One artist’s journey is never the same as another’s.
Not only do you have to be creative in what you make, but also in how you get it out there, connect with the right people, and make a living. They all involve taking risks that are manageable when you have confidence in the quality of your art.
In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, Jan R. Carson talks about her path starting in 1999 with her creation of Moon-Lily Silk Mobiles, where she has made over 7,000 stainless steel wire and silk mobiles.
In 2010, Jan decided to begin the journey away from what had been a safe income (production work) to go after the art and life she wants for herself.
She discusses the balance of both worlds and how she is successfully transitioning from one to the other while focusing on the quality of her art, all the while continuing to make a living from her art.
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- The many hats Jan wears in handling the construction of the mobiles, along with marketing, accounting, etc.
- Why she found it easier to retain and train people as employees rather than interns.
- Her commitment to letting her body make the work, and keeping her mind out of it.
- How she got the confidence in herself and her artwork to exhibit it, and what it felt like to put it out into the world.
- The important question artists need to ask themselves: What do I need to make? Not: How do I sell my art?
- The social component of being an artist, and how Jan navigates the world as a self-proclaimed shy homebody.
- The value of listening, connection, and staying open and present as an artist.
An Additional Note from Jan
Jan asked that I share this with you, dear artist, as a follow-up to our conversation.
My art business has succeeded largely by coincidence and intuitive navigation.
Last year (2018) was one of incredible success for me, but there's still no stability to my livelihood. My business experience in production art bolstered my confidence and firmly established my reputation as a working artist. But production work also led to a cliff's edge where jumping was a necessary option in moving forward.
It's a fact I'm one who risks and plunges based on the faith I have in my art practice. As well, measuring my success in terms of income isn't my method; I'm motivated by my artistic (philosophical, spiritual) quest.
Choosing to return to fine art has born out a slow, challenging transition. If the work wasn't resonating with others, I'd likely reconsider my decision. But it's obvious the more I expose (in my art) and reveal (in my writing) the greater the reward.
It's reaffirming to me that the job of an artist is to do exactly that: to record one's experience in the world, to function as a witness to contemporary society, and in doing so—expose the emotions and intelligence of our time. I hope those who listen will find something useful in my story. Thank you, Alyson, for the opportunity to share. —Jan R. Carson
About My Guest
Jan R. Carson earned her M.F.A. in fibers at Colorado State University. Since 2005, she has been designing and fabricating commissioned, site-specific artworks for corporations and public spaces. Her aerial sculptures and textile artworks are in the collections of notable clients including Kaiser Permanente, Centura Health, Park Nicollet, and Exempla Saint Joseph Hospital.
As the artist-owner of Moon-Lily Mobiles, Inc. since 1999, Jan built a reputation for her production line of silk leaf mobiles both nationally and globally. In 2013, her site-specific installations, Flowering Almond Tree Mobiles and Tree Mobiles in Four Seasons, were both finalists in the Collaboration of Design + Art (CoDA) Award worldwide competition.
In 2012, Jan began creating textile wall art. Her works have earned Creative Innovation and Best of Show awards in Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado juried exhibitions. Most recently, she won the 2018 Arrow Five Years Out Art Challenge for her innovative pairing of textile art and LED light.
Born in Oklahoma, Jan now lives in northern Colorado.