Marisa D. Aceves. Corrugated Dune. digital photography
If we view our art as a body infused with life-giving ideas and experiences, we instinctively know that when there’s no passion, there’s no pulse. When art is dead, we cry and so do the artists who long to express themselves, but can’t seem to find a reason to speak. Change is threatening. We know what we are doing; we know what we have done, but how do we make it more meaningful? How do we engage with our art in such a way that it makes others want to engage?
Sometimes we come to a crossroads where we must make the difficult decision to allow ourselves to experience uncomfortable episodes in our lives so we can truly create great art. Not many of us want to go there. There is where all our insecurities lie. There is full of instability, uncertainty and inevitable disapproval, yet there is where genius lives.
Inevitably, we must make that difficult choice whether to live or die. Simply breathing and existing is not enough. If we want to make art that has life then we must not be afraid to live our lives. Our lives are our stories. It is from these stories that we can draw inspiration for the artwork that we create. I once read an article by a young writer, Jeff Goins, about living your story. In it he brought up the simple fact that many people avoid living their lives because they are afraid of taking risks. The fear of failure and judgement kill many artists before they begin because they can only focus on all the problems that they will encounter on their journey to success. Instead of allowing themselves to be blindsided by their fear of future events, they need to patiently, and mindfully focus on the prize that individual freedom of expression offers them. They need to complete the journey not give up when obstacles seem insurmountable. Things will not always be the way they are now. The people that refuse to give up are the people that are holding onto something; they have a vision that they want to see come to fruition . I urge you not to give up, but to continue to see your unique vision through till the end. Find new, exciting reasons to create. Who knows, maybe we can both inspire and challenge each other to become the artists we were always meant to be.
I guess the question that each and every artist must eventually ask themselves is, “What am I holding onto?”
Perhaps you’ve always dreamed of pursuing another medium like branching out into mixed media work (ex. mixed media painting, mixed media sculpture, installation etc.) or alternative media (ex. video, digital art etc.) but every time that you dared to consider a direction less familiar your head suddenly fills with mental movie clips of naysayers, tremendous obstacles and absolute failure to succeed.
As if this were not enough, your personal artistic adventurer/explorer is further quashed by exhibition deadlines, less than stellar time management and a host of weekly family activities.
Does this mirror your present situation?
If so, here are some suggestions that will help you keep your sanity, manage your time, and stop the insecure thoughts that are holding you back:
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #1: I know absolutely nothing about the new medium/mediums that I want to work in; if I attempt to produce a piece of artwork using this medium/mediums, I’ll just screw it up!!!
A. Research The Medium You Plan To Use For Your Piece
a1. Research the history of the medium
b1. Research the application of the materials or various techniques that can be applied when using these materials. (For example if you are a photographer researching ceramic sculpture because you wanted to do a public project using ceramics as part of your installation piece , you might research certain techniques used in ceramics like slab construction, coil construction or carving clay).
c1. Research art pieces that have used this medium/mediums. You may want to research other artists who are experts or specialize in using this medium/mediums. Take note of the works that have the most impact. Ask yourself why?
B. Enlist help or Outsource
b1. Research artists and professionals that have experience working with the medium/mediums
c1. Try to make contact with these professionals and ask them what their rates are? What do they charge for employing them to help with certain tasks or parts of the piece. When you are comfortable with the price range that is within your budget, then communicate with the professional about what you want to do with the project you are pursuing. What is the piece about? Is the work you need done simple or does it require a high level of skills? The better you communicate what you want and need the professional to do, the easier it will be to complete the piece.
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #2: How can I create work in another medium if I don’t have the budget?
A. Start Small
Who says that you have to create a huge, life-changing piece. When you create a small (tester piece), you can focus on learning how to use the material that you have researched effectively.
B. Create a List of Weekly Expenses
Make a list or chart of weekly expenses. This way you can see how your money is being spent, where it is going, and where you can cut back. For example, look at the money you spend on extracurricular activities and see if you can use half of that to fund your project.
C. Raise funds for your project
Set up a fundraiser to raise money for your project/projects. This can be done locally or through social media crowd funding websites.
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #3: Nobody will like the new piece/pieces of artwork; My clients won’t understand what I am trying to do.
A. Everything Involves Risk
When you have found something successful that has worked for you, it is scary to think that your latest passion may not be received the way you would have initially envisioned. Continue producing what sells while trying to find alternative ways to market your work in this new medium. Your continued success in the medium in which you are familiar will offset any initial rejection or cool reception of the pieces produced in the new medium/mediums.
