If you are not getting better, you are getting worse. Joe Paterno
You are in a competitive field. There are new, hungry artists coming into the market every day. Existing artists are working at creating better art and more efficient marketing. If you are stuck doing the same things, making the same art, and using the same marketing methods, if you are not getting better, but remaining status quo, you are getting worse by comparison.
I’m not saying you need to overhaul everything you are doing or start all over. I mean you can’t be complacent. The best thing to do is start making small changes. Get a plan so you are not wasting your efforts doing stuff just to be doing stuff. That’s pointless and fruitless.
Having a vision for what you want from your career, what you would like to achieve is crucial. Without a workable, believable plan, you are never going to make progress. So, if you are floundering a bit, or your sales are sputtering, or you’re feeling confused about what you should be doing, then make getting a career plan together your top priority.
This post isn’t about how to do goal setting. I’ve written about it numerous times. It is the first thing I tackle in my Art Marketing Mastery Workshop. That is because I know jumping ahead to learning about branding, networking, local marketing, traditional marketing, online marketing and much more are useless until you understand how you want to use those things.
The components of each one of the items I mentioned above are complicated. There are nuances that when you know about them that will make using them and getting mileage from the easier and with better results. For instance, if you hear that blogging is a helpful thing, and you jump in and start blogging without knowing why you are doing it, I will give you ten dollars to a donut that it won’t work for you.
You make art because you are driven to make art. I get that. I don’t think most artists choose art. Rather, I think Art chooses you, and you are compelled to make it. I don’t know anyone who goes into the art business because they are looking to make a killing and retire filthy rich before they are fifty. If that were your intention, you would be on Wall Street or at work on startups in Silicon Valley.
You got into the art business as an offshoot of your intense desire to make art. Pure and simple.
The problem for right-brain creatives comes when they want to make their art pay. That’s not a concept for everyone. Lots of people make art for themselves and don’t worry about if it will sell. But, I believe more artists want the validation of knowing they make art that others want to own. Plus, they want and need the income to pay the bills on a continuum from passionate part-timer to consummate professional.
I guess most readers of this blog find themselves in the middle somewhere. The fact is it doesn’t matter where you are. What’s important, especially as it relates to this post and your career, is knowing that you are getting better, that you are progressing in your career. You are steadily improving your skills at making art and finding ways to be more productive while at the same time ramping up the quality of your work. That’s not a dichotomy. It is entirely possible to both get better and faster simultaneously.
The same applies to getting your art to market. I have long contended that artists who dial in what they are doing, who have goals set and processes in place to make those goals happen, buy themselves time to spend in the studio or with their family. You may be as I am. When I am actively pursuing accomplishing things for my business of helping artists succeed, I am never actually working. This work I do is a passion and rather than worry about not spending enough time on it, I have to work at finding a balance for other things in my life.
That’s great to be driven by vision and passion. It will keep you going no matter what. But, it’s not enough. If you are not doing quality work, focusing on viable plans and continually improving, you are slipping compared to your competitors. And, while it may take some time to creep in, you are setting yourself up for disappointment when you get to that place where you are looking back and asking yourself why you wasted so much time.