You’re Probably Going to Fail

My definition of failure is not taking a chance. Not risking it. Playing it safe.

Everything else that other people might call failures, I prefer to think of as lessons.

Failure would be giving up without absorbing the lessons that might contribute to my personal and professional growth.

You’re probably familiar with this well-known quote:

What would you attempt if you knew you couldn’t fail? – Robert Schuller

It’s a good one, huh? What would you try if you were assured a successful outcome?

There’s zero risk, so why not?

I’ll tell you why not. Because it doesn’t sound like fun. It’s a gimme. There’s no adrenaline rush or sense of accomplishment if you already know the outcome.

I like this updated version:

If something is important enough you should try, even if the probable outcome is failure.
Elon Musk

In other words, what do you believe in so passionately that you are ready to take a chance on it even if your success isn’t guaranteed?

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7 Ways to Expedite Your Breakthrough

I hope you’ll agree that breakthroughs come in handy. Yes?

It’s pretty awesome when the perfect answer appears or that nagging problem is solved. Suddenly, the barrier is removed and you can make progress.

You can’t identify the moment that a breakthrough will happen, but you can prepare yourself for it to come.

Breakthroughs happen as a result of doing the work and being present. Here are 7 ways to accelerate the process.

1. Solve a problem.

Any problem! Art is about solving problems.

How can I balance the composition?

How can I make this with less expensive materials?

How can I convey this or that emotion?

Faith Ringgold was researching shipping options for her paintings when she realized that if she just painted on fabric, without the support, she could roll it up and easily ship it in a tube.

2. Challenge yourself.

There’s very little motivation in the daily grind: update Facebook, schedule a few tweets, send a newsletter, write a blog post, work in the studio. If you’re not careful, you can get stuck checking off menial tasks without doing something extraordinary for your art and for yourself.

Pick a color or

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Self-Portrait: What You Do and Who You Want to Be

How do your close friends describe you?

How does your family describe you?

How do your students describe you?

How do you describe yourself?

All of those descriptions might be true, but they might also mask your potential.

If you grip too tightly to the stories of who you think you are, you’ll never be open to what you can become. [Tweet this]

For example, you know me as someone who is a no-excuse-action-taking-don’t-stop-working kinda gal. I have never had a problem taking action.

My reputation so precedes me that often the first thing many people do upon meeting me is apologize for their lack of action.

It’s cool with me if I inspire the need for action in artists, but I have many other sides and so do you.

We get to make our own self-portraits.

Who Do You Want to Be?

A number of years ago, I began

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How to Feel More Abundant in Your Life and Art

Margaret Warfield painting

In this blog post I encouraged you to consider how your frugality might be hurting your art business by sending the wrong message to potential collectors.

At the end of that article, I posed 3 questions for you to think about, which we will now look at in depth. The intention is to ensure that you are not only living with an abundant heart, but that you are projecting that way of being into the world.

1. How do others treat you?

Perhaps a better question is this: How do you allow others to treat you?

For example … If you’re a member of an artist organization, what is the room like at your artists’ meetings? Is it dark, gray, and lifeless?

Do something to combat the drudgery and nurture abundance throughout the organization. Ask members to bring snacks on beautiful trays – preferably handmade by an artist – instead of paper plates.

Assign alternating people to arrive early at each meeting to clean the room and serve as welcoming hosts.

You can be the catalyst for change within any organization to which you belong.

We teach people how to treat us by

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Enough With The Shoulds

I’m looking at a word scratched in lime green on our office white board:

DISRUPT

I had written it earlier in the day after feeling closed in by conventions and “shoulds.”

  • You should get your book back in print.
  • You should have a 3-day event.
  • You should create a new class.
  • You should offer workshops again.

You know how it happens.

It starts with a voice that comes from a position of authority – a coach, mentor, author, or blogger.

Suddenly, you think you have to drop everything and tackle the latest should-bomb hurled at you. (scene: violent internal struggle)

The biggest should on my list every week is to write this newsletter. I am proud that I’ve written and sent it every week, without fail, since March 30, 2002.

But there’s no heart in it if I’m just doing it because I don’t want to break a streak. I’m more interested in sharing juicy material when I have it than in maintaining a record.

Someday soon you won’t get this email in your inbox on a Thursday. You may not get it at all one week. I’ll still be here, but I will be trying on a new story to see if it fits.

What’s Your Should Story?

What are you doing only because you’ve felt that you should do it?

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7 Essential Verbs to Live By

I built Art Biz Coach on action.

The first iteration of this newsletter back in 2002 was titled “Do This” (Zzzzz) and had an action at the end of each issue. My book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, is broken down into 16 actions.

As we learned when diagramming sentences in 4th grade, verbs are where the action is. No verb, no action.

With that in mind, I got to thinking about a few verbs to live by that you might not normally associate with your art career. See if these resonate with you.

