Catherine Orer was an award winning communications and PR expert for multinational corporations for years, but that job never felt fulfilling to her. So, when the opportunity to study at Christies in Paris opened up, she jumped on it.

While in Paris she gained hands on experience working in contemporary art galleries. After her studies, she brought this knowledge and experience back to Canada. While working at an art gallery in Montreal, many artists approached her for help. This began Catherine’s journey as The Artist Entrepreneur.

In this episode, find out why gratitude is so important, why there isn’t just one path to success, and why artists should find support.

Here are three things you can learn from Catherine:

There’s more than one path to success

Most people falsely believe there is only one path to success. They believe there’s a secret formula they can learn to become successful. They believe the people who’ve made it are all part of a secret club.

Catherine’s path is neither traditional or conventional. She went to school for public relations and communications and got management positions in corporations before even considering the art world. It was only when she noticed she wasn’t having fun at work that she decided to dip her toes back into the art world.

She went to Christies in Paris for training and worked at an art gallery when she got back. It was only then that she found how much help she could provide to artists. Artists came up to her hoping they could work together, and finally she relented.

Now she is working with thousands of artists in her Facebook group. She is doing one on one coaching, group coaching, and providing immense value to artists with her experience in PR and in the arts.

Catherine’s path to helping artists was not the traditional one and she believes artists should look for their own path too. “There’s not just one path to being a successful artist. Not every artist will get their retrospective at the MoMA at fifty and it’s fine. It’s not everybody’s path and it shouldn’t be. You just need to find yours, what makes you happy, and also where you can grow as an artist.”

The importance of gratitude

One thing that I’ve found by speaking to many successful people is, gratitude is an essential part of their daily lives. Catherine is no exception. Leaving her corporate job was the turning point in her gratitude practice.
What she has found is, we aren’t always at our best. So the best thing to do at those times is be grateful for what you have. “We can’t always be on high, so life is what it is. You have your ups and your downs and that’s when I really started being more thankful with everything that was going on my life.”

She goes on to talk about why she has to practice gratitude every day. “If I don’t take some time to be grateful and thankful,for everything in my life, I would go crazy… At some point you just need to be like, okay, what I’m doing is enough and I’m just really thankful that I’m doing what I love, and that I have these people around me who support me.”

We all need to be thankful for what we have and embrace where we are in our journeys. “Being thankful is just being in the present. It’s just looking at what’s happening right now, and just embracing it all and opening up yourself to more abundance too.”

Find a community that supports you

One of the things that artists get wrong is trying to do everything by themselves. They believe they don’t need to find support when they are struggling. They believe they have to do all the work themselves. They believe if they don’t do all the work, people look down on them.

Catherine believes you won’t find success unless you find people to support you. “My experience is that at some point, you’re going to hit a roadblock, and you’re going to want to get support.”

She even advocates finding help if it isn’t with her. “I don’t really mind if you don’t work with me. For me it’s not about working with me. It’s about finding support. So, if you find support… that’s fine, but doing it all by yourself is usually not the right way to go about it. You need to surround yourself with people who are going to support you.'”

She goes and talks about our need to connect with society. “If you want to grow, you need to be in contact with other people. We live in society, and if you want to sell your work to people, then you have to surround yourself with people. You need to network. You need to build a network around you, a support network, but also a network and following of people who are going to want to know more about you, and what you do, and how you can be of service to them, and how you can support them, and how you can communicate who you are and what you stand for.”

Shownotes

  • about Catherine
    • started college wanting to work in arts
    • art history teacher told her not to go into the arts
    • went to university to study PR/communication
    • had management positions in corporations, but her heart wasn’t in it
    • wasn’t having any fun at her job, knew she wanted to go into the arts
    • had the opportunity to study art market in Paris with Christies
    • started studies a year later
    • worked in art galleries, visited art fairs, and met people in art world
    • went back to Montreal to work in art market
    • after working with artists in galleries, they asked to work with her
    • set up her business to support artists with strategic consulting in business, marketing, PR, etc.
  • interest in art
    • Christies asked her same question
    • at 6-7, she had school trip to Museum of Fine Arts
    • remembered standing in front of self-portrait and being blown away by it
    • since then, she always found herself attracted to visual arts
    • always liked to read art history and visit galleries
    • importance of introducing children to the arts
  • opportunity at Christies
    • she realized something had to change
    • took time to do introspection
    • found the experience magical
    • being in contact with fine and decorative art every day
    • looked into their website to see what credentials she needed
    • came across program, and thought it would be perfect for her
    • she felt the need to change jobs
    • took a year from when she decided to go to Christies to when she was in Paris
      • was a priority, so she made it happen

9:36 “I really took some time to do some introspection, and I was like, okay, forget school, forget what I know. If  I could just tomorrow have a magic wand and work anywhere, and do anything, what would that be, and it just came up. Christies came up.”

