Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

Henry May on Leaving His Respected Job, Letting Ideas Develop, and Taking Action – Cracking Creativity Episode 79

Henry May spent his childhood playing with LEGOs. He loved the outdoors and harmless mischief. He thought his life was pre-ordained. He thought our paths are set for us.

This all changed the summer he joined Teach First. The two years he spent here, changed his thoughts on the education system and his role in the world.

After his time at Teach First, and a short stint at Procter & Gamble, Henry took a trip to Colombia through Teach Colombia and fell in love with the country. But he also heard horrible stories about the public schools there.

These were the driving forces that pulled him to leave everything he knew in London and to start CoSchool in Colombia.

In this episode Henry talks about why well respected jobs aren’t always right for us, why good ideas take time to develop, and why you need to stop waiting and put your ideas into action.

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Kristen Fagan on the Downside of Perfectionism, the Power of Play, and Following Your Intuition – Cracking Creativity Episode 78

Kristen Fagan has always been a creator. Even when she was young, she would create coloring book drawings for her younger family members to color in. That creative mindset helped her get a degree and a job doing graphic design.

After a few years working in design, her interest in art was reignited. Her job allowed her to work on her art while also working in design, which fueled her interest in paintings and drawing. Her passion for art grew so much that it even led to creating her own painting workshops.

In this episode, Kristen talks about letting go of your perfectionism, the power of play, and following your intuition.

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David Smooke on Taking Incremental Steps, Community Building, and Unleashing Your Potential – Cracking Creativity Episode 77

David Smooke studied economics and creative writing in university because he liked to write and felt economics had real world applications. He believed these two areas of study would be practical skills to have for his career.

After graduating, David got a job as a journalist, but felt his creativity was being stifled. He was given assignments, and was given very little leeway in how he could apply his creativity.

So he saved up a few months rent and moved to San Francisco. This turned out to be the pivotal moment in David’s career. It was here that he got his first taste of marketing while working for a startup.

At the startup David honed his marketing and community building skills. The lessons he learned here allowed him to start his own marketing firm called Art Map Inc.

In this episode, David talks about taking small incremental steps, the importance of community, and why you shouldn’t hold yourself back.

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“Make each day your masterpiece.” ― John Wooden Quote Art

“Make each day your masterpiece.” ― John Wooden

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We all have aspirations in life that seem so far out of reach. We keep climbing the mountain towards success, but it feels like the weight of the world is holding us down.

We so badly want to believe we can achieve success, but it feels like the destination is so far away. Then doubt creeps into our minds. “How do other people do it?” we ask ourselves.

While our goals might seem like a pipe dream at the moment, the truth is, they probably aren’t that far off. The problem is, far too often we are so concentrated on achieving our long term goals that we forget to live in the moment. We are so transfixed on the destination that we forget to concentrate on the present.

When we look at how far we have to go, we have trouble seeing everything we’ve already accomplished. We become so worried about the future that we don’t recognize how much progress we’ve made since we started our journeys. We don’t enough time celebrating our victories. That needs to end.

Every day presents a new opportunity to create a masterpiece. John Wooden didn’t win ten NCAA basketball championships by just looking towards the future.

He did it by focusing his efforts on the now. He realized that you can’t live your life worrying about what might happen in the future. He realized it would be much more effective to make the most out of every day by concentrating his efforts on the now.

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Photo by Sabri Tuzcu

Melissa Dinwiddie on Being Happy, Making Time for Creativity, and Sharing Your Work – Cracking Creativity Episode 76

Melissa Dinwiddie spent much of her life thinking she wasn’t an artist. Even though she loved doing creative things, and her parents encouraged her to become an artist, she still chose to take a different path. She was intimidated by all the people who drew better than her, so she stopped making art for 15 years.

Even a stint as a dance student at Julliard, a prestigious performing arts school, didn’t convince her to stick with her creative inclinations. Instead, she went to school for cultural studies and even attempted to get her PhD.

While trying to fill out her PhD application, she was filled with fear. Her body was telling her something wasn’t right. It was telling her to be more creative.

This integral moment in her life brought her back to creativity. It led her to create a business around designing ketubahs, and eventually led her to creating her blog Living a Creative Life.

In this episode Melissa talks about being happy with your self and your work, making time for your goals and creativity, and sharing your work without expectations, among many other things.

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Kerry Burki on Listening to Your Younger Self, Learning to Say No, and Shifting Your Mindset – Cracking Creativity Episode 75

Kerry Burki had an idea simmering in her head ever since high school. She wanted to make all women feel beautiful. This idea sat in her head for years before she would finally unleash it.

Kerry’s story starts like a lot of our stories. We have a kernel of an idea that sits in our heads. Sometimes we act on it, but more often than not, we let it sit. Then, something pushes us to act on it. Kerry’s push came twenty years later in the form of her time in Marie Forleo’s B School.

Kerry was working on a blog called Handmade Success, which helps people sell their work on Etsy, when her kernel of an idea crept back in her head. The only difference was, this time, instead of pushing the idea away again, Kerry decided to pull the trigger.

She asked women of all different ages and sizes to come over for a photo shoot. And with the help of a photographer friend, she began the first shoot of what became Kerry Magazine. She was finally doing her part in making all women feel beautiful. What started off as a small idea in her head has evolved into a full-blown magazine with three issues under its belt.

In this episode, Kerry talks about letting your younger self guide you, learning to say no, and shifting your mindset, among many other things.

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“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” ― Will Smith Quote Art

“Being realistic is the most commonly traveled road to mediocrity.” ― Will Smith

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One of the things that has always bugged me is my willingness to settle for good enough. I think we all have aspirations for greatness, but we often times let complacency set in.

