The business of running your art career doesn’t have to be boring

Show It, Don’t Blow It: 7 Tips to Keep the Art Exhibition Blues at Bay

As artists, showing our work can often be a trigger for creative block. In this guest post, artist and blogger at DialogVisual, Cherry Jeffs, offers 7 tips for ensuring that your next exhibition doesn’t cause a dry spell in your art-making!

A few years ago I began showing my art after a long hiatus. Exhibiting my work previously had resulted in long bouts of creative block and I was determined not to let this happen again!

Since lack of self-confidence is frequently at the root of artist’s block, here I share some straightforward strategies I used to boost my morale and make the whole process less stressful and more enjoyable.

If you are new to showing or returning to it after a long break, these 7 tips are a great way to ease yourself painlessly onto the gallery circuit.

1. Control the Show

In his book, Fearless Creating (Tarcher/Putnam, 1995) creativity guru, Eric Maisel warns against ‘impulsive showing’ whereby the artist shows,
‘…without preparing the work or preparing herself, without considering who the right audience might be or what she wants from the experience of showing…’
Maisel advises consciously planning for showing: Deciding to whom we want to show our work, why we want to show it and whether there is anything else the work needs before we do so.
To ease yourself (back) into showing, choose a situation that allows you to determine what work to show, and when and how you you show it. Organising your own show means you can carefully control the whole process.

Pick the most sympathetic environment possible – i.e. somewhere where you feel comfortable and that’s easily accessible so your pals can come and support you!

2. Like a Scout – Be Prepared!

Preparing for your show well in advance, reduces last minute panics! Complete your work well before the start of the exhibition so you have plenty of time to plan how you are going to hang it. Spend some time in the gallery beforehand picturing how to place the work.

Arrive early on the day of the hanging to make the most of the time available.

Hanging the exhibition

3. Spread The Word

If the venue doesn’t provide invitations, get your own printed and distribute them as many widely as possible. This will help make sure you get a great turn out – another morale booster!

Send out some press releases to local media as well. There’s nothing like a live interview to make you feel important 😉

Local Press

4. Feel Good!

Opening night is your night so do everything possible to optimize your morale so that you will shine.

Have your hair cut/styled the day before the exhibition if it helps you feel more confident and wear the kind of clothes that you can forget about as soon as you put them on!

I don’t suggest you wear your track suit with egg stains on but jettison that trendy-but-uncomfortable outfit in favour of something you’ve worn before and you know makes you feel good.

5. Stay Straight

Don’t drink anything alcoholic on the night! It’s tempting to get stuck into the free drinks at the private view but I’ve seen even very experienced artists getting more than a little tipsy with pre-exhibition nerves and its not a pretty sight!

Keeping a clear head whilst all around you lose theirs will give you an advantage when it comes to haggling over the price of your work (yes, it happens) and keep you sweet-talking those prospective buyers all the way to the bank to withdraw some cash 😉

The Private View

6. Separate the Work from the Show

This is the most important tip of all to avoid creative block after a show: You have to mentally separate the making of the work from the exhibiting and selling of it.

Think of it as creating two boxes. In one, put your experience of the process of creating the work; Then mentally seal that box.

Leave the second box ‘empty’ to be filled by the exhibition experience. Whatever this box ends up being filled with, don’t allow its contents to spill over into the first box!

Making the work is making the work, exhibiting it is something else. You’ve enjoyed the experience of making the work so don’t let anything or anyone detract from that.

7. Keep Your Creative Juices Cooking

Spending time in the studio on new work while the exhibition is running keeps you grounded and in the flow; it stops the feeling that your whole artistic life hangs by the one thread that is The Show.

Also consider booking yourself onto an artist’s retreat to reward and replenish yourself after the exhibition comes down.

You could even organise another show shortly after the first one! This provides a second opportunity for selling anything that remains unsold and a chance to correct any glitches that occurred the first time round 🙂

Following these strategies helps to give you a feel-good experience about showing your work and stave off a confidence crisis that can lead to Artist’s Block.

Do leave a comment if you’ve got any tips of your own that you’d like to share.

