Art careers are like art. Both look different depending on your perspective. None are ever alike. They are, as Da Vinci noted, never finished only abandoned.
Art careers also are like success. That’s because they are intensely personal. And, only the artist can define what success and career expectations mean to them.
People can attempt to put expectations on you. It doesn’t matter if they are well-meaning, ignorant, or mean-spirited. They can neither decide what success is nor set career expectations for you.
Some will try. It’s your job and your right not to let others push your buttons. That is not to discourage you from taking input from qualified people. It is constructive more often than not.
For sure, opinions from your spouse, partner, and family matter. You should at least listen if your decisions impact them. But, they don’t get to decide. That’s your job alone.
Patrons, pundits, critics, gallerists, dealers, educators, and friends are also worth a listen. Sometimes they are in a position to offer useful suggestions or insightful ideas. But, as already emphasized, it’s your decision and your choice.
I know it’s easy for me to tell you these things. The reality is resisting dominant persons who insist you act on their suggestions is sometimes hard to do. It takes the courage of conviction and a dose of gumption to stand up for yourself sometimes. But, it’s within you to do it. Believe in yourself.
It’s true. We all make compromises. It’s how most progress gets done. Still, it’s your choice alone to empower anyone else to affect your decisions.
The art world has the occasional maverick who may prevail for awhile. In due time, they will find their sharp edges rounded by life and experience. A deep dive on the most iconoclastic characters will reveal they had strong influencers in their careers.
We already noted the uniqueness of this answer. Many factors go into coming to grips with your decision. Your age, your income, your full-time job, your family responsibilities and more. It’s complicated for almost everyone.
There are outside factors that influence us. For instance, you are reading this blog. And, you know I usually champion artists to go for the gold. I want you to fulfill your potential. To explore all possibilities that can bring your finest achievements. That’s terrific if you want a fantastic, robust, profitable career.
But, that’s me pushing my agenda. I want you to enjoy high recognition and reward. I want you to join my Art Marketing Mastery Workshop to help you achieve those goals. The reality for some of you is when you get down to what is real for you this is not what you want.
It’s easy to fantasize about success based on how I define it. But, it’s possible you can’t or don’t want to put in the effort, or flat disagree with me. It happens every day. When you get Zen about it and center on what’s important to you, you may realize you reject the type of success I promote. I’m okay with that if you are.
Such a decision is better than okay. It’s outstanding. It gets better when you have a clear, purposeful view of your career expectations.
To achieve success, you need to manage yourself first. To manage your career or define your success, you must be comfortable with your decisions. That’s where permission plays a role.
You have the power and the right to give yourself permission to make decisions about your career. You choose the path. You might be like an artist who contacted me recently. She wanted to talk about my Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. At 75 years of age, blessings on her for thinking about any art marketing training program.
She is not done making art. But, her inventory piling up was bedeviling her. She was feeling the pressure of outside influences from folks like me about making art and not having big plans to sell it. She has undeniable talent and at various times in her career has enjoyed success.
Here is part of her email to me:
Do you take phone calls?? I want to take your course. But, at my age – almost 75 – ( I have been painting since I was 11 years old ) I need some sage advice on whether I should keep stacking up paintings. I had enjoyed success with galleries and shows when the art market was strong but now I seemed to feel I have lost my way. Social media is not for me.
And, in part, my reply:
It’s hard to tell someone what to do about inventory piling up. It depends on how much time and effort you want to put into building a list and marketing to it on a regular basis. If you enjoy the painting, there is a reward for just doing it. You can give yourself permission to keep working without having to feel guilty about not spending a lot of time and money to market it. If you are gung-ho to make something happen with sales, it has to come at the expense of time doing other things.
To which she replied:
Thank you very much for your email. You are amazing!! The answer was right in front of me—just enjoy painting at this time of my life. I enjoy your marketing ideas and have really done them all at one time or another with great success. Life happens in so many stages you just have to except each stage and keep on moving.
The moral of the story is don’t let outside influences control your emotions and decisions. It’s okay if they color, but not control those things. Make your best decision and be at peace with it.
My advice is if you want to achieve great success and have the means and ambition to get there, then let me help you. Join my Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. The course is evergreen. You will use what you learn for the rest of your career. It is the most comprehensive training on how to build a lasting, profitable art career.