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.