If it’s too late and the Blight of Block has already Bitten you, you might want to sign up for my Blast Your Blocks e-course starting 16th June!

 

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Best of the web | April 2011 | Don’t miss these

Nothing is Original - Austin Kleon

HOW TO STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST (AND 9 OTHER THINGS NOBODY TOLD ME)

How to steal like an artist {and 9 other things nobody told me}

This amazing post by Austin Kleon is based on a talk he did in New York. It is a list of 10 things he wished he was told in college. Brilliantly sage advice for artists everywhere. An absolute must read for all creative folks.

The Importance of Being an Artist in Today’s Modern World

Sometimes. with the economy the way it is, it’s difficult to see where the future of art is heading. Artist Lori McNee shares some thoughts.

Artomat Art Vending Machines

A lovely idea. Art-o-mat machines are retired cigarette vending machines that have been converted to vend art. There are over 90 active machines in various locations across America. You can submit art to be sold. Just wish there were some in the UK.

Where the feeling of overwhelm comes from (and how to destroy it)

We have been talking about overwhelm on Artonomy this month. Peter Shallard offers psychological advice to entrepreneurs and offers another and interesting angle on the best way to deal with it..

A Brief Guide To Life

Continuing the theme {I have gone a little existential this month – I think it’s due to the long Easter break!} Leo Babauta over at Zen Habits has a wise and simple manifesto for a simplified and more stress free life.

Heres To The Crazy Ones…

The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…

 

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Video | How To Price Your Artwork | Cedar Lee

In this very helpful little video, Cedar Lee explains her strategy for pricing artwork.

A useful starting point if you are unsure of how to go about setting a structure around your pricing.

Cedar Lee is an artist from Baltimore. You can find out more about Cedar and her paintings here.
http://www.artbycedar.com

 

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Best of the web | March 2011 | Don’t miss these

Fabulous manifesto from www.holstee.com Available as a poster and greetings card in their lovely conscience led shop.

 

7 Ways to Establish That Your Art Has Value

Alyson Stanfield shares some excellent ways you can communicate the value of your art, even if you have no track record as an artist yet.

 

Do you feel that your art business runs you and not vice versa?

Over on The Abundant Artist, Lisa Verdi shares strategies that will help you get in control of the business side of your art and not feel overwhelmed.

 

8 Ways to Quickly Improve Your Art Blog or Website

John R. Math shares some quick things to do which will help your site with search engines and users alike.

 

Newsletters: Avoid the Premature Click-off

If you ever wonder what you should put in your artists newsletter, Karen Cooper has some great advice to prevent boring and un-engaging emails.

 

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Are you intimidated by successful artists? : You are not alone…

Many many moons ago, when we were young, footloose and fancy free, before the kids/mortgage reality check, me and my bloke used to spend all our time {and money} going to see live bands.

One evening found us in a smoky jazz club in the heart of Leeds in the North of England watching a particularly virtuoso band rattling through some jazz-funk numbers.

I have to point out now that my bloke plays jazz funk bass [which is pretty complex] and he’s no slouch. He’s good enough to play in 4 bands one of which is semi professional and he actually gets paid for, pretty good going as any musician will tell you. As bassists go he’s pretty damn good {I know I’m biased ;-)}

Introducing… THE GOD OF BASS!

 

Well the bassist in the band we were watching that night was amazingly incredible. Combining perfect technique with awesome coolness that exuded from his every pore, he OWNED the stage, blowing the audience away with his funky vibes and stage presence.

I started to notice my other half slumping lower and lower in his seat and staring miserably into his beer. I squeezed his hand. “Are you OK?”

He gestured weakly in the direction of the GOD OF BASS onstage.

“Look at that guy. He’s amazing!!!. Just listen to him!. I’ll never be that good even if I practice 24 hours a day for the rest of my life! Bloody Hell!!”

And so a phrase was coined…

To be “BLOODY HELLED” – To be so intimidated by the god like majesty of another artist that you believe your work is the worst thing on the planet and just give up there and then.

My bloke stopped practising and even for a while seemed to stop enjoying playing so much. I suspect that whenever he picked up his instrument, all he could see in his head was the GOD OF BASS pointing at him and laughing.

