How Twitch Began

The last 2 years of my mom’s life were bizarre.  After her death in 2006, I was so distracted with the events that lead up to it that it became increasingly difficult to concentrate in the studio or to think of anything other than her and the family. Along with that sudden inability to focus on my creative life, I was finding it increasingly difficult to get juried into the most profitable art fairs.   We had never been into networking and we found out late in the game just how the politics of art fairs work. Robin was still able to get into many of those coveted shows, but the sales suddenly became sparse.  For example, 5 of Robin’s 8 shows in 2009 were zeroes.  Concurrently, I had a series of mishaps, involving a sprained ankle, then shoulder surgery, then a broken elbow and sprained wrist, followed by 2 dislocated fingers.  In the middle of this the stock market collapsed and then by the summer of 2009  Robin’s work was even more difficult to sell.  Our stocks had lost much of their value so I didn’t want to cash in our retirement funds to live on until the economy recovered which we were certain would happen shortly.   Without income we had to do something. We had zero debt of any kind so we didn’t have difficulty getting a mortgage on our home.  Under all of these circumstances it’s no wonder we made several poor decisions.

We decided to forego the unpredictability of getting in juried art fairs and instead opt for making garden sculpture to show in other venues where we wouldn’t have to deal with the politics.  We hired a studio assistant, invested in lots of new tools and began designing new work in a new material for us–concrete.  The designs were very Asian inspired, with a contemporary twist.  Not a single piece ever got finished……yet.

I ended up panicking and selling our stocks for fear the market would go even lower, so we took a considerable loss.  Then we wasted $9000 hiring an art rep from California.  We made it very clear on the phone and in writing what we wanted her to do for us, but she ignored that and cashed our checks each month.  We were forced to give up that venture and let our studio assistant go.

While sitting in the heat at the Ann Arbor Original show in 2011 showing Robin’s metal work to a non-existent audience, I suggested to him that we collaborate on a whole new body of work and I showed him some sketches.  He liked the idea I suggested, which was to use his minimal designs, my lush color and textures on wood. The idea was to create a body of work that we could sell at the art fairs that was lighter weight and so easier for us to exhibit and that would be in a more affordable price range. We decided to name this new collaboration TWITCH! –definition, a rapid movement.  Robin took a workshop and then began experimenting with enameling which he added to our designs.  The red orb on this piece is the enamel on copper.  red spirals 2

These designs are all about meditation, balance and tranquility, which we need in our life and nevermore than at that time.

What became problematic was that the expenses for doing the shows continued to increase, attendance went way down at virtually all shows, the public purchased a whole lot less because of their fears of the economy and in order to compete we had to keep our prices so low that we needed to do production work to be viable.  And therein lies a big problem, because Robin and I have never really had the temperament for large-scale production work, preferring to work in one-of-a-kind originals.  If we were staying at home to market our work we could lower our prices. Having always depended on the art fairs for sales, it’s hard to make that switch.

We are in the process of finding the right professionals to advise us on branding and marketing.  In reality this has come about just as it should have.  We were both late bloomers and we’re primed to make the best work of our lives.

2 responses to “How Twitch Began

  1. Sharon and Robin – your story in many ways feels like my story. The cost of doing show has escalated so rapidly without the audience or interest from them. I do not know how to do production work – wish I did – maybe I could have made a good go of it. In the meantime, I struggle, have done resumes, gone looking for jobs but at my age I am basically unhireable. I am pretty much stuck where I am. I am trying to come up with new work but it is really hard. Both of you are so talented and I know you will do very well in the future Look forward to seeing you both again.Edllen Marsahll

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  2. Ellen, Most of us are in the same crowded, sinking boat. Wish I had the answers. We will do Coconut Grove next month and I expect that will be our last long-distance show. Hope to see you soon. Good Luck–you are very talented and deserve to be recognized.

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