Permission to Be Free
For most artists, mixing making art and marketing art are opposing, conflicting activities. The first is fun thus making it easy to find the motivation to create more art and get better at it. The latter is antithetical to creating art.
Marketing is investing time and money to produce and distribute communications with the purpose to promote one’s work to an intended target audience of potential buyers. It’s all left-brained business stuff with little to no appeal to a lot of artists.
Succinctly put for countless artists, making art is exciting and fulfilling while marketing art is boring, if not dreadful. Artists have wrestled with this issue forever. A select few are blessed with equal parts left and right brain functions. For them, marketing art is as easy and enjoyable as making art. If you can’t relate to such a scenario, you are not alone.
Here’s a Little Secret
You don’t have to market your art. It’s perfectly fine to be content to make art and float along to see what happens. Sell a few pieces here and there as you can. It’s better than buying into the myth of being found. If there’s a one-in-a-million chance that even though you do little or nothing to promote your art that you’ll get found and end up with fame and fortune. That means there are 999,999 chances you won’t get accidentally found.
And, if you do get found, you’re going to have to do the work to fulfill the promise. And, that’s as much a hindrance as being unknown. Being a famous artist takes a toll on your time, and your privacy. Maintaining fame may put you at odds with an opposing reluctance to market your art aggressively. There is nothing wrong with being a high-flying ambitious artist, but you must want it to have a chance at it.
There is a price you pay no matter how lucky you are. The realization of the price to pay causes many to walk away no matter the alluring prize being dangled. You lose things when fame occurs, and it’s hard if not near impossible to get them back to the way they were. There’s nothing wrong with going with the flow that ends up with you riding high, but such success is never a free ride—it always comes at a cost.
Living the Life of An Artist Is a Challenge
I believe there is too much guilt, angst, paranoia, and confusion about what defines an artist. If you are super talented at creating art but have no desire to work at marketing, are you less of an artist? Are you a failed artist? Should you stress over what might have been or could be? I think not.
Those and similar questions vex artists on a near-daily basis, and that is a shame. The pressure comes from external sources that are then internalized by artists who struggle with issues around what defines them and their success. Symptoms run from mild distress and annoyance to debilitating bouts of depression driven by fears of inadequacy and more. I believe artists should never have to suffer nor buy into negative outcomes such as these.
The good news is that there are options. There are infinite ways to become a successful artist and get your work to market. They all hinge on what you decide, and there are no wrong decisions if you take the time to think things through with a clear head and good intentions.
The Choice Is Yours
It’s your life and your career. That means you and only you get to decide everything. Of course, you take input and advice from others who have good ideas to help you shape your future as an artist. However, what they offer is only an opinion. They can’t walk in your shoes. Keep in mind that you must never cede the power of the decision about your career to others.
You get to choose what being an artist means. It’s not about education or talent. It’s not about what anyone else thinks. If you say you are an artist and it feels right to you, then you are an artist. The famous Picasso quote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up” rings true here.
Ignore the Energy Vampires
There will always be those who attempt to classify others and put them down. They are negative naysaying energy vampires. Please feel free to ignore them and their ignorance. Their problems are not your problems.
There are industry types, not necessarily bad folks who nevertheless may affect your career. Jurists, gallerists, critics, curators, journalists, collectors, and others can do good or cause harm to your plans at will. If it’s negative, you must decide if you truly want what they deprive you of. Or is it you are chasing someone else’s notion how to prove yourself as an artist.
If you want what they block you from, you might have to accept the reality of it isn’t going to happen. Or you can make it your quest to attain the success, status, or sales you desire come hell or high water.
It’s Rarely the Only Game in Town
Remember, the object of your desire is seldom singular. There always are more galleries, magazines, museums, critics, and collectors. Letting go of wanting what you can’t have is how to become free to accept something new, fresh, and with luck even better.
Becoming clear about how you perceive yourself as an artist is crucial to your psyche, well-being and real happiness. When you learn to relegate the opinions of others to where they belong, you will understand what it means to let personal freedom ring.
Learning to Give Yourself Permission
Most importantly, artists must know or learn to give themselves permission. That is to be more than okay with how you create your art and market it, too. Of course, you want to improve to hone your craft and to produce better work. You can do that and decide you are good with never selling a single piece of art. Say what? Yep. It’s nobody’s business what you do with your creativity.
You can choose to give it away, make a bonfire, stack it to the ceiling, paint over it, repurpose it, or build an art marketing machine to monetize everything you do. Permit yourself to do what you want. Listen to the advice of those whose opinions you value and make your choice. Then Zen it out. That way no matter what others might say or do can hurt you. What could have been a knife to the heart in the past now bounces off you with no consequence.
I’m Okay, and I Hope You Are Too
Once you’re centered, it opens your heart to push out your most generous feelings of wishing others well no matter what. It’s so much easier to want the best for others when you are okay with you and who you are and who you are becoming.
I believe being genuinely okay with oneself is the freest state of freedom imaginable.
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” — Viktor Frankl
Now You Know
You are free. Free to choose what kind of art you make and how to market it, if you decide to sell it. You don’t have to live your life trying to meet the expectations of others.
Although it might be relevant, only you can decide if any advice is determinant. If what you hear from others is in alignment with what your heart, head, and common sense tell you then use it. If it’s not, then lose it. Live your life your way. That’s the key to enjoying the incredible gift of life and creative talent you’ve been given.
Help others understand how to unlock their hearts and minds is the way to pay it forward and enrich your experience in the process. Permit yourself to be generous in spirit and in action.
The Marketing Art Choice
Do you want to market your art using a system designed to help you sell everything you make? That is an excellent choice if it matches your desires and willingness to work with regularity at the business of art.
It took me a long time to learn serious art marketing is not for all artists. But there are some who embrace the concept and want to learn and take action to get their work to market in serious fashion. If that’s you, I encourage you to review the Art Marketing Mastery course. It’s probably exactly what you want.