4 Moves To Ignite The Passion For Your Art Business

Deepa Koshaley painting

Bang! Pop! Pow!

Is that the sound of leftover fireworks I hear? Or is your art business on fire?

I would love to hear that it’s your business on fire – that you are Hot – Hot – Hot for what you have to share with the world.

If you’re only hearing fireworks outside your walls and not inside your body, there are four things you can do, and keep doing, to ignite the passion for your art business.

1. Embrace your role as CEO.

When you decide you want to earn money as an artist, you are no longer just making art. You are building a business.

As soon as you accept your role as CEO of your art business, you will experience a dramatic shift in mindset. You will understand that your talent is bigger than you. It’s the basis for a dialogue you are intended to have with the world.

Along with this comes the responsibility of ensuring that your business is run professionally and profitably.

What’s not to get excited about?

2. Schedule something big – with a deadline.

Every forward-thinking entrepreneur needs something to look forward to, and artists are no different. You want to experience the momentum resulting from snagging a new venue, hosting an open studio, or landing a commission.

Without events and deadlines on your calendar, you risk wasting time on social media and neglecting the hard work in the studio.

Don’t wait for things to happen to you. Create your own

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Good and Bad News: Your Work Is Never Done

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?

I have come to realize and accept that I will never be complete. I am just getting started.

My work is never done.

I will never feel like I’ve arrived. There will always be something more to look forward to, and new goals and dreams to pursue that are optimistic about the future.

This is different than being unsatisfied. People who are unsatisfied are negative, unhappy, and, often, annoying.

I’m satisfied because for me, satisfaction comes from a job well done: getting some exercise, cleaning out the garden, or ironing napkins for dinner guests (I know … ironing … weird, but true).

There is great satisfaction in taking the steps toward your vision and seeing each project to completion.

But the vision may shift, and the dreams will get bigger, which brings the next set of projects.

This is how I’m wired. I’ve been this way … um … forever.

I have come to embrace this part of my nature, and I’m happy and positive because I’m enjoying the journey. I can’t imagine a different perspective than the one ingrained in me.

This brings me to your life as an artist.

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The Career Journey of Growth-Minded Artists

Sky Pape Art

One of the most-used business metaphors is the ladder of success.

With this metaphor it’s assumed that you start at the bottom and work your way to the top rung in a predictable, progressive fashion. Wouldn’t it be easy if you always knew your next steps?

But this isn’t how your business works.

Think about it. What’s at the bottom of the ladder of success? What is the progression of steps? And, most importantly, what in the world happens when you get to the top?

When you get to the top, are you finished? Is it all over?

I have never heard of a single artist – visual, performing, or otherwise – who thinks they’ve attained the highest level possible in their career.

I think that’s why, even though I use it, I have a problem with the word “success.” Growth-minded artists keep moving the target for success. They’re never quite satisfied.

You will keep going for as long as you breathe.

You’re creative, after all. You want to learn more, improve your art, and flourish from accepting new challenges.

You want your art to be seen by more people, to be acquired by ever-prestigious collectors and institutions, and to leave a legacy.

Artists don’t reach the top and say that’s it. They keep going!

Your Art Biz Career Circle

Rather than the using the metaphor of a ladder, I use the circle to explain how art businesses and careers expand. Here’s how it works.

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Taking Perfectly Imperfect Action

You know that I’m all about action.

My book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, is broken up into actions rather than chapters.

While I’m a champion of moving forward, I also slow down to read, research, and learn, which is crucial because my superpower is teaching.

While I could easily bliss out on months of research, the fact is, at some point (not too late in the process), the learning phase must make room for the action phase. No matter how much you research, it doesn’t do you any good until you put that knowledge to work.

I think we stay in information-gathering mode rather than taking action for one of two reasons:

1. We’re afraid to make a mistake (failing), or …

2. We don’t have enough fire in the belly to get moving. We aren’t hungry enough.

Let’s look at these separately and try to move past them.

Embrace Mistakes

You can’t learn simply by reading books and taking classes. The ultimate test of your knowledge comes when you implement.

The only way to grow is to take what you’ve read/heard/seen and put it into action. When you do this, you find out how it applies to your specific situation.

Yes, you’re going to make mistakes. A lot of them. Mistake-making is part of the process.

But you won’t fail. You’ll only fail if

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A Realist’s Strategy for Increasing Your Income

It’s unnatural for many artists to talk about money – especially when the money seems like barely enough to bother counting. And, yet, you can imagine how important it is to have a cozy relationship with money when you need it in your life.

What I share here is one of my favorite things to teach because I know that if you go through this process earnestly, your art business will be transformed.

The transformation occurs because you commit to a new relationship with money – one that puts you in charge of your destiny.

Let the Transformation Begin

One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of success in any area is to create a plan. If you’d like to make more money, that means you need an income-boosting plan.

Before you object, I know what you’re going to say because I have heard it many times before: How can I plan for money when I don’t know when my art will sell or who will buy it?

You make a plan because you’re the CEO of your art business and that’s what CEOs do. They make business projections. They have to in order to attract buy-in to their products and services.

