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September 2013

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Marketing your Art...building your confidence






Confidence is contagious!

When marketing your art--hoping to find a buyer for your paintings, prints or art services--it helps a great deal if you can project an air of quiet confidence. 

The "starving artist" is really a stereotype that isn't how we want to live, despite our food blog series' rather tongue-in-cheek name! ;-)

Confidence, or the appearance of it, will INSPIRE confidence. 

No one is really impressed by a know-it-all, that’s not what I mean, of course–there’s no need to brag, no need to be pretentious or use a kind of stilted, phony “art-speak” to sound knowledgeable.

Just don’t run yourself down! Believe in yourself, and in the importance of art in our lives.

You may have heard the saying “life is short,” or used it yourself...but remember that Hippocrates is actually supposed to have said “life is short...ART is long.

It’s lasting. It’s important. You love making art–let it SHOW.

I’m really enjoying Alyson Stanfield’s I'd Rather Be in the Studio!, which came in the mail yesterday. I started in on it after I quit working at 9 last night, and immediately loved one of her first points–no excuses! We’re all busy, we all have lives and obligations, but if we WANT this, if we want the life of a working artist, we need to do what it takes, and realize it does take work.

There’s no magic wand.

I've been a self-employed artist for more than 30 years now.  I haven't had an outside job.  And yes, I've worked darn hard.  But I have no time clock to punch, no cubicle to inhabit, and now that the snow's been coming down for hours, I can smile at it and snug in by my watercolors and my computer!

(This is pure synchronicity, by the way–I can’t help but feel, when that kind of “cosmic confirmation” happens, that the universe is smiling! ;-) If you’re not subscribed to Robert Genn’s twice-weekly newsletter, you might want to do so. I had been working on this section of my marketing series last night, and today’s newsletter from Robert mentions marketing strategies by Stanfield and others, at a new seminar you may want to check out. http://clicks.robertgenn.com/negative-energy.php

You can subscribe to Robert’s newsletter from that page, too, or check out his terrific art quotes, which is how I originally found him...)

The online art-marketing group I've mentioned before, at groups.yahoo.com/group/AJmarketing/ , offers tons of help and information, in the archives, the files, and among the membership. 

Since I mentioned the group online the other day, we've gotten 36 new members!  Wow, what a pool of helpful information!  There are 620 of us now...check it out, ask a question, or offer your suggestions, you'll be welcome.

* One way to build confidence is to avoid negative self-talk, if at ALL possible. I know that’s hard, but consider it a bad habit like any other, to be broken.

Don’t fall into the “I can’t because I’m too old, too young, it’s too late, I can’t afford it, I’m not good enough yet, the time isn’t right, the economy is too bad, I’m a woman (or any minority), nobody wants my junk (my first gallery got RIGHT on my case for referring to my work as “my junk”!), I should get a REAL job, my mom (dad, teacher, sister, brother, husband) said I’ll never be an artist” line of thought.

* If you catch yourself thinking ANY of these, replace the thought with “well, you never know until you try, give it a shot, I’ve got a talent–why not use it, if not now, when?” or any other positive, can-do thought that inspires you. 

Never mind if you believe it or not, at first.  Just be sure to DO it. Replace negative or defeatist attitudes with more positive ones. You may feel silly, at first, but trust me, you CAN.

* You may be your own biggest hurdle, but that is the one you can ultimately control.

And yes, of course it’s difficult to make a living only selling your paintings. That’s why you need to consider an array of related possibilities, like teaching, prints, newsletters like Genn's or Stanfield's (or mine!*) videos, greeting cards, creativity counseling, etc. We’ll cover these and more in a future installment.

Just remember–your career is YOUR responsibility. Your decisions are yours to make, and you can.

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And by the way, the image above?  I was delighted to be able to put it together in Photoshop this week, and post it to my new online sales gallery blog at cathyjohnsonart.blogspot.com/. (Please bookmark the site, if you like, or subscribe!)

The "recently sold" montage was possible because of all the things I've learned on the marketing group, from books, and from the generous sharing of other working artists. 

If I can do it, YOU can do it.  Yes, of course it's work...but it's satisfying and it's your own! 

