People always ask me, how have you managed to retire from nursing and be a full time artist? And a thriving one for that matter?
As I am in the process of creating online art coaching classes that discuss a variety of topics an artist must know about to be a thriving artist, I suddenly realized (maybe more than just subconsciously) that it takes A LOT to be an artist. I mean a lot!! Not only do I have to know how to paint (and well for that matter), I also have to put on the hat of a photographer, an accountant, a PR person, a graphic designer, a writer, an event planner, a salesperson, a retail store front operator, a gallery owner/manager, a social media marketer and oh yeah, a web developer (to name just a few).
I don’t know about you, but the last time I checked, each of those jobs are their own separate corner of expertise that each require a substantial amount of eduction to be good at either of them, let alone all 12 of them.
No wonder so many artists have a tough time balancing all the aspects it takes to do this creative path well.
So then why do some artists succeed and others don’t?
This question got me thinking and it made me reflect on what I do every day that has seemed to make the difference.
Here’s the top 4 reasons/practises/habits that have helped me get to where I am today.
I believe in myself. I’m not the best painter in the world. I have no formal training and I get rejected all the time. But I have built a very tenacious attitude and I always believe in myself no matter what happens. I don’t know if it was something that my parents instilled in me at an early age, or if it has developed over time, but I have found my confidence to be a very helpful habit that has helped me get to where I am today.
As we all know, there are going to be ups and downs in any career path, but sometimes it feels like there are a little more when it comes to being an artist. The process of creating art is already an emotionally charged one; then you add a rejection from a gallery or maybe you don’t make a single sale at a show you just did and you begin to question if this is the right path for you. Sound familiar??? Totally, right? This is the life of an artist.
What we have to always tell ourselves, is that the world needs more creatives. Your art has a place in this world and it has something to say. The right people are out there that will love it and adore it and buy it (see point #3). You just have to have faith and a whole lot of belief in what you do.
I make buying art fun (and often accompanied by a glass of wine). Have you ever been into a gallery or gone to an art show and someone has made you feel inferior because of your art knowledge or no one made an effort to even acknowledge the you are there? Do you then start feeling out of your element and immediately start saying to yourself, “I shouldn’t be in here, I don’t know anything about art?”
Well, I promise you that a) that’s not true, you know lots about art and b) you will never have that experience with me. I believe viewing and buying art should be a positively enjoyable experience. I love to get to know my clients, prospective buyers and anybody else that comes to see my work. I make the conversation light, welcoming and educational without using fancy and pretentious words. All I care about is you feeling something when you look at my art and you believing that you do have a place in the art world despite your level of exposure.
I emphasize this practise most to artists because if and when someone is ready to buy art, and if they had an incredible experience with you, you are going to be the first person they think of when they are finally ready to pull that trigger.
Vancouver has so many incredible artists. Be memorable. Make buying art fun and wow everyone you meet with how awesome you are so you are impossible to forget.
I pay attention to the details. I know I naturally have this talent, but if you don’t, please try and make it a point to learn how to make those special little efforts because the results will be brilliant.
As an example, writing down the couples name you just met accompanied by a little note that you learned about them (ie: they just built a new home in Abbotsford and have a daughter who is in art school) and send them a follow up email later that day saying it was a pleasure to meet them and include those details that you wrote down.
Tell them that you would be happy to come out to Abbotsford with some art so they can see the art in their space and let them know that their daughter can reach out if she ever has any art questions. By paying attention to these details you a) wow them with your ability to remember person details about them b) you give them an opportunity to see your work again by coming to their place and making it way easier on them and c) you wow them again by offering to be a resource to their daughter.
By doing the simplest actions, you have the ability to immediately win people over. Never underestimate the power that a properly place vase of fresh cut flowers on a shelf at your art show has, or how the design of the price tags you use beside your artwork can make the ultimate difference. People know when you pay attention to the details and they will be more willing to invest in you and your work.
I am prolific. This doesn’t have to mean that you are doing an art show or fair every other weekend in a variety of towns and countries (but this helps too). I just mean, try to tell anyone and everyone you encounter that you are an artist. Always have your business card in hand, ready to give out.
I have been in ladies bathrooms and managed to hand my business card out because I overheard one lady yelling to her friend across the stall that she had just moved into a new home and her walls seemed really empty. I have also had the balls to give my card to someone that was at the cashier in Home Sense, buying one of those prints/paintings for $199.00 and said to him, “when you are ready to invest in some original artwork, I’d be happy to help you out with that.”
It’s about seizing the moment and making any opportunity work in your behalf.
Now this doesn’t mean you get to be a slimy car salesperson and just randomly blurt out you are an artist to everyone who will listen. Have some class. It means that you listen for the right moment to insert the fact that you create art. 9 times out of 10, people get very interested in this fact and then you the door is open to tell them all about what you do.
The more people that know about you, the better chances you have to connect with people that will buy your art. And once you connect, you do the above three practises and “Bob’s your Uncle!!!”
From first hand experience, I know that it is incredibly hard to be a thriving artist. I by no means have it all figured out and I still do the hustle every day.
Hopefully these little tips can help someone out there create a more thriving practise because what I do know, is that the world needs your art.