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Three Gates Of Relationship: A Pivotal Upgrade for Selling Your Art

Three Gates Of Relationship: A Pivotal Upgrade for Selling Your Art

I believe there is A Path of Visionary Affluence for every visual artist for selling your art. And it begins with the Three Gates of Relationship—which are intimately knowable, easily accessible, and practical to implement.   

And when you align yourself with these relationship gates, it will impact your mindset for how you sell your art. 

However, before we dive into the gates, there’s a question I want to ask you: What Is Art? 

Ah, yes, the question asked down the ages. 

With answers, as we all know, that range from the absurd to the sublime. 

From Gauguin’s, “Art is either a plagiarist or a revolutionary.” To O’Keefe’s, “Art is not what you see, it’s what you make others see.” 

I have a folder full of these quotations on art; each one as varied as the individuals speaking.  

It’s as if each quote is one piece in a tapestry of how art impacts culture, along with the individuals in that culture. And each piece adds to the overall sense that above all, art is infinitely important to humanity no matter where or when. 

Before we get to the Three Gates of Relationship (coming up…), giving yourself permission to answer “What Is Art?” will tell you what you value about art, and how you use what you value in both defining yourself, and in making your art. 

It will guide you in understanding how to identify the Three Gates of Relationship for yourself. 

Defining What Is Art? is not a small exercise. It’s essential. 

Here, I’ll take a stab at it and then it’s your turn. 

Ariane Answers: What is art?  

At the physical level?  

It’s an object you’ve created in time and space. 

At the mental level?   

It’s an idea that arose in the hallowed halls of your imagination. 

At the emotional level?  

It’s the fulsome expression of a feeling inside you that wants, or needs, manifestation in time and space. 

At the intuitive level?  

It’s one more demonstration of what ignites your creative spirit. 

At the spirit level?  

It’s one more, infinite outcome of What Is. 

At the personal level?   

It’s what connects you to others. It’s the emotional, highly personal container in which you live that encourages an engagement with others that you might not even be aware of craving.  

At the art-career level?  

It’s the collector/buyers that come (or don’t) to your door. 

It’s the offering you proffer to the collectors/buyers who want your art. 

But none of my responses matter if you are not aware of what art is for you! 

I know, this feels a bit esoteric, and you want to sell your art. 

I get it. I truly do. 

But since selling your art is directly connected to another person—your buyer/collector— understanding how your buyer/collector is connected to you through your art becomes the doorway that opens more sales.  

And how can you do that? 

You start by looking at the Three Gates of Relationship in the same way you study a piece of art you are making: look directly at what you actually see, not what you think you see. 

The Three Gates Of Relationship That Most Impact Selling Your Art

GATE ONE:  

Your relationship to yourself as an artist: aka, your artist identity  

How well do you actually know yourself, as an artist 

Have you ever examined the qualities of your Artist Self vs the qualities of your Family Self vs the qualities of your Friend Self? 

Have you ever taken the time to identify and name these Artist Self qualities?  

Or how these integrate into the art you make? How they impact the way you communicate with the world about your art?  

How they impact selling your art? 

Have you ever taken the time to connect the dots between who you are, what you make, and how you offer this to your potential buyers? 

Or have you settled for an artist identity that remains at the subconscious level, where, because there is no shining light of conscious awareness, it remains relatively in the dark, relatively unknown? 

And quite literally use-less… because you can’t use what you can’t name. 

Since word language is so fundamental to how humans experience every aspect of our lives, when a “thing” goes unnamed, it actually goes unknown. In a very literal sense, it doesn’t exist.  

When you can’t name something, when it remains an inchoate experience, you have no way to use it for further growth.  

When your Artist Identity remains unknown, in a very literal, word-language sense, it keeps you from leaping forward with clarity and, yes, joy. 

It also keeps you from a powerful truth that could help you sell your art more easily because sharing a deep truth that is connected to your art is essential in nudging your potential buyers/collectors toward wanting to buy—so you don’t have to push a sale. 

When you identify, name, and wholly own exactly who you are as an artist, you ignite core aspects of yourself that have always been a part of you, have always existed to help you transcend any art-world challenge. 

When you expand your awareness of your artist identity, it no longer languishes half-in and half-out, but steps fully elevated into your ArtLife. 