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* My own newsletter is usually focused on the free art tips offered on my website...it goes out to hundreds of artists, now, and we'd be glad to add your name to the list! 

Check out the tips at upper left, at cathyjohnson.info
or sign up, at the top of the same page to receive the newsletter--
we always include lots of links and helpful suggestions.

Comments

Thank you!!!

I really needed to read this today!! I also love how all of these tips can translate to other artforms as well.

The downplay of ones work (or self) is something that's bothered me for years. I've had friends who seem to use it as a marketing tool. A friend of ours in California marketed his band as "Another loser rock band". I have other musicians that I network with who frequently say things like "not that anyone cares, but you can hear a new song here". That doesn't work, unless your goal is to drive potential followers away.

The fact is that not a person will believe in you if you don't believe in yourself, and not a person will sing your praises if you're not willing to hum them the tune.

Great post Kate!!

Re: Thank you!!!

Thanks, kiddo! I just edited it again to punch it up a little more. I feel really strongly about this, as you can tell.

I've heard WAY too many people whose confidence was undermined when they were young, and I just want to reach back through time and POKE that teacher or parent.

Since I can't, this is the next best thing. Our lives ARE our responsibility.

(And yeah, everytime I see an artists' blog entitled "wasting time" or "scribbles" or hear somebody say "not that you'd want to hear the latest song," as you mention, I cringe a little. What's important to us--creativity, whether it be art, music, dance or other performance--is important to the WORLD.)

Edited at 2008-12-16 06:47 pm (UTC)

Re: Thank you!!!

As Artists we tend to be a bit on the sensitive side (I know, duh!), and we tend to internalize things that are either said or done by people we look to for acceptance.

Through this it's easy to have our confidence rattled (or crushed) by a poorly thought out statement from a loved one.

It's only by taking personal responsibility and personal acceptance that we will have the confidence to market our work to the masses.

Develop that deep love for your own work and others will see it in you and want to know more.

If you project to others that it's a waste of their time to pay attention to what you're doing, they will believe you.

Likewise, if you project to others that they'll be missing out on something GREAT if they don't pay attention to what you're doing, chances are they'll believe you then too. At the very least they'll be more likely to follow the link and see what you're making a fuss over.

Re: Thank you!!!

I think I REALLY lucked out with my parents. Not that they really encouraged a career in the arts, per se, but my dad did always instill in me that I could do whatever I was willing to work hard enough for. No matter that I was "a girl," or far from rich, or from the wrong side of the tracks (of course having grown up between two sets of railroad tracks, maybe I was on the right side of BOTH of 'em!), I was expected to do my best, and follow my own path.

But whether we come to that early or late in our lives, I believe it is NEVER too late to give life a go!

Re: Thank you!!!

That is a fact!!! There's never anytime like the present to get started. I'm 36 and it's only been in the last couple of years that I've been able to consider that what I really want in life is possible.

One area, as a musician, that I was never comfortable with was my singing voice. Deep down, I really want to be successful not just as a guitarist, but as a singer, so singing lessons it is!

In building confidence we have to do WHATEVER it takes to accomplish it. I've decided that I have to make myself my own art piece. One that may never be done. I'm my very own Sistine Chapel! : )

Re: Thank you!!!

I think I'm still trying to figure out my goals, but that keeps me interested. ;-)

And YEAH, you go, kiddo! Singing lessons is a great idea, though I always liked your voice a lot..still, if it makes YOU more confident, that's what counts.

Re: Thank you!!!

Well thank you, I'm just doing the work to make sure I have the confidence to use it the way I want to. : )

(Anonymous)

Thank you

Hi Cathy - and thanks for such a timely post. You are definitely right about all this! Anna (http://seebedraw.blogspot.com)

Re: Thank you

Glad you enjoyed it, Anna, and glad you agree!

(Anonymous)

first time visitor

Hello Cathy,
I am so! glad I found you. Thank you for sharing so much about your art-marketing experiences. I am really eager to explore your site some more.
very best wishes,
Anne Bevan
wncpainter@aol.com

Re: first time visitor

Hi Anne! I hope it's helpful. It's a lot of what I've done over the years, and I haven't had a "regular job" since the early 70s. Still eating and paying the bills!