Marketing Your Art the Right Way

Selling Art, Not Selling Out

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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

“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

“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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“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” ― Theodore Roosevelt Quote Art

“The only man who never makes a mistake is the man who never does anything.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

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I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my life. Have you?

I’m not saying this because I am proud of my mistakes. I’m not, but I will tell you what I am proud of.

I’m proud of taking chances. I’m proud of bouncing back from failures. I’m proud of continuing to experiment despite the setbacks. I’m proud that I can say I tried.

If you’ve been paying attention to all the talking heads in the startup and business world, you might believe failure is a good thing. I can tell you this much: failure sucks. Failure does not make you better at business. Failure does not pay the bills. Failure is demoralizing. Even so, the truth is failure is inevitable.

If you want to achieve something great, you will also face failure. It’s not because you are dumb. It’s not because you don’t deserve it. It’s not because you aren’t special.

It’s because you don’t know what you are doing. None of us do when we begin our journeys.

It also doesn’t matter how much you follow an expert’s suggestions. You will still encounter failure. You will make mistakes. You will find obstacles all along the way.

The good news is, you will learn from your mistakes. You will learn what to do and what not to do. You will make tweaks to your process. You will adapt and change until you discover what works for you.

That is why we must embrace experimentation. We must embrace taking action despite the fact that we will run over speed bumps along the way. We must be willing to embrace the unknown.

If we don’t, we will never achieve anything. If you want to go through life without any blemishes on your record, you might as well give up now because the only people who don’t make mistakes are those who don’t do anything.

Photo by Pach Brothers

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“Dream big and dare to fail.” – Norman D. Vaughan Quote Art

“Dream big and dare to fail.” – Norman D. Vaughan

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I have to admit that I’ve been holding back. It’s easy to give advice or prescriptions, but it’s much harder to do it yourself. That’s why I want to put myself out there.

For the most part, my dreams have been small. I’ve self-published one book and have another one on the way. I’ve started up a podcast, built this site, and an e-mail list, and I’ve had some wonderful conversations with artists and creatives. But none of these things are part of my ultimate goal.

I’ve heard multiple times, in several conversations, people talk about what they would do if they had a magic wand and could do anything at all. All I know is, I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now.

Even though I’ve enjoyed the work I’ve done up to this point, I think I can do much better. I want to visit creatives and see what it takes to create beautiful works of art. I want to help artists grow their businesses. I want to bring artists and creatives together so they can help each other.

I’ve been able to complete my smaller short term goals, but I need to reach much farther. I need to dream big. I need to dare to fail.

Even if you fall on your face, you can always get back up and try again Click To Tweet

We only get so much time on Earth. Which means we need to take some chances. What’s the worst that could happen? Even if you fall on your face, you can always get back up and try again.

It all starts with having a plan. What would your ideal day look like? What would you be doing? How can you begin to make your way towards that ideal life?

I want to live a creatively fulfilling life. I want to spend my days exploring what it means to live life to its fullest. And I want to help you do the same.

So, this is a call to you. What are you struggling with? What is your big dream? Are you pursuing it? If not, I want to know why.

Photo by Unsplash

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Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Live your truth even if your body breaks. Spirit survives. – Katy Perry Tweet Art

Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. Live your truth even if your body breaks. Spirit survives. – @katyperry (Katy Perry)

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What are you afraid of? I ask myself this question a lot.

My biggest fear is often being my true self Click To Tweet

It’s not because I’m afraid of scary movies or video games. I am not afraid of heights or tight spaces. My biggest fear is often being my true self.

What does it mean to live truthfully? After all, we are supposed to present multiple versions of ourselves to the world. You wouldn’t act around your parents like you would with your closest friends. You wouldn’t act around your co-workers like you do with your family.

We are all chameleons adapting to our environments. But the question is, Do we have to be? I often wonder about this, and I still don’t know the right answer. Is there even a right answer?

I think the problem is, I haven’t defined who I truly am. What do I believe in? What values are important to me? What kind of person do I want to be?

It’s okay to act differently in different situations. We don’t necessarily need to be the same person at every moment in our lives, but we should always hold the same values.

If we can't live by our own truth, what kind of life are we really living? Click To Tweet

We need to ask ourselves what we stand for. We need to live up to those truths no matter what. Because no matter what everyone else thinks about us, we are the ones who have to live with ourselves every day. If we can’t live by our own truth, what kind of life are we really living?

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“Kindness is a free currency from a well that will never dry up” – Lady Gaga Quote Art

“Kindness is a free currency from a well that will never dry up” – @ladygaga (Lady Gaga)

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If you are anything like me, you are tired of hearing all the terrible news around us. Whether it’s scandals, diseases, or death, it feels like the world is crumbling around us. If you regularly watch the news, you might think it’s best to never leave your home.

