It's hard to believe that I've gone 43 years of my life without ever taking a cruise. I've sailed on the Atlantic, Pacific, and between the Azores Islands but never on a ship quite like this. Now I can add the Caribbean Seas to my list thanks to my girlfriend's mother who invited me to join their family on her birthday celebration cruise.
I had no idea what to expect on this trip. But once we got inside the ship I was blown away by the scale and elegance of it all. Of course my eyes were drawn almost immediately to the mix of Art Nouveau and Art Deco embelishments in chrome, wood, gold, etc. that were tastfully used to decorate this massive ship. As we began to explore some of the 13 floors of the Jewel of the Seas I was greeted around every turn by pieces of original art. Oil paintings, etchings, and sculptures on every floor had me excited to see every inch of the ship. But it wasn't until we discovered the actual art gallery that I understood why all of these works were here.
We met Clarke from Park West Gallery and struck up a conversation. He is one of the gallery directors and has a degree in art history. I told him that I was an artist and how happily surprised I was to find this gallery here on the ship. He asked about my work and what I enjoy painting. As I explained my "style" he would compare it to the works of well known painters. Well, "well known" if you know a damned thing about art, which I quickly realized I DID NOT! But rather than fake my way through the conversation I told him that I have never exposed myself to the works of many other artists outside of the few influences that I have. To Clarke's (and Park West's) credit he did not dumb things down for me. Instead he gave me a crash course on several popular artists from the past and present that he thought I would enjoy knowing about. In a very short time I was filled with curiosity about who's who in the art world.
We stood among some great works of art as he also explained to us about Park West Gallery and their auctions on land and at sea. I thought that because of their dealings with artworks by Picasso, Rembrant, and Tarkay that my work would never have a chance of making it into one of their auctions. But Clarke made it clear that they deal with all kinds of art ranging from the great masters to modern day "unknowns" without prejudice. This had me motivated to ramp up my efforts in getting my work together and ready to shop it around to galleries that don't stem from the tattoo world. This winter will find me finally framing and finishing the paintings that I've been working on recently.
I don't expect to sign on with a gallery like Park West right off the bat, but talikng with them has definitely motivated me and given me hope that my work can hang alongside these others. The auction was an eye opener too, as I saw paintings on the block starting as low as $100 and reaching as high as $21,000. It all made perfect sense to me all of a sudden that artists need to focus on their craft while letting the people that specialize in selling handle that aspect. The room was filled with collecctors that I would never have guessed would be buying these paintings. A good gallery will find your audience for you, as their livelihood depends on your success.
I could have gone on this trip and done nothing but sit by the pool or swim in the ocean and I would've been completely satisfied. Finding this inspiration onboard was a bonus that I could not have anticipated. As artists we are always in search of our next inspiration for our canvases, but it's rare when you find one for your career as a whole. Whether you paint just for fun or want to make a career out of it I highly reccomend that you get out there and visit galleries as often as you can. I came home with an insatiable urge to create more and to get my work seen.