  • requirements for Christies
    • needed a certain background
    • flew to NY to do interviews and tests
    • needed some knowledge of art history because of the fast pace of the program
  • things she did in program
    • days divided into two parts: master classes (art history/Christies expert) and afternoon was hands on in the field (museums/Christies/art galleries) to be in contact with arts
    • theory in morning, practical in the afternoon
  • special moment from the program
    • first evening  they had cocktails in Christies’ office
      • was intimidated and felt like an impostor
      • asked herself “Who am I to be here?”
      • realized everyone felt that way
      • met amazing people through the program
    • you get used to being in the environment
    • made sure to be thankful
    • two days visiting chateaus
      • art history in N. America is so short, being in Europe makes you realize the history and culture

6:10 “At some point you get used to being in this environment but I made it a point to be so thankful every day and really absorb as much as I could because I knew that I had this once in my lifetime opportunity. So I needed to take most advantage of it.”

7:17 “Once you understand the origins and how everything led one step after the other, it all led to what contemporary art is today. So having this global understanding of the arts and how the art market was, it was a great way for me to really better understand even what’s going on today in the art world.”

  • impostor syndrome
    • no matter where you are, you wonder how you got there

8:28 “We have a tendency to want to know things before we even learn them, but that’s not how life is. Once you realize that everybody has this fear in themselves, then you know that you have to push through that fear. You can’t just let it decide for you, because if you do, then you’re not going to have much fun in your life. It’s going to be boring.”

  • importance of gratitude
    • leaving corporate job and making leap of faith was turning point for her gratitude practice
    • thought she would be happy when she graduated and got a job
    • making the most out of the opportunities you are given
    • part of her daily life, because she has so many things to juggle
    • Thankful Thursdays on  Artist Entrepreneur Facebook group

1:25 “At some point,  when you get into this opportunity where you make things happen for yourself and you’re truly really doing what you want, and you realize that, okay, I’ve worked really hard to get to here and there are still days where I’m not feeling my best… That’s totally normal and… we can’t always be on high, so life is what it is. You have your ups and your downs and that’s when I really started being more thankful with everything that was going on my life.”

2:42 “If I don’t take some time to be grateful and thankful,for everything in my life, I would go crazy… At some point you just need to be like, okay, what I’m doing is enough and I’m just really thankful that I’m doing what I love, and that I have these people around me who support me.”

3:48 “Being thankful is just being in the present. It’s just looking at what’s happening right now, and just embracing it all and opening up yourself to more abundance too.”

  • mindfulness practice
    • something that she aims for, but she has difficulty not doing things
    • does it more in the evening, because the days are a whirlwind
    • tries to do one minute mindfulness practices between tasks
  • starting the Artist Entrepreneur Network
    • she was between jobs
    • worked at one of the big art galleries in Montreal for over a year
    • started doing one on one consulting work with artists
    • took a break and worked for Environmental NGO
    • got back into arts after having two kids and going back to work
  • meeting artists
    • met them through the art gallery she worked in
    • her vision during time at Christies was not to work with artists
    • she wanted to be an art rep or consultant or have her own gallery
    • owner of gallery became her mentor
    • at some point, she realized owning a gallery was not flexible enough
    • artists asked to work with her and made her realize she could do it
      • they showed gratitude for how she was able to help them
      • started locally, then started Facebook group
      • artists are engaged and want to take action
    • loves support from the community
    • mutually beneficial relationship
  • listening to what the world is telling you
    • seems like she is the type of person who likes to take risk, but she actually likes to plan things out

2:35 “Sometimes you just need to let things go and see how they come together. And now, because I have a little more experience, I realized that they always end up coming together in the best way possible, but it took me a while to figure that one out, so I was the kind of person who tries to push her own plans and her own agenda, but it doesn’t work like that. And I failed a few times in my life because I had this vision and that’s what I wanted, and I was hanging on to it so hard that I wasn’t opening myself to other opportunities, and it’s those times where I just opened myself and just let things come to me.”

  • how her unique background has helped her in the art community
    • views her path as different from the traditional path
    • the art market is opaque, it’s not very transparent
    • the art market is quite traditional with pre-conceived notions
    • wanted people who came into the gallery to be welcome, feel comfortable asking questions,  and would have fun being there
    • people came back to art gallery and bought art because they felt comfortable
    • making art accessible, fun, and less snobbish
    • in the corporate world, you can’t bring excuses, you just have to make it happen

5:28 “I think that’s also something I bring to the table with the artists I meet because I want them to really understand the market and find where they fit. Not where they should fit or they should be, but where they want to go because there’s not just one path to being a successful artist. Not every artist will get their retrospective at the MoMA at fifty and it’s fine. It’s not everybody’s path and it shouldn’t be. And you just need to find yours, what makes you happy, and also where you can grow as an artist. And that I think is something that’s pretty unique, and because of my corporate background, I’m bringing in this very structured approach of ‘If you want this, then you gotta make it happen. You gotta leave the excuses at the door and make a plan and make it happen.'”

