Ten Right Ways How to Be A Happy Artist

10 Right Ways How to Be a Happy Artist

You Can Choose to Be a Happy Artist. Then Choose to Make Sure You Are.

Over the years of reading forums and comments on sites and blogs for artists, I have noticed a trend. There are unhappy artists who are more than willing to offer their opinions. I find most are either:

  1. Bitter about struggling to make a go of it selling their art.
  2. Confused about how the art business works, or how to manage a small business.
  3. Just sourpusses.

Sometimes you hit a trifecta and find someone who fits in all three categories. When I see that, I am sad for whatever circumstances have given them such a negative outlook. That’s because I know they are victimized to a degree by themselves. To be on balance, I must say I know many more happy artists than I know unhappy ones.

You Can Choose — Be Proactive.

Stephen Covey in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change, tells us in Habit One to be proactive. It was eye-opening for me to hear him talk about how this works. He explains that a unique quality of being human is ability to choose.

We don’t always get to choose our circumstances. Being born in poverty, or suffering from living in an abusive family, or being handicapped or disabled are all things you had no choice in. It is what has happened to you.

You can, however, choose how you react to your circumstances. Covey found inspiration in Viktor Frankl’s book recounting of being in four Nazi death camps in a Man’s Search for Meaning. He lost his parents, siblings and pregnant wife in the camps. Frankl’s belief was while we cannot avoid suffering, we can choose how we will deal with it. His personal example and later as a psychiatrist was to look for meaning in suffering. Then use it to get on with your life with renewed intentions.

Jon Morrow Inspires Me and Millions More.

I have written before about the remarkable story of Jon Morrow. He was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy as a child. It takes the life of most children by age two. He is still very much alive. Until 2006, he got around in a van that allowed him to drive as a paraplegic. Then tragedy struck again and made him a quadriplegic.

Do like more than one million others have. Read this incredible account of what happened when he was hit head-on in a crash: How to Quit Your Job, Move to Paradise and Get Paid to Change the World. That post has gone one to be viewed by more than a million people. He’s gone on to build a profitable, successful career and has helped thousands of people learn how to make blogging into a career.

Tanner Gers Is a Fearless Inspirational Leader.

I recently met another awe-inspiring person. Tanner Gers also almost died in an auto accident eleven years ago. He survived but was made blind as a result. He ran the 100-meter dash in the London Paralympics in 2012. Until earlier this year, he was a personal trainer in a gym.

Tanner has now launched a new career as a podcaster and event organizer. His The Athlete Summit program just concluded. He got dozens of top names to provide programming for it. Even if they have never heard of Viktor Frankl, Jon and Tanner follow his advice. They are exemplars for how to live a life with passion and purpose despite crushing setbacks.

Let’s Get Back to Our Unhappy Artists.

If you are bitter about the state of your career, you need to turn your negativity around. Life is too short to be unnecessarily unhappy about your career or your life. We don’t all get the same skills and starting point. We do all have the same options to choose to make the best of what we have.

Buying Art Is Not Out of Vogue — It Never Was.

If you are struggling in your art career, it is under your control to fix it. You can find an unending list of reasons why things suck. Technology, geography, and apathy are biggies for many. Here’s the thing. People have never stopped buying art. Let me repeat. People have never stopped buying art.

I have known artists, art publishers and gallery owners who have stayed in business through thick and thin. Buying habits change. Some years are better than others. Nevertheless, art continues to sell. Always has, always will.

Why Is Your Art Not Selling?

Okay, maybe they aren’t buying your art. If that is the case, you need to figure out why. The usual reasons are either you are making work that is hard to sell. That is, it has limited appeal to most buyers. Or, you have work people will buy when they see it often enough, but you are not efficient in getting it seen by the right prospects often enough.

If your work is a problem, you can keep making work like that, but you should lower your expectations about how well it will sell. Happiness is about meeting expectations. If yours are out of line with the reality of what you are making, you are making yourself unhappy.

