If you want to thrive as an artist, whether it’s a side-hustle or a full-time career, being a fulfilled artist is not only doable but necessary to succeed. I am so happy with where I’m at in my creative business even though I have big future goals that I’m not even close to achieving yet. I hope you will remove “starving” from your vocabulary unless you haven’t eaten in a few days because you’re so focused on a painting ;). I think it has a lot to do with your mindset. My point is, you have to believe in it…and in yourself as a professional while you embrace the journey. It’s incredibly hard to navigate the world of being a professional artist. It’s especially hard to figure out how to make a full-time income in my opinion. We should ask ourselves this…does a full-time income mean you are a fulfilled artist though? I don’t know if it does. Sometimes relying solely on our art businesses as the only income puts too much pressure on the one thing you LOVE to do…which is make art. Your art becomes “rent” or “mortgage” or “food” or “car payment” instead of a gorgeous landscape or portrait or abstract exploration. If you’ve figured out how to make that full time income and still feel like you’re creating what you love to create without a lot of life’s stress and worry, more power to you my friend! Fist bump! High Five! Tell me all your secrets because I’m on that journey right now! In all seriousness, I don’t think we need the added pressure of feeling inferior if we haven’t quite gotten there yet. Go easy on yourself. We, as creatives, should embrace the process of growing, changing, learning, and evolving in our fields…however long that may take. Keep your day job if you have to…and stay small for as long as you need to. I promise, it will be worth it one day.
And now…the five steps to becoming a fulfilled artist (in my opinion because I’m a living and breathing example).
CREATE. After all, that’s what it’s about right? Your work. The way you feel during the process of creating, and the insanely awesome feeling you have when sharing it with others. It’s also about the satisfaction you get from connecting with an audience or a piece of work that you poured your heart and soul into. Sometimes artists focus so much on the “business” side of things they spend less time on their craft. I suggest making sure your schedule is heavy in art-making. That’s what gives you energy and inspiration to tackle everything else. I make time in my schedule every day to create something…even if it’s something small. Those small pieces make great gifts. Release those bad boys during the holidays! You don’t always have to paint large or ONLY show in galleries. This is coming from someone who looooooves the itty bitty works of art and has only shown in a few true galleries.
DON’T COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHER ARTISTS -There will always be someone you admire who has it all figured out, or sells more work than you, or makes it look incredibly easy, or maybe even intimidates you. If you have some time, sit down, enjoy a glass of wine, and read this BEAUTIFULLY written post from a Photographer friend of mine. Louise. She discusses “Imposter Syndrome” and why it’s so important to overcome that if you’re going to succeed in becoming a fulfilled creative in any walk of life.
NETWORK - That word scares people. I know it kind of scares me. By networking, I don’t mean you have to walk aimlessly into a big fancy social event put on by the local business network in your community. Artists are often introverted so networking in person can be the last thing we want to do. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your craft. Which is why its important to know your WHY. I’ll touch on that later. Back to networking…you’re in luck…the world of networking is thriving ONLINE! I know you all already know this but I wanted to make sure I was clear. Do I network in person? Only when I feel the event or meet up is going to be productive and influential for my business. The online world, however, is a serious game-changer. You just need to know where to look. The opportunities to discuss your work with others in your field, share resources, critique, ask questions, and LEARN are endless. You can start local if that’s where you feel your business will thrive or go bigger if you’re looking to find a much larger group of like-minded makers. You can find these communites on Facebook by simply searching some key words related to your field. Chat up those artists! That’s why they are there too. Opportunities will pop up, collaborations are started, and people will kindly share your work. I believe that in these communities, you give what you get. Karma can be a wonderful thing. Spread the love. On Instagram, find those artists you love and check out the hashtags they are using in their post. ENGAGE! ENGAGE! ENGAGE in conversation. This will not only grow your following but you will be chatting about the topic you love. By networking, I truly believe you're one step closer to being fulfilled in your creative career.
