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Professional Artists? Starting a discussion on barriers to accessing art

UdosdottirUdosdottir Member Posts: 34 Connected
edited March 6 in Disabled people
Hello, are any professional artists on here?

I am an artist myself, and in the artist led gallery space in which I have my studio, we are currently discussing diversity in general. I feel that neuro-diversity and disability is not being considered enough. I am a mother of disabled children but I am not disabled myself, and I would be interested in hearing from disabled artists (and artists with disabilities) or anyone interested in the matter, really, about their view on what are the most glaring barriers they are facing.
For example whether it is foremost about physical barriers and accessible buildings, venues, galleries,... Or whether systemic barriers are the bigger issue, and whether there are any ideas around on how to tackle them.

If you are available for a chat that would be great. Or equally appreciated would be a link to a website where such issues are discussed in more detail? Thanks a bunch!

Udosdottir

Replies

  • Kit_Kit_ Member Posts: 31 Connected
    I'm not a professional artist but I do try to sell the occasional print to fund my hobby and I'd like to sell more work. I have multiple disabilities and I'm autistic. I find that there are art groups for disabled people for fun but when you say you want to take things more seriously, they act as though you're "not disabled enough" to be in the group any more.
    I don't think I've ever seen support for disabled people to make a business out of art or craft which is what I really need. I go to craft fairs sometimes but find it exhausting being on my feet all day (I have chronic pain and fatigue) and I don't have anyone who can run a stall for me. I have to pass on any event that runs over more than 1 day or is very long or far away. 
    I also think that being quite isolated and not having any friends puts me at a disadvantage as lots of people can sell just based on using their social media and word of mouth form people they know, and I don't have that kind of network.
    I'd love to be able to make a living from selling art, I think it would be the best option for me in terms of an accessible career, but I wouldn't even know where to start!
  • UdosdottirUdosdottir Member Posts: 34 Connected
    Hi Kit, thanks for responding. You are right to point this out: When I just googled something like "disabled arts" or something like that. Most of the things that came up were about art therapy, not it being a professional activity.

    As to your efforts: Having sold handmade journals for a living for a couple of years myself - selling handmade is a tough bussines, and in the range of prints/printmaking there's lots of competition. I can fully understand why you would find markets hard to access. I find it strenuous both physically and mentally, too, and I don't like participating in fairs also for other reasons: It's a huge investment in time, you often have to pay a fee up front, and for me it's always been a problem with arranging childcare. But that doesn't have to keep you. In the handmade community there are those who sell mostly in person, those who sell mostly online, and those who manage both successfull (but the latter are scarce). There are several online selling platforms like Etsy and Folksy (I like this one better these days) that I sold on successfully, and which might be a good way forward for you. I would be happy to help you along if you have any questions (I'll try to send a private message; don't know whether we have this feature here).
    For both plattforms there are different groups on social media, too, where everyone is super friendly and you can always ask for help. While some do start out selling to friends, it's those who manage to expand beyond their personal acquaintances for who it is sustainable. Good luck!
  • Kit_Kit_ Member Posts: 31 Connected
    I’ve tried Etsy and folksy. I’m on Depop at the minute because they have no upfront fees but I’ve found with all sites you really have to bring your own customers in from social media. Having friends/colleagues etc to share posts would definitely be easier at the start to build a base. 
    I’d really like to do bigger pieces or even a show but I wouldn’t know where to start. I couldn’t go to uni so I think I missed out on a lot of the industry secrets and those kinds of connections. I’d love to know about resources for those kinds of things
  • UdosdottirUdosdottir Member Posts: 34 Connected
    I don't know depop. Both Etsy and Folksy definitely need some time until they can take off, and having some friends that buy something in the start may help. Bringing in customers yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have personal friends. (I would argue: if that's where the majority of someone's revenue comes from, then they shouldn't be on a 3rd party platform but sell to them directly - otherwise it's too expensive.) It is true that neither plattform works on its own, you need to put in time and effort.. I am running an Etsy shop as my main source of income - or I did before the pandemic hit; for many there, shop closures were business-booster, but I had to close shop to look after my kids.That's because running an online shop of that scale is not something that works on its own, it is a full time job. I hope to get back to it now that schools open again. But making stuff, making good photos, writing product descriptions, working out prices, shipping modes,... all that takes effort, a learning curve, and a lot of time. Etsy is fairly professional by now, and if it looks too home-made, people might not be attracted. That's why local support groups help a lot.
    I am part of the Nottingham Etsy Team. We have monthly meetings with shop critique, help with technicalities, and all kind of support for each other. We are always happy to give a helping hand to a newbie. So, if you are somewhere close.. But there are many local teams you could join. we usually also welcome people who don't even have a shop yet, and just want to talk about how it could work out. That way you'd have 30 odd people look over your shop, and with a little bit of luck, one of them might even be your first customer - although that shouldn't be the main incentive to come to a meeting...

    Are we allowed links to shops here? If you give me a link to yours, I'll take a look.
  • Kit_Kit_ Member Posts: 31 Connected
    My Depop is violetlilies (I hope I’m allowed to say that)
    I stuck with Etsy for a few years but I spent a lot more on listing fees than I ever made and I couldn’t afford to keep it open. I’m still in my local Etsy Facebook group but there are so many people on there it’s hard to keep up with it and get involved. 
    I know you can’t only rely on friends, but if a few people share your shop then you could easily reach a few hundred people who you wouldn’t reach alone. It’s small things that add up to a disadvantage, not being able to do events, not having as much energy to put into it, all of that stuff feels like such a big hill to climb that others don’t have to. 

  • UdosdottirUdosdottir Member Posts: 34 Connected
    I am sure you do have additional hurdles. I would still hope that with the right support you might be able to make it. Good luck! - I'll be off to see whether I can find your shop now :-)
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