My Business: Fears and Avoidance

An Artist’s Workday

I read a quote from Seth Godin’s Blog on G+ the other day. In it he talked about the influence of Fear, Scarcity and Value in relationship to success. He wrote:

The things we fear are probably feared by others, and when we avoid them, we’re doing what others are doing as well.  Which is why there’s a scarcity of whatever work it is we’re avoiding. And of course, scarcity often creates value.

The shortcut is simple: if you’re afraid of something, of putting yourself out there, of creating a kind of connection or a promise, that’s a clue that you’re on the right track. Go, do that.”

I have been hiding or avoiding certain parts of my art business that are necessary to find on any kind of success. If I were to have it my way, the safe way, I would close off the world and retreat to my paints and easel and get lost.

Let’s face it though. We need people. We all need people. However, for many years I have been living out in the country hibernating with my family and keeping to a limited number of friends. My main professional activities have been attending art fairs and for a period of about 4 years I co-owned an art gallery (I’m not sure but does Facebook count?).

To get me where I want things need to change. As such, I am actively restructuring my life and taking a serious look at how my business is run.  In the process, with the guidance of my partner and friend, I realized I need to reach out to galleries and interior designers. So we took a journey to some places that have reputable galleries, looked around and gathered information.

Here is where my fear and avoidance plays a role.

My next step was to contact the galleries I thought would be a good fit.  I worked on the top two.  I emailed them my web site and images and waited for a response.


Historically, I would have just thought, “Well..they are not interested,” and just dropped the idea. I would have avoided any direct contact out of fear of rejection.

But my partner wouldn’t met me off the hook and reminded me that the difference between a hobby and a business is very specific. If I just stay in my studio and paint and give paintings away, sell it below its value, donate them to charity for auction than painting is a hobby. I want my art to sell through reputable, established and knowledgable galleries. I want to make a good living selling my paintings, fine art prints, private commissions and mural work. As such, I am responsible for a host of other responsibilities besides painting. I am my own accountant, secretary, travel agent, marketing director, P.R. director, SEO manager and Director of Sales.

Unless I take these responsibilities seriously my painting is just a hobby.

As such, I chose to “put myself out there” and tried to “make that connection”.

The first gallery I contacted was ran by a former boss that I knew already liked and appreciated my body of work.  Unfortunately, he is in the process of shutting down his business so was not a good fit for me.

So I moved on and I called the second gallery.

I emailed, called several times and left my comfort zone. I was always greeted respectfully but they were too busy to talk with me. Eventually, I reached the owner and she kindly informed my that I probably wasn’t the right fit for her galleries but she added, “well MAYBE we can set up a time on Monday for you to come in and you can show me your artwork.”

MAYBE, that was a scary word for me…that meant I had to call again and maybe just get a rejection. Maybe she was just being kind.

Regardless, I made a decision and on Monday I packed my car with my artwork (including a brand new still wet painting), drove 50 minutes south and showed up.

As she was busy with clients I sat anxiously and waited. I waited nearly two hours trying to convince myself to stay when what I wanted was to run.  However, watching her with her clients I knew this was the kind of gallery I was looking for. She greeted everyone warmly, she answered questions and genuinely took an interest in what her clients were looking for in their purchase.

Finally, a break came and she invited me in.  Opportunity presents itself to the prepared mind, and as I walked up to talk with with the gallery director, the gallery owner walked in.


Suddenly, I had the attention of the gallery director and owner. When I left nearly two hours later, I had a verbal commitment from the gallery to stock and sell my limited edition prints, my original paintings and to keep my painting catalog on hand.

Clearly, Godin’s shortcut to building value in my business is to be willing to do what others are not. Now I just need to find consistency.


12 thoughts on “My Business: Fears and Avoidance

  1. I can definitely relate. My approach won’t be through galleries as I just can’t muster that kind of confidence up yet but I can appreciate the choice to. It’s wonderful you have a partner to help in the process that means so very much.

    • Thank you KijO for taking the time and leaving a thoughtful comment. I am living one day at a time, sometimes it takes a tragedy or loss to shake us and awake us. I have been doing art shows and gallery events for about 15 years. It’s been a lot of self promotion and work. It just seemed natural to reach out to an art gallery for representation. Yes, I feel fortunate enough to have someone that cares enough about me and believes in what I am doing. I haven’t always had that and I understand the value. I am wishing you success in building your body of work.


      • We seem to have similarities in many things, or so it seems in reading your posts. It’s very encouraging to find kindred spirits.
        I keep a personal blog as well and you are always welcome, you may find some of the similarities I mention.

  2. Chrissy, that is awesome! I totally related to your story, all the way up to the contacting galleries part (which I still feel is in my not-too-distant future — shiver, quake!). I am so impressed that you followed through, especially under such clearly intimidating circumstances, and succeeded! A great story with a happy…ending is not right word, but perhaps the beginning of another level.

    Thank you for sharing this! Cheers.

    • Hi Marilyn!
      It is so kind of you to take the time and read my blog. Yes, sometimes it takes a tragedy to shake us and awake us. I have been living in fear for a while and feel fortunate to have the support from my family and friends. I feel I have everything to lose right now if I can’t make things happen. My vision and partner have been pushing me to my limits these days. I think being an artist you have to have tough skin…..not easily done as most artists I know are extremely sensitive and emotional. Let me know when you dive in, you have the talent and gifts.


      • Chrissy! You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. That is the point – if you make the effort their is only gain. Forgive the cliches: 1. opportunity presents itself to the prepared mind. 2. The successful are willing to do what the unsuccessful are not.

        I forget sometimes too but luckily I have a partner and she reminds me everyday to keep trying. XOXO. Sean

  3. Thank you Sean, you are right! It’s a lot easier to lose courage when you are surrounded by negativity. I am bringing positive light in and keeping an open mind. Day by day, a little bit at a time and sticking to my wonderful business plan. I am very lucky, Chrissy

  4. Hi Chrissy!
    Im so excited for you and having your art in a gallery! As i have said before, everyone will know your paintings because of your unique style. You will go places and i believe your dreams will come true. They already are! God bless you! xox

    • Thank you aunt Lori!
      It means a lot that you have always supported me in my art. It’s so hard to do it all without encouragement from our family, friends and those that love us.

  5. Chrissy, thanks for creating and sharing this post! I have beeing going through many of the dilemas that you have been going through with my photography business as I try to take it to the next level. Nice to know Im not alone and its inspiring to see someone making it happen! Thanks again ~Bret

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