Satisfied, Happy Artist

 

How many times have you heard the phrase “starving artist”?  Phrases like these that become a part of our cultural paradigm are dangerous…because we are indoctrinated by the energy that they put out from an early age (birth really) and then we live accordingly.  This attitude was brought to my attention again the other day by a visiting professional who had stopped by my house for business reasons.  He came into my studio and proceeded to tell me his view..”Oh, I see someone is an artist”…”I know (so and so) who is an artist”…”you know those materials aren’t cheap”…”and she only sells one every once in awhile …”can’t pay the bills with that”…Whew!   Well the good news is I totally recognized what was going on and was able to protect my subconscious from yet another validation to this negative mindset.  Now I am not saying that times aren’t challenging, because they undoubtedly are.  However, I believe that our preconceived notions and mindsets most definitely have a direct influence on the reality that we create for ourselves.

 

If I have to pick one thing that I believe is an important survival skill for these times, flexibility would be at the top of the list.  The new normal is that nothing is normal.  Well actually nothing ever was “normal” as “normal” is a fluid concept that changes with cultural norms and expectations.  There is nothing that can’t be viewed from different angles and perspectives.  Prices can be flexible, size, format, utility ect..  In an article “Selling Artwork in a Weak Economy” from artbusiness.com they give several suggestions.

 

” The number one consideration for any artist in the thick of riding out a slow market and selling less artwork is to get flexible fast, particularly with respect to prices, particularly with respect to adjusting them in an increasingly affordable direction.”  “And please oh please don’t equate selling prices with your “worth” as an artist. This is not only a monumental miscarriage of ego, but it also significantly compromises your ability to survive a bumpy ride in artland. If you have a painting priced at $2000, for example, and you lower the price to $1200, it’s still the same painting, and you’re still the same artist.”  “Galleries can use similar approaches. Reductions are temporary. We understand that times are tough; we understand that you love art, and so in response, we’re reducing prices– for a limited time– to keep your collection growing. We’ve worked out interim agreements with our artists to make our art more affordable. We realize that money isn’t flowing quite as freely as it was a year or two ago; we realize that you still want to buy art, and we’re responding to that.”

 

More price-related suggestions for generating income during lean economic times from this article:

 

* Offer affordable options for buyers, artwork under $500, for example, or even under $200. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring small sales and focusing all your attention on large ones; a steady stream of small sales can easily add up to a livable income.

 

* Sell on the installment plan. Ten buyers paying you $50 a week or a couple of hundred dollars a month on installment plans means you’re making $2000 per month.

 

* Rent your artwork. If you can rent out twenty works of art for $30 each per month, that’s $600 per month that you wouldn’t otherwise have if the art sat in your studio gathering dust. Confine the rental pieces to those you’re less likely to sell outright. You don’t want to tie up salable works that can potentially generate significant dollar amounts in short periods of time.

 

* Barter your artwork. Successful artists trade art for everything from medical, dental, and legal services to meals, pots,

 

A newspaper illustration depicting a man engag...

A newspaper illustration depicting a man engaging in barter, paying his yearly newspaper subscription to the “Podunk Weekly Bugle” with various farm produce. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

pans, furnishings, other artists’ artwork, and just about anything else you can think of. For example, offer to hang your artwork at restaurants or coffee shops in trade for monthly food allowances, or at hotels or bed and breakfasts in exchange for rooms, or at retail stores where you shop. Keep an eye out for people selling furniture or household items and offer to trade artwork for whatever you might need. Ask people having garage or house sales whether they’d consider taking your artwork in trade for items left over at the end of the day. In other words, suggest your artwork as trade for goods or services whenever and wherever you can.

 

* Explore part cash/part trade options even when someone wants to buy your artwork outright. Unless you ask, you never know when a buyer might have something to trade that you really need. The great advantage to trading is that, assuming you can use what you’re trading for, you almost always come out ahead financially (as does the person you’re trading with).

 

If there are no doors opening for you, grab what you can and make your own door.

 

Expand your market.  We have unfortunately been affected in the international community because of the choices that our governments have made in the world.  Art can be the great unifier, and taking steps and reaching out to international markets can be a way of healing and increasing opportunity.

 

“And using your artwork as a vehicle to convey sentiments, make friends, establish networks, and build bridges, with the ultimate intent of improving our relationships with people around the world just might contribute to your financial survival in these difficult times, and just might offer hope (and art) to former friends or allies who currently see little or none.  Artists possess unique talents and abilities to express emotions, arouse feelings, explore sensitive issues, and make powerful statements with their art. Rather than view tough times as obstacles to career success, consider them opportunities to tap into your creative strengths and reserves, and to expand your sphere of influence. Impact someone else’s life with your art in a meaningful way, and you just might make yourself a sale.”

 

Procrastination or “Can’t We Talk About This Later?”

I procrastinate.

What I procrastinate doing though doesn’t always stay the same. However, the most frustrating procrastinations in my life has been about being consistent in working  towards  my artistic goals.  (ie getting out there and getting er done) .  A friend of mine has a saying that goes like this…Frustration is not understanding.  OK, this makes sense to me, and I am extremely frustrated with myself for the procrastination cycle I have put myself through over the years.  So today I felt inspired to explore this lack of understanding.