EDUCATE. Are you able to verbally explain your process? Awesome…you are now a teacher! ;) Some of you are probably clicking the X in the left hand corner right now because you’re saying “NO WAY am I standing in front of anyone teaching them how to draw, paint, knit, sculpt”, whatever it is you may do. DON’T LEAVE…Hang tight. I have something for you too! However, If you are thinking…”Yeah I think I could teach a small group about my product and the process that goes into it,” then I suggest you contact local businesses to see if you can host a workshop or event. My customer base has grown significantly through workshops and in-home events just because I am able to teach aspiring creatives or hobbyists a new skill. I have found that when you share your expertise with others, they enjoy themselves, and ultimately become paying customers in other ways because you have taken the time to serve and connect with them on a deeper level. Is there a local arts center? Do they need teachers? They are always looking for class proposals. Submit one, you never know. When I became an educator, that’s when I felt truly influential. You will never know the feeling of inspiring someone through art until you do it. Want to talk about being fulfilled? That’ll do it! Okay, so now for those of you who said NOPE NOT A CHANCE I’M TEACHING IN FRONT OF AN AUDIENCE. Don’t…it’s definitely not for everyone. I’ve had teachers that are boring beyond belief. If you’re boring….you probably know you’re a little boring. :) That doesn’t mean you don’t have a gajillion fantastic things to teach others about your art, your process, your inspiration, your travels, your expertise…the list goes on and on and on! Ebooks my friends! Online courses! You don’t even have to be on video if you don’t want to. You can get a friend to narrate some audio for you. All you truly need to do is create google docs, word docs, and convert them to .pdf’s. Can you take a decent picture? Great, you’re on your way to becoming an author. I did it. I wrote and released my first ebook in late January. HERE IT IS! It’s digital which means, you create it once, and sell it as many times as you want without doing anything but a little friendly marketing. Want to know more about this process? Email me. Hit reply. Let’s do this! I feel so fortunate that I’ve found another avenue to teach others about the topic that is so near and dear to my heART. < See what I did there??? Again…fulfilling.
JUST DO IT! & KNOW YOUR WHY. It may seem overwhelming but no one succeeds if they let their fears get the best of them. Before you do anything I mentioned above (besides make art, because you’ve probably been doing that all along) KNOW YOUR WHY. It’s so much easier to engage in conversation, promote your work, build your online presence, and establish your personal brand when you know WHY you are doing this in the first place. For example, my why is to CREATE, CONNECT, and INSPIRE. I’ll spare you on the details of each of those topics for now. Once that is established…you can do anything! So just do it! Get started. Tackle the things below at your own pace. If you’re all in, do the work and truly go all in. If not, take your time and master them slowly but surely.
Start a free website with an “about me” page, a “gallery” and a “contact” button. That’s all you need to start. The help menus and chat features are so helpful if you get stuck but believe it or not most website building platforms are incredibly intuitive and user-friendly…even for the least tech-savvy people. Try Wix, Wordpress or Weebly to start. If you don’t get it up and running for a few months, go easy on yourself…the tech stuff doesn’t come easy to everyone. Etsy is another affordable way to start selling your work online if you’re ready to take that leap and don’t want to put your time and effort into a website just yet. Maybe explore Shopify while you’re at it.
Start a business Instagram and Facebook account and post pretty pictures. Be authentic, connect with your audience, respond to comments, find out how you can serve them. Don’t worry about the algorithms, SEO, blah blah blah blah blah. Save that for later when you feel like overwhelming yourself and going all in. We’re talking fulfillment here, not overwhelm-ment < I just made up another word. Dedicate a small amount of time each day to “show up” on social media and you’ll be surprised how fast you get your name out there. If you are already established on social media, keep doing what you’re doing and share the love.
KEEP MAKING ART, and #DoWhatYouLove #LoveWhatYouDo. I’m on this journey as we speak. That’s why I feel like I can write about it. I’m no business expert, I’m a wife, mom, artist, and educator. I’m not making a full-time income solely on my art…YET. But honestly, I am TOTALLY 100% fulfilled. I want you to feel the same way. Need some help? A person to chat with? Sure, it’s all over the internet but why not hit reply? We can learn together. :) I look forward to hearing from you!
Eek, oops…Okay, I lied, one last thing…I should have said six steps because this is one that has made such a huge difference in my business and my overall mindset.
CONSUME. Consume every bit of knowledge out there in the easiest most practical way possible for your lifestyle. Do you love to read before bed? Read books about your craft or about business professionals in your field. Be sure to keep a notebook on your nightstand because if you’re anything like me my mind goes crazy with ideas when I read these types of books. Brain Dump so you can sleep. Don’t have time to sit down and read? Me either..I have a toddler running around. It’s all about the audiobooks for this mom. I crank one up even if I’m in the car for 5 minutes. It’s five minutes that I didn’t waste listening to commercials on the local radio station. Your local library…I haven’t used a library in yeeeeeaaarrrrrsssss. Did you know you can check out books online AND read them on your device? Hahahahaha. Wow, out of touch over here. Oh and PODCASTS! Podcasts are life for anyone starting a business or growing a business. You will feel empowered, motivated, and like you can take on the world one piece of artwork at a time! They’re FREE too…music to my ears. I’ll post some of my favorites in an upcoming post. You’re probably tired of reading by now. *Wink.
Did anyone notice my use of the word “YET.” Teacher nerd over here….Carol Dweck and her teachings on Mindset have clearly stuck with me over the years. Check her out!