Making it in NOLA: Artist Lauren Wright
Like so many artists who find themselves inspired by this city, painter Lauren Wright’s work is a swirling kaleidoscope of color and New Orleans life. Though her art has reflected the style and folk-like “heartbeat” -as Wright calls it- of our city for years, it was only recently that she decided to move her work from living room walls to gallery walls. In March, Wright made the decision to build her brand as an artist, and in only four months has had remarkable success.
“I think when people come to New Orleans, they’re looking for three things: the food, the music, and the art. It creates a lot more room for artists here. It’s not just about the big artists or the big names. “
Lauren’s push began with creating an online presence. She opened an online gallery on an Ecommerce site geared towards artists and designers called Society6. Hosting is free on the site, but membership is by application and approval only.
“It’s super easy to use,” says Lauren “I upload images of my work, decide what I want to get for prints and they price it. It’s also a great online portfolio which is important… with the website I have all my work readily available to share just in case I meet the person who’s going to give me a great opportunity. ”
As for getting her art out in galleries and stores, Wright fumbled at first but found success with an art store near the French Market and a manager that saw talent rather than lack of experience. “The owner wanted to see some originals so I brought them in one laying on top of the other, no plastics sheaths, nothing. I didn’t know how to package or present anything. He was like ‘lady, you’re destroying your paintings.’ ”
Regardless, Lauren’s art made an impression, and she now fills an entire display wall.
“I had no idea what I was doing. I went to a gallery back in October and the owner asked to see my work. I showed her a terrible quality picture I’d taken on my iPhone…. I just took that as a failure and gave up for a while. ” Wright laments wasting so much time in the beginning, and doesn’t want any other budding professional artists to repeat her mistakes.
Here are Lauren’s top tips for artists just starting out:
- Build up your inventory – That 1st gallery I went to wanted to see my work, but I’d given away or sold everything in my portfolio pictures. Even as we speak I’m pushing to fill the art store because I had no stock built up.
- Create a nice portfolio – Carry it with you all the time. There are so many opportunities here, and there are people that will want to help you.
- Have a thick skin – Rejection is different in the art world than the design world, you just have to find the customer that fits your work. You don’t have to change your work to fit the customer.
- Be flexible – If you’re trying to make a living, there will be times when people will request the pieces you’re not that fond of making. For me it’s some of the more typical New Orleans scenes. They let me do what I love though, and it’s still my style and my work.
- Be consistent and committed – This is particularly true if artists want to go the art market route. It can be tough to sit all day and sell very little or nothing (was for me), but the markets pay off if you can commit to them.
To view more of Lauren’s art, you can visit her Society 6 gallery here, or see originals on display at The Artist’s Market at 1228 Decatur St.