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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How Do You Motivate Yourself to Finish a Project? (Curious Monday)

Sandra Duran Wilson painting with lotus

We all have projects that are part of our lives for longer than originally intended. The more we avoid them, the more monstrous they become.

Procrastination is in charge.

Today’s question …

How do you motivate yourself to finish up a project that has been hanging around the studio too long?

Or

How to you face a project that you committed to, but no longer have any interest in?

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Lessons From The Past Year

©2012 Michelle Paine, Pilgrimage: St. Peter’s. Oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

It’s hard to keep up with weekly emails about your art business, so I thought I’d point out some things that you might have missed or forgotten about this past year.

These are 12 valuable actions, from 12 different Art Biz Blog posts in 2015, to help you grow your art career while staying sane.

Marketing Your Art

1. Reduce the Boring Factor: Add Variety to Your Marketing Message

Why it’s on the list: Please, for the love of Pete, read this before you send another email.

Your art exhibition, class, workshop, or event has so many facets that there is no reason to send the same emails and social media posts for your promotions. They get a little stale after a while.

I have some ideas for you.

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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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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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Why Aren’t You Motivated?

©2014 Diane Gabriel, Young Girl With Icon, Nah Trang, Viet Nam. Pigment print. Used with permission.

I want to help you with your art business. Each blog post, class lesson, consultation, or live event is designed to help you get one step closer to your dream.

In these formats …

I can teach you what you should be doing to promote your art. I can teach you how to do things. I can teach you why it’s good to be doing these things. I can teach you about other artists getting good results.

But …

I cannot teach you how to get motivated to do the work.

©2014 Diane Gabriel, Young Girl With Icon, Nah Trang, Viet Nam. Pigment print. Used with permission.

I’d go so far as to say that I can’t teach

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Schedule Something Scary and Extraordinary

©Joey Feldman, Vicious. Pen and ink on paper, 28 x 20 inches. Used with permission

It’s scary to step up – to think bigger about what you’re capable of.

There’s very little motivation in the daily grind: update Facebook, schedule a few tweets, send a newsletter, write a blog post, work in studio. If you’re not careful, you’ll continue to go through the motions of life without doing something extraordinary for your art and for yourself.

©Joey Feldman, Vicious. Pen and ink on paper, 28 x 20 inches. Used with permission.

In honor of the witching season, I ask you to scare yourself a little. Give yourself a challenge that motivates you to get out of bed and into the studio every day. Take on a quest.

Anatomy of a Quest (with Examples)

According to Chris Guillebeau,

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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.

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5 Steps to Take Charge of Your Art Marketing (and Why You Must)

©2014 Claire Browne, Stem. Mixed media, 7 x 3 feet. Used with permission.

Stop waiting for the famous gallery dealer to call you up. Stop waiting for the artist agent-fairy to wave her wand. Stop waiting to win the lottery.

©2014 Claire Browne, Stem. Mixed media, 7 x 3 feet. Used with permission.

Start taking charge.

You have to plan for business growth. It doesn’t happen on its own. Nobody cares about your success more than you do, and nobody can do a better job marketing your art than you can.

Here are five steps for taking charge of your art marketing, which will send you well on your way to getting what you want from your art career.

1. Write down what you want.

Many people don’t get the life they really want because they

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