Never Before in My Lifetime: For Artists

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Dorothy Grant

Dorothy Grant in her studio, ca. 1990s. Photo: Vesta Giles, for Native Peoples.

By Dorothy Grant (Haida)

Dorothy Grant is a Haida textile artist and fashion designer from British Columbia. Her artwork is guided by the Haida philosophy Yaangudang meaning “self-respect.” Currently, she has a residency at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe and wrote this piece for her fellow artists struggling with the COVID-19 crisis and the economic upheaval in the art world.

We can all say we have never seen this before in our lifetime. The coronavirus has taken over our minds, our psyche like nothing else. It has seized many with fear, of the unknown, and the future. It has thrown every plan out the window. It has halted the economy and life as we know it.

Many artists and small businesses will fall under in this crisis. But how do we survive this thing moving into, the future? The cause is evident, but the effects are not yet known.

I’ve always been a checks and balances kind of person—one with a plan. Failure was not an option. This strategy worked when I was younger. For 17 years, in a tough economy, I operated my own stores, where I had the control, where I could gauge the outcome, and sometimes I could not, but I took the risk anyway. Most of the time it worked.

Dorothy Grant

Clothing and face mask by Dorothy Grant (Haida). Face masks are temporarily out of stock, but Dorothy is taking the steps to be able to create more soon.

But this is somewhat out of my realm.

In light of all the artists show cancellations such as Santa Fe Indian Market 2020, our venues for income are gone.

Below is my own strategy that I share with all of you, and I hope it helps.

Answer These Question for Yourself

      • What are your indelible strengths?
      • What do you people know about you?
      • What are you capable of doing now?
      • Are you humble enough to reach out to mentors for help?
      • Can you approach clients and friends for support of your work?
      • What inventory do you have to sell? Sell it now at a deal!
      • Can you create something that will sell in the new economy?
      • Are you capable of an online strategy?
      • How many resources do you have such as savings, food, energy, and support? Learn to use these wisely.
      • What have you always wanted to do, but could not because of time?
      • Can you turn this negative into a positive and make it work for you? If you answered negatively to some questions figure out how to turn it around.
      • Can you work in isolation?
      • Do you believe if you are 100 percent committed to what you love, your art, your family, and yourself that the universe will step up to meet you and your needs? This is not some New Age thing. This is a message to believe in yourself and to believe this is what you are put on earth to do.
      • Do you believe you can reinvent yourself and your work if you had to? Remember the definition of insanity, “Doing the same thing over and over and again and expecting the same results.”
Dorothy Grant

Cloth face mask by Dorothy Grant (Haida).

Because I believe nothing good in life is static, like Art, it must keep moving and evolving. Believe that you can redesign your life and even Art when necessary. These are all questions you need to ask yourself and answer. After you have the answers, you can make a plan. It is not always that simple, but at least you will have known for yourself and what you are capable of doing now.

The biggest obstacle is fear, do not let it immobilize you. Release that fear from your psyche, it has no control over you. Replace it with a belief in yourself. You will survive this time, take it by the horns or the ball. Be the wild woman or man that you are, and ride it out … with your own plan.

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