Valerie Galloway is a photographer and painter who is involved in the handmade movement. Val has been a working artist ever since her son Chet was born, thirteen years ago. We asked for her insight on what it is like to be a working artist in today’s day and age.
Like many artists, Val remembers sitting in math class not paying a bit of attention to the teacher and instead jotting doodles from her daydreams. Art was very encouraged in her home as a child and she knew from a very young age that art was her destiny in life.
Val gathers inspiration from nostalgia, childhood and French culture. Val was born in France to a French mother and American Father and grew up immersed in the culture, therefore it is a favorite theme in her work. Her work is also characterized with a feeling of lighthearted “Joie de vie” (joy of life) although it also has the tendency to be dramatic, mysterious and moody at times.
Some of Val’s trademark products include handmade mirrors, water color paintings on vintage dictionaries and maps, pendants, coffee toned silver gelatin prints, archival inkjet prints and assemblage jars. The mirrors are completely done by hand, she cuts the mirror and the glass and she fabricates handmade frames using lead free solder. The photographs are staged images of woman or landscapes and cityscapes from New York, Paris and the Sonoran Desert. In most water colors she doesn’t have a reference person in mind, but if she draws more then one female figure it is usually representative of the womanly bond that she shares with her mother and sisters. The male figures are usually inspired by French and Italian cinema.
Val uses vintage dictionaries and atlas’s as another layer to her artistic vision. She is drawn to this method because they give a peek into the past, the illustrations reflect the era and what technology looked like at that point in time.
She goes to thrift stores to seek out dictionaries which are damaged and she feels good about recycling them. Modern day dictionary’s usually include photographs or the illustrations just don’t have the same quality. She has had a really good response to the maps because of the profound connection that people feel when they realize that they have been to that area or lived on that street.
Val admits that it is not always easy to be a working artist but she feels lucky to be able to spend most days following her creative endeavors. She supplements her income as a working artist with gigs such as part time proctoring, working at the opera and restaurant work. These jobs are to bring steady money in to pay bills while her main focus remains on being a working artist.
“If you want to be an artist, you can find a way. Rejection is always part of the deal, but I try not to take it personally; instead I stay persistent and continue working to find wonderful galleries and spaces to show work. In fact, persistence is a key element to success, as is having a steady workflow to keep ideas moving. When ideas move, they build upon themselves to create new ideas and new works.” she said.
“One difficulty with being a self employed working artist is that I have to provide health insurance for myself my my child and that can be pricey, but I feel fortunate to live in Tucson as a working artist because the cost of living allows me to have a large studio in my home that I can dedicate to working on my art. Tucson has always had a great community of artists who show their support by going to each other’s art openings, I believe that art is very valued in here.” Val declared.
She also sells work online, which is great for connecting with artists and galleries all over the world. Val usually has several gallery shows a year as well as craft fairs such as the Tucson Museum of Art’s Artisan Market and the Holiday Bazaar at the Mercado San Agustin. Val also donates artwork many times a year to various benefit art auctions including Kore Press, U of A Museum of Art, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Jerome Baillard Festival for Life, All Souls Procession and many others. Donating artwork is a win-win situation. The artist gains exposure, while contributing to various charitable causes.