California surf artist Sam Bernal shares his vibrant artwork and a positive philosophy for artists who want to sell their work.
ABI: Tell us about your art and the message you want to convey to your audience.
SB: I create colorful high energy artwork with a focus on psychedelic imagery, surf culture, and sacred geometry. My intention is for each image to convey a sense of happiness and joy to the viewer. The work also exposes people to the concepts of sacred geometry and the amazing beauty of the universe around us.
As I developed as an artist, I began to fill my paintings with stories and symbolism. As much as people love a beautiful image, they love a good story even more. By combining the two, you create a truly memorable work that entertains and has the ability to open up new possibilities for the viewer.
ABI: What products do you sell with your artwork, and how do you have them produced?
SB: I sell a variety of products with my artwork including wallets, matted prints, aluminum prints, gift cards, postcards, coffee mugs, and skateboards. I use a mix of in-house production and outsourcing. I had my wallets produced in China at a manufacturer I located via the website Alibaba.com. This allowed me to obtain a cool product with an entry level price point targeted towards the tourists in my local area. Other products I produce with a combination of local vendors and in-house assembly.
ABI: How have you cultivated your local market?
SB: I attend two weekly craft shows in my city. Establishing a presence and being consistent over time will allow people to get to know you. I interact on local Facebook groups and participate at events in my community. Becoming friends with your neighbors and trying to find ways to help one another truly is the best method.
Word of mouth will earn you more business, faster, than any online selling tactic. I try to stay visible in the city by having a consistent presence in our downtown area. I also designed a car wrap for my van, so local people recognize me driving around. Making a point to meet and introduce yourself to local business owners can really help get your business off the ground.
ABI: What has carried you through all the ups and downs of being an artist?
SB: In 2011, I was badly injured in a rock climbing accident. During the period after, I endured a lot of pain which helped me to reevaluate the direction of my life. I came up with a motto “Dream. Fail. Succeed. Repeat” to motivate me to follow my dreams and do what I love. I even went so far as to have it tattooed on my arm.
Failures are completely natural and normal on the path to success. It’s our nature to forget the successes and only focus on the failures. That’s OK, and I give you permission to forgive yourself. If you can remember that it’s just part of the process, it will soften the blow to your ego and strengthen your resolve to achieve your goals. Every bad idea is just one closer to your next great one! I truly believe that every artist has an audience and it is our responsibility to navigate the challenges in order to share our gifts with the world.