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What Are the Best Gifts for Artists to Give Themselves?


Art is a gift to the future. It outlives its creators who made it to leave a mark that says, I was here, and I saw the world this way.

– Barney Davey

This post is Part Two of How to Grab Success and Forget About Getting Found. In Part One, we exposed that hoping to get found is a myth. It’s a destructive form of wishful thinking.

While there is no harm in daydreaming about getting found, the reality is wishing to get found is the same as buying lottery tickets to fund your retirement plan. You should know the odds of winning the lottery are the same whether you play or not.

The Curse of Living on Borrowed Dreams.

When you see artists who are distraught with the trajectory of their art business, you often find they lack self-actualization. Mainly, they don’t know what they don’t know, and worse, they don’t know what they want from their lives as artists. That leaves them floundering about trying to find fulfillment by living on borrowed dreams.

Live Your Best Artist's LIfe
Live Your Best Artist’s LIfe

I’m not a psychologist and have no training in human behavior, and I rely on my experience, common sense, and intuition to arrive at my conclusions. It’s my firm conviction that learning to understand one’s true motivations at the deepest levels is vital to living one’s best artists life.

You Can’t Have It All But You Can Get a Lot.

No one gets it all… ever! Some get a lot, but most don’t get all they could. That’s how life works. We admire those who hit the top. They inspire us to be our version of being like them.

However, it’s a valid and often the best choice not to push all-in on maximizing one’s talent in the art business. You can find countless reasons why aiming for a modest version of what is possible is the best way to live one’s artist’s life.

I believe the winning hand is to enjoy living your artist’s life the way you want. It’s a more enjoyable way to live than trying to be like someone else or seriously stressing yourself to have it all.

Hope Is Not a Plan.

Hope inspires us on the one hand and blinds us to our limitations on the other. People who dent the universe in the most dramatic ways indeed do things that look crazy to the rest of us.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

— Steve Jobs

The reality is Steve Jobs was a one-in-a-billion person who was perfect for the moment in history in which he lived. While we can and should take motivation from Jobs’ achievements, they are problematic and even harmful when we start to believe they apply to us in the same ways they did to him.

Inspiration and Amazement Are All Around Us.

It’s not just Jobs. It could be the member of your local artists’ guild who seems to create art and sell it effortlessly. If they can do it, we tell ourselves we can too. And most often, thinking like that is a product of our conscious mind that is not in sync with our subconscious. It’s a source of delusional thinking that blinds us to the reality of the situation.

If you look at successful artists, learn how they do business, and compare their actions to yours, there are good odds they are doing things you can’t, won’t, or are not willing to do. In the most transparent light, you may realize you lack their talent, ambition, or their ability to find a partner devoted to making them successful or other aspects that are not attainable or replicable for most.

The Gift of Clarity.

When you perform a realistic appraisal of your artistic gifts and honestly assess your willingness and ability to market your art, you give yourself the gift of clarity. Such self-realization allows you to create a believable and achievable vision for your future as an artist.

It's not a dream if you are living it. Art Marketing Toolkit Project
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Imagine the incredible lightness of being free from the burden of unrealistic expectations. It is a valuable gift you can give yourself. Moreover, it creates the happy byproduct of you providing a more content and centered version of yourself to all who know you. Now that’s a gift.

We All Suffer Some Sort of Self-Delusion Ocassionally.

Partly due to the lightning speed and firehose intensity in the flow of information we experience daily, I believe nearly all people suffer some form of self-delusion. So, for example, we tell ourselves, “It’s not as bad as it seems.” or “I’m equally as talented and ambitious as artists whose career I admire.” Of course, you know such thoughts are often recipes for mounting problems, if not disasters.

Going back to my armchair psychology, I believe the more one’s conscious and subconscious minds are in or out of sync makes an enormous impact on how much we enjoy our lives. Tension is reasonable and necessary. But when it’s stretched too far, it becomes disabling.

Finding the Art-LIfe, Dream-Work Balance.

If you are down on yourself or casting about for scapegoats for why your art business is not thriving as you think it should, you are likely out of what I call the art-life, dream-work balance. Things are just not right in your world.

I contend all artists can contemplate the concept of the art-life, dream-work balance and instinctively recognize what it means to them, how well they are balanced, and identify the reasons why without any instruction or help. Trying to fix severe imbalances with do-it-yourself methods is usually not successful. It’s a good thing to seek qualified support when you need it.

Climbing the Ladder of Success the Right Way.

Your conscious brain and sphere of influence tell you to get your due because you can. The conflict begins when your subconscious brain senses you’re climbing the ladder of success but sees you’ve got it leaning against the wrong wall.

When this happens, you find you are out of sync between what is possible to achieve and the reality of not being willing to pay the price to achieve it. You’re trying to emulate the success of others instead of working on being an artist in ways that work best for you. It creates tension, chaos, and confusion in your life.

I believe our subconscious minds, survival instincts, or whatever you call it, throws a wrench in the works when our conscious brain is overloaded with stimuli pushing us to poor decisions. When our conscious brain doesn’t get the message from our subconscious, we conflict with ourselves, feeling like we are failing ourselves. That’s why it’s crucial to understand what we truly want and what gives us the best ways to enjoy a well-lived artist’s life on our standards.

What to Do to Lead a More Joyful Life?

To be happier and more fulfilled, let go of unrealistic expectations and beliefs that you must do things or act in specific ways because successful contemporaries act that way. I encourage you to create and market your art in ways you can handle without making your life miserable.

The truth is if you don’t like doing something, it’s unlikely you will stick with doing it for long. That’s how it goes for all of us. A few outliers push through and keep going, but that’s what makes them outliers. Self-realization and the acceptance that it’s okay just to be okay is the gift that keeps on giving.

The Best of Gifts for Artists.

The best gift you can give yourself is to articulate what you want to do and why—with that knowledge, figuring out how to promote and market yourself becomes almost self-evident. So when you are comfortable with what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how you are achieving your goals, your life and art business become manageable and pleasant.

It makes sense when you are not struggling with yourself over your plans, the fog and anxieties lift, a clear and present path becomes apparent. Results like that are what I wish for all artists who follow me.

Give the Gift of My Assistance.

Artists seeking to benefit from my advice have two choices.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

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  1. The perspective conveyed in this article is very spot-on! I appreciated reading this post because it reinforces my perspective of enjoying the creative process, as well as continuing to develop and expand my skill level.

    I feel very blessed that my current circumstances have aligned for me, to be able to take art classes at a nearby regional art center. I also receive opportunities to observe other artists' works, how shows/exhibits are set up, etc. by my volunteering at that center as well.

    Thank you for all the information you provide and your viewpoint!

    ,

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