The fragile confidence of the artist.

 

As artists it’s INCREDIBLY EASY to be “bloody helled”

We have to put the inner workings of our hearts, soul and mind out in our work for everyone to see, which puts us in a very vulnerable position. We therefore tend to have fragile ego’s and low levels of confidence in our own abilities. It’s very easy for this confidence to be shattered either by negative criticism {which people LOVE to do} or by judging ourselves unfairly against the abilities of others… and we always judge ourselves too harshly.

At it’s worst, this harsh judgement can actually prevent us moving forward in our career and making the most of the opportunities that are presented. At it’s best it just makes us feel really crap about what we do…

Everyone else is NOT a Picasso

 

When I was an art student I went for interviews for art courses and whilst waiting with the other interviewees I was convinced that the contents of their black art portfolios were probably on a par with Picasso whilst mine contained only badly drawn student life drawings.

I went into the interviews with such an incredibly negative and apologetic attitude to my own work that I’m surprised anyone offered me a place. It was only years later, when the boot was on the other foot and I was working in an art college looking at students portfolios that I saw the incredibly varied quality range of applicants. Amazingly they weren’t all Picassos! Who’d a thought it!

I had been “BLOODY HELLED”

Whilst working as a designer there were many jobs I would have loved to apply for but didn’t dare as I imagined the interviewers looking at my portfolio and and pointing at me and laughing me out of the building. Again, it was only when I later ended up interviewing designers applying for a job in the place that I worked and saw their portfolios that I realised they weren’t all brilliant designers and I really should have taken some of those opportunities.

Bloody Helled” again. Damn!

Remember… You are FAR FAR better than you give yourself credit for…

 

So how can you stop being BLOODY HELLED and have the confidence to move ahead and grasp some of the opportunities that are out there?

  • First of all you have to realise that there will always be artists better or worse than you. IT REALLY DOESNT MATTER. YOUR work is what matters. Be happy and enjoy and cherish it.
  • You also have to realise that your brain will generally always talk you down and you are far better than you think you are.

Ignore the negative inner voices.

 

Realise that your own brain is a bit of a traitor and will disparage you and your work at any opportunity with negative self talk. You know what brains are like…

You can’t paint… you will never be as good as X… your mum was right you know, you will never be a “proper” artist… X has so many more collectors than you, no one likes your work… etc etc etc ad infinitum.

Sound familiar?

There are many techniques that you can use to combat the natural negativity of your own brain.

My favourite one is a bit of NLP {Neuro Linguistic Programming} which works wonders in stopping your brains negative talk undermining your confidence.

Next time you get BLOODY HELLED and you get the negative inner voice telling you “ you will never be that good!” here’s what to do.

  • Listen to the inner voice {for the last time} Is it your voice or someone else’s? Get a clear picture.
  • Now that you know whose voice it is, you can control it.
  • In your head, change the voice. Try giving it a comedy voice like Homer Simpson or Daffy Duck. Make it sound like it has inhaled helium or slow it down to a standstill. Remember, you control the voice now.
  • Can you take the voice and its sill negativity seriously now? No.
  • If it’s STILL undermining you, imagine the voice out of your head and into a little bubble. In your imagination, place the bubble with the voice in on the floor in front of you.
  • Let it sit there whinging and undermining for a few seconds. Then STOMP on it and pop it! Imagine the satisfying “POP” {or “squelch” if you’re a bit more sadistic}and then the blissful silence. Hooray.

Every time you look at another artists work and feel self doubt just repeat the steps above to stop the mental tyrant of your brain undermining you.

You are SO much better than you think you are…

 

So the important thing with all this is to recognise when you are being “bloody helled” and stop it in it’s tracks. Give yourself some credit and stop that negative self talk. That way you will never be “bloody helled” again.

Are you easily “bloody helled”? Share with us in the comments.

 

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Could you publish or license your art? : Experienced artist Jan Weiss flips open her brain

Guest post from Jan Weiss who has 15 years of experience licensing her art.

