Dwelling In Your Zone of Genius

Zone of Genius

There comes a point in every artist’s (every entrepreneur’s) business where you can’t grow without hiring someone.

It might be a paid intern, your kid, a website helper, or a bookkeeper, but you need the extra hands if you want to expand.

Who do you hire?

What will they do?

Your primary focus as an artist is on making art. That’s when you are in what Gay Hendricks calls your “Zone of Genius.” In his book, The Big Leap, Hendricks writes:

In your Zone of Genius, though the time you spend there produces great financial abundance, you do not feel that you are expending effort to produce it. In your Zone of Genius, work doesn’t feel like work.

I’m certain you know what that feels like. Bliss.

Your goal is to take those tasks off your plate that aren’t in your Zone of Genius – the tasks that keep you from making your best work. It’s the art you produce in the studio that nobody else could do.

For example, you might be competent at updating your WordPress template, but it’s not your best work. It takes you away from your best work.

Consider how lovely life would be if you could dwell in your Zone of Genius most of the time. How would that feel?

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A Blueprint for Producing Your Artist Newsletter

blueprint for your artist newsletter

Producing a newsletter is a project that consists of multiple tasks in order to complete. That’s why I use the word “producing” instead of “writing.” Writing is only one part of the newsletter process, and even writing the content can be broken down into multiple stages.

If you’ve had “write newsletter” on your task list for too long, it might be because you haven’t identified the individual components that will be needed. You will always get stuck when you see a project on your to-do list rather than single tasks.

I’ve been producing a newsletter every week since March 30, 2002 without skipping an issue for any reason.

We’ve had the current system in place for many years, so it’s a well-greased machine. I thought reading about my system might help you create a blueprint for your newsletter process.

Capturing Newsletter Ideas

I store newsletter ideas and an editorial calendar in Evernote.

Most of my ideas come from questions you asked on a webinar, on my Facebook page, or in an email. I try to listen for what might make a good newsletter or blog post topic. If you’re asking it, chances are good that someone else has the same questions.

If I can see a clear date on the calendar that would be good for publishing the topic, I add it to my editorial calendar, which is arranged by date. Otherwise, the topic is captured in one of my Evernote notebooks under Content Ideas.

With the ideas stored in a single place, I can quickly add notes, images, and resources when they come to mind.

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8 of the Biggest Mistakes Artists Make in their Art Careers

Are you making these mistakes in your art career?

You might be making mistakes in your art business that are holding you back from big growth.

Mistakes aren’t bad, and I don’t want you to feel like you have to be perfect in everything you do because seeking perfection is a sure way to be paralyzed by fear. We have to make mistakes in order to learn and to grow.

Mistakes are only detrimental if you keep repeating them without learning and correcting your ways.

Are you making any of these mistakes?

1. Not knowing where you want to go with your career.

I’m not talking about the need to have a specific plan, but I’ve noticed how few artists, especially when they’re just starting out, don’t “get” that running a business is serious stuff. You’re no longer making art for pure pleasure.

Everything changes when you start asking for money in return for your talents. For some artists, it changes for the better and you’re fired up to get your art out there. Other artists can’t stomach the pressure and lose all interest in making art. They can’t seem to get into the studio.

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How to Have a Productive Day


I am not immune to unproductive days, and I’ve had more than my fair share of them recently.

In order to get back on track, I’ve regrouped and, with the help of a coach, reminded myself of these principles. They really work – when you do them.

Start The Day With 3 Intentional Steps

I swear by the importance of these first three steps. When I don’t do them, I am significantly more overwhelmed and stressed out. Doing them brings peace of mind and helps me start my day on my terms rather than diving in and responding to everything being pushed at me.

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Rx for Sloppy Newsletter Syndrome

Rx for Artist Newsletters

There’s an epidemic going around.

Don’t panic. If it strikes, you won’t need to rush to the ER or be quarantined. But you will need to take immediate action.

Your physical health isn’t in peril, but the health of your art business is at stake.

The epidemic is SENS – Sloppy Email and Newsletter Syndrome. Let me explain the symptoms so you can self-diagnose.

