Well my friends – fellow artists and those who are thinking of becoming one – do you want the good news or the bad news? Let’s take the bad medicine first – art is a business and unless you can get someone else to market your work, you are going to have to learn to think like a business person. I hope you haven’t passed out on the floor yet.
Fellow artists and those who aren’t or don’t think they are but would like to be – Yes it is true art is a business. And being a business it requires products i.e. ‘art works’ to be sold. So many of us would rather just get on with creating and leave the ‘S’ word to some one else – if only we knew who that might be.
Well, it could be anybody but me that is! Like many of you out there, I too wasted years trying to get away from the fact that if it is going to be – you know what, it really is up to me! I finally decided that really all it needs is a little re-framing of ones perception.
So yes creativity is a business AND it is also a PARTNERSHIP. How is that you might ask?
For an art work or creative piece to achieve completion it requires someone to appreciate it or at least interact with it. (Ideally someone apart from its creator!) It requires an audience. For most creatives there is a definite buzz to be had when someone gets to see your work and have a reaction to it – which means it has touched them in some way.
This is a partnership often neglected on the part of the artist – they send their paintings off to the gallery, perhaps thinking the partnership part is only with the gallery and then that’s that. End of story……. where are the dollars?? And I have to confess I have been as guilty as the next person of that. It took me a long time to understand that art is a partnership……………
So as I was saying – Creativity is a partnership. Why do people buy paintings?
Well generally people don’t buy oil paintings or other art works if they don’t like them or have some kind of connection with them. They will however, generally buy for different reasons, such as –
- they just love the work
- it’s a present for someone else
- the work goes with their decor
- it’s an investment
The first two of these reasons both have an emotional attachment to them, the second is more about creating an environment – the art work says something about who they are, implying status or ‘coolness’ perhaps. However paintings chosen for decor are often chosen by an interior designer and its the look of the whole that is more important. The last reason is purely financial really, although if one has enough money like Alan Bond you might be lucky enough to be able to afford Van Gogh’s Irises. Although actually even though he
bought the painting for US$ 53.9 million dollars he didn’t have enough money to pay for it. Damn!!! And he had to sell it again.
However if someone chooses your work because they love it – it means you have something in common, even if its liking the same kind of colours. It is your job to befriend the people who buy your art.
As with any new friendship, trust needs to be built. So offer them something for nothing. People love to get gifts, tho maybe not 20 off topic ebooks. LOL !!
Produce something that you keep just to give to people who have bought your work. You might offer different things for different price points. Keep these items special, don’t sell them, so that the only way anyone can get them is if they buy your work. People love to not only get something special but to feel that they have a closer connection with the artist. For those people who feel that creativity is an esoteric mystery this gives them a way in to share in that world.
None of us create in a vacuum. We all have influences – from the rising sunlight on golden water to the latest photoshop magazine.
So how specifically are you stuck
- No ideas on what to work on
- Bored with your current techniques
- Come to the end of a series of works and not sure where to turn next
- Need to upskill
- Need some interaction with others
- Have a studio full of works and nowhere to sell them
- Don’t know how to promote your work
- Convinced your work is no good and never will be
This list can go on and on – these are only a few of the kinds of thoughts that bedevil us as creatives.
Creativity is a lot like abundance. The more we stress about it the further away it seems to slide from us.
All of the above have a negative focus and therefore will draw that negative thing to us.
So what we need to do firstly when we are stuck, is to change the state we are in because the more we focus on how stuck we are we just sink deeper – its like quick sand.
As Abraham says – reach for a better feeling place. ie if you are depressed – get angry. If you’re angry become frustrated. Acknowledge your feelings, feel into them and work through them, dont try to stuff them back down. Once you begin to clear this stuff your creativity will begin to make an appearance again. This is where Julia Cameron’s idea of Morning Pages really helps to declutter your head. Other things that help are –
- Einstein’s greatest discoveries came to him when he was walking or doing the dishes – Take a walk – notice something new
- Do something that makes you really happy – when was the last time you did that?
- Decide to give up stressing about being creative
- Do morning pages
- Smile at every person you meet or pass by today :)
- Decide to be joyful
- Go to an uplifting movie or get a DVD out
- Have coffee with a friend – tell them why you love to create things, why you love them, ask them where creativity shows up in their lives – you might be surprised
So yes, how can I be kind to myself? Here are some thoughts to help you become unstuck
- For the immediate present – forget about your own creative journey and go out and look at what others are doing
- Visit galleries, museums, art shows
- Go to the theatre or take in a movie – an art house movie can often times be really inspiring – here is an excerpt one of my favourites from the movie Veronique.
The marionette is exquisite – when seen on the big screen this scene is absolutely arresting.
You will be amazed at what a fresh point of view can do for a stuck creative. I speak from a recent experience of wading through the Sarah of creative deficiency. In my case this lasted for a considerable period of time – to the point where I became convinced that I wasn’t really creative at all and that to consider myself an artist was pretty much BS. I went into a complete denial of my own creativity.
This was ultimately a painful experience because in denying my creativity I was so far out of sync with who I really am that everything else started falling apart as well. Take it from me – DON’T GO THERE!!!
So what really helped me through this was going to see other artists work. This gave me new ideas and it only took a couple of ideas to get me thinking along a new direction I might take my own work
My BIGGEST MISTAKE was waiting way too long to go and do this.
So be encouraged. We never actually loose our creativity – we simply bury it or let it wither by default.
I thought that now might be a good time to introduce you to some of my work. For several years I was immersed in oil painting, however I then went through a bit of the proverbial creative drought so to speak. Well I thought I did. What happened was that the creative urge popped out in other ways. I got involved in making beautiful fabrics, silk rayon velvets that my biz partner the talented Prue Kelsey and I, created together. We hand dyed and printed them with pearlescent and metallic inks.
Its strange how the mind works because even though we created some beautiful things it was around this time that I became pretty sure that I wasn’t an artist and had managed to convince myself that I didn’t have much going for me artistically. I guess the point here was that I didn’t at that time, understand that the creative journey doesn’t have to be about one thing. If I’d identified myself as only being an oil painter then – it was pretty easy for me to view myself as a failure and doomed to artistic insignificance.
It wasn’t until I realized that creativity isn’t one dimensional and that it’s OK to create in different arenas, that I began to understand who I was as an artist and creative being. Not only that, I finally came to the point of understanding that what I have to offer is unique and valuable. No one else sees the world through my eyes and that’s not just OK it’s to be celebrated.