The #1 Priority for Artists

I am frequently on the receiving end of artists’ complaints about all of the computer work they have to do. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and then writing a blog post, sending an email, organizing photos … you know the list.

Yes, there is a lot of digital work that is required of today’s artists. And aren’t you lucky to have these free or low-cost tools that artists two decades ago didn’t have to share their art? (It’s a good idea to remember this now and then.)

In some instances, I find that artists who spend excessive amounts of time on the computer are doing so at the peril of their artwork.

In other words, they’re unconsciously doing it to avoid the studio work. And, let’s face it: The studio work is the harder work.

I don’t care how much you say you enjoy making art. When the pressure is on to show and sell your work, the creative process can be brutal.

It’s super easy to type, respond to comments, and “like” other people’s posts. You could waste all kinds of time doing that and that’s exactly what you’d be doing. Wasting time.

Don’t get me wrong: You can’t avoid these tasks entirely. But your days should be heavily weighted toward making art.

Are you using your computer work as an excuse to avoid engaging with your more important work?

You Are Not Alone

Please know that when you’re struggling to make art, you are not alone. All artists have phases that are more successful for creating than others.

It’s when the phase becomes your modus operandi that it is no longer acceptable. If you haven’t worked in the studio for days or weeks,

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How to Offer Upgrades for Your Teaching

When you offer services, such as teaching, mentoring, or coaching, seize the opportunity to enhance the experience for your students and clients. This may also be a chance to create extra income for yourself.

I’m talking about offering upgrades to your services.

An upgrade is an offer that adds value to the service for an additional fee.

The most important reason to offer an upgrade is that it improves the experience for your students. The additional income is a bonus for you.

Upgrade Options

Your upgrade offer is limited only by your imagination. Here are some ideas to help get you started:

  • An additional, but different, workshop or class
  • Printed and bound copy of your notes
  • Audio recording of your notes
  • Video lessons
  • “Club” membership
  • A lifetime Facebook group that includes club-only email tips
  • A package of programs and bonuses, like the Art Career Success System
  • Personal coaching, mentoring, or critique sessions (live or via video conference)

If you are hosting a multi-day workshop, consider adding:

  • Private tours
  • 30-minute coaching/critique sessions before or after instruction for the day or an additional coaching-only day at the end
  • Meals

What can you offer to a large number of people at a reasonable price?

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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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5 Lists You Need for Your Art Career

Painting of Red Shoe by Cheryl Wilson

I live by lists. They’re so beautiful on the page: one item after another after another.

Whether we process each item in the order in which it appears on the list or, more likely, get around to them someday in no particular sequence, lists help us create order in our hectic lives.

The most valuable thing about making lists is that it gets tasks, projects, and ideas out of our heads and into a place where we can find them again. At least that’s the idea.

With that in mind, here’s a list of 5 lists (yep, a list of lists) that are useful to artist-entrepreneurs.

1. Your To-Do List

This is the list that you’re probably most familiar with.

Your to-do list consists of urgent or near-future items that you must accomplish. It might look like this:

  • Pay bills.
  • Order framing supplies.
  • Write draft of newsletter.

If you’re disorganized, your lists are probably all over the place – likely on sticky notes covering your desktop or computer monitor. Not the best way to be productive.

If you’re organized, you have a single to-do list in a single place. You know where to find it and how to prioritize the items on it.

Next, you need a place to store the not-so-urgent things. This is …

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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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A.B.E. (Always Be Evolving)

You might have noticed something about Art Biz Coach and me: we’re always changing.

I can’t help it. I am continually learning, so why should my services and offerings remain the same?

I always look for ways to offer more information in a fresh way that best serves my clients.

This is why there is no more Art Biz Bootcamp or Organize Your Art Biz – because I found ways to improve them.

Last year I introduced the Art Career Success System, a 5-month program to grow your art business. This year … Yep! It’s changing. It’s still around, but in a radically different format. (Stay tuned for that.)

Creative Evolution

I believe in personal and professional evolution. In fact, I may be addicted to it.

As an example, I expressed frustration with my coach recently about the fact that I seem to reinvent my programs every year. Won’t it ever calm down? I wondered.

She suggested, gently, that this is my nature. I have an artist’s soul and I like to create things.

Guilty!

There’s such joy for me in growing, planning, and improving. I’m guessin’ that you’re the same. You’re an artist, after all.

You’re all about making and creating. New! Next! Again!

New experiences add to your palette.

New visions force you to think differently.

New encounters ask you to question the same ole same ole.

Ignore these urges at your professional peril because the alternative is stagnation. Stuck-ness.

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How Do You Know If You're a Real Artist? (Curious Monday)

Does this scenario sound familiar?

You’re at a <party/meeting/wherever> and Smarty Pants asks you what you do.

I’m an artist, you say with confidence (of course).

Not missing a beat, Smarty Pants says, “Oh! My aunt is an artist. She does these …”

You restrain yourself – resisting the urge to stomp your feet and throw a tantrum while shouting, You don’t understand! I’m a REAL artist!

Okay, so what does that mean?

What is a real artist anyway? How do you know if you are one?

Please leave a comment with this post and share your experiences.

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Why Having No Boundaries Is Killing Your Art Career

A neighbor knocks on the door and invites you to coffee during studio time. Mmmmm. Coffee would be good, you think. Do you take her up on her offer?

Everyone in your artist organization knows that you are the go-to guy to get stuff done, so they ask you to chair a committee for next year’s group show. You know your schedule is packed, but you feel a sense of duty. Do you give in and help them out?

Every time your father gets the chance, he insinuates that you aren’t a real artist. It’s really driving a wedge between the two of you. Do you say anything?

You hop on to Facebook to post to your business page and are tempted to click on an old (and previously long-forgotten) roommate to see what she’s up to. Do you do it?

In order to act confidently in these situations, you need to have a solid commitment to the boundaries around your life and career.

Bagging your studio time, agreeing to be the go-to volunteer, allowing people to poop on your dreams, and wasting time on social media are all career-killers.

Here’s how you can handle these situations.

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Getting Back Into The Groove (Podcast)

Kelly Borsheim Sculpture

Any change in your routine — holidays, illness, vacations, family deaths or weddings — can bring a slump in your creative work.

Even when you’re completely into your art, there’s often an inertia that keeps you from rebooting and being productive.

Cynthia Morris and I recognize this in our clients and thought it would be juicy content for a podcast.

But first … full disclosure … we went to a yoga class. It was an experiment. What would it be like to record one podcast, go to yoga, and then try another after taking a break? Would we be able to get back into the groove?

It was a tall order and it didn’t quite work. I think you’ll see that we empathize with the topic when you listen to this podcast.

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What's Your #1 Goal for the New Year? (Curious Monday)

Barbara Ferrier painting

The New Year brings a time for reflection, but also renewal. There’s a blank slate – a sense that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to.

These open-ended possibilities are often debilitating.

If it’s possible for us to do anything, why can’t we do everything?

Well, because you can’t. You just can’t.

You don’t have the time, the resources, or the energy to tackle everything you want to accomplish.

That’s why it’s important to prioritize, and this is where goal-setting comes in.

Some people may pooh-pooh goals, but I find that they’re a necessary step to not only getting things done, but also for feeling complete.

When we don’t have a goal and projects to mark off our list, we wander aimlessly and are never quite satisfied.

As you’re planning your year, what do you think is the most important goal you can accomplish in your art business in 2017?

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