Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

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“I suspect the truth is that we are waiting… for something extraordinary to happen to us.”  ― Khaled Hosseini Quote Art

“I suspect the truth is that we are waiting, all of us, against insurmountable odds, for something extraordinary to happen to us.”

― Khaled Hosseini

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Great things happen to those who wait. I’ve heard this advice for as long as I can remember. This advice tells us to be patient. It tells us to persevere when things aren’t going our way. It tells us to let things sort themselves out.

While this advice is great in some situations, it’s a double-edged sword. On one hand it advocates for patience, but it also builds a sense of complacency. It tells us to persevere, but it also tells us to wait our turn.

This advice makes us believe something extraordinary will happen to us if we just wait patiently enough for it. If you’re anything like me, you’re tired of waiting. I want to seize the day.

If you’re tired of waiting too, there are some things you can do about it.

Seek Out What You Want

We have two choices when it comes to getting what we want. We can wait for something good to happen to us or we can seek it out for ourselves.

If we seek what we want for ourselves, we have a much greater chance of getting it. Click To Tweet

The problem with waiting is, we are putting our fate in the hands of others. We are letting other people dictate what happens to us. But if we seek what we want for ourselves, we have a much greater chance of getting it.

Let’s say, for example, you want to get your art into a gallery. You can either wait for a gallery to approach you about exhibiting your art or you can approach the galleries yourself.

In one scenario you are waiting for something good to happen. In the other you are trying to make good things happen for yourself. Which method do you think is more likely to work?

Put in the Hard Work

Another thing we do far too often is rely on luck. We believe the only thing that separates us from those who have made it is luck.

While luck does play a role in our lives, you can’t rely on it to get what you want. What you can do is work hard and try to create your own luck.

People aren't going to find you if you don't put yourself out there. Click To Tweet

Instead of creating your art and hoping people “discover” you, seek out your audience. People aren’t going to find you if you don’t put yourself out there.

That means trying to get into galleries. It means going to shows and art fairs. It means entering competitions. It means talking to people in your local community to see if they are interested in displaying your art.

Stop waiting for your lucky break. Do the hard work and create your own luck. Click To Tweet

If you want something bad enough, you have to be willing to put in the work to get it. Stop waiting for your lucky break. Do the hard work and create your own luck.

Set Yourself Up for Success

If you really want something extraordinary to happen in your life you have to take action. That is the best way to improve your circumstances.

Unfortunately taking action won’t do enough on its own. You also have to do research. You have to be intentional. You have to be willing to experiment. You have to carry on despite your failure.

  •  Research helps you avoid mistakes others have made. Learning from others will make your path easier.
  • Being intentional is also a must. You can’t just try everything under the sun. You need to pick and choose your fights.
  • Experimentation is one of the most important things an artist can do. But you can’t just experiment with your art. You also have to experiment with your pricing, your marketing, and where you sell your work.
  • Persistence is also necessary for anyone who wants to find success. There are very few instances of people finding immediate success. Don’t let failure get you down. Learn from your mistakes and try again.

It’s Time to Get Started

There’s no better time to get started than right now. We usually wait far too long before we commit to changing our ways. Inspiration is fine, but if you don’t turn that inspiration into action, nothing will change.

Great things won’t happen unless you take matters into your own hands. Luck can only get you so far. Prepare yourself for the journey ahead and make the extraordinary happen.

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Photo by Benh LIEU SONG

“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” Quote Art

“I only write when inspiration strikes. Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.”

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Inspiration is a cruel master. It pushes us to create. It tells us what to work on. It dictates what we do.

The problem often lies in when inspiration strikes. It is a great giver, but it is also a fickle master. You can’t summon inspiration on command.

That’s why many of us have trouble coming up with our next great idea. We will spend countless hours wracking our brains for the next great idea but still come up empty handed. This brute force tactic rarely works.

You know what does work? Creating consistently and building good habits. I know what you may be thinking. You like being an artist because you are free to create whatever you want whenever you want to. You hate restrictions. You like the freedoms being an artist affords you. But this way of thinking only leads to more frustration.

The key to building a great creative practice is to build a habit around it.

Let’s take a quick look at that quote again. “I only write when inspiration strikes.” That sounds like many of us who like to create on command. But the second part of the quote is key. “Fortunately it strikes at nine every morning.” This seems contrary to the first statement, but it isn’t. It speaks to the fact that you can’t just pull inspiration out of thin air. Inspiration comes when you build a habit and schedule around creating.

You know a saying has merit when you can’t attribute it to a single person. In the case of this quote, it has been attributed to at least six people including William Faulkner.

These people all believed in the consistently working on your craft, whether you want to or not. They believe it is important to keep a schedule instead of waiting for inspiration to strike.