In the art business or when I meet artists and tell them I am a published artist, I typically end up with a load of questions and they ask to “pick my brain”. So over coffee I lay the groundwork; an overview of publishing and licensing and how to get found in a sea of artists all wanting the same thing.

I have been in this business for over fifteen years with experience in publishing, wholesale and retail sales, ecommerce and licensing; in addition I blog regularly about artists – especially emerging artists as I feel they need the most exposure right off the bat.

The questions I receive generally fall into these categories:

• What is publishing and licensing?
• Is there much money?
• How can I get posters made of my art?
• What are the latest trends?
• Do you think my art is publishable?
• How can I get noticed?

I’m going to review all of these questions and give you a simple straightforward – and honest answer to each of these questions.

What is publishing and licensing?

Publishing and licensing is about making your art available for derivative products. Art publishing is about turning your art into a poster or limited edition art print. You can publish them yourself by working directly with a printer or licensing your images to a publisher who will pay all the up front costs including printing and marketing and pay you a royalty on the sales of the print; usually 10 to 15%.

Licensing your images to a product manufacturer is another way of earning royalties from your creations. These images may be licensed for product such as textiles, table-top, home accessories and apparel. The manufacturer pays you or your agent/ publisher a royalty and you receive a percentage of that royalty.

Is there much money?

There can be. I have known some artists who earn $75,000 to a $100,000 a year but they are the rare ones. Royalty payments generally run $200 to $1000 a month and if there is an order for a high volume sale you may go much higher than that. Truthfully – most artists have other jobs to supplement their art income.

How can I get posters made of my art?

You can have posters made of your art through online sources such as Imagekind.com, Fineworks.com or Artistrising.com. Artists do not go through an approval process for Imagekind and Finerworks – you simply upload your high res file and pick a size for the art.

You or any customer can go through these sites and purchase your art and you will receive a royalty. Artistrising.com requires an approval process so be patient. It is up to you to market your work for on-line publishing sites such as these so be persistent. Post on Facebook, Twitter, blog about it and include it in newsletters.

What are the latest trends?

I use catalogues such as CB2, West Elm and Crate and Barrel for trend inspiration, and it is well worth your time to read design blogs. A complete list is on my site, The Art Planet – just scroll down the left navigation bar; these sites are filled with inspiration, ideas and design trends.

Do you think my art is publishable?

This question is the hardest and requires direct and sincere answers. The fact is – not everyone who wants to be an artist has the talent to get there-be objective and proceed with caution. Ask yourself if your work is unique and original or is simply an interpretation of the hottest trend so it will sell because right now everyone wants that look?

Have you had professional instruction? Learning from professional artists is worth every dollar spent. These people have their experience to share and will teach and instruct in styles and techniques that you may have no experience with yourself; benefit from the knowledge of others. I have had many people tell me they are self-taught and display this as a badge of honor but what publishers really want is someone with a firm grasp in techniques and execution – skills taught in the classes and workshops.

How can I get noticed?

And finally we come to social networking – one of my favorite subjects. This subject cannot be understated – it is truly essential and imperative that you do this…daily.

Take advantage of sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Stumbleupon, Google, Orkut, Digg, Delicious, Kaboodle and many many others. When you upload a new poster or add products to your Etsy site or Zazzle site tell people about. The best art in the world will never be found unless consumers and art lovers are allowed to see it through the art of social networking.

Start a blog and upload your work; share your inspiration for the piece and medium and price. Blogger offers a very easy, intuitive free blog site. The more sites you post on the more your name will show up in search engine marketing and the better chance you have of being discovered.

Creating art is like using your muscles – you must create continually. Be inspired by others, learn from others and build upon your experience to become a brand on all your own.

© 2011 Jan Weiss

Artist Bio – Jan Weiss

Jan Weiss, a northern California native is a freelance writer and artist specializing in home decor. With a strong background in art publishing and art trends, Jan shares this knowledge with the trade as well as individual artists.

