5 Things That Are Sabotaging Your Art Career
1. You Don’t Understand Your Abilities, Talents, and Goals
In my book Secrets of the Art World, I help artists work through this process in great detail. Passion, excitement, and drive are important, but you need more than that. You need to understand where your work specifically fits in the art world. Wanting to make it, is great. But, do you have the chops? Is your work technically up to snuff? Have you looked at what others are doing in your medium, your region, your price range? Have you received the feedback and honest criticism that will take your work to the next level? Do you fully understand your goals (how many pieces of work you need to produce each week, the price point at which you need to sell your work, and the client list you should have, etc.) and the time, commitment, and dedication required to meet those goals?
2. You Aren’t Disciplined
This is a big one. I’ve seen a lot of artists crash and burn over the years, and not from lack of passion or business acumen, rather it’s lack of self-care, lack of discipline, and in many cases, the inability to accept criticism, ask for help, or let go of long-held, negative mindsets about selling art. The art world is only “seemingly glamorous.” You may see pictures of artists at exhibitions and shows all dressed up and schmoozing with collectors and industry celebrities. Let me tell you a little secret: What you’re seeing on your Facebook feed is just a couple hours of sparkle after months and months of time spent in the studio. Every working artist I know gets up, puts their big girl/boy pants on, gets to work, and doesn’t stop until they’re satisfied. Like everyone else who works for a living, successful artists show up, every day, no excuses. Even if they have a day job, they find a way to produce.
3. You Don’t Treat Your Art Career Like a Business
In the past couple of decades, a lot has changed in the way artists share and sell their work, and every year there is a new platform to showcase (and compete) with other artists. You need to stay abreast of industry trends. You need to know how to price your work, who to network with, who to talk to, who to submit work to, and how to keep tabs on your expenses. My book can help you do all of this, but so can annual trade shows and conferences. By attending these events, you stay in the game. You make the right connections, and you learn what you need to know to keep your business in the black, year after year.
4. You Haven’t Identified Your Signature Style as an Artist
Most artists cringe when I mention social media, blogging, marketing, and advertising. I’ve seen many-an-eye-roll in my day. “Oh, I don’t have time for that, Litsa! I’m an artist!” Well, then, eventually you’ll have all the time in the world because no one is going to be able to find, let alone buy your work if you don’t make time for it. You need to work on your brand. Yes, your artwork is essentially your “signature” and calling card, but you and a million other artists have one too. You need a plan and a strategy to execute that brand and put that message and your art out there.
5. You Complain and Cast Blame Too Much
You need a positive attitude in this business. Don’t let your self-doubt show. Let’s face it: This is hard. But, you need to stop being negative, blaming others for your problems, and complaining how difficult it is to be an artist. (And here’s a little tip: don’t blame others for not liking your work on social media! The last thing you want to do is let people know your work isn’t selling!) Be open to possibilities and welcome help and support from others. Change your mindset to a positive one. Become more process-orientated. This is not an empty platitude. By focusing on the work, and remembering why you do it, you will naturally be more excited, passionate, and enthusiastic about your work. Art is subjective. Not everyone is going to love your work. That’s okay. Building an established art career and an engaged audience takes time, patience, and most of all, a willingness to keep trying. I know it can be discouraging at times. That’s why it’s so important to keep working and stay in touch with other artists and industry experts who can inspire you and keep you motivated.
Don’t let these things get in the way of your success. To learn more about what you can do to improve your career as an artist, be sure to read my book Secrets of the Art World: Getting Real about the Process, Business, and Selling of Your Work.