You can also choose to make art with more appeal. Even though it is a creative endeavor, it is also a product that needs commercial appeal if you want to build a successful business around selling it. Otherwise, accept you have created a pleasant pastime where you occasionally get rewarded with sales.

If It’s Not Your Artwork, Then It’s Your Other Work.

If you know your art sells when enough people see it, and you are not moving your work, you have a marketing problem. Making art is part of your art business. The other part is finding customers and prospects and selling your work to them. That takes marketing first and selling second. Marketing and selling your work is your other job. One you cannot let lapse without risking your career.

Marketing creates interest and intrigue. It drives actions that lead to sales. You get sales with a well-designed website, strong traffic, excellent conversions with powerful calls to action. You might also get sales because you drive traffic to an e-commerce site such as FineArtAmerica.com, XanaduGallery.com or SaatchiGallery.com.

As an alternative, you might network online and offline and generate direct sales to collectors. This scenario, selling direct to collectors, is the best for artists and collectors. It is what I teach and preach about. Selling through galleries works. There just are too few to go around.

Without the Right Insights It Is Easy to Miss the Big Picture.

Some artists are confused about how things work. I saw a comment the other day on a blog post on The Abundant Artist. The post offered some useful ideas on how to sell more art. An artist commenter was bitter that there was also included an offer to buy an in-depth program to learn even more ways to sell art.

I’m not sure if the comments were just plain whining, coming from a misguided sense of entitlement, or utter frustration at making work, but not getting sales. It could have been another trifecta with all three options in play. I alternately reacted by thinking I’m sorry you had such a terrible career going, but another part wanted to scream out about taking responsibility and starting to do the things necessary to make something happen.

The Amount of Free and Useful Info about Art Marketing Is Astounding.

Cory Huff, owner of The Abundant Artist, is a generous person. He devotes lots of time and effort to create free content for artists. He’s not alone, so do I and Jason Horejs, Alyson Stanfield, Owen Garratt, Carolyn Edlund, Aletta de Val, Lori McNee, Gary Bolyer, and many others. There is a ton of great free stuff out there. You just need to do the research to find it.

This artist has the misconception that everything art marketing gurus do ought to be free. What a concept?!! I don’t know him from a rock, but I bet a dollar to a donut he is not making any money. He has no concept of what an abundance perspective is. Instead of being grateful to find some useful free information he is griping that he can’t get more information for free.

Becoming a Sourpuss Is Not that Hard to Do.

He may just also fall into that latter category of a sourpuss. It starts when you look at how life has been rough for you. Then it gets worse with the misguided belief the art industry is skewed and screwed up so no one makes money, especially artists. From there, it’s easy to slide further downhill into a black pit of negativity and self-pity. No one can fix this for someone else. You gotta slug your way out of the quagmire.

Someone can give you a buck so you can buy a clue, but you have to be ready to use it – to embrace the knowledge. Life’s not fair. Business is hard. Only the strong survive. These things are all true. None of them means you can’t have great success. When you realize what is really holding you back is you, you can have a breakthrough. You can come into the light and bask in its glow.

more collectors

There Is No Free Lunch.

You have to make your own way. When you begin to move in the right direction, you will find there are those who want to help you. Start making little victories. Each one makes you a winner. We love winners. We want the best for them.

Work for the day when it is you helping an up and comer. Give back. Pay it forward. Shrug off your negativity and get moving. Your career is waiting.  You, yes YOU, can achieve great things. Start to believe. Aim high. Aim higher. Be restless. Most of all, get going.

Get Your Happy Quotient Going! Even the Worst Miserable Curmudgeon Named Scrooge Did It!

It is a whole lot easier to do these things if you have a happy quotient going on in your life. Here are ten things to help you boost yours to new highs and lock in being a happy artist.

