This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. She’s blogged since 2002 about the business side–and the spiritual inside–of art. She says, “I share my experiences so you won’t have to make ALL the same mistakes I did….” For ten years, Luann also wrote a column (“Craft Matters”) for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explored the funnier side of her life in craft. She’s a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry). Her work has appeared in books, magazines, and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.
If we only look at how far we have to go, we forget to celebrate how far we’ve come.
This is one of the most important ways to encourage yourself to maintain an exercise program. And it’s one of the first things we neglect to do with our art and art business.
It’s such a simple concept yet so easily overlooked.
It’s a good short-term strategy to get you through your workout, of course. There’s a huge mental difference between the groan of “I’ve only done 20 pushups!” vs. “I’ve only got 20 more to go!”
But it’s even more critical for the long haul. “I can only do 25 pushups” is self-defeating. “I could only do four when I started this program, and now I can do 25!” is self-encouraging. Same number of pushups. Totally different mindset.
And guess which one will get you to the gym tomorrow?
It’s the same in your art, and your art biz. “I only have four galleries!” vs. “I had none when I moved here, and now I have four!!”
My first year in business, I had to save for three months to buy a piece of equipment that cost less than $200. That’s how much I sold one piece of jewelry for yesterday, in the first hour of my open studio.
I remember visiting the ACC-Baltimore show years ago, wondering if I would ever be able to get accepted to an amazing show like that. Then I applied, and was accepted. Now I wonder what all the fuss was about. It’s a very nice show, but was still just “business as usual”.
But is it really?
Looking at our accomplishments is important for several reasons. For one, it encourages us to stay the course. It helps us overcome feelings of discouragement, inadequacy, failure.
But most of all, it encourages us to turn around our whole way of looking at life.
You got rejected from that top-tier show? Well, you’re in good company. LOTS of great artists don’t get in every year. One well-known artisan shared that they apply to dozens of shows a year, hoping to get into a handful of them. Even the very best get rejected.
And look at you–an artist with great jury images and pretty cool work even applying to that show! Did you ever imagine you would ever CONSIDER applying to that show? And did you think you even had a chance of getting in?
Look at you! You have the courage to follow your dream, make stuff with your own two hands, search out your venues, research your market, find a photographer, fill out those applications and get your work out there. Do you know how many people fail once–and never try again? Yes, you do. Because you yourself had to get over that mindset long ago to get where you are today.
Take a few minutes today and make a list. Start with everything you’ve already accomplished this year. Quite a list, isn’t it?
Now go back to last year. What did you accomplish LAST year? I’ll bet that’s quite a list, too.
Now look back five years. Ten years. Where did you start? How far have you come? Where are you now?
And look how much closer you are to where you want to be in the next five years! Ever so much closer than you were when you first started out.
When I first started out, I didn’t even know anyone who made stuff and sold it for a living. I didn’t have an idea. I didn’t have a photographer, a peer group, a network of friends in the biz. I didn’t have any idea how to sell my work, where to sell my work, or even who would buy it. I couldn’t see further than my own little town of Keene, NH for a market–though it didn’t take me long to figure out there was a big world out there!
I didn’t have a catalog, publicity, postcards, a body of work or any customers, let alone wholesale accounts.
I DID have a business plan. And every year or so, I pull it out and look at where I am in it.
It’s always an eye-opener. And it always needs updating.
No matter how big I dreamed, I always have to make the plan bigger. No matter how many goals I set for myself, I always have to add more.
Let’s make this beautiful day a “Pat Yourself on the Back” Day.
Let’s celebrate your progress, your efforts, and your future success.
Gosh, I’ve gotten myself so riled up, maybe I’ll make a list today, too.
Come back and share what surprised you on your list. What made you realize you are actually pretty good at what you do? Stick it above your work station. Let it remind you that one bad day/event/missed opportunity/year will not break you.
You got this!