Enough With The Shoulds

You’re unable to live your purpose as an artist when you’re wrapped up in shoulds, musts, and need-tos – when you’re following others without (eventually) forging your own path.

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How To Start Your Email List

“How do I start a mailing list?”

It’s a question that I’ve been asked numerous times in the past few weeks. Hmmm … Where to begin?

One thing is for certain. “Start an Email List” is an overwhelming project that might stop you before you’ve even started. Instead of looking at it as a whole, break it down into steps to make faster progress.

Here are the steps to take. They aren’t numbered because you can skip around until you get to the “Finally” section.

(If you have a mature mailing list and you don’t need these steps, please don’t go anywhere. Jump straight to the end and share your experience with others. Your insights and encouragement are sure to be valuable to someone else.)

Start With Who You Know

Make a list of everyone you know who might want to hear about you and your art:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Neighbors
  • Colleagues at a day job
  • Other artists

Don’t discount anyone because you believe they’ll never buy your art. You never know how they can support you until you bring them into your art life.

Save the following information for each person:

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How to Decide if a Class or Workshop is Right for You

Cabin Lake by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

Whenever a new class begins, I receive plenty of questions. Currently, I’m fielding questions about Creative Content Camp.

The gist of the questions is: This class looks enticing, but is it right for me?

Most often, my response isn’t a simple Yes or No, but a volley of questions in return intended to help the inquisitor come to a conclusion.

Here’s what those questions look like.

Will you be physically at your home or studio to implement the lessons?

The lessons in Creative Content Camp can be consumed and implemented from anywhere in the world as long as there is connectivity.

On the other hand, the organizing class I previously taught required organizing a physical space. That’s a program you wouldn’t want to be away for.

If you’re going to be on vacation for one or more of the lessons, the decision whether or not to enroll in a class depends on your answers to a couple of (more) questions:

  1. Are you planning on doing any work during your travels? If you have built in a few hours a week to work, as I do during many of my trips, perhaps it’s doable.
  2. Can you make a plan – and stick to it – for your return? If you get your affairs in order so that you pick up (and catch up) where you left off, you’re likely to be more successful after the break.

Can you devote the time to the lessons and homework?

I tell students that

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In a Cash Crunch? Try These Ideas to Bring in the Bucks

We are officially at the halfway point for 2017. Are you halfway to your financial goals for the year?

As all of my students and clients know, I stress the importance of “doing the numbers” before it’s too late.

Doing your numbers means figuring out where the money is coming in, identifying the leaks, and seeing clearly the best return on your investment of time and resources.

For conducting this process, you are rewarded with clarity like you’ve never had before. What you see might not be the beacon of hope you were looking for, but at least you are armed with knowledge to make sound financial decisions.

When your numbers aren’t where you’d like them to be (a realization we’re all faced with at some point or another), consider options to increase your income quickly.

Focus on how to maximize your return with limited time and resources to invest. This means concentrating on larger sales. It’s not the time to create a new stream of income for a new audience.

The first step is to get extra clear on how much you need to earn and figure out what the path to that number looks like. Specifically: What is your monetary goal and what will it take to reach that goal?

How many students or clients do you need to enroll to equal your goal?

How many artworks do you need to sell in a particular size to equal your goal? And do you have enough inventory?

My first choice when looking for fast cash is to …

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Why Hacking Social Media Isn't The Answer (and Why I Won’t Teach It)

Social media will not fix your broken marketing.

There aren’t enough friends, likes or followers that can help you when you have a weak foundation.

Plenty of online marketers will tell you how to hack social media, by which I mean they will teach shortcuts and tricks for “getting” followers and likes on social media.

There’s nothing wrong with learning this information, but I won’t teach it because I find it terribly uninteresting and, ultimately, unhelpful to the longevity of artists’ careers. The online marketers do it well, so I leave the job to them.

Out of Whack

For most artists, hacking social media is out of alignment with their values and it shows. Many artists are suspicious of gimmicks and tricks that reek of blatant self-promotion.

You can’t make something work for you if it doesn’t jive with who you are as a person.

