A Simple Mindset for Creative People To Earn A Win.
I've wanted to be a Fine Artist since I was a little kid. When looking at all of the careers in the visual arts, it seemed like, the whole idea of having a career based around painting whatever I wanted to seemed like a dream.
Looking back at it now, maybe it was a little too dream-like.
I grew up before the internet and even though I did have a family friend who was a commercial artist, I didn’t have any role models who were painting for the sake of painting.
So, the whole concept seemed unrealistic and unobtainable and I labeled it in my mind as
Don’t get me wrong, I painted. I have been consistently painting and drawing because I loved it. It was also a bit like learning a new skateboard trick, in that I loved that validation and pride that I felt from developing my art skills.
But as far as taking intentional actions to make something of myself as a painter in a career sense, I tried nothing.
Are You Preventing Your Own Success
Like I did?
So, I pursued other aspects of my artistic talent to earn money. Graphic design, web development, logos, cartooning, illustration etc.
I guess when it comes down to it, I didn’t think my art had a chance, so I kept it safe. I kept it to myself.
Nothing really much happened with my paintings until I grew balls to take chances on myself. I started to show my art around locally at coffee shops and restaurants in New York City and near my home at the Jersey shore. I built a website to show my artwork and got cards made. At the time, it felt all like a big gamble and a scary risk.
Turns out that sort of gentle confidence building is what I needed most. As I became less afraid to share my work, I grew courage to nudge my art out of the nest.
Guess What happened?
When I gave it a chance…it learned to fly. Here I am a decade and a half later still making my living as a professional fine artist.
I hear over and over again, different versions of the same story. In a way, I guess it’s reassuring to know that you’re not alone.
We all worry, “What if my art doesn’t have a chance”?
One of the many lessons that I’ve learned which I’ve been writing about in my soon to be released book is this… It is not just a fear of failure that stops us from trying. It is
With so much evidence out there about how tough the job market is for artists, the question remains, “Why should we think that our art has a chance”?
I’m not going to blow smoke up your butt and tell you that you’re going to make it as an artist. Statistically speaking, despite what the books and blogs say, most creative people won’t make a living from it. That doesn't mean you can't, it just means that most people out there with talent and desires probably won’t land a song on the charts or have work hung up at the Louvre.
Why should I even try?
Going back to the analogy of the nest for a moment here. A mama bird doesn’t push her baby birds out of the nest because she doesn’t love them. It’s quite the opposite. She does it because she loves them enough to let them have a chance. Furthermore, it's her duty to force them to try.
The lesson to take from this is that whether your art has a chance or not really depends on what your idea of success is. Ask yourself what exactly you want a chance at? Can you clearly articulate what you want? Are you willing to do what it takes?
Steven Pressfield, author of “The War of Art” said , “To labor in the arts for any reason other than love is prostitution.”
Let that sink in.
Ask Yourself These Four Questions…
Before you get to the next sections, keep in mind that you don't need to have solid answers or thoughts yet. Just use these questions and steps as a way to shift your thinking.
See what comes up when you ask yourself these things. Write about it. Meditate on it.
- What if you re-define success as truly inspiring just one person?
- What if you stop comparing your work to others?
- What if you just focus on authentically expressing yourself?
- If you change what the finish line looks like or where it is, how would that affect your chances of reaching it?
Here’s 3 Ways to Give Your Art a Chance
1. Define why you’re doing your art? Be clear. Be honest.
Are you making your art for social media likes? As therapy? To get laid?
2. Can you re-articulate your definition of success so that you believe it can happen?
In other words can you come up with a version of your desires on a smaller, more believable scale? Something you can attain with some hard work? Build confidence slowly.
3. Now go ahead and nudge your art out of the nest and let it grow wings.
Take a chance. Know that your work might crash and burn and you may take criticism. That's all part of it. Be willing to fall. Then get back up.
You might be interested in hearing these Podcast episodes with guests who just went for it and succeeded in their own way.
- Will Conner – Entrepreneur, Surfer, Professional Musician
- Dan Lebowitz – Singer/Guitarist for ALO and Dad
- Drew Brophy – Professional Artist, Author & Big Wave Surfer
What do you think? I’d love to know your thoughts. Leave me comments or questions below.
PS: This article has some links that contain affiliate links to books and products that I genuinely support and like. If you buy anything from these links, I will make a small commission. It won't cost you anything extra for this. This is a nice way to help support my efforts to keep blogging.