  1. Don’t’ Get Your Knickers in a Knot over Trivial Stuff – Come on now. Next time, before you react in anger or disgust, take a deep breath. Decide if you can just let what’s bugging you go. The chemical reaction to anger and fear stays in your body much longer and is detrimental to your health, unlike those released when you are happy or ecstatic. Feeding the angst and anger just makes it harder to get back to even keel and happy.
  2. Givers Gain – It’s not just about being altruistic. For sure, it’s a good thing to give with no strings attached. If you have no expectation, you cannot be disappointed. Next time you do good, do it so only you know you did it. Make that knowing good enough. It’s also good to give knowing there is a quid pro quo with your gift. I scratch your back, you got mine. Happy people are givers. They’re getting back all the time because they fill the emotional bank accounts of those around them. It’s the reverse of “Paybacks are a bitch!”
  3. Don’t Make It about the Dough – You already know this in some way, right? Ever notice the word miser is the root word of miserable? Focus on achievement, not money. The money will follow your success. It’s advisable to be thrifty and frugal. Those are good traits. Being all about the money throws up a wall against being joyous. Be not a Scrooge.
  4. Don’t Make It about the Stuff – We live in a material age. We surround ourselves with doodads and shiny objects that don’t bring us happiness or joy. Every cord in your home represents a repair waiting to happen. The less stuff you have, the less stuff you have to set up, calibrate, use, insure, repair and let sit there to remind you what a dumb purchase that was. With stuff, less is better.
  5. Don’t Make It about Others – Envy will eat you up; make you bitter; run you dry and leave you worse off because of it. Besides, you can’t have someone else’s life. That’s a good thing.

    Be yourself, everybody else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde.

    It is senseless to measure yourself against other people. There is always, always going to be someone taller, shorter, slimmer, with more hair and with better hair. There are those with more brains, more talent, more money, great teeth, and a spouse you still can’t figure out how they are with them, and so on. Accept who you are and what you are without comparing it to anyone else. At least, unlike Jon Morrow, you can pinch a nice butt when the occasion arises.

  6. Be Grateful – Happy people have gratitude. They are conscious of what they have and have real feelings of gratefulness. Your tiny one bedroom apartment can be your castle. My wife, Mary, and I started married life living in a 700 square foot single apartment in West L.A. I worked from home. My office was the bedroom. Our bed was in the living space. We ate from a folding table. We were very happy. Still are. I think if we were unhappy back in the day in our tiny place, we had no chance for happiness later on. Happiness doesn’t just drop in on you once you start making more money. More money and more stuff don’t make you happy. You make you happy. Your choices in partners and spouses make you happy. To be grateful is to be happy. Mary and I were grateful then and are so today.
  7. Be Compassionate – It galls me no end to see someone take glee at the misery of others. It is the same thing with gossip. These traits have an addictive quality to them. The more you talk smack behind someone’s back or share those juicy tidbits of knowledge that are harmful to another, the more you want to do it. It’s bad karma to rejoice at the expense of someone who is suffering. Perhaps you feel they earned it. That does not mean you should blacken your heart by being happy for their downfall. You know actions like these will not help you lead a happier and healthier life. So don’t do them.
  8. Don’t Fly with the Turkeys – If you want to fly like an eagle, you can’t be hanging around with the turkeys. You get to choose who you have in your life. This includes your blood relatives. If someone is toxic to your life, you need to get them out of your life. Like Stephen Covey’s first habit, “Be Proactive.” This is sometimes harder to do than say. You can find yourself emotionally, financially or in some other way attached to the wrong person. It can take an enormous amount of courage and strength to break free. It can upset many people around you when you do find the conviction to make such a change. In the end, it’s your life, and you only get to live it once. Surround yourself with happy and uplifting people. Get rid of those who will bring you down. It’s your choice to make.
  9. Know What Happiness Looks Like for You – You can be dead serious about everything in your life. You can be tough and not suffer fools. You don’t have to smile and say, “Have a nice day” to everyone you meet. You don’t have to like everyone you meet. You can be unsatisfied with your current job, relationship, location or anything else. You just have to decide not to let any of those real things keep you from being happy. It usually means you have to make some changes once you have the full acknowledgment in your mind about how things are, or who people are. Lack of action is a cause of angst. You can make yourself unhappy with yourself. Say what? It happens when you have knowledge to do right and find yourself sitting on doing it. Maybe you need job counseling, mental health counseling, marriage counseling, addiction counseling or some other form of help. As long as you put off doing something you know needs to be done, you drive down your happiness quotient. Stop that. Get on with what you need to do now. Whatever is holding you back is not worth overcoming it. Be your own Dr. Phil. Ask yourself, “How is not doing the right thing working out for me?”
  10. Live Your Life in the Present – Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never get here. You cannot afford to have your awareness of your past stop you from taking positive action today. Historical knowledge is good in this respect. As someone said, “Experience is what lets you recognize a mistake when you make it again.” You have to have hope for the future. Living in the present without misery about what was, or fear about what will be is how to be happy now. You have to let what’s happened go. You can’t change anything that’s done. The more you dwell on how things were, or what you should have done, the more your misery kicks your happiness in the butt. Having a content perspective and outlook on the future is the best way to be. Choosing to live in the present means accepting and acknowledging your current circumstances as they are. Elect to see how the actions you are taking and plans you are making are going to improve your life and your career. If thinking about that does not make you happy, you need to revisit what you are doing and get on revising your plans for your future.

