Around this time last year I was in a pretty low place. I wasn't working so I had plenty of time on my hands, but because I wasn't working I didn't have any money to do anything. And that's part of the reason for the creation of the NewGardArt website.
I've been painting and drawing on and off since high school, sometimes prolifically and then nothing for years. A lot of them have never seen the light of day and the ones that I haven't hated I've just given away. Some of them I even kept for myself.
I've never really rated anything I've painted as worthwhile, which isn't false modesty, it's because a deep-rooted lack of confidence, which was the other major contributor to the creation of the website.
Family and friends had been telling me for years that I should sell my paintings, but the thought of this terrified me, what if nobody liked them? I couldn't handle that level of criticism or rejection.
So I decided to create a website. This served a dual purpose; it would give me something to do and I could use it to gauge people's reactions to my art without being present. I'm not the most IT or technically minded person so creating a website was a little bit daunting, but rather than deter me I used this to help focus my mind. I'm not going to bore you with all the details of the development of the website but once I started I realised it probably wasn't going to be as difficult, or take as long, as I had anticipated.
This led to another problem, what would I do once the website was finished? The solution to this problem was to extend the range of products beyond my original paintings. There wasn't a light-bulb moment or a master plan (there seldom is with me), it just seemed to evolve on its own.
Not having a plan has it's benefits and it's drawback. I was able to experiment with designs and content, logos and layouts, producers and products.
However, it also meant that the development of the site and it's purpose has been confused with constant updates and changes.
With it's first year anniversary looming I decided it was time to really think about the site and it's future.
And so I decided to kill it. Which might seem like an odd thing to do to something you have been developing and building and nurturing for a year, but it made sense to me, and hopefully I can explain why.
NewGardArt started out as a therapeutic tool. In a way it was my self prescribed anti-depressant and confidence booster. It was something to keep my occupied when I had nothing else to do and it would let me know if this 'art' stuff was worth pursuing or not, with minimal impact on me.
As I've said, there was no real plan in place, I didn't have a strategy or objectives, I didn't have any idea of costs or projected income, I didn't set out to create a brand or a business.
But it seemed to be turning into one, and whats more I now really want it to be one, but was it the one I wanted it to be? When I first created the site I hadn't given the name much thought. It was a play on my name and it had Art in the title so you'd know what you were getting. However as the site and the products and the content morphed this name become more and more irrelevant.
That's why I decided to kill it off. If I am going to turn this distraction into a business I don't want it to be lumbered with an out-dated and superfluous name. Neither do I want it to be associated with a website that never quite found it's identity and purpose (a bit like myself).
I'm not ashamed of NewGardArt, it gave me purpose and focus over the past year and it has helped me to develop a vision and plan for the next year.
If it hadn't of been for the experimental process that was creating, developing and promoting the site wouldn't have the experience and expertise that I have now. NewGardArt might be no more but it is the foundation stone upon which the new business will be built.