Weiss has just completed her first eBook for artists, titled: The Coexistence of Art and Money; interested buyers can find this book as well as her art through several on-line galleries such as Artist Rising, Image Kind and Etsy.  Jan’s style is a mixed of collage, digital creations and abstract landscapes that will appeal to the hospitality buyer. She lives with her husband, cat and dog in the Bay Area and enjoys organic gardening, cooking, reading and making stuff.

You can find Jan at
www.theartplanet.com
www.etsy.co

 

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Best of the web | February 2011 | Don’t miss these

Be Happy – The meaning of life

This little video is just gorgeous – Nothing more to say!

Have you ever wondered about Art Licensing?

Artist Tara Reed has a great blog where she has a LOT of information about the ins and outs of art Licensing. This post What’s Your Art Licensing Story? where artists share their own stories about how and why they started in the art licensing world is particularly useful.

Facebook Promotions: What You Need to Know

If you admin a Facebook page about your art it used to be extremely easy to fall foul of Facebook’s promotion rules. They have relaxed a lot in the last few months but its a good idea to know exactly what you can do rather than run the risk of getting your page banned. This page by Facebook queen Mari Smith explains the ins and outs of Facebook promotion

What does the near future of the gallery system look like?

Brian Sherwin {who knows a lot about galleries} talks about what the future holds and why the news is good for self representing artists.

You Can’t Do That: Galleries, Agencies, and Online Art Sales

“If you really want to be in control of your art sales, if you really want to control your life and your career and your time – you need to take the time to make your online presence as good as possible”.

A great post about taking control by The Abundant Artist

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Don’t run aground on the rocky shore of fate: {or how to build your own lifeboat and survive the art world}

I’m a great believer that you can shape your own destiny to a large extent. Often it’s the energy you put out into the world that carves the trajectory of your path into the future.

Think about the people you know. There are always some “lucky” buggers that seem to be in the right place at the right time, land the lucky break and deal with things successfully whereas others always seem to miss the opportunity and generally flounder around, getting nowhere.

Is it that the fates look more favourably on the “lucky” person and send a never ending torrent of bad luck on the other? No. Generally and with the exception of uncontrollable circumstances such as illness, bereavement and accident etc, much of our good luck is created by ourselves, by being in the right place at the right time and making the most of the hand that we are dealt.

As in life it is the same in the world of art. You can create your own destiny.

One common and dangerous idea that persists in the art world is that somehow a gallery will discover your art, create your reputation and do all your marketing for you. You don’t have to do anything other than concentrate on making great art.

This myth tells you that you don’t have to bother with all the timesucking marketing business and promotions stuff because one day a gallery will wade in and sort it all out for you. As long as you make great art you don’t need to bother with anything else.

The {fairly annoying} truth

The sad truth is that it’s not all about the art. There are some wonderful painters and artists who never get any kind of recognition and some terrible ones who rise to the upper eshahlons of the art stratosphere. {We can probably all personally think of at least one hugely famous artists who we think “hmmm” when we see their work, right?} So you can spend all your time creating amazing art but it doesn’t guarantee that a gallery will want to represent you or you will achieve the success you want.

A gallery is looking for an artist who already has paid their dues and built their reputation and who they can work with to take on to greater things. They don’t want to have to start from scratch and they will not save you if are floundering in the water.

A gallery will not build your reputation for you. They will only enhance it

Being tossed around on the sea of fate waiting for someone to come to your rescue at some unspecified time in the future is not a great survival plan. However, it is a popular plan that many artists believe is the one which will deliver them safely to the shore of artistic success. This is just TOO IMPORTANT to leave to chance…

Galleries will not throw you a life ring. In other words you have to build your own lifeboat

Isn’t it a much better idea to start building your own lifeboat now, by working to establish your own artistic reputation? That way you are much better equipped to get gallery representation in the future if you want it and to control your own art if you don’t.

So what steps do you need to build on to start your reputation building survival strategy?

Start building

Present yourself and your work professionally.
Invest time {and probably money} in ensuring that yourself and your work are presented in the best way possible. Ensure that photographs of your work are high quality and show it off to its best advantage. It’s no use thinking “people will like the work even if the photos are rubbish”. They won’t be able to see beyond the poor photography.

