Assuming Traditional Female Roles with an Art Career (Curious Monday)


Is it harder to be a woman and have an art career?

I’m not talking about the fact that the art world is still male-dominated. I’m talking about juggling roles that are perceived to be held traditionally by women with your career as an artist.

Do you find it difficult to be wife, mother, caretaker, carpool-driver, housekeeper, and have an art career?

How or why is it harder to do this as an artist than if you were in another business?

What would make it easier? What could you do differently to make it easier on yourself.

And what about you guys? What do you think?

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Fill In The Blanks to Set Your Goals

©Marcie Cohen, Snowy Bank. Used with permission.

It’s a New Year and new start.

Everyone is talking about either setting goals or why you should avoid setting goals or making resolutions at all costs.

I’m not big on resolutions, but I stand firmly in the “goals are good for you” camp. I’ve seen them work for my clients and know they’ve propelled me further than I would have been without them.

So, let’s set some goals!

I’ve adapted the questions from the annual review and The See Plan to help you set goals for the New Year.

Promise not to go crazy with the process. Aim for 3-5 big goals for your year. This list is a starting point.

1. Creativity

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Wrapping Up the Year with Your Personal Review

©Margaret Dukeman, Reflections of Lilies. Oil on canvas, 30 x 40 inches. Used with permission.

I thought I could get by without a personal review for one year. Or at least I thought I would skip mine.

Then I thought that you probably don’t need a reminder either. Who will notice if I don’t send? Who has time to do a personal review anyway?

Then I thought again. (There’s been a lot of thinking going on.) It’s a terrible idea to skip the personal review. And it’s a worse idea to let you think it’s okay to skip it.

As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to review actions and to celebrate accomplishments before moving on to the next phase. We’ll never improve our results until we understand where we are and how we got here.

So, it’s time to look back on your year and assess your progress.

This year, try using the elements of The See Plan – the 8 C’s – to structure your questions: creativity, commitment, clarity, community, connection, confidence, completion, and celebration.

Grab a notebook and a pen and get started.

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It’s a Choice, Not a Sacrifice

©2014 Carmen Mariscal, Au fil de l'Eau/ Al filo del agua 1/1. Installation : cut-out photographs (4 black and white and 12 color), mirrors and transparent thread. Photos range from 39.3 x 59 inches to 11.8 x 6.7 cm. With permission by the Bibliothèque Nationale de France BnF. Photographed by Claude Gaspari. Used with permission.

In 2000 I had been working in art museums for 10 years and had a great job as a director of education.

And I was miserable.

I had a choice. I could keep being miserable, or I could do something about it. I chose the latter. The next year I sold my house and donated many of my belongings. Then I packed up a U-Haul and moved to a small garage apartment in Denver.

I started an art-consulting business and was instantly happier.

I had no steady paycheck, no health insurance, and no idea how to run a business. But I was blissfully happy.

I chose happiness over the security of a museum job.

It was rocky in the beginning, but I kept getting requests for help from artists I had known in my museum career and others who found my art-consulting business online. I chose to listen to them.

I could have easily held firm to my original plan, but I made a different choice that has worked out pretty well.

Choice v. Sacrifice

We often think that building an art career requires sacrifice. You might sacrifice:

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The Big Secret About Your Art Career That Nobody Is Telling You

The Big Secret About Your Art Career

I feel like there is this big secret in the art world. It’s about how things work and how to be successful. Everyone but me seems to know what it is.

Ever feel this way?

If I only knew this one thing … this one elusive thing that I have no idea what it is … my art business would be a success. But I don’t even know what questions to ask to find it.

You’re not alone. Many artists are on a quest to find the magic bullet and hoping to uncover it in a new class, blog post, or book.

And, still, the cogs and sprockets (Jetsons, anyone?) that run the art world machine are a mystery to most.

Let’s consider all of the personalities that are part of the drama. You’ve got your artists, gallerists, and collectors. You have critics, curators, and consultants.

Not part of the gallery scene? You’re looking at festival organizers, licensing companies and agents, portrait brokers, and art consultants. Not to mention the people in organizations that oversee public art projects and residencies.

These days you have tech startups that create apps, software, and websites for artists to show their work. So let’s add RedBubble, Etsy, Fine Art America, and Society 6 to the list.

Finally, you have people like me who try to help you navigate the possibilities. Each of us comes from a different background with a unique set of strengths. Who to trust?

No wonder you’re confused!

It would be lovely if someone would hand you a road map to success, right?

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The Case For Focusing Your Creative Energy and How To Do It

the case for focusing your art

You have so many ideas. You’re full of creativity and ready to apply it to any material you come across.

You paint for the pleasure, you paint commissioned work, you make jewelry, you snap photos, and you teach. You know who you are. You’re going 90 miles an hour in every direction with your hair on fire.

People say you should focus – pick one thing and get on with it.

There’s that “s” word again: should. Beware of this word. I’ve been guilty of using it a lot myself, but I’m becoming increasingly aware of how dangerous it is.

The only thing you should do is to be in integrity with your goals, your purpose, and your vision. How this manifests itself in your life is a delicate negotiation between you and the Universe.

There is, however, a reasonable argument to be made for concentrating your creative energy in one area.

The Case for Focusing Your Art

When your work is moving in multiple directions simultaneously, at least four problems arise.

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Your Year-End Review for 2013


You survived another year as a working artist. Congratulations! Now it’s time to step back and look at all you have accomplished. This is a ritual to take your mind off of the long task list in front of you and to remind you that you really have done a great deal.

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In the Zone of Discomfort


Attendees at Art Biz Coach workshops are deliberately placed into uncomfortable situations. They are asked to 1) meet everyone in the room before the end of the event; 2) share workshop exercises with people they don’t know; and 3) change seats so they sit next to someone new. I do this because dealing with discomfort is necessary for growth as an artist and as a businessperson.

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Beware of Poisonous Relationships


The second principle of no-excuse self-promotion, according to I’d Rather Be in the Studio is: “Connections are critical to your success. To succeed, you must make an effort to meet new people and to maintain relationships.” But not all connections are equal. Some connections can be detrimental to your art, your emotional well-being, and your growth.

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Track Your Business Growth

My tracks at Nye Beach, OR. Photograph ©Alyson B. Stanfield

For years I’ve been tracking monthly numbers in my business. When I slack off on the tracking, my numbers decline. It’s the exact opposite of “Ignorance is bliss.” I believe that tracking numbers tells the Universe that you are committed to your business. And the Universe doesn’t give you more of something until you’re ready to accept more.

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