By Carolyn Edlund, Guest Blogger – Not long ago I had a conversation with a ceramic artist who had a terrific body of work that was highly appealing and saleable. She was in a good place, increasing sales and expanding into a new marketplace.
During our talk, she revealed something very interesting. As her creative business grew, certain things about her business shrunk. In other words, she was deliberately cultivating “less” in her plan.
The artist had reduced her studio time by using techniques that simplified her production – so she was taking less time on each piece she made. She had focused her designs and decreased the variety of materials she used – so she had less inventory of supplies.
But she was also crystal clear about what she wanted to achieve, so she pursued her goals with less distraction. And this is where she attributed most of her success.
Distraction is something we all understand – who hasn’t lost an hour surfing on the internet? But the type of distractions this artist was eliminating from her life were major ones that could actually derail her whole business. And they can derail yours, too.
The artist explained that she had a vision and goals for her business that kept her centered, so she knew where she was going. She was firm on what she wanted to do, and what she wasn’t willing to do.
Do you have that sense of conviction in your own art business, or do you struggle with distractions? Three of the most common are:
Taking on too many projects at once. You have plans – lots of them. Perhaps you want to pursue gallery representation, but would also like to license your work. Or you want to try several new directions with your art. But too many plans can stall out your business, because every time you add something else to your plate means that everything on it goes more slowly, or even dies on the vine. Rather than let that happen, take a look to see which projects you can take off your list so that you can focus on what is most important.
People pleasing. This can be defined as “wanting to make everyone around you happy by doing whatever is asked of you.” Does that sound familiar? This can seriously take you off task because it becomes all about them, not about your own goals. It requires a bit of selfishness to say “No” to every request that comes your way, but building your art business means that you must place yourself and your goals as a high priority. It can take practice to turn other people down, especially when this goes against your usual behavior, but it’s empowering, and will eventually teach others that you won’t be easily manipulated.
Following the money rather than your passion. It’s not uncommon for artists to take on projects or jobs for the paycheck, whether they are in alignment with their goals or not. But if you constantly do this, you will find that you spend all your time working for someone else’s business rather than your own.
You might need a day job, and if so, keep it. But you can be seriously derailed when someone knows you are an artist and offers you an unrelated paying project. Here’s where it takes self-discipline to refuse those offers even if they are paid, and double down on the work you need to accomplish for your own art business. Forget teaching that summer class in painting if what you really need to do is paint in your own studio. Your time is worth money, so pay yourself first by using your time to work toward building your own dream business.
Carolyn Edlund is an art business blogger, consultant, speaker and the founder of the Artsy Shark Gallery. www.ArtsySharkGallery.com