B. Market Your Work To A Different Audience Using Social Media
This helps to expose your work to people that are unfamiliar with what you do. So they are less likely to judge you based on your past work and the medium in which it is produced.
C. Consider dealing with the same subject matter and themes that you deal with in the medium in which you have experience. Then you can tie your old work and your new work in a different medium together using theme. This theme based work will help your present collectors to more easily identify with your work in this new medium.
SELF DOUBT THOUGHT/THOUGHTS #4: I don’t have enough time to pursue another medium.
A. Make A Time Chart
Look at your present schedule. How do you allocate time in your day for each item on your to-do list? Try to see if there are any open spaces of time that you could use for your new project.
B. Enlist family members to help with chores
Ask your son, daughter or spouse to cook for you some days or take out the trash. You’d be surprised, even the smallest, simplest tasks take up precious time that you could be using to do research and to create your new work.
Outsource time consuming jobs like sending your packets out to galleries, updating your website and writing copy to an assistant, intern or freelancer.
When you attack self doubt with action steps to solve the problem/problems you are worried about, you begin to see the possibilities. Tasks seem easier to conquer. Dreams seem attainable when approached in small steps.
*If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to contact me. I’d love to hear from you!
Everyone wants to be successful, right? As artists we like to dream big. We have an extraordinary vision, a unique way of seeing things that we want to share with the world. Naturally, many of us seek out opportunities that will both help us to learn how to publicize our work and increase our income stream. When we finally do stumble upon what appears to be a valuable website or blog with supposed insight into our industry we begin to believe we’ve finally “struck art market gold.” “Our ship will come in” we calmly tell ourselves; we don’t have to be lost in that confusing sea of information we so affectionately call the “The net”. All we have to do is read and apply the methods stated on the website or blog for artists and we will instantly begin to experience increased sales and traffic to our site.
In some cases, this might indeed be true, depending on how much effort that you put into it and whether or not there is a market for your genre of work. After all, there are some blogs and websites out there that do offer helpful career advice, artist opportunities and coaching without extreme, unrealistic promises. However, their are blogs and websites that also attach world views that we do not agree with, pushy sales tactics, mean-spirited bullying and “old fashioned guilt trips” to get us to buy this or that package or else we’ll be an obscure, abysmal failure forever. These are websites and blogs that many artists are tempted to avoid.
While it may feel like an opportunity is right at first, if you experience any of these types of situations (marketing tactics) after you generously invite them into your inbox, you might want to ….yes….here it comes…..that dreaded word no blogger wants to hear…..UNSUBSCRIBE:
RANT(ING): You let them into your inbox because they have some great skill or valuable knowledge to share about marketing etc. and then the fun begins…Sure they’re entertaining, at least at first. They write copy like nobody’s business, but there is one small problem. They can’t stop whining and complaining! They complain about the aches and pains of dealing with irritating, pesky people on different internet forums. They complain about people that refuse to agree with them. They complain about people that are offended by their constant complaining and name calling! All this complaining has the average person asking, “Are they ever going to offer me anything valuable in my inbox” or in the words of the old lady in those 80s Wendy’s commercials, “Where’s the beef in this information burger!” No beef folks, just two buns and some mustard! The beef is just imaginary, it is a lure so that they can gain a captive audience. At the end of the day, only you can decide if this is a proper use of your time!
STORYTELL(ING) WITH FEW TIPS: Let’s face it, many of us would love to become better writers, especially when it comes to writing about what we do and why we love to do it. Our ability to communicate with others effects every aspect of our business. It is a crucial part of our marketing plan. A great storyteller knows this and reels us in with their infectious tales of inspiration, support and encouragement. They make us hope that someday (perhaps in the near future), we too can be the next Seth Godin of the art world. So we sit in anticipation waiting for those helpful writing tips that only an expert storyteller can give. What do they give us? What can we hope to receive for all of that reading? They share their life story, accomplishments and charity, but they forget to give us the tips that they promised would help us to become better writers. With each additional post in our inbox, they leave us feeling more and more frustrated, waiting for the tips that never come. Consider that there is a lesson for us as well. If you want to share some highlights of your story do so, just don’t forget to give us the tips that you have promised.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Next week…. SCHOOL YARD BULLY(ING) AND PUSHY PEPPERMINT PATTY(ING)