Let’s start by examining the word “get” as in “getting” new likes and followers. It’s grabby. It’s icky.

What if, instead, we embrace the word “attract,” as in I’d like to attract more fans and followers.

If you agree that this approach is bundled in better energy, stick with me.

This Is More Valuable

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Advice for Those Who Want to Help the Artists in Their Lives

A nice man named Curt recently wrote me a heartfelt email. He had a strong desire to help his introverted, talented son with his art career.

“I’m wondering if you would have advice for the non-artist helping the artist?” he asked.

I started by acknowledging Curt’s love for his son. “Your son is very lucky,” I said.

I added a few words of encouragement and, after much thinking, this is what I want to share with him and with all non-artists who want to help the artists in their lives.

Accept me.

Don’t try to change me.

I may dye my hair pink or show up at your office function with paint under what remains of my fingernails. I’m okay being the nonconformist in the room as long as you’re on my team.

Understand the way I work.

I like to be alone.

I need to be alone. A lot.

Space is good for me, so when I say I need to be in the studio, please don’t

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When You Think You Live in a Cultural Desert

If I had a nickel for every time an artist told me that their lives would be better if only they lived somewhere else, well … I’d have a lot of nickels!

Some of you have convinced yourselves that your town isn’t an “art town.”

When I hear this excuse, I think to myself:

What is an art town?

Is it a place with galleries on every corner and informed people walking around buying art?

Is it a place that has a strong arts council with lots of support for public art?

Is it a place where museums attract plenty of blockbuster exhibitions?

Do art towns even exist?

I already know the answers to these questions. Except for a handful of places, I’ve come to believe that there is no such thing as an art town brimming with enlightened art buyers.

Not living in an art town is simply another excuse for inaction. Artists who use this excuse think that they would be more successful if they lived in New York or Santa Fe or Portland or, frankly, anywhere else but where they are.

I’ve witnessed plenty of artists grow their businesses and careers in places that don’t show up on the world or even regional map of art towns.

But let’s set aside this argument on whether or not there’s such thing as “art towns.” That’s fodder for a different discussion.

Now we can focus on how to thrive in your supposed cultural desert.

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What Book Should I Write? (Curious Monday)

Self-Promotion Book for Artists

Not too long ago, I sat down to figure out what I was going to do with my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio. The first edition was published in 2008 and the last e-book-only edition in 2015.

While most if it is still relevant, it could probably use an update.

How could I freshen it up and get it back into print? It has been a valuable resource to artists and students all over the world.

Then I got a big knot in my stomach. I realized that I don’t want to freshen it up.

I am not the same person who wrote this 10 years ago. It would be completely different if I wrote it now.

It doesn’t make sense to freshen up something I no longer feel connected to.

So … I’m exploring new book topics.

I realize that it could be a very bad idea indeed to ask this, but I’m doing it anyway.

What book should I write?

What book do you need that has yet to be written? Do you have an inkling?

What book would delight you to hold in your hands?

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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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Life Is Beautiful and I Have Proof

All is right with the world. I have proof.

I’m at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition. I arrive early with Rob, my trooper of a husband. He’s agreed to be my companion through the permanent collection galleries before our afternoon ticket time.

What I witness restores my faith in humanity.

Here’s how it goes down.

Is It Art?

As a former museum educator, I know that it’s wise to avoid school tours in the galleries. If I had thought about that, I might have visited later in the day. But then I wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to have had this experience.

There is at least one group in each of the galleries. Most students have assignments and a docent.

One docent teaches native Spanish speakers how to say Marcel Duchamp.

Mahr-sel’ Du’-shahn

They giggle.

She stands in front of Duchamp’s Fountain and asks: Is it art? They are pretty certain it isn’t. It’s a urinal, for Pete’s sake.

I don’t stick around to hear more of their reasoning. I already feel like I’m an intruder.

I’m less interested in the art history lecture than in the way these kids are fully engaged with the art. They are hanging on every word she says.

My husband finds me and asks what I’m up to. “This docent is awesome,” I say.

Then I catch a glimpse of another heartwarming scene.

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