This post is by guest author, M. Theresa Brown. This article has been edited and published with the author's permission. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
"If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."
Good advice for the artist whose career has been going nowhere yet he continues to pursue the same path! But what of the artist whose career has been doing well and now has fallen
There is no doubt that these are frustrating times. But it is not just the "economy." The times are also changing. And the combination of a number of individual factors have meshed to create a time of seeming instability, anxiety and negativity. It's a good time to remember that you cannot always change what is happening around you, but you can change how you react to it!
I chatted with an artist the other day who was driving across his state and stopping at every gallery and framing shop to show his prints. His prints were amazing. Many were created in pre-giclee days when Serigraphs were the premier print. Hand pulled in 18 different colors, they were a labor of love, concentration, skill and dedication! He had also adapted and offered giclees as well. His business flourished for several decades. He shipped out 50-75 serigraph orders a week, wholesaling them at $150-$200 each, to retail outlets across the country who in turn sold them for $600-$1,000. But slowly, the market began to dry up. It was not the economy. It was the times.
The past 10 years have seen industries change dramatically. How many new artists today have learned and embraced the methods to create serigraphs (or etchings)? How many small print stores are still on your block? How about Photography stores? How many sign painters who still hand letter? And to further emphasize....how many cars still have stick shifts in them? How many people can drive to a destination without GPS? How many people need to get home to make a phone call? Are there even any pay phones left?
So the point is that everything changes whether we wish it or not, and as an artist, you have to be aware of these changes. You need to have or develop the attitude and perseverance to be able to adapt and adjust to these changing times. You have choices. You can change your techniques and/or your marketing plan. Adjusting can be as simple as developing new techniques within your art field. But for the career traditionalists with years of expertise, it really means changing the way you market your craft and not changing how you create it.
And that is why you need to know where you are in your business plan! There is no doubt that January is considered the month for premium motivation but for those new to this information, anytime is a good time!
March is a big month because you are nearing the end of 25% of the year! That's food for thought isn't it? Now if you are on target with your plan, then the next three months should be mapped out. Because if you have developed your plan, you have, to date, been far more successful than the artist who has not! One big reason is because the artist with no plan is
lacking the direction, thus the necessary perseverance that self representation requires. It is too easy to try something once or twice and then give up. But if your plan requires you to stick with it for a month or three months then you have a better chance of seeing positive results! And for the artists who have perfected their craft, your concentration and time should be on the new marketing aspect of your business plan if your sales have dropped.
And what about the artist whom I was chatting with? He was a delight to talk with. He was handling the changes as a professional should. There was no gloom, doom or despair in his
conversation. He was a positive artist who was matter of fact about the changes that time had brought to his art form. He knew that his old way of doing business had stopped working. Many of his retail outlets had or were closing. He smiled and told me that yes, it was hard work. He had stopped at malls and stores which had framing shops and galleries closing right and left. But, undaunted, he was persevering. And he was finding success by following his 2010 plan of leaving the studio and going door to door to the venues to whom he used to sell online and via catalogs and was discovering new ones. In doing so, he was exposing a whole new generation of art collectors to the techniques and beauty of an art form most knew nothing about. In his case he was astute enough to know that in order to move with the times, he needed to change the way he marketed his art.
A lesson for us all and an attitude for success. That artist will be fine!