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Redefining What It Means To Be An Artist

“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.” – Anonymous

I love this quote. It doesn’t mean you have to be a “starving artist” at any point in the journey. But it does mean you probably will have different priorities with your “free” time than most when you first start making your goals into reality. And it may mean that you do both for a while – a job and your own thing. Or if you are lucky, maybe you find a job in the art field, and do great there as well.

The awesome thing about being an artist, is that there are so many ways to succeed at it. I know people who spend all day in Hollywood, drawing, painting or creating. And I know people in the corporate retail space, designing and creating every day there too. I also know fine-art artists who do the festival and gallery scenes and may or may not have a job somewhere else. None of those options is wrong – that’s the beauty of it.

No one is saying quit your day job today. Unless you can, and/or you feel so inclined. I have a friend who instead of quitting his day job, started freelancing on the side. And then after a while he also started his own website. Wow – I mean this guy is killing it in two additional markets, while still keeping his day job. And so after 2 years of his website being kicked off, he’s making good money. Enough that if his day job said good bye, he’s be ok.

But what this meant was while everyone else was out drinking at the bar on a Saturday night, he was home working on projects, working with this web developers and creating an online outlet for his work. And since his day job normally didn’t require more than 40 hours a week, he was able to work a bit a couple nights a week and still enjoy life. Did he maybe turn down a more “prestigious” corporate job, that would have required more hours in order to fulfill his long-term goals? Yes. And that’s OK. I don’t know anyone who knows him who would think he lacks ambition or is lazy.

I remember when I was working “part time” as a consultant at a big firm. This meant by the way that I would still work up to 50 hours a week at least one week a month. (Crazy I know). I was accused by management of not having ambition because I didn’t want to be a Partner in a Big 4 consulting firm. But anyone who knew me or worked with me knew differently. They knew I gave my all at the client. And then I went home and worked long hours on my art. When I got laid off, I began living somewhat off savings, in order to work 100% on my art. Because I had an all-or-nothing attitude at that point.

Is either of these routes for everyone? No. You can sell your art and not worry about making it your sole income and still be considered a working artist. But, if you are thinking about making art your full-time gig – just know a little bit of sacrifice may be needed in the short term – but rewards will follow in the long term.

That friend I told you about? He still works his day job. But then goes on amazing globe trotting adventures a couple times a year. All because he was willing to think smarter, and work weekends and some nights on his dream. And he’s one of the most creatively fulfilled artists I know.

As for me, I’m currently working 1/2 of the year as a consultant, and the rest of the time I spend on my art.

So choose your own path, blaze your own trail, and start living the life you were meant to.

Breaking Creative Block – Overcoming The White Canvas:

We’ve all been there. Standing in front of the canvas, or our sketch book, or a blank page, trying to figure out how to start. Feeling uninspired or just even afraid to start. Or sometimes it’s maybe not that obvious. We feel a little stuck, or want to be creative, more creative or get back in touch with how much fun art and writing us to be, but isn’t any more. Well, here are some ideas on how to jump start your creativity.

It’s “time to be creative.” Only you are sitting there facing a big white canvas or paper. Ugh….

That’s OK. This happens to all of us at some point. Instead of rearranging your paintbrushes, colored pencils and the rest of your studio for the 100th time, try something different:

* Grab a sketch book, and allow yourself to SUCK. I’m serious – allow yourself to just totally, just 100% be terrible. I know this sounds counter productive, but has always worked for me.

* Do some sketches in on smaller gesso covered paper or in your sketchbook. And again – don’t worry if they aren’t perfect. The idea is just to start.

* If you are writing, and feel you “can’t” just start anyway. It’s ok if it doesn’t make perfect sense – just start with some free flowing thought. Or grab a quote off the internet that is around your topic – now your page isn’t blank anymore.

* This one might sound like cheating. But if the white of your canvas or paper is really too much to take. And a part of you is scared you will ruin it when you start – go ahead and give it a light wash of color. Obviously a color that will work with the art you are going to create. It doesn’t have to be a really deep wash, it can be very transparent. But sometimes this helps me. Of course there are times, like when I’m doing skin tones that this will not work for me. So chose this option, or play with this options at first, when you are not under the gun to create a commissioned piece.

* I like to play music to get me in the mood, and to keep me company. Because let’s face it creating art can be a lonely occupation at times. I even crank up the music and dance once in a while, just to keep my blood pumping and my energy up.

*Or, if you really haven’t even made it into your studio, because you just aren’t feeling it. Here’s a few other things I do to get in the mood. Let’s say I have a commission due, and I don’t want to start on it. I head to the beach. I realize this may sound like an excuse to play hooky. And it would be if I was brining my swim suit and a towel. But I go the beach, sit on a bench for a while and just watch the waves. This always works for me. Other creatives I know go for a walk, or go exercise, or listen to some great music.

* This list idea is going to depend more on you than anything else. Was there something you use to do, right before art class in school or whenever you went to take a group class or seminar? Some habit that inadvertently helped put your mind in the right mindset? I discovered that if I can’t get my brain to click over to the right side, I grab coffee or a latte. This works for me every time. I don’t even have to really drink it, I just have to smell it and – boom – I’m ready to get started doing the work. So see if there is anything like that, that you do unconsciously that gets you in the mood to work. And then do this intentionally going forward, to help set your mind in the right state.

Let me know if what you found most helpful, or if there is another trick you use that others might find helpful when dealing with the dreaded creative block.

Facebook Etiquette What Artists Should Know


There has been discussion, normally by those guilty of it, who are irritated when I remove their blatant self-promotion from one of my Facebook Fan Pages.

I define spamming a wall as putting content (including pictures of your own work) without invitation to do so, on someone else’s wall.

The reason I consider this is spamming is for the most part, the content posted isn’t relevant and the person doing it hasn’t asked permission to do so. They are simply trying to piggyback off the work and good-faith another person has created in order to promote themselves.

Here’s my take on Facebook Etiquette. Don’t self promote on someone else’s page. This doesn’t mean don’t comment, and don’t get involved on Fan Pages or Group Pages. It means add value first. Then build a relationship with the person who owns that page. Then see if something you do and they do tie in together.

People will promote you ON THEIR OWN if you are offering value. If you are contributing to the conversation. And if after some time, you want them to promote you – then ask – via a private email. See if they feel what you are offering is in line with what they are offering.

There are two exceptions that I know of to this – that fall under the agreement to post on a wall. The first is Link Love – because everyone on that list has agreed to self promote (in a very specific way, in a very specific place). The second would be a forum set up specifically to promote art. There are a few on Facebook.

(I personally have given up on both Link Love and posting anything in a self-promoting forum because it was not a good ROI activity. Because if everyone is just out for themselves. And no one is adding value. Who actually is paying attention and reading the posts? Very few. )

What are your thoughts? Does it irritate you to have people post self-promotion on your page without first contributing or getting to know you?

For more on Facebook, see Facebook Fan Page – Why You Need One