1. Understand

Understand that you are not alone. You are part of a larger community of artists and a distinguished history of art.

Understand how the art world works. Yes, I believe in breaking the rules, but you at least need to be aware of them.

Understand that other artists might have a different journey than yours. Accept their path and forge your own.

2. Crave

Crave creativity.

Crave connection to your art and to other artists.

Crave clarity about your direction.

Be hungry for the information and experiences that will fuel your accomplishments.

3. Devote

It’s easy to recognize when artists aren’t devoted to their work. Lack of

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Why? Questions for Self-Motivation

Most weeks I write as if I have all of the answers. I don’t. Far from it. I write about what I’ve experienced or witnessed.

When I don’t know an answer, I know the best way to find it: Ask.

Questions can help us think more comprehensively about a situation – especially questions that begin with “why.”

In his exceptional book, Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg notes that “why” questions help us link hard choices to something we care about. He says, “Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.”

With that in mind, I’ve outlined a number of situations in which you might need a hefty dose of self-motivation. Each has a number of questions to help you make progress and a Big Why to ask yourself.

When You’re Not Making Art

One day off is understandable. Two days is acceptable.

An entire week without thinking about or making art is something to be concerned about when you’re trying to gain recognition and earn money from your art.

Ask yourself …

Why am I not inspired? What can I do about it?

What am I prioritizing above my art? Is it right to do so? (It might be!)

One year today, will I be happy that I chose to spend my time in other ways?

The Big Why: Why do I care?

When You’re Overwhelmed

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the demands of modern life and all that is required to run a business. And you can’t let it stop you.

Take a deep breath and consider …

What do I need to do more of to feel in control?

What do I need to do less of?

What do I need to let go of?

What boundaries do I need to better abide by?

The Big Why: Why am I overwhelmed in the first place?

When Too Many People Want a Piece of You

The gallery needs new work. The art center asks you to teach a class. The organization wants you to serve on the board.

Before you say Yes to everything immediately, it’s worth pausing to think about these questions …

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Processing Loss Through Your Art

Painting by Carol L. Myers

A gentle warning before you read this. This was supposed to be a celebration article, but things happened that led me in a different direction. You might find it sad.

Stick with me because there is a message here that you might need. Maybe not now, but someday. And I promise that there is a happy ending.

Thank you in advance for allowing me to share this story with you.

Let’s start with the celebration. This week I celebrate 15 years of writing a weekly email to artists, which I mark as the anniversary of Art Biz Coach. The newsletter is now posted here on the blog where you’re reading it.

It was on March 25, 2002 that I sent my first private email as a sample to artists I found on the Internet.

I can’t promise this newsletter and corresponding blog post will go on forever. I can’t even promise they will happen next week. But I’m pretty proud that I have never missed a weekly issue. That’s 780 newsletters if you’re counting.

This week’s newsletter – the very one you’re reading now on the blog – was a close call. Here’s what happened.

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Dwell In the Love Not On the Rejection

Plenty of people denounce Valentine’s Day as one that was invented by the greeting card industry, but put me in the column for wanting more love, more hearts, and more sappy cards.

Send away!

Recognize the romantic love between you and your partner.

Celebrate familial love with your parents, children, and extended family.

Commemorate the special love between you and your friends.

And don’t forget to honor the love you have for your buyers, collectors, patrons, and students.

Send cards, flowers, and chocolates. If it’s too late to pop something in the mail, start typing your email messages.

While you’re at it, stock up on the love for yourself because you’re gonna need it.

Ouch!

The artist’s life is full of rejection and criticism.

The gallery doesn’t want your work. That couple praised your recent piece, but didn’t buy it. The residency you want so badly won’t consider your application.

To add insult to injury, nobody commented on your recent blog or social media post. You’re beginning to wonder what the point of all this is.

It’s amazing that any artist thrives at all. It’s a testament to your resilience that you persevere despite the roadblocks you encounter.

You do it because you have an unwavering commitment in the work you do. You can’t imagine doing anything else.

Still, because you are human, the criticism and rejection hurt.

And those voices are louder than any chorus of praise you might receive. The default for so many of us is to dwell on the negative comments and rejections and ignore all of the nice things that people say about our work.

Do this instead:

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Ways of BE-ing

Goals are about action and achievement. They’re about DO-ing. Consider these examples:

You identify challenging goals to move closer to the vision you have for your art career (and life).

And … because you don’t want your vision to get lost in the busy-ness of working toward individual goals, it’s important to remember how you want to feel as you’re striving toward those goals.

With that in mind, I asked my Art Biz Inner Circle members how they wanted to BE in 2017.

Many artists chose a word-of-the-year to answer the question. I thought it would be fun to share with you the wide range of be-ing words, which I’ve grouped into seven categories in this article.

I hope you’ll take a look at this list of ways of be-ing for artists and see if any of them ring true for you.

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