rather than charges, the responsibility still involves gambling. If an artist does not sell all of the required tickets, the individual must pay for the remaining quantity. Although artists can then sell the remaining tickets directly, the uncertainty may be intimidating. New York is full of people with an appreciation for art seeking social events. However, finding people available to attend or interested in purchasing a ticket was more difficult than I predicted.
Human nature inhibits most people from simply replying. The chaotic holiday season and ticket price did not encourage most people to RSVP either. Rather than nurturing mutually supportive relationships, New York’s residents typically only focus on their own success. Because of my own busy schedule and underestimating the difficulty of the ticket selling process, I did not sell my last ticket until an hour before the event ended. Many relatives purchased tickets as an act of support even though they could not attend. The majority of my friends who bought tickets ultimately could not visit either. However, most of the contacts I invited did not respond. My declining morale and effort to avoid a deficit distracted me from engaging with viewers. If I had focused on welcoming people to my display, I could have connected with a larger audience.
Although I connected with a few neighboring artists, I robbed myself the chance of engaging with most of the fellow exhibitors as well. Gathering supplies for my display also evolved into a daunting task completed with no time to spare. My series of unsuccessful errands delayed the assembling of my presentation. No store had the decorations and tools available for purchase that would allow me to execute my vision. A week of uneventful shopping led to a chaotic morning preceding the event. After wasting time and money on a series of unproductive Uber trips throughout Brooklyn, I settled for a satisfactory display far from what I imagined. I then improvised the arrangement of my art after realizing I neglected to download my previously constructed blueprint. My strategy of calculating spatial relationships and dimensions prior to the show ultimately served no purpose as I blindly mounted my work.
Rather than catching my breath after frantically hanging my art, I embarked on a final errand. I anticipated the opportunity to use my Square Reader as a fully prepared marketing artist. I could now conduct credit card transactions in an age where people rarely carry cash. However, I did not consider that my device would not be compatible with my recently purchased iPhone. I raced to Staples in search of a Square Reader with the Apple-oriented rectangular connector. Unfortunately, my unlucky streak continued as none were left in stock.
My focus soon shifted to connecting with the audience and selling my last ticket once I returned to the venue. Although most people did not attend due to unforeseen situations, a few friends visited to express their support. I appreciated their presence and praise in the midst of disappointment. However, my enthusiasm gradually diminished as the evening remained stagnant after a series of discouraging incidents. I assumed nothing else could possibly go wrong once the show concluded. However, the bag in which I carried my work ripped as I exited the venue. Despite my frames breaking after the majority of my work fell into the street, my art fortunately was not damaged. A group of bystanders graciously helped retrieve my work from the road while encouraging positivity and complimenting my creations.
I contemplated the purpose of my efforts while traveling home. The time, money, and energy I invested did not prepare me for such a disheartening outcome. However, my perspective eventually transformed with the comfort of friends and some reflecting. I soon viewed the defeat as a lesson rather than a failure. My turmoil evolved into motivation to conquer another opportunity. Conception Arts, an organization similar to RAW Artists, invited me to exhibit in their upcoming show. I quickly registered to take advantage of the chance to redeem myself.
Although my experience exhibiting with RAW did not unfold as I had expected, I never blamed the organization for my dissatisfaction. Everyone from the network welcomed me with enthusiasm and support. RAW’s team established a well organized and efficient structure. Unfortunately, the circumstances of the chaotic holiday season, my naiveté, and unsuccessful gambles led to a less prosperous outcome. Although my experience did not reflect the quality of RAW’s organization, I looked forward to experimenting with another network.
A taste for redemption lingered as I anticipated my first show of 2019. My preparation involved greater confidence and knowledge following my participation with RAW. After receiving several Amazon gift cards for Christmas, I prioritized purchasing supplies and decor. Online shopping guaranteed an availability of merchandise. The convenience of readily available products also allowed me to invest in more efficient equipment as well as replace my frames. My proactive strategies lessened much of the stress from which I suffered preparing for my last show. The results of my RAW ticket sales informed new strategies as well, allowing me to fulfill my requirement with less pressure sooner in advance.
As experience displaced naïveté, success displaced insecurity. My earlier preparation allowed me to meet all of my fellow exhibitors and view examples of their talent. A calm and optimistic state encouraged me to embrace the present moment. Executing my presentation as I had visualized attracted viewers and compliments. One viewer purchased a print of my James Dean Snapchat illustration. However, the emotional profit certainly outweighed the monetary gain. My efforts produced a completely different result from the last exhibition. Applying what I learned allowed me to quench my thirst for redemption. Reflecting on my first show with RAW, I now appreciate the humbling experience. Enduring the disappointment provided motivation and wisdom while preparing for my following show with Conception. Perhaps society refers to creative people as starving artists because we constantly crave inspiration. I certainly found inspiration in growth from the transforming events.