I am sure I could add dozens more examples and suggestions here. I could go on about how to live a satisfied life and enjoy a happy career, but I won’t. I will stop here and choose to be pleased that a select few readers will reach this last sentence and be inspired to go on and make changes that will lead them to their contented place as a happy artist. I hope you are one of them.

Spoiler Alert!

If you are that guy who complains he reads things, finds help, but wishes everything was free and came without a sales pitch. Stop reading now.

I Can Help You!

If you are looking for a way to get your career in the happy zone, I can help you. Join the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. It is a culmination of my best work — and I’ve been helping artists since 1988. I didn’t leave anything out. In fact, I’m busy putting lots more in. CLICK HERE to get the lowdown on how to kick start your career.

I get that for some reading this that all you can afford right now is what you glean free from the Internet. If that’s you, you’ll be HAPPY to find a free 99-minute webinar that explains exactly what you need to do to become successful as a visual artist. In 99-minutes, I can’t tell you how to do it. That is what the 10 hours, (growing to 20 hours) of recorded material does for you in the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. 

Watching the webinar will give a blueprint for the 8-Steps to Art Marketing Mastery. Feel free to use it to model your successful art career. Or, if you can afford to make a relatively small investment into a lifetime program, please join me in the workshop. Either way, I’m going to be happy you looked me up. :)

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P.S. If the workshop doesn’t fit your budget and the free webinar leaves holes in your plans because you need help, information and nudging, then grab my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book. You can get it on Amazon in softcover and on Kindle for only $9.99. If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can borrow it to read free. If you’re that crabby guy, maybe this free webinar and free book to borrow is the solution you have been looking for.

The book will help you. The workshop is built around the concepts in the book. It goes way deeper and offers more ideas, information and inspiration. If you read it, you will learn a lot about how to make your art career more successful.

How to Sell Art to the Affluent Market

How to Sell Art to the Affluent (1)Four Tips on How to Sell Art to People Who Can Afford to Buy It

Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Editor’s Note: Apologies if this article causes deja vu all over again, to paraphrase Yogi Berra. That’s because you might have read it when it was first published. I do believe it’s a worthy read, even a second time. I did polish it up a bit for you. Best I could do and still get to my nephew’s wedding this weekend. Enjoy!

I don’t need to tell you, there is a growing wealth divide in the US and elsewhere. The buying power for middle-income consumers is down. If this is your income strata, you are probably clipping coupons and more price conscious than before 2008. Today, you find people shopping in Walmart who a few years back wouldn’t have been caught dead in there.

Another assumption is you probably are targeting your marketing to middle-class buyers, even if on a subconscious level. We tend to go where we are comfortable – birds of a feather flock together. What you need to do is start thinking logically like top retailers. They have begun focusing on the next level up, which is the affluent class.

