For years now I've been wallowing in my comfort zone as an artist: that is to say mainly Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention Galleries. I have shown work all over the world, from Yokohama Japan to Montreal Canada- but always part of one of these conventions. Having been raised on these events they always had a magical kind of appeal to them. A sort of pinnacle to reach. So once I began doing this after graduating from Pratt in 2007 I found myself with tunnel vision in terms of where to showcase my work.
I often think about why I may have had this kind of mental wall for so long and I have a theory:
As an Illustration Major I was pretty much taught that illustrative work was considered inferior in the Contemporary Art gallery scene. If you were a commercial artist, even if you were creating work that was separate from your freelance clients, it was still not something a contemporary gallery would want to see. So when I found myself moving more towards fine-art with my own personal work I was completely daunted and fearful of that world. It was at this time that I remembered the galleries at these conventions from my childhood. They always seemed like a great place for illustrators to find a fine-art audience for their works, with the added bonus of showing along-side industry veterans and other well-respected artists. So that is where I naturally gravitated to, and my experience was so pleasant I found myself resting on that scene without properly moving beyond it. And that is where I've been shoehorning myself for years- even though my work often-times seems a stretch to fit into the subject matter of those Science Fiction and Fantasy galleries.
SO NO LONGER. While I do wish to continue showing at these events I have decided to place them at a lower priority and make the New York City Gallery Scene the focus of my future endeavors. Instead of running and hiding from the perceived pre-rejection I will be attempting to get my work put up in as many small galleries and local coffee shops until I can work my way up to potentially showing at those very galleries I used to consider completely off limits to my style of art.
It really helps that I feel the Contemporary Art World is once again starting to recognize the value of illustrative, graphic, and animated works as legitimate art again. And thanks to trail-blazers like James Jean, Pixar, and a host of other Illustrators/Animators who are breaking down the barriers and prejudices I can, for the first time in my adult career, see myself succeeding in this world. I just need to work HARD. And it's something I've never been more happy to do.
So that takes me, in a REALLY LONG, roundabout route, to Express Yourself Barista Bar. It is among the first forays into showing my work locally- and hopefully there will be many more, including actual galleries, in the future.