This Post is by Daniel J. Keys, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Going over some of the recent articles written by various FAV contributors (myself included) you might get the impression that there’s a bit of inconsistency amongst us: Some give advice that often seems to contradict other’s instructions; their instructions go against things you may have been taught were right, by someone else; and another person’s teachings may disregard all others' opinions, including yours, still.
My question then, is who’s right? If we’re all experienced professionals at what we do, and our advice to you differs a bit from one writer to the next, whose direction is to be adhered to? The one with the most experience? Whoever appears to be the most successful?
Avoiding the sea-saw, and the cult
The answer to this is not in jumping from one way of doing to the next popularly accepted method that comes along; nor is it in following one particular individual’s advice as though they were Moses leading you to the “promised land”.
Finding a balance by allowing each new bit of information to be processed and tried until it becomes something that you’ll either keep, shelf, or toss out altogether, is the only way to determine what will work best for you.
Once you find something that you deem as successful, it doesn’t matter what the next guy says; continue with what you’ve proven to work for you.
A difference of opinion
For example: FAV writers have varying opinions when it comes to how to approach a gallery successfully. Clint Watson believes in referrals, whereas I'd rather send a top-notch portfolio (Editor's note - we also actually know an artist who believes artists should never approach galleries and instead wait for galleries to approach them.). The fact of the matter is however, that we've both been successful at what we do so we’re both right in our own ways.
This means that although some methods are better than others, there's still more than one way to skin a cat (not that I'd ever condone such an inhumane act), and finding what works for you will pay in the end. Sure it'll take some effort, as anything worthwhile is worth fighting for, but the time spent rationally deciding which direction to take will help in keeping your focus and achieving your dreams.
The proof of desire is focus.
It is essential to remain focused on your goals. Notice that I said your goals. It’s your job to set them, and then search out the information required to achieve them. That’s where we at FAV come in: We show you what has worked for us in similar instances, and then you can tailor each formula to suit your own individual needs.
Eventually, you’ll be able to single out what’s effective for you, and continue on down your path, endeavoring to reach higher levels of success.
Applying the “Do What Works Method” to your art
This will work where art techniques are concerned as well. I’ve come across many confused artists that have attempted to “soak in” so much differing information from lots of successful artists that they ultimately don’t have a clue as to which direction to take their work in, and thus remain wishy-washy for their entire careers.
The reason why successful artists are successful is because they do what works… for them: They remain focused on developing in what they love to do, and edit out whatever contradicts their proven methods.
Old dogs learning new tricks
This isn’t to say that you can’t, or in some cases shouldn’t, change your way of doing something. If what you’re doing isn’t proving effective, change it. It’s that simple. But change it because that's what you feel would be best for you; not because someone else said that it’s the only way to go.
Considering a plain, train, or automobile
Only you can decide what it is that you’re after, and likewise what methods you’ll need to utilize to arrive at your desired purpose. Just because someone else arrived at their destination by flying in an airplane, doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to travel. Driving or taking a train may be slower, but I guarantee the stories will be better.
Similarly, doing what’s best for you in your career will result in your being content, happy, and an all the more balanced individual.