But first things first – in order to boost your income, you have to know what it is currently and where it came from.

For the purposes of this exercise, you’re going to focus on your gross sales. Ready to get real?

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How To Plan Your Year

Paris Watercolor by Lis Zadravec

What’s on your calendar for the New Year?

I’m not talking about your appointment calendar. I’m talking big picture. What are you doing that makes you want to jump out of bed in the morning and get to work?

If there’s not much there, it’s time to get busy. You can’t earn more money or increase recognition without exhibitions and events on your schedule.

You can use a desk or desktop calendar for appointments, but for this job you want to get a clear overview of your year’s rhythm.

You’re looking for periods that you know will be particularly busy and others when you might be able to sneak away for a well-deserved vacation.

You also want to be aware of potential for too much overlap on your calendar. There might events you’d like to schedule, but might bump up against others that are already in place.

It’s confusing to schedule events that occur too close to one another.

It’s confusing to your fans and followers because everything looks to have the same level of importance. They don’t know which message to pay more attention to.

It’s also confusing to you because you’re promoting more than one thing at a time. You don’t know how and where to spend your energy.

There are numerous ways to plan your year so that you can envision its rhythm. Here are the two most important ones that I use.

The Wall Calendar

The framework for all of my planning is a wall calendar so that I can see the entire year at once.

I’ve shared previously that I love the Seize The Year calendar by Neu Year. Its biggest asset is that it can be displayed either vertically or horizontally.

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What Did You Do This Year? Your Annual Review

Julie Anderson ceramic art

You survived another year as a working artist. Congratulations!

Now it’s time to step back and look at all you have accomplished in the last twelve months. This is an annual ritual to take your mind off of the long task list in front of you and remind yourself that you really have done a great deal.

If you do nothing else, stop reading this right now and set aside time in your schedule to review your year. It’s too easy to neglect this exercise if you try to squeeze it in whenever you

I suggest committing to two one-hour sessions to start this process. You’ll need to gather your data from calendars, bookkeeping, and journals.

The format here is based on The See Plan (8 Cs for a balanced business). Please adjust and add personal accomplishments if you like.

And … begin!

1. Challenge Creativity

What artistic medium or skill did you attempt or master?

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The Bumpy Road to Success: Stories from Our Clients (Podcast)

Robin Edmundson painting

I believe in the power of being part of a dynamic group of ambitious people.

You can’t possibly get everything you need from a single person, and I can’t possibly know everything there is to know about artists’ businesses and careers. That’s why I created the Art Biz Inner Circle and why it has grown over the years.

Our members represent a wide range of media, personal goals, and geographical regions – including quite a few who are overseas. Yet they rely on one another for inspiration, motivation, strategies, and accountability.

Throughout the year, we have watched many of our members create and attain their stretch goals – several of them doubling (and more) their income from last year.

We supported members as they struggled and reorganized their plans. Yes, even the ones who attained their big goals encountered bumps along the road to success.

Our team of coaches is top-notch (I don’t trust just anyone with my clients).

In this podcast, I talk with Debby Williams and Cynthia Morris, who serve as coaches for our members in the Art Biz Inner Circle. We discuss the celebrations we witnessed as well as the many struggles our artists faced and we provide numerous tips to help with your artist journey.

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Committing To Your Art Career Journey

Last week I dragged my busy butt down to a mineral springs resort and spa for a getaway with my dear friend, Kelly.

Road trip!

Conveniently, the getaway coincided with a discussion I had with one of my coaches about the need to create more “space” in my life.

Since that time, which hasn’t even been two weeks, I have found space not only in soaking in the springs, but also in embracing silence; seeking questions rather than answers; and saying No.

Kelly and I also found space on the road. The trip down to the springs should be just over 5 hours. We somehow turned that into 7+ hours.

There are people who see the dot on the map and race toward it without stopping for a restroom break. And then there are those who, like me, look for any diversion to learn or to be entertained along the route.

I tend to explore on my road trips. I have been caught:

  • Coming across a newspaper from a nearby town and rerouting the return trip because it might be an ideal place to retire. (It wasn’t.)
  • Visiting the local cemetery.
  • Driving out of the way because I heard on NPR about the “green” rebuilding of Greensburg, Kansas ten years after a devastating tornado and I wanted to see it. (It’s pretty cool. I’d go back! And I’d eat again at this Mexican restaurant where they were lovely and one of the few places open on Memorial Day.)
  • Veering an hour off the interstate to see a visionary artist’s creation.

Yeah, I could get there faster if I focused on the dot on the map, but where’s the adventure in that? I prefer the stories I can gather along the way – stories that will become part of the fabric of my life forever.

What stories are you gathering?

Your Career Journey

Your career path is marked by exhilarating highs and devastating lows. I wish I had learned earlier the wisdom in riding the waves rather than fighting against them.

When you seek shortcuts, you miss out on opportunities that might lead to bigger rewards.

When you have your eye only on the end goal (the dot on the map), you become blind to all that can enrich your art and life.

I contend that if you aren’t committed to the journey of your career, you surely won’t be satisfied with the destination.

Of course, the journey isn’t all roses and fairy dust. It’s

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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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