What are your greatest art related fears? For most artists, the fear of unanswered questions is the biggest impediment. And the primary business skill you need is a strategy to manage that fear.
Some fears are just fears.
But most fears can be managed if you first realize they are actually questions, and then work toward finding the best answers.
Common questions revolve around the worth of your work. If you don’t fully understand the rational behind what you create, it’s no wonder the work feels without merit. Organize your thoughts by writing about your history, why you decided to be an artist, what inspires your work.
I thought my mountain was coming this morning. It was near to speaking when suddenly it shifted, sulked, and returned to smallness. It has eluded me again and sits there, puny and dull. Why? (Emily Carr)
Another common fear involves the market and demand for your work. We fear the answer will be a resounding “No!” And what could be worse that knowing that?
What could be worse is working for years in a way that will not succeed because you were afraid to face the possibility that one, you had the potential to succeed, but two, you needed to take greater action to achieve that goal.
I was a loser, most concerned with making a living. It took me 30 years to understand... I had to reinvent a system, find a way out, and set some rules that could work for me and a few others. I guess in the end that's what we all are trying to do. (Maurizio Cattelan)
But the biggest fear, the biggest risk, is saying you are an artist but never, ever succeeding. Oh, wow, that is so heavy. I mean, really, what could you possibly do that could compete with the likes of the Art History Stars?
“Have pity on those who are fearful of taking up a pen, or a paintbrush, or an instrument, or a tool because they are afraid that someone has already done so better than they could…”
― Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage
Don't even bother with this fear. Focus on the questions that have answers. Build your art business from there.
Know as much as you can about your own work, as an ongoing process, because your ideas change and develop and often come back around in more effective styles.
Know as much as you can about the business expectations of others when dealing with an artist. Small questions about how to ship large work, and larger questions about the money, the accounting, and the marketing responsibilities. There are good resources if you want group classes, but you can also start with your own investigations by going to the galleries, the shipping businesses, the juried shows and asking questions.
Know as much as you can about the standards for excellence in your chosen medium, and what strategies you can use to gain acknowledgement from your peers. This includes the standards for excellence and styles when approaching galleries, establishing pricing, and producing marketing efforts.
Because there are many different ways to think about what an Art Business is, experts will offer you a broad approach with the easiest solutions: write an artist statement, create a blog, build a website, and submit to shows. The road you are on does not have easy answers, simple solutions, or common experiences. The terrain changes rapidly and constantly. While you do need a road map of sorts, you also need to take the responsibility for where you are going. It’s an adventure that can be both fun and terrifyingly.
I appreciate the way you have accepted my words, and my art, into your lives. So I would like to thank and welcome the new subscribers to this blog, and those who have also subscribed to my newsletter. In my newsletter I write more about art technique, my motivations behind specific paintings, and occasionally offer paintings for sale at special prices. Here is a convenient link to subscribe to my newsletter .
I would also like to thank those of you who have purchased my book, Ancient Wisdom: Emerging Artist: the business plan (not just) for the mature artist, over the past month. I hope this book helps you with the intrinsic motivation, as well as offering practical ideas and a bit of humor at the end of the day.