Select Page
How Irreplaceable Are You? A Creative Mindset That Shapes Selling Your Art

How Irreplaceable Are You? A Creative Mindset That Shapes Selling Your Art

It’s really not important if you want to create great art, good art, or just-for-the-heck-of-it art. The last thing I want to imply in my previous “Great Art” blog is that great art is automatically the goal. 

Maybe yes, maybe, no—either way it’s not a judgment, it’s a description of one art career possibility, which may or may not be how you roll.  

Some artists find great satisfaction in creating for the sake of creating. For others, the joy is in knowing that other people also find their work a distinct pleasure. While for most, selling art is the high point, the ultimate happy dance in their ArtLife. 

However, if making great art is a deep, closely-held yearning inside you, I want to make sure you don’t think of it as a futile exercise in subjective reality or the coveted stamp of approval from others. 

There are steps you can take (See: What Makes Great Art Great ). And while the markers of complexity, mystery, and mastery won’t assure you of greatness, at the very least they will give you a place to lean into. 

Theres no ignoring your artistic fingerprint impact

If you want your work to make an impact, there is one other, inescapable requirement you can’t ignore: Your Artistic Fingerprint, aka voice (except you don’t sing), style (except you aren’t walking a runway), etc.  

And discovering your Artistic Fingerprint is the beginning of a creative mindset that will impact everything connected with selling your art. 

Your Creative Mindset: The Irreplaceable You Behind Selling Your Art 

All of us carry a deep-seated awareness that we are unique. As Mr. Rodgers slid in or out of his sweater, he liked to remind all of us that “you’re special just the way you are.” 

And yet, for a whole host of artists, intentionally, consciously connecting the dots between the uniqueness of their artwork, and the uniqueness of who they are, seems to be a uniquely challenging mindset-hill to climb. 

While for many other artists, it seems almost impossible to grasp the difference between the skillful execution of a piece, with its accompanying creative high, and offering the world a you-and-only-you, slice of your soul. 

How many still-life fruit platters have you seen that could have been painted by any of a hundred different artists? 

How many barnyards? Or rolling hills? 

How many have you seen that could have been painted by only one? 

And which do you remember long after the curtain has closed? 

how do you bring the irreplaceable you into your art

In 2024, with the 24/7, online presence of so many artists, there’s a cornucopia of artists who have an established artistic fingerprint. David Hockney is one, whose folding screen, Caribbean Tea Time (1987), offers the shape of his piece as uniquely his, along with his painterly execution. And then there is one of my favorites, Christina Quarles, who uses digital and hands-on techniques to give us content that challenges our sense of self. 

The biggest-ticket deal took place in the first hours, with a, selling for €580,000 (about $616,00) via Galerie Lelong & Co. 

What does it take to bring the irreplaceable you into your art? 

What is the creative mindset you need to… 

  1. Recognize, and name, your artistic fingerprint so it becomes part of your overall artist identity? 
  1. Be open to where you are developmentally as an artist, and where on that path your artistic fingerprint is… 

The Battle For Creative License  

For some artists, their fingerprint has always been with them, from the beginning. They know it and others see it. It’s as if these artists have a direct lifeline to their creative soul that doesn’t waver. 

For others, an artistic fingerprint is not so obvious.  

I remember one woman coming up to gallery owner, in a workshop he was leading, to ask if she had a “distinctive style.” I was peeking over her shoulder where she was flipping through image after image in her portfolio; each one indelibly hers. I found it  puzzling that she couldn’t see the visual evidence right in front of her. 

For other artists, one look at the dozens of pieces on their website and you’ll see an artist all over the place: different techniques, different styles, with little or nothing connecting them to the artist. 

These artists, I’ve discovered, are fairly prickly when you talk about an artistic fingerprint. Immediately, they start defending their right to creative freedom, as if you’ve just told them they have to paint the same 3 pears, arranged in the same way in a chipped blue bowl, for the rest of their lives. 

For other artists, their creativity is on an indulgent roll with sculpture vying for space in their buyers heads with the oil paintings vying for space with the silkscreens vying for space with the jewelry… you get the idea. 

And in the majority of these cases, it’s not that there’s a problem with what they are doing, only with what the artist assumes can happen with what they are doing: sustainable, long-term, commercial success. 

Not going to happen.  

What might happen is sporadic sales and lots of ohhs and ahhs from friends and family, which only strengthen the artist’s resolve to keep what they see as a right to unshackled creative freedom. 

Then there are artists who do want that artistic fingerprint (aka signature style, aka artist voice) and do want their work to have an impact, and their vision to have a following, only they aren’t sure how to go about it. 

what if you dont know if you have an artistic fingerprint

What if you don’t know if you have a fingerprint and you want one to help sell your art 

Or you think you have a fingerprint, but aren’t confident about it? 

This is exactly the predicament one of my private clients had when she first came to me.  

She had been painting for years with a solid handle on technique. But she felt stuck and unsure about what she was painting. It was as if her creative soul was knock, knock, knocking on a closed door, and she knew it. 

Once we delved into coaching, she was savvy enough to recognize that the missing piece for selling her art and expanding her career was a clear and conscious artistic fingerprint. 