I refuse to believe the world is such a horrible place. In fact, we are living in one of the safest times in human history. There are no worldwide wars. Most of us aren’t in danger of conquests, pillaging, or raids. So why are we all so worried?

I believe there are two reasons for this. One is, fear sells, so the media tries to sell it to us as much as they can. The other is, we remember tragedy and travesty more than other things. So when we hear about bad things happening, they stay with us, even though we usually aren’t in danger.

What can we do about it? I think the answer lies in kindness. Just think back to a time when someone was kind to you. How did it make you feel? How did it change your day? I’m assuming you felt amazing and wanted to carry that feeling with you. That’s the power of kindness.

I admittedly could be more kind. Although I try my best to be kind to everyone I meet, I think I could do a hell of a lot better.

I can be petty. I can be jealous. I get annoyed and frustrated. But that doesn’t mean I can’t also be kind.

We feel trapped in the box people put us in. It doesn't have to be that way Click To Tweet

We tend to look at the world as either black or white. You are either mean or kind. We feel trapped in the box people put us in. It doesn’t have to be that way.

You can choose to be kind even if you are afraid. You can be kind even as jealousy or frustration pulls on you from the inside.

It’s all about your mindset. Anger, fear, jealousy, and greed are draining emotions. They weigh you down like a ton of bricks. Kindness, on the other hand, is an endless well.

That doesn’t mean you have to be kind all the time. We are human after all. But the more kindness you spread, the more it comes back to you. If it is true that we are the sum of the five people closest to us, then the more kind we are to the people around us, the more kind they will be to us too.

Don't get trapped in the cycle of fear and hatred. Click To Tweet

Don’t get trapped in the cycle of fear and hatred. Just listen to the Golden Rule and treat others the way you want to be treated.

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The Grind Never Ends – Usher Tweet Quote Art

“the grind never ends”
@Usher (Usher Raymond IV)

It doesn’t matter if you’ve made one dollar or one million dollars from your art, one thing will always hold true: you can never stop working. The key to being a successful creator is not dependent on how much talent or luck you have.

It depends on how much effort you are willing to put in. It depends on how persistent you are. It depends on showing up every day to do the work.

Hard work, directed in the right place can take you farther than talent and luck ever could Click To Tweet

Sure, talent also plays a role, but there are millions of talented people who never find success. Sure luck plays a role, but luck can only get you so far. Hard work, directed in the right place can take you farther than talent and luck ever could.

We all want to believe our work will speak for itself. We keep hoping and praying them someone will come along and discover us. But what if we are discovered? What if someone came to you and made all of your dreams come true? Would you stop working? What would you do?

Just ask all the one hit wonders what a few minutes of fame did for their careers. Are they still rich? Are they still adored by fans? Nope.

In order to build a sustainable career as an artist, you must keep going Click To Tweet

In order to build a sustainable career as an artist, you must keep going. You have to show up and do the work. Artists like Usher know how to stay on top. They are constantly creating new work. They innovate and try different things while everyone else becomes stale. They are willing to put in the hours while everyone else is taking it easy.

You may not want to be rich and famous like Usher, but everyone would love to be respected like he is. It doesn’t matter whether or not you like his music, you can still admire the fact that he has been able to build such a sustainable career.

You can do this too. You just have to be willing to put in the work to make it happen.

“Weird is just a side effect of being awesome.” ― Bill Murray Quote Art

“Weird is just a side effect of being awesome.”  ― Bill Murray

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“You’re weird.”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard your fair share of those two words. I especially heard them when I was a kid.

I was an admittedly awkward child. When I switched elementary schools in third grade, I didn’t want to talk to anyone. While it’s normal for kids to avoid talking to strangers, it isn’t normal when you don’t talk to kids you see in class every day. That was me.

I couldn’t tell you why I didn’t talk to the kids in my class. But at some point, it went from me being shy and uncomfortable, to me enjoying the attention. Every day kids tried to get me to open up, but I stood steadfast in my no speaking policy. I realized not speaking was something that helped me stand out.

When you’re a kid, being weird is fine. People will often embrace that weirdness. But once you become a teenager, being called weird is like a Scarlet Letter. It’s no longer okay to be yourself. You have to fit in.

But, the thing about being weird is, it’s what helps you stand out from the crowd. While all those kids who tried to conform to the norm got normal jobs, the weird people are the ones who stand out the most.

The thing is, people who are weird are unafraid of breaking from the mold. They don’t care if people know about their interesting quirks. It’s those quirks that give us the edge over everyone else. While most people are doing their best to blend in with the crowd, weird people are intentionally trying to stand out.

The next time someone calls you weird, don’t consider it as a mark of shame. Wear it like a badge of honor. After all, those who embrace their weirdness stand out like a shining star.

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