As a career consultant and Artrepreneur myself, I have many golden rules that I teach and follow. Many of my clients have told me it is often the simple change in attitude or behavior that can often reap the best results. Here are 25 of my favorites:
1. Create your master plan, and plan your destiny. Your choice to be an artist is part of your mission, but what kind of artist do you want to be? What do you want to do with your art? When your mission, values and identity are in harmony, the events in your life move with an effortless momentum, and you attract the right people at the right time. Strive to attain balance among your creative, career and financial goals.
2. Set goals, and make the commitment. Write your goals on index cards as though they have already been achieved. Make them specific, visual and tangible, in the present tense. Every morning read them with enthusiasm. An example: “I have a 1,000 square foot studio with lots of light in the quiet downtown district at a rental fee below $500 a month.” Then create the action plans and daily activities that help you reach these goals.
3. Keep yourself motivated through visual stimulation. Create a “Dream Book” or photo collage. Fill it with pictures of your ideal home, spacious studio, dream exhibition or performance space, adventurous foreign lands, heavenly artists’ retreats and other delights that you want to be a part of your life. Post your favorite pictures, positive images and inspiring quotes on your studio wall, on your bathroom mirror, above your desk and easel — places where you will see them everyday.
4. Hire yourself as the CEO of your career, and delegate those tedious tasks to others. Contact your local high school or college internship department. Interns will work for experience, school credit or a small stipend. They can help you research galleries on the Internet, stretch canvases, prepare mailings, send e-mails and tweets, organize your papers, and type letters.
5. Tell your story with passion. Behind every good art sale is a story about the work and the artist. Most buyers enjoy learning about the artist and his/ her inspiration. They also enjoy sharing that story with others. You are different than any one else on the planet. That which makes you unique is communicated through your art. When you tell your story in words, speak and write with enthusiasm, passion and confidence. Those qualities are infectious.
6. Accept money as Green Energy, not the enemy of creativity. The more financially independent you become, the more freedom, good health, better supplies, studio, and peace of mind you gain to be more inspired and to help others. Associate money with positive and powerful attributes, and you will attract more of it.
7. Permanently erase the three most destructive self-fulfilling prophesies. Substitute “I’m an artist, not a business person” with “I’m a creative Artrepreneur.” Substitute “I’m a poor starving artist” with “I create and attract Abundance." Substitute “All I need is an agent” with “I am an empowered artist seeking equal and fair partnerships.”
8. Take responsibility. There are many things over which we have little or no control. But, those attitudes, decisions and actions we take can have huge consequences. Catch yourself when you are making excuses or blaming others or circumstances for your situation.
9. Farm and feed your relationships daily. Every successful career has a foundation of strong relationships. Make a practice of building new relationships and taking care of existing ones. Because much of our communication now is impersonal and electronic, be among those who connect with others using more personalized methods.
10. Be prepared for success. Never leave the house without a pocketful of business cards. Keep plenty of promotional materials on hand. Update your resume. Maintain your Web site and/or blog with current artwork and news updates. Keep your database updated and in an easy-to-use format.
11. Follow your passion, not the market. Focus on creating your best work first, and then determine what your best market venues are. If you reverse the order, you will always be in disharmony and behind the market.
12. Consider artists as your allies, not competitors. Channel energy in a positive direction through camaraderie and synergy instead of negative back stabbing or feelings of envy. Empowerment results from team support, partnerships, mutual support and cross-promotion. Treat other artists as you want to be treated.
13. Avoid procrastination. This is one of the major causes of failure. The pain of trying to finish a project at the last hour is greater than confronting it immediately. Some of the reasons for procrastination are: fear of failure; fear of success; fear of change; fear of the unknown; fear of responsibilities; lack of motivation; lack of skill and lack of preparation. If you procrastinate excessively, consider hiring a career coach.
14. Reach out to your collectors regularly. Marketing experts say that 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of the people you know. Rely on repeat customers and referrals. Give your collectors a reason to recommend you to their friends and associates.
15. Diversify your market. Sell small and large pieces, originals and editions, and less expensive media and higher priced media, such as drawings and paintings. This has always been sage advice and is especially true in this economy.
16. Focus! In your studio you can and should experiment to your heart’s desire always evolving and improving. When you bring your art out into the art market it should reveal a consistent, cohesive body of work. Serious gallery owners and collectors seek a focused vision from artists. Inconsistency makes you appear unprofessional and lacking in commitment.
17. Create a business plan that includes your customer demographics. When you identify the characteristics of your customers, you will ascertain where to find them, what publications they read, what organizations they are most likely to join, and how to reach them. Begin by describing all the qualities of your work and whom they will attract.
18. Integrate charitable donations into your marketing plan. Donate a percentage of your sales to a favorite charity, ideally one that is related to the subject matter of your work. This is one of the best sources of satisfaction as well as self-promotion.
19. Maintain good health, and take care of yourself. If your health is impaired, your career will be threatened. Balance work with relaxation and healthy nutrition. Exercise regularly. If you spend many hours sitting at your easel, get up and stretch every hour. Avoid the use of toxic artist materials, as well as toxic environments and relationships.
20. Break large projects down into smaller chunks. It has been said that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. If you are setting aside important projects waiting for that big block of time to be available you’ll discover that it may never arrive. It is better to use the five-minute strategy and tackle the project with small amounts of time on a regular basis.
21. Add pleasure to your tasks. Buy and/or create organization supplies that are colorful, well-designed and aesthetically appealing to you in order to make working with them a creative experience.
22. Plan ahead. Make tomorrow’s plans and write your “To Do” list the night before and arrange the activities in order of urgency. At the end of the day, clean up and de-clutter your work area and you’ll start the next day with a clear mind.
23. Keep a closed door to your private studio. This should be your sacred space. Let others know that you want to be left alone with your creativity. You should also provide time to brainstorm, daydream, meditate and restore balance. Set limits on your social and family demands.
24. Don’t strive for perfection; you’ll never attain it; no human ever has. Give yourself a break. If you are a perfectionist, you probably have impossibly high standards. How many times have you kept working on something only to waste more time and increase frustration? Knowing when it’s time to let it go — for now or forever — is a great lesson.
25. Continually educate yourself on the business of being an artist. Read and follow the wealth of advice offered in publications such as Art Calendar magazine, and seek out informative Web sites, blogs, books, workshops and teleseminars.
I hope you will incorporate one or more of these golden rules each day. Please let me know how they improve your life and career in the comment field below!