And she was genuinely confused about what her artistic fingerprint might be. 

five steps of her artistic fingerprint journey

Here are the five steps of her artistic fingerprint journey that we discovered together. Notice how each step builds on the previous one, and where her creative mindset came into play: 

Step 1. We studied her work to identify areas that drew a consistent response from her viewers. Where were people moved? What did they say that stayed with her? Where was she moved? What stayed with her after leaving the studio? 

Step 2. Once those areas were identified, we isolated them from the rest of the painting, and then lined these up so we could see them individually and as a group. What were the common elements in areas of color, technique, subject matter, perspective, etc. 

Step 3. After identifying, and most critically naming the common elements, this artist began the hard work of asking herself “What does it mean to me when I do X?” For example, she had multiple areas in multiple paintings where she used her palette knife to create spider-web lines between areas on the canvass. 

Step 4. Asking “What does it mean?” included writing exercises, keeping a dream journal beside her bed, and an art journal beside her in the studio. First, she set up the direct intention to understand her artistic fingerprint, and then used the exercises and journals to help her pay attention to what her sub-conscious was revealing. 

Step 5.  A key practice, which helps create conscious awareness, was digging for the specific words or phrases that accurately described the recurring elements in her work that might relate to a common theme… which, surprise, surprise, they did! 

Each of these five steps was incorporated into our coaching dialogue, which is critical to the Artistic Fingerprint Discovery. Without a dialogue, you are asking the eye to see the eye. 

And, yes, not everyone has an art career coach, I understand. But this process can work quite well without a coach in your corner. 

If you don’t have a coach, choose someone in your community whose artistic sensibilities you trust and who will understand what you are going for. Someone who will be a sounding board for your own developing awareness. Stay clear of anyone who might use this as an opportunity to show off or become a critic.  

Artistic fingerprints are the soft underbelly of our creative ArtLife. The direct flow between your work and your creative soul depends upon the willingness and courage to be raw and vulnerable. And this, in large part, needs the appropriate personal boundaries and safeguards in place so vulnerability becomes risky enough to break through old patterns, but safe enough to stay real.  

discovering your artistic fingerprint is the ultimate paradox

When you step into the artistic fingerprint mindset, you’ll find your fingerprint is already a seamless part of all that you know, in your heart, to be true about you and your work. 

Your Artistic Fingerprint Embodies All That Is Spiritual in Selling Your Art 

I know that selling your art does not lend itself very well to the philosophical, esoteric, or spiritual. But in human reality, the philosophical, esoteric, and spiritual are always humming in the background. 

Here’s an excerpt from one artist coaching session that illustrates this perfectly, where the act of painting becomes a kind of prayer to All That Is: 

Artist: The paint is telling me what it wants to express. And then I look at it and realize, “Oh, this is the message that was coming through for me.”  

For example, in one of my seascapes what’s attracting me to a particular scene with its colors and light is a message about the human experience throughout the web of life. How we are connected with each other, and with the source of universal energy that energizes us and gives us strength, and this in turn gives us our sense of purpose in life. 

Every artist I’ve ever met has told me that, at some point in their creative practice, they experienced moments where they felt elevated, expansive, as if their very being had entered a timeless, seamless flow where there was literally no difference between themselves, the piece they were working on, and the process of creating. It was all One. 

The universality of this experience goes unquestioned. And yet, each artist’s creative efforts have pulled from this realm a piece that looks unlike any other piece anywhere. Creative paradox. 

Artistic fingerprints, aka your artist voice, also hold this intriguing, creative paradox: like the fingerprints on our fingers, they are at once unique and universal–always a fingerprint yet never the same. 

They also represent one of the creative responsibilities of choosing to be an artist—“responsibility,” not as duty or code for the British stiff-upper-lip, but responsibility to share our truth, as only we can know and experience. 

What’s magical is: when you give yourself permission to mine your own depths for authenticity and that which is truly yours, you lead the way for others to know themselves in equal measure.  

Whether or not they take you up on that is their business. Yours is to always shine the light on your Original True Self. 


I’d love to know what challenges have come from your journey with your artistic fingerprint… 

Ariane Goodwin's signature file


    Selling Your Art 2024, The Artist Statement, and Instagram

    Selling Your Art 2024, The Artist Statement, and Instagram

    Does the artist statement help you in selling your art? Besides vibing on Instagram, your artist statement improves the process for selling your art in 20 other places. 

    When I stumbled upon artist statements it was 1992. The Internet was barely off breast feeding. Twitter didn’t exist, much less its decadent descendent.  

    In 2002, when my artist statement book first came out, the art world reserved career for an artist who had died (and were “given” a career retrospective), or a famous, old, alive artist also being “given” a career retrospective. 

    At that time in our culture, the collective perspective of artists was moving away from the maverick outsider to the more accepted, business person, albeit one with a flair. At that same time, the artist statement was an elusive element in an artist’s portfolio that no one considered overly consequential (including artists), much less worthy of a whole book. 