The affluent market consists of those U.S. households with an annual income of $100,000, or more. Affluent earners represent the top 20 percent of consumers. Since there roughly are 125 million US households, the affluent segment numbers constitutes around 25 million households.

It is time to discover how to sell art to the affluent market.

In my Guerrilla Marketing for Artists: How 100 Collectors Can Bulletproof Your Career book, I devote much time to the concept of building a loyal following of direct buying collectors. I contend artists who set and achieve this goal of developing direct buyers greatly immunize their careers from the inevitable downturns that happen when galleries close, social media darlings fade against new trends, and other distribution channels fail. Join the Art Marketing Mastery Workshop to learn how to do sophisticated customer hunting.

Loyal direct buyers are the key to long-term career success.

Developing your own collector base is the smartest thing you can do for your career. Fortunately, consumer trends, communication tools and technology make getting this done not only possible, but easy compared to art marketing techniques of past generations.

Follow these four tips to improve your original art sales to the affluent market:

1. Ditch your bias. If you are not wealthy yourself, you may find yourself feeling socially self-conscious. If this is you, do not feel bad, you are not alone. This is a common malady.

You need to let your imagination in on the fun. Start thinking and daydreaming to capture the feel of having discretionary income well beyond your current means. Get rid of any disdain you might have about materialism, conspicuous consumption, or other negative traits towards the spending habits and lifestyle of those wealthier than you are.

Loosen up, get smart, rise to the challenge.

You cannot effectively learn how to sell art to the affluent market if you are self-conscious about your income level, or if you let your circumstances put a chip on your shoulder. The first step is recognizing you have a bias. The second step is being pragmatic and adult enough to get over your biases. To market to those outside your current income status, you need to take necessary steps to understand your customer deeply and profoundly. You do not have to be like them to sell to them. You just need to know where they are coming from and how they look at life.

2.  Fine tune your pricing. You must design your pricing to land in the optimum sweet spot between class and mass. Smart retailers, these days, are beginning to focus on what some describe as the HENRYs market. HENRY is an acronym for High-earner, not rich yet. These consumers earn an income of $100,000 to $250,000 annually. Their buying habits vary, but many look for value rather than status. For instance, they might pay a premium of $2,500 – $4,900 for a Tag Heuer watch, but reject shelling out $10,000 – $20,000 for a Rolex, which in their eyes is overpaying for the status. Conversely, low prices have the least influence on whether the affluent will conduct future business with you. Competing on price is a loser’s game. If you are doing it now, stop immediately.

3.  Make a great first impression and build on it. If the first impression is the high point of the relationship, you will fail at building lasting, meaningful and profitable relationships. From your initial contact, your job is to take charge of building long-term, professional relationships. Everyone on your team must buy-in to this relationship building principle.

Everyone who supports you needs to immerse themselves into doing whatever it takes to build lasting relationships with your buyers and others with whom your organization has dealings. The stronger your relationships, the more sales you will make to your core audience, and the more referrals you will gain from them. Some put it as having the mindset of providing a Ritz-Carlton service with Fedex proficiency.

Find ways to set yourself apart. Perhaps you offer free hanging service within a set range of your studio. You could offer to let your buyers trade their existing art for a return fee. For instance, you might offer 50% of the original price so long as the new work is priced higher than the original. You could offer to lease your art, or put it on temporary loan for events, home staging or other such needs. You could provide a free consultation for buying works of art from other artists, or help with framing or reframing new or existing works. Think about working out a deal with your favorite framer to get your customers a discount or expedited service from the shop. You get the idea. Find a way to make buying art from you a valued added proposition.

4.  Learn to rub elbows with the affluent. The easiest way to get to know people and let them know you is to be around them. I’m betting many of those reading this post do not have the income to join an exclusive country club, or want to become a member at one either. That is okay. There are plenty of other ways to associate with the affluent market without matching their income. For example, you can join an association where affluents are also likely to be involved.

