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First Time Again

All weekend art markets were put on hold for almost two years since the pandemic started. Today I join one as quarantine continues to loosen up. The new variant of the virus has not yet been detected in our country and it feels like everyone is making the most of this time before the possibility of another lockdown.

Fees to join the art market are higher, and e-commerce has entrenched itself into the shopper’s lifestyle so strongly, that I am not assured of even earning back what I invested. Today is 12-12, a much-awaited big sale date for the big e-commerce sites. Yet I have put my own e-commerce shop on holiday mode and instead I packed up to physically sell my artwork.

My online shop has broken even in the past six months or so, but sales have been very slow and far between. The shop is limited to local buyers and I have yet to sell a mid-range original artwork. What’s been selling has been the stationery - and most of the buyers were people who knew me and of my art. I’ve only had about one or two fresh new customers. Simply put, selling art online to the local market is extremely tough especially when your art style and art story do not resonate with the values and culture of most people in your immediate accessible environment.

Hence it’s not like I’m losing much by closing shop on a big sale day. Art is not exactly high demand among the main audience of the e-commerce site that I had joined.

But today feels like a first time in a weekend art market again. I am nervous and apprehensive. Most of the other merchants are new. Many of the oldtimers I know have already made it big online or have evolved in other directions in their creative journey and probably no longer need the extra exposure and effort of a physical art market.

A part of me feels stuck like I never moved much since before the pandemic. I’m still waiting for a breakthrough. I’m still waiting for the tipping point when I stop just breaking even and actually start earning a bit of extra. I’m still waiting for that state of being significantly sustained by my creative work.

Next year I might allow myself to be bound to a regular paycheck. That will be another first time again. There would be eleven years since the last time I was tied to serve the goals of one company that did not necessarily resonate with my own. This time, I am hoping that there would be some common heart points, and that there is the possibility of some kind of love and loyalty.

In the meantime, I make preparations for change as well as make space for courage. I keep moving — forward, deepward, skyward — wherever my heart’s compass points to. For some paths are invisible, and some yet to be made, and some already waiting for me to be brave enough to take them.

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