    In 2002, all that changed with the first edition of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work,

    In 2002, all that changed with the first edition of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work, where I uncovered the logical, practical, and reversible flaws in the artist statement resistance movement. You know the one… where artists proclaim with bravado that they have nothing to say that someone can’t already see in the work. 

    Never mind that this was silly on its face since what the artist sees and what a viewer sees, in spite of any overlap, is essentially a deeply personal “seeing” that arises out of the unique experiences of each individual. 

    Spin forward into 2007, when I realized that, for artists, the concept of selling your art had zero professional support. So, I created and produced held the first smARTist Telesummit conference for visual artists. Over the next six years, thousands of artists from 16 countries and over 40 US states, attended the first ever, annual, online, 7-day, art-career conference.  

    At the time, art, artist, and career were culturally clipped by a perceived incompatibility because career was reserved for a certain class made up of doctors, lawyers, educators, etc. 

    The collective WE had already concluded that Artists were too… flaky, too creative (i.e., not dependable), independent (i.e., not stable), marched to the tune of their own drummer (i.e., not reliable)…starving (by definition)…and certifiably crazy (you know, the Van-Gogh-minus-one-ear syndrome)… you get the vibe. 

    The sad part back then in 2007?  

    Artists got the same vibe. And so, as self-fulfilling prophecies always go, artists failed to considered themselves career viable. A business, yes, as artists began wrestling with the idea that they could at least sell their art if they had the right venue, usually galleries or local art fairs. 

    Now, in 2024, all of this has changed. Search online for “art career coaches,” and they are everywhere. In 2007, there were only a handful of us. 

    Search online for art career and you’ll come up with a plethora. Back in 2007, all you would find is one or two “art career retrospectives,” or art as a career in other fields: design, education, cartoons, etc.  

    But now, in 2024, Instagram has turned visual fine art into a financially viable career with coach after coach focused on selling your art to the exclusion of anything else that might, or might not, be part of your viable art career. 

    Some argue, now, that the artist statement is no longer needed. It’s passé. Some galleries don’t even require it. Well, that’s not new. Some galleries, even before Instagram, resisted and questioned the need for artist statements—a standpoint I logically wrestle to the ground in my book.  

    Here’s what you need to know: Artist statements deliver a fundamental function that impacts how well you are selling your art, which the current naysayers are thoughtlessly ignoring.  

    A unique-to-only-you artist statement can never go out of style in the same way your art isn’t going out of style. Fashion… style… trends… these come and go. But the language of your soul remains as authentic and engaging today as it will 500 years from now in 2524. 

    The trick is to understand how to use your artist statement in any venue.

    The trick is to understand how to use your artist statement in any venue. 

    Let’s take Instagram for starters, and answer this question:  

    why use an artist statement on instagram

    Here’s three: 

    1. It lets you vibe with your social media followers so the word-language of your Original Self becomes as consistent and strong as the visual-language of your art.  
    2. It gives you a signature-language bond between art, artist, and audience that encourages more engagement because it reveals the true spirit of your work. 
    3. Once written, it can be repurposed, expanded or miniaturized, and adapted for multiple channels. 

    Even on Instagram, it’s a rare artist who throws up an image, but says nothing below it, right? 

    An artist statement, like your art, establishes who you are in a sea of other artists.

    An artist statement, like your art, establishes who you are in a sea of other artists. 

    But its usefulness goes even further. 

    Here’s an excerpt from the “just released” 3rd edition of my book:  

    Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work 



    Because an artist statement affirms what you do, and by extension affirms you. And none of us can ever have too much affirmation. 

    Because an artist statement calls out for you to recognize the true faces of your deepest self: truth, beauty, and goodness. 

    Because an artist statement invites you to experience another level of awareness about yourself and your art. 

    Because an artist statement strengthens the relationship you have with your work. 

    Because an artist statement builds a compelling bridge between your audience and your art. 

    Because an artist statement enriches the connection between the artist and the art. 

    Because it is practical. You can use your artist statement for: 

    • Websites 
    • Portfolios 
    • Brochures 
    • Galleries  
    • Catalogs 
    • Press releases 
    • Media articles 
    • Craft shows 
    • Contests 
    • Grants
    • Social media posts/reels 
    • Art festivals 
    • Exhibition/performance notes 
    • Biographical notes 
    • Applying for grants 
    • Applying for teaching positions 
    • Applying for artist-in-residence 
    • Degree applications 
    • Your local chamber of commerce 
    • Journalists/Writers 

    And then, there is my favorite reason for writing an artist statement: Personal Power, which I elaborate on in Chapter 6 of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work. 

    Here are the two sidebars in that chapter: 

    Personal power is the power emerging from our deepest connections to life: of feeling, embracing, creating, and celebrating.  

    The only way to expand our personal power is to embrace ourselves exactly as we are; neither more nor less, but as someone in a state of constantly changing grace. 

    When you have your own encounter with your own artist statement, then you will come face to face with your personal power… 


    Oh, btw, the brand new 3rd edition of Writing the Artist Statement: Revealing the True Spirit of Your Work is now available along with the 3-Part Ambitious Bundle to help you reach the end of the book with an artist statement in your hand! 

    Ariane Goodwin's signature file