Instead of pursuing our goals, we give up. We tell ourselves that there’s nothing to complain about. We tell ourselves we should be grateful for what we have. We tell ourselves we are doing good enough.

We need to ask ourselves if we want to settle for what we have or if we want to achieve more Click To Tweet

While all of these things might be true, that doesn’t mean we should stop aspiring for more. We need to ask ourselves if we want to settle for what we have or if we want to achieve more, to be more.

Realistic expectations are great if you are happy with mediocrity. But I’m personally tired of being mediocre.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with mediocrity. By definition, mediocrity is normal. It’s average. Most of us have to be mediocre for others of us to stand out.

I want those of us who are tired of being mediocre to start standing out. Click To Tweet

That’s exactly what I’m advocating. I want those of us who are tired of being mediocre to start standing out. The only way we can achieve this is if we make an effort to do better.

We all need to stop being so realistic with our goals (myself included.) But how do we stand out?

I suggest we follow the advice given by one of my former podcast guests: Dorie Clark. In our interview, Dorie explained how she went from a journalist and documentary filmmaker to a business teacher, adviser, and author.

According to Dorie, there are three stages for standing out: building a network, building an audience, and building a community. I think the problem most of us encounter is going from building a network and audience to building a community.

Many of us can build a network. Fewer of us can build an audience. And even fewer of us are able to create communities around our work.

If we want to stop settling for mediocrity, we need to build communities around our work. The most well known and accomplished creatives build communities around their ideas and their work ( Tim Ferriss, Chase Jarvis, Chris Guillebeau,  and Tina Roth Eisenberg to name a few.)

They have die hard fans that will travel from near and far to meet them. They don’t settle for realistic goals. They aim for the stars, and so should we.

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Photo by Picography

Dave Conrey on the Importance of Connection, the Keys to a Creative Business, and Getting Started – Cracking Creativity Episode 74

Dave Conrey‘s path to becoming a full-time artist is not a simple one. Growing up, he wasn’t that passionate about art, but over time, and after a series of jobs and ventures, he has finally dedicated himself to the idea.

After going to school for art and graphic design, Dave had two separate stints as an art director, but was laid off both times. He also spent time as a author, podcaster, and creator of Fresh Rag, which helped artists sell their work.

After years of feeling unfulfilled, Dave finally decided to put everything else on hiatus to pursue his art full-time.

In this episode, Dave talks about the importance of connecting with others, some of his keys to building a creative business, and getting started.

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Logan Nickleson on Misunderstandings About Marketing, Finding Your Audience, and Using Psychology to Your Advantage – Cracking Creativity Episode 73

Logan Nickleson has always had an admiration for the arts. When he was a child he liked to draw and paint. When he was 15-16 years old he started getting into music. And for college, he went into journalism.

While in college, Logan saw the changes that were happening in journalism. So he changed his major to advertising. This led to his internship at an advertising agency.

His internship turned into a full-time job, where he worked on numerous projects. It was during this time that a revelation came to him. While making short videos for clients, he was having a hard time finding music for his videos. So he decided to use his own music.

Inspired by stock photography sites like Death to Stock and Unsplash, Logan decided to take all the music he created, and started his own stock site. The only difference was his stock site would for music. Thus, Music For Makers was born.

In this episode, Logan talks about why marketing has gotten such a bad rap, the most essential element for finding your audience, and how we can use psychology to our advantage.

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“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” ― William Shakespeare Quote Art

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” ― William Shakespeare

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One thing that has always bothered me is when people blame their lack of success on others. They believe because their fates have already been determined. They believe they should just give up because things haven’t gone their way.

As any successful person will tell you, your fate isn’t tied to the whim of others. Stop worrying about things you can’t control. Instead, worry about the things you can control.

Things you can’t control:

What people think about you. You can’t control how people feel about you. People will form their own opinions regardless of what you do. So there’s no point in worrying about it. You are better off focusing on things you can control like finding the right audience.

What people think about your work. The same goes for people’s opinion about your work. People will either like it or they won’t. It’s almost impossible to change people’s minds, so stop trying. The best thing you can do is appreciate the people who do like your work.

Being rich already. Some people complain that other artists have an unfair advantage of already being rich. So what? Everyone’s situation is different. You can’t control whether you have rich relatives or whether you made money from a previous life. So stop worrying about how you are unprivileged. Instead, focus on what you can do to change your own financial situation.

Things you can control:

Building good habits. One of the biggest indicators of success is the habits you’ve built over time. You can only achieve so much when you are always running around like a chicken with its head cut off. You can’t do things on a whim. It’s hard to be consistent if you haven’t built the right habits around being consistent. You have to build a consistent routine and self-discipline.

Being persistent. Those who give up will never achieve anything. It’s just a fact of life. We will never achieve our dreams if we quit at the first sign of trouble. You have to be willing to fail and pick yourself back up again. Persistent people are the ones still standing while everything around them is crumbling to the ground. You can’t control much about the world, but you can control whether you let the world bring you down.

Learning and self-improvement. While most people stop learning after they finish school, those who continue to learn achieve the most. There are a surprising number of people who are content with what they know. They refuse to become more knowledgeable even about things that interest them. Just by the virtue of reading this, you are different. If you want to continue to grow and improve as an artist and a person, you have to continue learning.

Conclusion:

If you’ve read this far, you have realized that our paths in life are not predetermined. We are not bound by our destinies. We create our own destinies. Don’t let anyone tell you anything different.

Sure, there are things in life we can’t control, but that doesn’t mean we need to let those things affect who we are and what we become. You can’t control the people or the things around you, but you can control how you react to them. So stop looking towards the stars for directions, look within yourself.

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Photos by NASA | Unsplash

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