GATE TWO:  

Your relationship to your art: aka, your artistic fingerprint connection  

As I outlined in another blog post, here’s my definition of an artistic fingerprint: 

First, it’s not your artistic voice (unless you’re planning an Off Broadway review). 

It’s not your artistic style (unless you’re planning a runway collaboration during Fashion Week. Or you want to know where your work is on the historical art styles spectrum). 

You Artistic Fingerprint is what distinguishes you from the thousands of other artists all vying for visibility.  

It is what sets you apart from the pack of ordinary work, where a dozen pair portraits from a dozen different artists could be lined up next to each other and all look as if they came from the same artist. 

It’s the X factor in every, single piece you create that tells anyone that you, and you alone, made this. 

And like your literal fingerprint, no one else can truly duplicate what you do.  

When your work is speaking from the level of your soul, no one can ever successfully copy you. Your artistic fingerprint is just that: yours. By definition it cannot be anyone else’s. 

Only a lot of artists feel confused by the difference between loving what they have just made, and knowing the work carries a distinct sense of who they are as an artist. 

GATE THREE:  

Your relationship to the people who want your art: your artist statement 

At the heart of an artist statement is this: 

Reaching to understand what, how and why you do what you do does not dismantle either the beauty or mystery of it. Quite the opposite. Revealing the evolution of your understanding invites others to participate in the mystery and to share the beauty.   ~Ariane 

When you give the art buyers/collectors a peek behind the canvass, and create meaningful connections with you and your work, you are letting them know that it’s okay to truly see you. And truly seeing each other engenders a deep connection between seer and seen. 

The artist statement, when it reveals your relationship to your work, becomes an invitation to step into your inner world as it spills out from your soul into their world. 

Like the art which it reflects, an artist statement uses its sincerity of purpose and its purity of intent to create a powerful word-reflection of the art and the artist. 

The point of an artist statement is to be in service to your art, not the marketplace.  

Labeling an artist statement as something primarily for marketing diminishes the spirit behind your work. Like art created with the pocketbook in mind, artist statements which focus on the shallow “point of purchase” technique lose their authenticity, their authorship and their unique reflections by artists about their work. 

The relationship you have with your artistic fingerprint is the most important thing humming beneath the words of your artist statement. This relationship of Gate Two affects what you write, and frames your writing tone of voice for the statement.  

If you connect to the spirit inherent in your relationship to your artistic fingerprint, the words you use in your artist statement will sing at your next opening. 

Three Gates Of Relationship A Pivotal Upgrade for Selling Your Art diagram

Gate One & Two Overlap:  

I know who I am as an artist, I know my artistic fingerprint. However, even though I am producing my best work, it’s not selling at the level I want, or sales are inconsistent because I’m in my own bubble of “self” and “art.” 

Gate One & Three Overlap:  

I know who I am as an artist and I’m invested in the buyers/collectors who want my art. However, by not fully understanding and communicating my artistic fingerprint, I’m don’t have the leverage to maximize their loyalty. 

Gate Two & Three Overlap:  

I know and communicate my artistic fingerprint to my viewers, whom I court on a regular basis. But since I don’t know enough about my purpose and presence as an artist, my artist identity as it flows from my soul, my vulnerability and creative expression are limited.   

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With the right support, all three of these Gates of Relationship weave together an art career where selling your art—with the creative mindset that each of these Gates are  intimately knowable, easily accessible, and practical to implement—can bring you the same level of exhilaration and satisfaction you get from creating your art. 

  

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    What, Exactly, Is An Artist Statement? Find Out So You Can Use Its Power to Sell Your Art

    What, Exactly, Is An Artist Statement? Find Out So You Can Use Its Power to Sell Your Art

    It was true in 2002 and it’s just as true in 2024: 

    The more ways you can reach your artience, the greater your chances for selling your art. 

    Yes, most likely, your creative strength lies in your visual language, whatever the genre. And words—the language of everyday communication, the language of our culture and family, the language in our thinking minds, the language we depend upon to clarify an image—hold a far more complicated place in our psyches, which I’ll explore in another blog post.

    Most of us accompany any visual image with some word-language, even when the visual image is more compelling or dominant.  