Steven Kotler, a writer for Psychology Today published on September 01, 2009, an article titled “Escape Artists” that explored the issue of procrastination.

Psychologists define procrastination as a gap between intention and action. Chronic procrastinators feel bad about their decisions to delay—which helps distinguish procrastination from laziness. Laziness involves a lack of desire; with procrastination, the desire to start that project is there, but it consistently loses out to our appetite for delay. And this is no ordinary delay. Procrastination is considered a needless, often irrational delay of some important task in favor of a less important, but seemingly more rewarding, task. And that accompanying negative feeling—the gnawing guilt, the building anxiety—is one way we know we’re not doing what we’re supposed to do.

My house is clean, my garden is harvested, my dogs got a bath, I started this blog, I have spent hours researching new employment, I take care of the livestock (chickens and goats) and I surf the web for inspiration et cetera.  I am not a lazy person. Far from it I work all the time.  But…

“It is always about choice,” observes Canadian psychologist Timothy Pychyl. And that makes procrastination quintessentially an existential problem. “We’re given a certain amount of time and we have to use it,” he says.

“It’s the acts of omission that lead to our biggest regrets in life. Where do we choose to invest ourselves?” Procrastination, he contends, bumps right up against our commitment “to whom it is we are trying to be in life.”

“Whom are you trying to be in this life?”  Hmmmmm mulling this over.

For nearly 40 years, psychologists have tried to identify the core foible. Some think perfectionism is the problem; others find anxiety at its heart.  And there are those who see it as a self-handicapping predicament resulting from a fear of failure.

University of Calgary psychologist Piers Steel has defined  four interlinked variables that correlate to procrastination…these are:

A person’s expectancy for succeeding at a given task, the value of the task, a person’s need for immediate gratification-their sensitivity to its delay and impulsiveness.

Expectancy of success is essentially a measure of confidence. The more confident you are, the less likely you are to put off a task.

Look at What You’ve Already Achieved

And write those achievements down.

Think About Your Strengths

Think about what your friends would consider to be your strengths and weaknesses. From these, think about the opportunities and threats you face.

Think About What’s Important to You, and Where you Want to Go

Set some achievable goals

Start Managing Your Mind

Learn to recognize and defeat the negative self-talk which can destroy your confidence.

Ten Affirmations for Attracting Confident Self Mirrors.
1. I attract people that support and inspire me on my journey.
2.   My life is full of healthy interactions.
3.   I have an abundant social network full of like minded friends and acquaintances.
4.   I am enriched by the people I meet everyday.
5.   I am loved by my family.
6.   I let go of unhealthy attachments to people and situations.
7.   I am not perfect, but I am perfectly me.
8.   I accept myself for who I am.
9.   I am likable, lovable, and wonderful to be around when I am genuinely me.
10. I love myself

And Then Commit Yourself to Success!

Value

Task value is a combination of two factors: how much fun this particular job is and what it means to you and your life. The more fun, the more meaning, the less procrastination.

MAKE

IT

FUN!!!

Gratification

Value of the now..over the later

The need for instant gratification looks at both how much time will pass before you are rewarded for doing the job and how badly you need a reward for its completion.

Procrastination reflects the difficulty of coping with some aspects of modern society with hunter-gatherer brains because our forebears lived in a world without delay.

  • Practicing meditation to achieve a clearer picture of your own mental habits and impulses can help increase gratification. Mindfulness meditation is particularly good for this, as the individual learns that they do not have to obey those thoughts that push for instant gratification.
  • Having clear goals that you really desire, will make it easier to delay gratification. It will mean that you have a good reason for making sacrifices now.
  • Mental visualizations of how good it will be to achieve a goal will encourage making the necessary sacrifices now.
  • Be wary of any claims of instant results. Most things that are worthwhile in life involve at least some initial sacrifice.
  • It is important to learn how to appreciate the process of achieving things rather than just wanting to get to the goal as fast as possible. There can actually be a great deal of pleasure to be found in the process of making dreams a reality.
  • It is a good idea to keep a journal. (Or a blog?) This will allow you to track your progress in the journey.
  • Once you begin to experience the benefits of deferring gratification it becomes easier to do – it eventually becomes a habit.
  • Delaying gratification does not mean that you need to postpone your enjoyment of life. The ideal situation is to live in the moment but plant positive seeds for the future.

Distraction

Finally, impulsiveness measures how easily distracted you are. The more readily you succumb to distraction, the greater the chance you’ll procrastinate.

Procrastination

E-mail, voice mail, video-on-demand, Web surfing, and the like—”you couldn’t design a worse working environment if you tried,” insists Steel.

Steel would have us help ourselves by reconfiguring our immediate world to fit our brains, at least when we need to work. It’s not just a matter of shutting off your e-mail. Go that extra step and remove the icon entirely from your desktop. And while you’re at it, turn off the ringer on the phone.

So, there is a bit to chew on.  Now I think I had better start on a list or two…after I get some studio time in that is!