If you constantly rely on inspiration to create, you won’t create much. That’s why building a consistent habit is so important.

The time you choose to create is not important. You can start right when you wake up or right before you go to sleep. What matters is that you stick to the same time and make it a part of your daily routine.

Stop waiting for inspiration to hit. Build a habit around your creative process and inspiration will find you.

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Photo by Dariusz Sankowski

Angela Ferrari on Believing in Yourself, Having Fun, and Struggles and Success – Cracking Creativity Episode 80

Angela Ferrari has always lived a creative life. When she was young she lived in a rural area where she figured out creative ways to play. She would build tree forts, spray paint plants, and turn her mundane environment into stories.

Angela continued that creative streak in college where she studied studio art and painting. After college, she moved to Portland, Maine and started working at a restaurant. While working as a waitress, Angela forged relationships with the restaurant owners and patrons. After a while, Angela was able to quit her job as a waitress to work on her art full-time.

For some, having a successful business as an artist would be enough, but that wasn’t the case for Angela. One day while doing yoga,  she had a vision about a dog doing yoga. This would eventually turn into her first children’s book Digger’s Daily Routine. Even with three completed books and a newly released podcast, it still feels like Angela has more creativity to share with the world.

In this episode Angela talks about believing in yourself, having fun, and how struggles can lead to success.

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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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“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

“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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“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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Cassia Cogger on Being Open to New Ideas, Avoiding Complacency, Being Consistent, and the Art of Simplification – Cracking Creativity Episode 71

Cassia Cogger has created art ever since she was young. In middle school she won a national contest for a laundry detergent brand. And unlike most artists, she began selling her art early in life.

After college, Cassia abandoned her artistic pursuits and got a job as an editor at a trade magazine. It was during this time that Cassia realized she wanted to become a full-time artist. So she picked up a few odd jobs to support her painting business.

Before her daughter was born, Cassia was featured in a magazine as a rising star in water color. But after her daughter’s birth, she stopped painting as frequently.

It wasn’t until after her second child was born that Cassia got serious about art again. The same art magazine wanted to follow up with her to see what she had done in the past five years. This was the call to action she needed to get serious about art again.

In this episode, Cassia talks about why we need to be open to new ideas, the importance of avoiding complacency and being consistent, and the art of simplification, among many other things.

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“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” – Andy Warhol Quote Art

“Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”  ― Andy Warhol

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Andy Warhol may be one of the most famous artists of the last century. He is well known even among people who know nothing about art. His work and influence on the art world have endured well beyond his death.

While many artists shun the idea of making money, Warhol embraced it. Click To Tweet

That is why we must follow his example. While many artists shun the idea of making money, Warhol embraced it.

He was one of the originators of pop art. He not only created paintings of celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, he became a celebrity himself.

Warhol did not believe making money from his work was evil. He used money as a tool to spread his ideas.

He did not shun working. He worked hard to make sure his art and ideas reached the largest audience possible.

He did not hate business like most artists do. He turned himself and his work into a business. He used business as a way to continue making art. He used it as a way to make sure everyone noticed what he was doing.

If you have been struggling with the idea of making art for money or turning your art into a business, you may want to reconsider. If you don’t make money from your art or have a good business plan for selling your art, you will have a hard time turning your art into a career.

But don’t take my word for it. Look at the words of Andy Warhol, one of the most successful commercial artists to ever live. He did not take himself or his art too seriously. He used art to make a statement about society while also living life on his own terms.

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Photo by Tech109

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo Quote Art

“If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so wonderful at all.” – Michelangelo

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Many of us have this funny expectation of people we consider experts or people we consider successful. We believe their talent is inherent. We believe they were born with a special gift. We believe we will never reach their status no matter how hard we try.

This way of thinking can be dangerous to our aspirations as artists. It ignores all the hard work people put into achieving mastery. It assumes that we can never achieve mastery no matter how hard we work. It assumes that we are born with or without talent. It assumes that talent can’t be developed over time.

While these ideas may have a sliver of truth to them, they are usually unhelpful. They force us to settle for good enough or they force us to quit.

No one was born a master at their craft Click To Tweet

I can assure you of one thing: no one was born a master at their craft. Everyone started as a beginner. Every master had to work hard to become the best.

If you want to be the best, you have to work hard. There is no shortcut to becoming great at something. It takes, time, dedication, and yes, some talent, to achieve mastery.

Before you start envying the masters, know what it takes to get there Click To Tweet

So before you start envying the masters, know what it takes to get there. Know that it requires sacrifice. Know that it takes time. Know that it will be a difficult road. Know that to become the next Michelangelo, you have to be willing to put in the work.

Photo by Luis Brizzante

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