    In fact, the very dominance of visual imagery often seduces us into believing that the visual trumps words, which is why the cliché “a picture is worth a thousand words” is quoted so often. And in my estimation, so thoughtlessly. 

    What’s important to remember is this: all humans respond to word language, be it verbal, written, or via thought.  

    And ignoring the power of words to amplify the power of your visual work means you are also ignoring a powerful pathway into the hearts and minds of your artience—the people who love your work and who only need one, extra push to buy it. 

    The most direct, and most elegant container for words that relate to you and your art is the simple, if challenging, artist statement. 

    But, where do you begin? What do you need to know before you tackle what I call a grain of sand in an artist’s shoe? 

    When you’ve read as many truly awful artist statements as I have, it begins to dawn on you that maybe, just maybe, the awfulness starts at the very beginning.   

    Here’s the most basic question—What the heck is an artist statement? 

    It turns out you need a definition to start, but there is far more at stake here than just a definition. 

    For a compelling, engaging artist statement, which truly catches the attention of your viewers instead of making them yawn, here are five major things to keep in mind. 

    First: Accurately Defining An Artist Statement 

    When you have an accurate definition, that becomes the very first step in deciding if you’re headed in the right direction or not. 

    I’ve tracked down ten different sites with ten different ideas about what an artist statement is. And, as far as I can tell, none them really understand three things:  

    1. What an artist statement does for the viewer who is reading it. 
    2. What an artist statement does for the artist who is writing it. 
    3. And how these two trajectories affect each other; both for what is written and for the statement’s final effectiveness.  

    During my years of one to one coaching, I discovered one of the most confusing aspects of an artist statement is deciding, exactly, what it is.  

    As I was working with painter, Bob McMurray, I asked if he had an old artist statement we could compare to the one he had just written. 

    Not really, he said.  I wrote some things for a web site, but it’s not an artist statement. I’ve been thinking about writing one for ages, so I was primed and ready to go when I got your book. 

    Imagine my surprise, when I surfed over, to find a perfectly coherent artist statement on his site. True, a few touch-ups and a stronger central theme would be a plus; and, what he had worked. So, why was this clear to me… 

    …but not to McMurray, who, after all, wrote the artist statement that he did not think was an artist statement?  

    It’s Not Obvious, But The Answer Is Simple 

    Many artists suffer from LOI:  Lack Of Information.  

    If you don’t know what an artist statement is, then how can you be sure that what you’ve written is an artist statement? 

    When I ask artists to tell me what they think a statement is, one of the most common responses I hear is: I’m supposed to tell my viewer something about my art.  

    Well, yes, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell… only who is telling you about this nutshell? Is it the hull of a hazelnut? An almond?  

    When you have a vague definition like this, it becomes subject to a steady stream of individual interpretations, much like the ten websites I just reviewed. Ten different, often vague and disconnected characteristics of an artist statement, but not the deeper purpose of it.   

    Consider This:  

    Does An Artist Statement Support Your Art Or Reflect On It? 

    The problem, when you don’t know exactly what an artist statement is, is that you end up cobbling together a statement out of resumes, biographical statements, and critiques about the artwork and technique. Or, you opt for academic mumbo jumbo. 

    This usually happens when how you use an artist statement—support material for your art—gets confused with what it is: a very personal reflection on what, how and why you do what you do. 

    Defining an artist statement has the same benefits as setting a goal: it tells you if you are headed in the right direction. If you don’t know where you are going, then getting there becomes a dicey affair.  

    You could end up driving aimlessly around for hours. On the other hand, if you establish where you are going, you have a marker for knowing whether or not you have arrived. This single step will save you hours of grief.  

    So, in case you blew past it a few paragraphs ago, here’s a definition based on your deepest truth that simultaneously holds the power of viewer engagement: 

    ===========================================================

    An Artist Statement Definition:

    An artist statement is a written, personal reflection on your insights about your relationship to what, how, and why you do what you do—from your perspective as the artist-creator. 

    ===========================================================

    Its purpose is to give your artience a peek behind the scenes, to let them have a taste of what your experience, as an artist, is really like. 

    But wait… there’s more! 

    Counter Intuitively, It’s Not Just For Your Artience 

    There’s another side to the artist statement that no one usually articulates: the artist statement is not just for art patrons and gallery owners.  