  • article on the Huffington Post: 7 Mistakes That Are Keeping Starving Artists From Thriving
    • Goal and vision for art career
      • selling art is not a vision
      • need to understand what you want to do and where you stand in market
    • Storytelling
      • opportunities to connect
      • part of your branding, and the best way to build relationships
      • using images/words to communicate your brand
    • Artists shouldn’t promote themselves
      • artists believing selling and promoting is bad
      • artists used to be able to rely on reps/galleries to sell work
      • you need to have a brand/following to get into a gallery
      • promoting yourself is a good thing, it’s not selling out
    • Not following through and not following up
      • it will be hard, and there will be work
      • we all have failures and we all have to get up
      • you have to surround yourself with the right people and have accountability/support
      • those who follow through see results
  • mindsets holding us back
    • being conditioned to think failure is not an option
    • failure is inevitable as an entrepreneur
    • it’s what you do after you fail that matters
    • ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?”
    • failure is not the end of the world
    • take it step by step and have a long term vision
  • Artist Entrepreneur group
    • free Facebook group
    • place for support and a community for helping each other
    • themes ever day: Thursdays – gratitude, Mondays – setting goals for the week, Tuesdays – tutorials with guest experts (Live Q&As)
    • develops content – guides and video series
    • also does one on one consulting
    • Artist Entrepreneur Lab – community, training, and accountability in a group setting
    • self-study program – bootcamp for artists who want to dig into marketing/pr
  • giving – trying to benefit yourself vs. benefiting others
    • people have emailed her asking if her videos are really free
    • tells community she does it because it provides value and makes good business sense
    • she’s happy to share knowledge for free

19:48 “My experience is that at some point, you’re going to maybe hit a roadblock, and you’re going to want to get support, and whether it’s through a group setting or a more fast paced one on one, I’m here to support you and I tell my community all the time, ‘I don’t really mind if you don’t work with me. For me it’s not about working with me. It’s about finding support. So, if you find support… that’s fine, but doing it all by yourself is usually not the right way to go about it. You need to surround yourself with people who are going to support you.'”

  • lone genius myth
    • most of the lone geniuses grew up in communities of other creative minds
    • artists have worked for centuries with teams
    • apprentices, assistants, business partners were all part of an artists’ success

21:31 “This is not a new concept, if you want to grow, you need to be in contact with other people. We live in society, and if you want to sell your work to people, then you have to surround yourself with people. You need to network. You need to build a network around you, a support network, but also a network and following of people who are going to want to know more about you, and what you do, and how you can be of service to them, and how you can support them, and how you can communicate who you are and what you stand for.”

  • standing out as an artist
    • be clear on who you are and what you have to offer, and what you stand for
      • define your brand, and be able to communicate it
    • be clear on who you want to communicate to
      • reach out and connect with people
    • build an audience of people who are the right fit
      • find people who like your work

“Your art is not for everyone, and it shouldn’t be.”

  • favorite quote

24:24 “Action is the foundational key to all success.” – Pablo Picasso

24:34 “At the end of the day, if you don’t take action nothings going to happen. And when you take action, something’s going to happen. It might be good. It might be bad, but it’s going to give you a sense of direciton and it’s ultimately going to lead adjusting and then getting into the success that you want.”

26:56 “I think everyone is creative in one way or the other. You can’t put someone in a mold and say this person is creative, and this person isn’t, because, when you take the time to get to know yourself and give yourself a chance, everybody has a creative outlet one way or the other. So I think the people… who are not creative, if there’s one thing I noticed, with those who have difficulty with creativity,  are the people who seek perfection… when you seek perfection, you’re stopping yourself because you’re not trying anything, and it’s really when you try things and you’re letting yourself be creative, that magic happens. But if you’re always seeking perfection, which doesn’t exist, then, you’re from the get go, setting a block. So I think creativity is in all of us.”

  • definition of creativity

29:08 “I think creativity is being your true self, being authentic, and giving yourself that space to express your unique voice, because we all have something to say and our creativity is channeled in different ways. We all have it in us, but we don’t necessarily give yourselves this chance to express it.”

29:49 “When I started my business, I thought I had to fit in this mold, and… the way I communicated had to be, I was used to this corporate voice, which wasn’t my voice, and when I really started being more open and vulnerable and honest, and really say things the way I really felt them and the way I really saw them, and just let my voice be heard, that’s when it actually started resonating with people around me and with artists.”

30:26 “You can’t create your art with the intention of selling it because no one is going to buy it. People are going to buy it because they’re invested in you, because they love you,and your work.”

30:57 “First you have to give yourself a chance… It doesn’t happen overnight and it takes practice.”

31:24 “Artists exercise creativity like a muscle. So, you have toe exercise it all the time and just need to take action, and that’s what The War of Art tells you. You can’t just wait for this illumination to happen, and wait for that inspiration. You just need to try things and accept that masterpieces aren’t going to come on the first day or on the first draft or maybe not on the first business idea, but it’s through trial and giving yourself a chance and taking action, that at some point, you’re going to get to where you want to go.”

  • challenge for the listeners
    • identify one thing you know you should be doing, but you’re not doing
    • get out of your comfort zone
    • sit down, write it down, and decide on one action you can take this week to move forward with it

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