Make sure your website looks professional. This is many peoples first point of contact with you and your work. They may see your work or hear your name at an event and want to find out more. If they find an unprofessional website {or can’t find your website at all} then that’s it, opportunity missed.

Make sure all your materials {emails, website, business cards etc} present a consistent message. Keep the colours and typefaces the same across everything and establish your brand.

Extend this to yourself. When you attend an art event, make sure you “dress the part”. It may sound silly but choose clothes that convey success rather than “struggling artist”

Network and build connections.
Go to every art event you can find in your local community. Get to know the “faces” that crop up all the time and become involved in the “goings on”. This way you will find out about opportunities for shows and ways to get involved in art projects. This will all help your CV and reputation to grow.

Behave in a professional and businesslike way.
Always remember that a gallery is a business. They aren’t doing it out of the goodness of their hearts to create somewhere nice for people to visit on a Sunday afternoon and drink some wine and look at some nice stuff. Like you they need to make money to survive so they want to deal with artists that they can trust to come up with the goods. They won’t want to have to deal with an artistic temperament or inconsistent reliability. Always deal with galleries in a organised business like manner and convey to them that you take the business of art seriously. This will enhance your reputation as a serious artist.

Build your cv.
Show your work as much as possible to as many people as possible. Both online and offline. Don’t be shy and hide your light under a bushel. Get it out there and see what opportunities arise. This way you are building your CV, line by line, until you have an impressive track record which conveys consistency to a gallery.

Launch your lifeboat

So start building your OWN Reputation now. Don’t wait for someone else to do it for you. Then you will be in a strong position to work with any gallery in the future on an equal footing in a mutually fulfilling manner. You will also be much better positioned to approach galleries for representation and will have the connections to help you do it.

And what if no gallery shows up? It doesn’t matter. You are fully in control of your own lifeboat and confidently steering your own artistic destiny.

Do you believe in taking control yourself or think a gallery should deal with everthing? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Image courtesy of Freddy The Boy under Creative Commons Licence

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Best of the web | January 2011 | Don’t miss these

Creative Entrepreneurs month

Hugh Macleod’s Ignore Everybody

I love Hugh MacLeod’s take on creativity. {see image above} 

Check out Hugh’s tips for creativity in Art and Business

Make sure you scroll down. These are so true.

Freedom, money, time and the key to creative success

Mark McGuiness of Lateral Action has created a FREE E-book detailing his struggles to find a balance between freedom, money, time and his creativity. Its an interesting and inspiring read and you don’t have to register to download. Read it here

I thoroughly recommend having a look round LateralAction.com too. It’s packed full of great info on creative entrepreneurship

John T Ungers Art Heroes Radio

John T Unger is a great example of an artist doing well on his own terms by using the power of the internet to reach a global audience. He creates stunningly beautiful firebowls out of metal and sells them all over the world. Art Heroes radio is his project whereby we can all learn from his great interviews with artists who are living and working successfully in the arts.

Check out his own site too for a good example of a great artists website in action

And finally… Should I work for free?

In short… NO

In long… well, see what ShouldIWorkForFree.com has to say. 😉

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The mysterious case of the artist and the money monster

Money , So they say , Is the root of all evil today…

So wrote the majestic Pink Floyd way back in the 70’s on the troubled relationship between money, creativity and ethics, accompanied by clinking coins and ringing cash registers.

It’s pretty much true to say that many artists relationship with money could at best be described as ambivalent and at worst, downright dysfunctional.

You may feel that:

  • You don’t deserve money
  • That your skills are something anyone could do and don’t deserve remuneration
  • You are more comfortable giving something away for free
  • That exchanging your work for money somehow taints or sullies it
  • Selling your art makes you a sell out
  • That real artists suffer for their art

This relationship with money can be a serious hinderance in the development of a healthy career in the arts. It can hold you back, undermine your confidence and lead to under valuing and under pricing of your skills.

Sustainable creativity…

Over Xmas I bought a lot of my presents from Etsy. I bought some gorgeous things, all beautifully made and packaged. I was struck by the low cost of the items, considering the amount of work and love which had gone into them. For two items in particular, I calculated that after the cost of materials had been taken into consideration, there was absolutely NO profit made by the sellers. In fact they could actually have been making a loss. The sad truth is that this is not a sustainable business. It’s really a hobby, but even then you should cover material costs or you can’t keep going.