    It is also has the capacity to deepen the creativity in your ArtLife.  

    The very effort of searching for words, which reflects your relationship to your art, increases your creative flow. This is true whenever we engage in a form of self-expression that pushes us out of our comfort zone. Like sweat from physical exertion, the struggle to articulate an artist statement has the added benefit of getting your creative juices flowing. 

    Writing the Artist Statement focused my connection to my art in a new way. The whole process primed me, gave me a sense of direction. 

    Now when I’m faced with choosing what to paint out of hundreds of photographs, understanding what moves me, this core place of nostalgia, gives me the reference point I need. ~ R. McMurray, retired Pres. of the Federation of Canadian Arts 

    As Uncomfortable As It May Feel…It’s About You 

    We have been conditioned, in so many ways, to feel awkward saying anything complimentary about ourselves. While, conversely, our culture encourages us to make demeaning, belittling self-comments, especially under the guise of humor.

    And because an artist statement is so deeply personal—as personal as your art—this tendency toward the Negative Self often pushes us in the opposite direction. 

    Keep in mind that a good many in your artience think you are magic and if they stand close enough, some of the magic will rub off.  

    With an artist statement, you give them permission to stand close enough to get a contact magic-high. At its best, an artist statement is honest in the same way that your art is honest. They both reflect a true expression of your being. 

    When an artist statement speaks from that place of what’s real, then, and only then, will the truth of your statement and your art effortlessly support each other. 

    Because It’s All About The Personal, Keep This In Mind … 

    An effective artist statement is as personal as your art. Which is why I insist that artists use first person, I, even though the very thought of writing “I” statements about your art might strike dread into your heart. 

    It’s very tempting (and artist do it all the time) to write your artist statement in third person because it feels as if that will keep strangers from judging you.  

    Even though you see artist statements written in the third-person (she/he) all the time, this is never a good idea.  

    Usually, an artist does this fearing that their statement, and by implication the art, doesn‘t have enough authority to be believed, respected or taken seriously.  

    Because authorities write about others in the third person, the artist tries to make it sound as if an authority is doing the writing.  

    But a third-person artist statement becomes easily confused with a critique, and as we have said, an artist statement is not a critique.  

    Third person also drops the artist statement squarely into a lie, since the artist purposefully sets the reader up to believe that someone else, besides the artist, is doing the writing. 

    Third person feels more credible, as if some expert wrote all this cool stuff about your work and isn’t that just too neat!  

    Unfortunately, that removed quality, which third person offers, is exactly what will kill the very reason for an artist statement in the first place: to give your viewer another way to bond with you because now they know something real about you and your art. 

    The Sticky Factor 

    An effective statement creates a personal connection to the artwork and stimulates our human thirst for “story.” This, in turn, triggers longer memory storage, and increases the sticky factor about your art, by immersing the viewer in two languages: visual and linguistic. 

    Writing in prose works best because prose is a friendly, accessible form. Prose lends itself to narration and storytelling, which helps the reader engage with what the artist is saying, which in turn encourages the reader to engage with the art.  

    Once in a while, poetry or prose-poetry is effective, when an artist is comfortable and skilled enough to pull it off. 

    The content of a statement is simple: It’s made up of specific words, which the artist chooses, and their construction. 

    Details Matter 

    Even if collectors love your work, an artist statement that comes off as arrogant, naïve, pushy, academic, or fluffy taints your artwork by association. Why take the chance?  

    Your work deserves an artist statement that gives you the professional edge you need.  

    Even though Artdex’s definition of an artist statement is only partially accurate, this bit of their advice might motivate you: A compelling artist statement can break a tie in an art competition, an artist grant application, or secure your spot in a coveted artist residency program. 

    And, to help you with the “detail” end of things, here’s one tip I’ll share about compelling writing: always use specific details in place of generalities. 

    “A tree” becomes “A gnarled oak with one branch blackened from lightening.” 

    “A sliced orange” becomes “One slice into the skin and the pungent, orange fragrance rose up from the cutting board.” 

    If you would like a comprehensive understanding of what an artist statement is—and how to leverage the purpose it serves for you and for your artience—alongside a step-by-step process for how to write an artist statement, keep in mind that the learning curve is similar to taking a class in a new technique for your artwork.  

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