Earlier this year I caught up with a friend I hadn’t seen in years. When she saw my work in print, she immediately said: “I want to buy some.” But I think I surprised her when I was quick on the uptake, figuring how to get some work in front of her.
I think when I knew her 20 years ago, art was more my lover or my church. But it is now my business and I’m OK with that arrangement.
A few years ago in Talk is Cheap, I detailed a friendship which went south for many reasons, and a big one was the “we want to buy your work” threat. I heard this often and generally said nothing back then. I didn’t want to appear as though I used my friends - but meanwhile their generous grandeur, if only in their minds, was a use of me. (Obviously these friends are not art world people; they know better.)
Perhaps I also entertained this silly romantic idea that mere strangers and exotic collectors would descend upon me and change my life.
This recent era here in Portland has panned out much differently for me. I don’t know how typical this is, but I’ve known nearly every collector. We are friends. We talk about everything and anything but when the “I want to buy something” pitch comes up, I decide it’s true as opposed to not.
Perhaps my old friend wanted that old romance too, to live in the space of maybe, possibility and hope. But for me, I do not want to hear that too often. It’s fine if you never wanted to get anything. We can still talk dreams, how to spend money we may or may not have, etc. But not my work - because that’s what it is, my work.