Symptom 1: Missing Name

This is the most destructive of all the SENS symptoms.

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Prepare for 2015: 5 Things to Do Right Now

I’m a fan of accordion folders for paper receipts. The 2015 editions are on my to-do list.

It’s time to tie a bow around 2014 and prepare for 2015 by organizing your systems.

The ideas here should take you less than 1 hour, and they will bring peace of mind to your New Year.

1. Update the copyright notices on your website, blog, and newsletter.

Too many sites have old copyright dates on them. I’ve seen some as old as 2007! Blogging platforms will automatically update your copyright, but static sites need your attention now.

I’m not talking about the copyright notice on individual images. I’m referring to the copyright statement on the site, which is typically located in the footer of your pages.

If your website says ©2014, it doesn’t look fresh. Change that to 2015 before you forget.

I took this screen capture of my site earlier in the week. If you scroll down to

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Single-Tasking Is The Answer for Improved Productivity

Corrina Sephora Sculpture

Would you like to get more done in less time? Then quit multitasking!

Multitasking is working on diverse tasks simultaneously and, usually, doing them all half-heartedly: driving and talking on the phone; attending a webinar and responding to email; or writing a blog post and texting.

Research shows that only about 2.5% of college students can multitask effectively. Two point five percent!

©2011 Corrina Sephora, Hull Trilogy (dtl). Mixed media. Used with permission.

Studies now show that multitasking is a myth. You simply can’t give your attention to more than one thing at a time.

Health magazine gives 12 reasons to kick the habit, including the insight that multitasking dampens your creativity: “… multitaskers often find it harder to daydream and generate spontaneous ‘a ha moments’.”

Kick the Habit

To embrace single-tasking, take the first step and turn off

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Let It Go: Delegating Responsibility

©Tara Pappas, The Release. Mixed media, 12 x 6 inches. Used with permission.

©Tara Pappas, The Release. Mixed media, 12 x 6 inches. Used with permission.

The biggest lesson from last week’s Art Biz Makeover: Let go of control.

After several discussions with my guests, it was clear that few people were willing to bring others into their art businesses.

When someone asked me if I ever slept, I happily responded that I got 8 hours sleep the night before. Really. And I did it because I hired people that I trust to stuff the goodie bags, get the name badges together, staff the registration table, select the music, order the food, and put out fires.

Delegate Responsibility

I learned a long time ago that if I was going to build my business to be more profitable, I was going to have to trust others.

I have read plenty of books over

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How I Screwed Up My Pitch and What You Can Learn From My Colossal Error

©Lisa Cirenza, Tubers. Acrylic and oil on board, 70 x 100 centimeters. Used with permission.

Tomorrow is the final day of this year’s Art Biz Makeover event, and I have scheduled a special session on pitching your art that includes a panel of art world folks who are pitched to by artists all of the time.

©Lisa Cirenza, Tubers. Acrylic and oil on board, 70 x 100 centimeters. Used with permission.

As I was preparing for this event, I approached someone that I wanted to sit on this panel of art experts. I broke all of my rules for pitching ideas to people and couldn’t have screwed up the situation worse than I did.

Here’s how it went down in an only slightly edited, simplified version.

Me: We’ve never met, but I teach artists how to build their businesses. I’d like to stop by and introduce myself.

Other person: I

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Out of Practice: The Physics of Your Art Business

The wall of hearts that many artists with strong studio practices contributed to. Photo courtesy Carol A. McIntyre.

The reason you’re out of ideas is that you’re out of practice.

I was so proud of saying this to a client the other day that I asked her to hold while I wrote down the quote.

I knew to write it down because I’m in the practice of gathering ideas for my writing. I have a regular writing schedule. I can’t say the same for a studio schedule.

No Studio Practice

When Barbara Gilhooly and Ayn Hanna called for “heart art” for their commitment ceremony, I wanted to make a heart for them so badly. I stewed over it for three months before giving up. I had a twinkle of an idea, but no vision for making it happen.

Barbara and Ayn in front of the wall of hearts, a beautiful ceremony that I had wanted to contribute

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