You do have to make a profit to keep moving forward and creating more beautiful things

The sad truth is also that if one person sells too cheap, other similar artists find their work devalued as they have to reduce prices to compete. Its a disastrous vicious circle.

Value your skills. Not everyone can do what you do!

Many artists have a really hard time valuing their skills.

Creativity is often viewed as a randomly bestowed talent and not something that has been honed by years of practice, hardship, trial and error and working jobs that you  hate.

Every time you are tempted to undervalue an artwork, when the voices in your head say “it only took 30 minutes. I can’t charge more than $20” you need to change the way you look at it.

It may be 30 minutes now but it more than likely breaks down something like this:

30 minutes + 1 year foundation + 3 years fine art degree + 10 years working two jobs {one with an evil boss!} to finance your art whilst you paint at night.

That’s a LOT of time and skill honing.

When you change the way you look at it, its easier to see just how valuable your skill is and how a lot of training and hard knocks have gone into being able to do it as well as you do.

Think more like a burly plumber

When was the last time you got a plumber round to your house and he fixed your leak for free, or went to the dentist and discovered she would do a whole bunch of complex orthodontic work for $10?

People with skills like these, which they have worked hard to achieve, as have you, just don’t work for free. They have a culture of quite rightly expecting payment in return for their skills. This culture doesnt really exist within the arts so it’s much harder to feel comfortable asking for a decent fee for your work. It is imperitive to your survival as an artist that you do though.

Selling your work too cheaply won’t mean that you sell more. Collectors perception of worth is wrapped up in price so it will just mean that people perceive your work as less valuable and worthwhile. They will still make the same gut reaction as to whether they choose to buy it or not.

Strangely, raising prices can actually stimulate more sales as perception of the value of your work is raised.

Under-pricing and it’s sucky consequences

It is very easy to put too low a price on your art. Unfortunately, the eventual logical conclusion of under pricing is that you have to stop creating art and get a “proper job” as you can’t support yourself from your creativity.

There is nothing romantic or creative about that horrible sickly gut-knawing panic of waking at 3am and wondering where you are going to get the money to pay the mortgage, which is due tomorow and in arrears.

Worrying about how you are going to survive diverts precious energy away from creativity. No one can thrive creatively when under stress.

Money = Freedom
Money is magical. It gives you the freedom to work and create.

Take control and lose the fear of the lurking money monster

Money can be like some creepy monster that lurks in the shadows, giving you the fear down the back of your neck and getting bigger and bigger the more you try to ignore it.

The best way to deal with monsters is to confront them head on. Drag that money monster out from under the stairs and give it a good kicking. You will find, as is often the way with monsters, that when you look at them in daylight they are nowhere near as scary as your imagination made them.

You need to take control of the money monster, dont let it control you and derail your art career.

Beat your money monster by:

  • Getting your finances in order. I know so many artists who have a carrier bag of receipts in their studio. Dont put them off until they are the size of a teetering mountain. Little and often will start to clear them up and put you back in control.
  • Employ a book-keeper if possible. They are brilliant, much cheaper than an accountant and will whip your books into order for you. They often offer a service where you can hand them that carrier bag of receipts at the end of each month and they will go away and SORT IT ALL OUT. Hooray! You can usually find semi retired local book keepers through Google who will do all this for a very reasonable fee.
  • Checking your pricing. Do your prices reflect your skills? Do they need updating?
  • Valuing your skills. Not everyone in the world can do what you do and you have worked HARD to get here. Respect that journey.

What is your attitude to money? Does it help or hinder your art career? Share with us in the comments.


Monette Satterfield of The Artful Business Blog has written a great post about how ideas about money can be limiting to your success. I urge you to check out her blog as she manages to demystify money for us creatives, which is no mean feat.

And now, if you have that Pink Floyd song ringing round your head, heres a quick blast.

Image released under creative commons by Kevin Dooley

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