This article is by Carolyn Henderson, the managing half of Steve Henderson Fine Art. A regular contributing writer for FineArtViews, Carolyn’s alter ego, This Woman Writes, publishes lifestyle articles in online and in print newspapers and on her blog site. The co-owner of Steve Henderson Fine Art with her painter husband Steve, Carolyn is the author of Grammar Despair: Quick simple solutions to problems like, “Do I say him and me or he and I?” and the money saving book, Live Happily on Less.
Social media is not the top place to gather trusted, valued advice for conducting your life or your business.
And while we frequently fall into the trap of thinking we’ll get good “tips” there – regarding networking, building clientele, increasing sales, and marketing our product – when we really try to put into practice what the “influencers” tell us to do, it all falls flat somehow, like old tonic in a mixed drink.
I was reminded of this recently when I encountered another one of these, “Use Your Free Time Effectively and You’ll Be Fabulously Successful” articles, the author’s profile pic looking like it was snapped while he gave a motivational speech on stage. I hovered over it, curious as to what could be said that garnered 130,000 Likes and 50,000 Shares, but not wanting to add my digital click to his views. But curiosity won out.
And I’m still curious, in sheer wonder that this article – which pretty much sounds like a word for word transcription of a motivational speech – achieved such a response in its readers:
“Words of wisdom.”
I don’t think even Jesus picked up accolades like this, and without meaning to attack the author, what he said was commonsense intrinsically and dangerously blended with the Corporate Success mentality to do, do, do on your “free” time (six hours a day) after a full day of giving your best and your brightest to your employer. There’s a strong guilt factor, and the message is that if you don’t get off your ass, which for many readers has been in an office cubicle chair all day, and do some actual work, then you’ll remain a failure.
Admittedly, it’s a great idea to not consistently waste one’s time on yet another propagandized (my word, not the author’s) movie, or hours surfing Facebook, or other such fluff. And an invaluable idea, also, to read (Point 2, I think), but I suspect, from the article’s overall tone and what it holds out to be the prize (vice presidency of this corporation, CEO of that), that such literature doesn’t include The Narnia chronicles, writings of the apostolic fathers, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, or any other such fare that provokes and promotes deep, philosophical and potentially metaphysical thinking, which, for an artist, is highly beneficial since we deal with matters that transcend the day to day elbow jostling of life.
(One would hope that those in any field, especially business, would also think more deeply than on the surface, but given what shoots to the top in sites like LinkedIn, I don’t think we’re quite there yet.)
Those of you who are artists but not full-time ones – which, by the way, represents a significant portion of the artist community, and is nothing to be ashamed of at. all. – know that in order to get time to do your artwork and the marketing of it thereof, you frequently carve minutes from limited “free-time” hours, during which you are tired and would rather sit back in the chair and stare at the cat licking its tail. You are already impressive, and the last thing you need is to be scolded – by someone of a strong corporate, business mentality – that you’re not doing enough. We’re a bit spoiled, we’re told, to think that, in the six hours we have between 6 p.m. and midnight (up at 5 a.m., I’m thinking? Sleep is a luxury), we must do, do, do in a businesslike, efficient, effective, pro-active, networking, purposeful way. Otherwise – there it is again – we will not achieve our goals, and we will thereby be a failure, one of our own making.
If this attitude were truth, we should have millions of successful business entrepreneurs in this world, because millions are reading the corporate motivational seminar advice, and wholeheartedly putting it into practice.
My point is this: to advance in your art/business career, it does indeed take work, perseverance, determination, time, effort, and sheer tenacity – but at the same point, it does not have to be a slog, which is what the success-building techniques of Techno Corporate advisers feel like:
- Build those contacts. Network network network.
- Read those (successful business) books.
- Listen to the Influencers and do what they say.
- Find a mentor and submit yourself under him/her.
- Accept the precious pearls of wisdom from financial magnates as more valuable than a word from God, who isn’t much of a businessman by the way because He’s into things like love, compassion, sharing, generosity, peace and all that. (You don’t have to believe in God to value those qualities – notably missing in the big business world – and determine that somehow they will factor in your own way of doing business.)
The words are the same – work hard, keep at it, use your precious time wisely – but the results are different. Following the business/corporate-speak model leaves one feeling drained and ineffectual, while following the quiet, wending path of thought and experimentation without worrying about Success! Now! – as well as doing what you realistically can while living in the circumstances you find yourself in today – is doable, manageable for the long haul, and potentially quite pleasurable.
By following the second path, you may not emerge the CEO of a company (nor, incidentally, is there any guarantee that you will do so on the first path), but you’ll also not drive yourself to exhaustion, chronic frustration, a low sense of worth, and ineffectiveness.
The artist’s work is different from a corporate CEO’s. It only makes sense that his method of doing so will be different as well.
Next time, let’s explore some of the corporate business techniques that are conveniently customized for us as artists, and see if we can sidestep them.
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