I have a number of artist friends from the beginner to the professional. The very successful will explain what must be done to get where you want to go. The newer artist, upon hearing it, will feel everything from hope to disappointment, possibility to intimidation, awe to fear, and nearly every emotion between. Each of them thinks their quandary is different than any other artist. They compare themselves to those they perceive as successful, talk about how ‘easy it is’ for that other artist, and entertain so many self-defeating thoughts. The professional knows exactly how each of these artists feels, but they also did one thing differently: they took action!
It’s very difficult to say exactly why one artist succeeds and another doesn’t. It’s quite often just as difficult to explain why any particular business succeeds over another. But there is one factor that is key: finding your audience. In straight business terms it’s finding your target market. Whatever you call it, it’s finding the folks who want to buy what you have to sell.
For example, you can love the works of Rembrandt, but I may prefer the works of Van Gogh. That doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the works or the value. But unless I’m a collector of price-y fine art, I probably will just enjoy Rembrandt on your wall rather than mine. I will be looking for Van Gogh.
You are likely aware at this point that I am not an artist. But my work with artists struggling to develop their businesses has been a large part of my experience. I started getting to know artists while writing a marketing column for Sunshine Artist Magazine in 1994-96. I believe the following quote succinctly describes the artist’s dilemma:
I won’t succeed until my work has the stamp of approval of a name brand – it’s got to be represented by the best gallery in town, I’ve got to have a retrospective at a major museum.Only then will I have succeeded. This is not the best way to chart your course. Forget about proving anything to anybody. By being an artist who makes the work, you are living the most authentic version of yourself. That is all you need to prove. _____from theworkingartist.com
This is an excellent quote and it doesn’t apply only to artists. You’ve heard this in many different ways throughout your life. Listen to your inner voice. March to a different drummer. Follow your passion. Just be yourself!
Of course, it sounds easy. You know it isn’t. That’s exactly why success is so elusive. But if you continue to develop your own art/business while you use every tool possible to find those people who want to buy from you, the possibility of success increases many fold. Hiding your creations in a studio or a desk drawer or even written in a journal will not bring you success.
Get your works out there. Pick two or three ways to find those people who want what you have. If you have a Rembrandt and I like Van Gogh, I am not your client. But the Rembrandt lover is out there.
This article by The Working Artist is an excellent start. You can also google terms like: how to sell your art, how to sell your art online, how to sell your art on Etsy, etc. Don’t get stuck on the perfect way. Don’t get stuck on the idea that there’s only one way. Don’t get stuck searching and not doing. Do an hour search. Pick two possibilities. Then take action. Consistent action. Regular action. You can read, take classes, ask others, read some more; but if there’s no action taken, it won’t matter. You can copy what someone else does but if you’re not communicating to your customer, it won’t help. YIf you say that “only this (whatever this is to you) result will mean I have succeeded,” you will surely miss all the wonderful experiences and opportunities waiting along your journey.
Create. Find those who love what you create. Sell it to them. Create more. Sell more. You’ll learn, refine, improve along the way. But take action now!
Here’s to your success! May you enjoy the journey – for that is the only way success will have value!