The history of art is a history of artistic breakthroughs. Consider these significant achievements:
– Scientific perspective
– Oil painting, and then acrylics
– Abstraction (Gasp! Art doesn’t have to be a window on the world?)
– Collage (Huh? Glue paper on top of paper??)
– Constructed sculpture (rather than carved or modeled)
My first artistic breakthrough came in 1974 when I rendered a blue jay and cardinal in oil pastel. I’m an artist, I thought.
I wasn’t looking for a breakthrough. I didn’t even know what one was at that young age. I was just trying to make a pretty picture that my grandmother would like.
I had another breakthrough in college when I realized that I liked my art history classes better than my painting classes. Again, I wasn’t looking for a breakthrough or to change my major. I was merely trying to make it through another semester.
My biggest breakthrough came in 2001-02 when I listened to artists who were looking for help with their careers. I could never have imagined this line of work that has been so rewarding.
What Needs to Break?
The dictionary defines a breakthrough as …
“Ambitious artists hire me because they want more recognition for their art and support as they get their art out of the studio and into the world.”
I strung together these words during a small group discussion at a conference. One of my Inner Circle members happened to be sitting next to me and flinched at the word choice: ambitious. (You should have seen her face!)
Then she challenged me on it. The word just didn’t sound right, she thought.
I said, “You’re ambitious. Don’t you think?” She thought a bit, and agreed with a little hesitation, “Yes, I probably am. It’s just the word I have problems with.”
Definitions of ambition include:
– A strong desire to do or to achieve something, typically requiring determination and hard work.
-A desire and determination to achieve success.
– An earnest desire for some type of achievement or distinction, as power, honor, fame, or wealth, and the willingness to strive for its attainment.
If you don’t see yourself in any of these definitions, you might want to rethink your path as an artist-entrepreneur (all successful artists are also entrepreneurs).
Without the desire, there’s no
External factors do not determine how you live. YOU are in complete control of the quality of your life, by either creating or allowing the circumstances you experience.
– Jack Canfield
It was in Jack Canfield’s seminal book, The Success Principles, where I first read about the necessity of taking 100% responsibility for your life. In fact, it’s no lower on the list than Principle #1 in the book of 64 principles.
He’s pretty clear. It’s not 100% responsibility for this or that. It’s 100% responsibility for EVERYTHING. This means:
- You have to give up all of your excuses.
- You have to give up blaming.
- You have to give up complaining.
Here’s the thing about taking 100% responsibility: It puts you in charge.
I understand that this amount of control can be daunting for a new business owner, but wouldn’t you rather have control than to cede it to others?
Embrace this power!
If you’re frustrated by your results, or lack thereof, don’t blame the economy, the online platform, the weather, other artists/people, or the venue.
Instead, consider the things you can control. This is taking responsibility and being a savvy businessperson and more enlightened human being.
Marketing isn’t something you do when you are done with the work.
You can’t afford to wait until everything else is in its place to promote your art. You must be marketing consistently.
Marketing is more than taking out an ad or sending an email. Marketing is a combination of everything you do to sell or to gain recognition for your art. Everything.
There will be times when you must focus on the work in the studio, which means there is no room in your life for marketing tasks. But something is amiss if this drags on for weeks without attention to your business.
Don’t wait until you’re finished with a body of work before you start marketing it. Think about marketing daily. Actually, do more than think. DO your marketing daily – as you go.
You don’t want to wake up one day with the realization, Not again! I forgot to market my art! By this point, it’s probably too late to get the results you want.
Don’t think of marketing as separate from your art. Marketing is the final step of making: sharing your art with others.
But it’s more than that.
Newsflash! You’re just getting started.
Whether you think this is good news or bad news depends on your disposition.
Some people feel fulfilled and complete every day. I envy them.
I want more. Not more “stuff,” but more out of life. More experiences, more love, more friends, more cats. (Only kidding about that last one!)
I know it’s not fashionable these days to want more. They say I should be content where I am and live in the moment. Can’t I want more and appreciate the present?
When someone asks something of you, there are a couple of ways you can respond: Yes or No.
When you say yes to everything, you are probably saying no to yourself and many of your art goals. You are saying that what someone is asking or offering is more important than your agenda.
You can’t even do everything that’s on your list right now, so how do you ensure that your art business remains a priority when so many people are asking for your time?
Last week I sat in the audience and listened to husband-and-wife art critics Roberta Smith (New York Times) and Jerry Saltz (New York Magazine). They were in town at the invitation of Denver’s Clyfford Still Museum. (The photo here was taken from my seat.)
What struck me most was not just how much art they see (a ton), but the wide variety of art that interests them. They go to show after show after show, and then they want to see more. They never tire of looking at art. Saltz confessed to looking for all-night galleries to satisfy their obsession.
You might be tempted to discount critics, but you would be wrong not to listen to people who have spent decades looking at artist after artist, exhibition after exhibition, and style after style.
Much of this dynamic duo’s conversation
I recently came across this quote from a student from 2005:
I have adopted the habit of NEVER leaving my studio dark! … Nothing positive EVER happens in the dark. Life comes from the light around it. Art is created to live and to be seen and felt, not to be hidden away in some dark studio (even overnight). Your attitude will change about your work environment when you enter the space and find “it” awake and waiting for your presence.
While I’m not a fan of wasting energy, I do appreciate the sentiment behind the practice of leaving on a light in the studio. (Perhaps the studio is next to a streetlight, and you could just open the shade. Just a possibility.)
But I’m getting off topic.
©Randy Gallegos, Exit Within 5. Oil and acrylic on canvas panel,
One of the most-used business metaphors is the ladder of success. It’s assumed that you start at the bottom and work your way to the top in a nice, progressive fashion. A few months ago, I woke up with the epiphany that this is not how it works.
Last summer I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark McGuinness, author of Resilience: Facing Down Rejection and Criticism on the Road to Success. Originally recorded for my members in the Art Biz Incubator, I am able to share this interview now that my members have benefited from it for a number of months.