Doing research for the best group to join is the smart way to avoid wasting your time. Here are some criteria to consider:

  • Are members of the affluent market attracted to the group?
  • Will you have frequent opportunities to meet new people in monthly, or at least quarterly gatherings?
  • Are there subcommittees, or other offshoot activities that put you in close proximity to group members?
  • Do you have a personal interest in the purpose and goals of the association?
  • Is joining geographically and financially feasible?

The list of possible organizations to ponder is numerous. Your first round of research could include alumni associations, Chambers of Commerce, charities, churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations, civic organizations, gourmet foods, antique cars, wine tasting, economic clubs, fraternal organizations, hospitals and other major medical organizations. Museum associations and other arts related organizations are a natural for artists to join with the multiple purpose of doing some good for their community and themselves, as well.

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WOMMA is the best marketing stratagem.

Word-of-mouth-marketing (WOMMA) positively is THE best way to gain quick access and acceptance to a group or a particular person through an introduction, recommendation or referral. This is especially effective when you receive an enthusiastic introduction. When someone likes you, knows you and loves your art, they will champion you and your art without prompting. The more of your art they buy, the more they become vested in the success of your career. A chapter in my aforementioned Guerrilla Marketing for Artists book covers the topic of networking in depth. Networking is where you find new buyers and where asked for and unsolicited referrals come to bolster your art career.

Here is the truth about marketing and selling success.

On the direct level, it is a personal business. When all else is equal, or even when it’s not, the buyer often gives the business to the person they like the most. When I sold trade advertising to Fortune 500 companies, I had tons of competitors. Although some represented magazines that were better looking, or they had more subscribers, or more impressive reader statistics. I was not only able to compete with them – I bested them year after year.

My magazine was a serious publication and a worthy contender even without my sales ability, but my relationships with my buyers were the key to my dominance over my competitors. The more anxious and frustrated they were with my buyers, the more they dug a deep hole for ever getting a bigger share of the annual print advertising budget. Personal relationships trump most other buying decisions when the decision is close. A competitor may have better art, or a more compelling story, but will still lose to your friendship with your collectors.

There was a marketing and communication association to which all the industry advertisers and trade magazines belonged. It held twice a year events where we all gathered in tony resorts around the U.S. and Canada. Besides the fun of staying great locations like the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, it was a wonderful opportunity to meet and mingle with decision makers from big companies.

Going the extra mile pays dividend after dividend.

I got on committees and helped out where I could. I also used every chance I had to meet my prospects for my magazine. I rarely asked about advertising or marketing in these meetings. Rather, I made it a point to get to know the person. How did they come to work at that company? Where did they live? What activities were their kids doing? If their spouse came, my wife was always welcoming and helpful, especially to timid first-timers trying to navigate the sometimes awkward social situations.

Besides getting kudos for my obvious interest in helping the association progress, I was the person who often made introductions to strangers. I don’t know what it is about doing this, but it is sort of like the glue between two people. It lifts your status in a positive, intangible, and unforgettable way.

More importantly, when I called on my buyers and prospects in their office and home base, due to how I dealt with them outside their work environment and in other neutral settings, my friendship made being warm and comfortable with me easy for them. While my competitors might sometimes find their prospective buyers would decline their offer to take them to lunch or dinner, preferring to take a shorter meeting in the office, this rarely happened to me. I always did everything I could to ensure I was welcome as a friend first and mag rep secondarily.

Making it work for you.

Obviously, you are not going to have the exact same situation as me, but you can use what I did as a model of how you might start networking your way to start knowing important potential buyers and influence members in the groups you join. The lesson here is the value is in the relationship.

Relationships and perceptions sell art.

This lesson readily applies when buyers consider buying your art. With original art, it is almost never purely about the art. Valued collectors are buying you, the artist, as much as they are your art. You and your art are inextricably entwined. The wisdom comes when you realize you have the power to leverage it.

You only have so many hours to devote to marketing. My advice is to start targeting the prospects who have the money to buy it without denting their budget. I am a true believer in social media and online marketing, but I am convinced your career is more solid and successful when you use tech to build on your in-person encounters and relationships with your collectors.

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