|A sea lion rookery in soapstone|
I have been asked how I come about in creating some beautiful pieces of art… I don’t think I could accurately answer that. It just happens. Sometimes I see the bears moving in the stone or the sea lions are ‘barking’… I keep removing the stone until the seal can’t move! Sometimes I see the whole design in a flash… other times you work on a piece, and all of a sudden you notice another seal sitting close to the one you are working on. Other times you know what you are doing, you know exactly how it will turn out… but it is taking a long time… fighting you every step of the way, but you have to be tough… hungry enough to persevere, and then… all of a sudden, you are finished! This beautiful polar bear is standing there, and it had such a difficult childhood. Lately I have allowed myself a ‘moment’ to admire what I just created… before I spend the time it takes of selling it. “No money, no honey!” My young five-year-old cousin used to say that. She would come up to me, and see me carving, and she would smile, and say “No money, no honey!” “Yes… I know” was my reply. Then most of the time, you are just carving to keep busy, and a little inventory starts to develop. You start dreaming of cruise ship season eating steaks instead of ‘tube-steaks.’ When the first cruise ship arrives in Juneau, you see a bunch of us native artist… waiting, to greet the first ship with open arms… “Welcome.”The Tucson Gem shows are the biggest show of any kind in the world. It has a life of its own, it has many facets, and many shows… you must learn its jargon to follow what’s going on there. It takes time to prepare for the show… if you want to have a successful show, you must put in the time in preparation. Just don’t fantasize too much… be realistic about the outcome. Too many times I would think about certain scenarios in the show… “Oh yes, I can take my coffee break when I go to the bank to make a deposit.” Hahahaha… ha-ha! This year I didn’t make any deposits until I was near the end of the show. I deposited my check to my account, and I can hear the ATM chewing on my check… making me feel that I’ll never see that money again! If I were a smoker, I would light a cigarette after making a bank deposit. I made enough to pay my way there, to maintain a comfortable stay, eat nice meals, enjoy other vendors, and maybe have some ‘walk around’ money to maybe buying something. Most of us are just waiting to sell something big; you put in the time and just hope that today you’ll make a huge sale. Then it’s steaks, buying people a ‘round’, buying some art, and just sits in a café pondering the state of the world. But many times you just miss out, took a break at the moment a major buyer came around. You hope that the show you are in has a great selection of interesting ‘stuff’ that would attract buyers to your show. Weather also has a big effect on the outcome of a show… we are all amateur meteorologists… looking up at the sky, trying to figure what’s going on, and with your ears… listen to the Federal Reserves Economic Report on the Economy. Last night they said that they have confidence in the economy and expect it to grow by 4% within the next year. Most of the time we’ll witness ‘one of us’ native artist, hit a home run, making a big sale, and we all stop and just watch with happiness for them. At least we know that big money is being made. Every once in awhile, just when you think you almost lost it, we make a big sale… like hitting a grand-slam in the last inning, the last hitter, the last ball in a ‘no-hitter’ game… you knock the ball out of the stadium. Then you feel invincible; you can do anything, even calculus! The artist, who keeps working, no matter what is happening, will always make it.
We always look forward… not backwards. It is better to look ahead, to get better, and try to learn from past mistakes. If you don’t make money, you always want to at least learn something… to add to our experience, which is valuable to other artists. To be part of an artist network, you must also contribute to the knowledge being passed around. Keep moving, keep growing, and to be like, ‘Cain, who wandered around the land’ in the TV series Kung Fu. I like what my teacher Simon Koonook used to say… “Have tools, will travel.”