[dropcap]W[/dropcap]e don’t have to tell you that making a living as an artist is tough. Working long hours, constantly changing things and obsessing over the smallest details, enduring rejections again and again, struggling financially… Then why do we do it? Because there is no other way for us, it’s in our blood, our DNA. But while enduring the mood swings of the business we’re in, it’s easy to get discouraged and even start dreaming about that cozy 9 to 5 office job.
Don’t give up! Being a full-time artist is challenging but the rewards can be out of this world. There is no greater feeling than watching your dream piece come to life just the way you wanted or being astonished and amazed at how well your work has been received at your latest exhibition. In light of this, we’d like to present to you a few ‘then and now’ success stories, as told by former and current Agora Gallery artists.
Meet VeroniKah, a Quebec-based painter known for her stunning visions of vivid colors and bold texture. VeroniKah was with Agora Gallery for over 3 years, participated in multiple group exhibitions and had a solo show entitled Metamorphosis: VeroniKah, in 2011. We recently followed up with her to inquire about the current endeavors, congratulate her on several upcoming solo exhibitions, and ask how her career has evolved since Agora Gallery.
Can you talk about your artistic roots a little bit? How did it all start for you?
As a child, I always needed to express myself in an artistic way. I danced ballet for 15 years, wrote poetry, and took pleasure in drawing.
My parents, however, were not convinced that I could make a living being an artist and so I studied Marketing at Montreal University and graduated in 1985. I worked for XEROX for 13 years but wasn’t happy with my life.
At the age of 14, I was diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa and used my art in secret to escape the life I was forced to endure. In 2000 I was hospitalized at 82 pounds and had to quit working to take care of myself.
I had no choice but to be myself or else I would die. So I started painting at the hospital to heal my soul. I never stopped painting from that day and keep creating day after day.
Today at 52 years old, painting is as essential as breathing. My art is my life, my story, my journey, and sharing it with others makes it even more important.
How did you find Agora Gallery?
I found Agora Gallery while surfing the web. I was looking for a prestigious gallery in New York and Agora was at the top of my search. I sent my CV and some pictures of my artwork to the gallery hoping to be accepted. I was so happy and proud when I received the message that I would be part of a group exhibition in 2009.
What role did Agora Gallery, and Angela Di Bello in particular, play in your becoming a professional artist?
Before I was accepted at Agora Gallery I participated in group exhibitions in Quebec, Canada, and was very disappointed.
People were using me to make money; they weren’t interested in promoting me as an artist or nurturing my career. More often than not they were telling me NOT to paint a certain way because they already represented artists creating in similar styles. As an artist, I wanted to experiment with all kinds of styles and mediums and did not want to be told what to do.
Angela encouraged me to persevere and try new techniques and styles. She was there as a friend and mentor, as well as an art coach. I could write or call her anytime and she would get back to me quickly to answer my question and help me grow as an artist.
Eventually, I decided to focus on the Quebec market, and Angela – even though I was no longer represented by the gallery – continued to follow and help me. She is, to this day, the only person that cared for me and believed that I would make it as a full-time artist (which I did in 2012).
Being able to make a living off selling artwork is a huge challenge, but Angela knew that I am a very hard worker and my perseverance would pay off. Becoming a professional artist was not a dream, it was reality in the making.
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What successes are you experiencing as a result of Agora Gallery’s promotion and your talent?
After my solo exhibition in 2011, my success skyrocketed. Because New York is looked at as the city where if you make it there you will make it everywhere, I was suddenly a great artist. I was offered to join many galleries and participate in international exhibitions around the world.
For the next 3 years I spent a fortune exhibiting in many countries but because most galleries are taking more than 50% commissions on sales, I ended up losing a lot of money. The cost of participation, publicity, and everything else was so high that even though I continued making great sales I couldn’t support it. So at the end of 2012 I went back to being an independent artist and did only Open House exhibitions and private visits to clients.
I remodeled my house to resemble a gallery. I have about 80 paintings exhibited all year long and invite people for private viewings. Because I do not have to give a percentage of my sales to agents, I can now make a very good living.
But working every day and having to do everything myself takes up all my time and it’s very difficult to stand alone.
I am considering coming back to Agora as soon as I have more time. I have 3 sons; my oldest is a student at the University and has his own apartment, but the other two are 14-year-old twin boys that still need a lot from me. I am sure that very soon I will be able to focus more on my career and invest in a solo exhibition with Agora Gallery.
What would you say to artists out there who are thinking of representation with Agora? What advice would you give them?
I would say to other artists that Agora is the first step to be recognized as a true artist. The money invested is well placed and you will see a return on your investment in both the short and long term. Agora team has a lot of experience and long contact lists and your art will be looked at by collectors, art lovers, and the general population.
But part of the responsibility to continue to work hard, not only on the creations but marketing and sales, remains with the artist.
Making great artwork is half of the equation, the other half is putting it in front of the right people. Being an artist is a full-time job and then some. Ups and downs will make you stronger and more efficient in the long run. I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else now and I will create until I die, that’s for sure.
VeroniKah is a successful contemporary artist based in Quebec, Canada. She runs her own art studio and exhibits around Quebec. Please visit her website to learn more about this incredibly positive, talented, and strong woman.
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]With over 30 years of experience representing artists from around the world, Agora Gallery offers artists the opportunity to present their work to a broad range of national and international art collectors and buyers. Visit our Gallery Representation And Artist Promotion page for more information.[/perfectpullquote]