Today's Post is by Lori Woodward Simons, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.
In the movie, You've Got Mail, Tom Hanks has a mantra, “It's not personal, it's business”.
Because I am a creative type, the business of finding a market for my artwork is entirely personal. It doesn't make sense to half-wittingly adhere to someone else's business plan for my life and art, and it does me no good to accomplish a plan that won't satisfy my goals and desires. Rather, it is imperative that I have a crystal clear understanding of what the word Success means to me.
Success often means different things for different artists. A few years ago, I conducted a personal survey using 6 of my professional artist friends as subjects. I asked this simple question: What is your personal definition of Success? Although, each would admit that making money was near the top of the list, the most common answer had to do with the quality and subject matter of their artwork.
While some portraitists adore painting their subjects, many of them get swept up into a market that they later regret having entered. Commissions are really about painting for someone else's taste and vision, but the money is so good.! Now I am willing to bet that if these artists were willing to risk a temporary drop in income, that each could be making an equally good of a living painting subjects that move them emotionally.
Taking this into consideration, it seems logical that before I design a marketing plan for myself, that I keep my personal definition of success in mind – because it just doesn't make sense to design my plan around someone else's concept of what it means to have 'made it' as an artist. First and foremost, I must be clear about what will make me happy in the long run, or else I'm wasting my time on my business plan. Here are a few questions I ask myself throughout the year – to keep me on my own track.
What are some of the things that I'd like to do during my lifetime, aside from my art career, that I'd feel sorry about if I didn't get to do?
If all my dreams came true, what would my artwork look like, how would I sell it and where?
How many hours a week would I like to spend in my studio working?
How can I combine my life's dreams with my art career? Am I currently good enough to compete in my “dream's come true” arena?
These questions, like their answers, are personal. If you were to list your answers, the results are likely to be different than mine, but I'll give at least one of my answers here.
When considering the last question listed above, I'd have to honestly admit that I don't feel quite ready to take on my “dreams come true” gallery. This would probably be Trailside Galleries in Scottsdale. You might be asking, Well, why doesn't she think she's ready for such a place? For one: I don't have a large enough body of work at this point to submit to a gallery for consideration. Why not? Because I don't spend enough hours in the studio to produce 50 or more dynamite paintings a year. I'm just not ready for this venue, and I'm not at all sure that I'm cut out to spend 40 hours/week alone in my studio.
But does that mean I'm not ready for any venue? Not at all. I also would be very happy selling on my own through studio shows and my web site, and with these kinds of outlets, I'd have the freedom to paint what I want – when I want.
Now if I continued answering all my personal questions on this page, you'd be yawning pretty quickly. So perhaps it's a good time for you, the reader, to start brainstorming – come up with your own questions, answers and personal plan and definition of success. Design a business plan to make all your dreams come true... and remember, the fulfillment might be in Scottsdale or it might just be in your own backyard. Find your personal definition of success.
-Lori Woodward Simons
Editor's Note: Wouldn't it be great if there were a precise formula for success? But, as Lori points out, every artist's path is different. That's why I'd Rather Be in the Studio!, the book by Alyson Stanfield, provides easy-to-follow self-promotion practices that help you find your way at any point in your career. Match Internet marketing strategies with sincere personal skills to take charge of your career.
Chasing the Sweet Embrace of Success by Developing Habits
The WHY, WHAT, HOW Path to Success
Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Effective People
Alyson Stanfield's Six Principles of no-excuses art marketing
13 Sure-Fire Rules to Create Success for the Emerging Artist