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The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art…The Artistic Fingerprint + Artist Statement

The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art…The Artistic Fingerprint + Artist Statement

Let’s define our terms, shall we?  

Before spring planting, I like to pull out weeds first. Sometimes definitions need this too. 

Artist Statement: 

Weed pulling… what it’s not. 

It’s not: a bio, a resume, or a personal critique. 


Your Artist Statement is a process where word-language reinforces the visual language of your art. 

Your Artist Statement is a process where word-language reinforces the visual language of your art.

Because we are all hardwired for visual and word languages, believing one is more powerful or important than the other burns down one of the most powerful bonds you can have with your viewers. Full stop. 

Artistic Fingerprint: 

Weed pulling… what it’s not. 

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’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.  

Besides the fact that most artists create their work, in some aspect or other, with their hands, a finger’s fingerprint is also a visual clue—not auditory, or kinesthetic, but physically visual. 

The Artist Statement Half of… The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art 

Here are two, little-understood, artist statement secrets: About Them and About You. 

Secret #1 About Them: the people who see your art, who are moved by your art, and then immediately experience a very human desire to want more. 

And the more they want is … 

Secret #2 About You: the artist who gave them this moving emotional, aesthetic experience. 

Sure, they can stand there, shifting from one foot to the other (or move their cursor around), and stare some more. Maybe even strike up a conversation with someone next to them about what they are seeing and feeling and thinking: Honey, come look at this. What do you think? 

Sure, you can leave it up to them to wander into this never-never land of your art and take what from it what they will, until they move onto the next piece (maybe one of yours, maybe not). 

Alternately, you could give them a killer artist statement that keeps them right there, next to your work, contemplating it even more. Spending more time with the experience your work has triggered for them.  

Because, when you capture that next layer of insight and awareness – without detracting from your viewer’s perspective – you have built a psychological bridge between you (the artist) and your potential buyer.  

your artist statement is a psychological bridge

Ah, you may be thinking, but how do I write an artist statement that doesn’t interfere with what my viewer is experiencing? Isn’t putting my spin on my work already inserting myself into their experience?  

As it turns out, many artists I’ve worked don’t bother with the open-ended curiosity of a question, but go right for the declaration: I won’t write my artist statement because… I want my viewer to draw their own conclusions. I don’t want to interfere or impose on  their interpretation or experience. 

I totally get it. This resistance to writing an artist statement feels utterly reasonable, especially to those of us who already worry about inconveniencing or “bothering” someone else. 

However, this misplaced concern completely misses the point of an artist statement, which is not an explanation of what your work means, or a roadmap to what someone should be experiencing when they see it. 

If you want to dive into why this declaration is not actually protecting any viewer from anything, check out this blog post: Your Artist Statement… Why Bother?  Part 1: Four Rational Reasons To Not Write An Artist Statement. 

If you are doing it right, your artist statement is not telling, or explaining, it’s revealing your relationship to the piece they’re viewing. 

your artist statement reveals the relationship

An effective artist statement is all About Them, about extending the experience you are creating for them!

It is about giving them a precious, word-language context that bonds to the visual-language you and your art have created. 

It’s letting your viewer in on some aspects of your private relationship to your work, which, when done well, brings your viewer closer to the piece they are experiencing because they feel closer to you, the artist. 

At the Core of Artist Statement Secret #1: About Them 

… lies an uncomplicated truth: an effective statement creates a personal connection to your artwork because it stimulates our human thirst for story. 

an effective statement creates a personal connection

This, in turn, triggers longer memory storage about you and your work by immersing the viewer in not just one, but two languages essential to our human experience: visual and linguistic.  

At The Core Of Artist Statement Secret #2: About You 

This secret is a bit sneaky because it’s not at all what people think an artist statement is for. 

Besides the art patrons, gallery owners, residencies (and a dozen other applications), your artist statement is for you. Not the marketing-business you, but you the artist. 

Writing an artist statement gives you another way to reflect on your work. When you dare to climb this small, professional Mt. Everest, a surprising view of your own work awaits you at the top.  

The very effort of searching for words that truly, authentically reflect 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 very struggle gets our creative juices flowing.  

One of the great keys of creativity is to shake things up, get out of familiar mindsets, work against the grain. Sometimes it is hard for an artist — whose artwork is based on uniqueness — to realize how easy it is for any pattern to become familiar.  

Writing your artist statement — the what, how, and why of your work — will draw art buyers closer to your work even as it deepens your own awareness.  

As another sculptor, Norbert Ohnmacht, learned: 

Writing my artist statement gave me a chance to focus on myself. It opened up more creative juice and self-expression than I had experienced in a long time. Taming my internal critic, and the roadblocks to my inner mind, gave me new skills to express my heartfelt emotions to others. 

Working on my statement gave me the opportunity to delve into my inner soul and reflect on the science of “me.” When I took the time to evaluate what, how and why I do what I do, it refined my work and gave me a fresh, determined self-confidence that I had lacked before. 

The Other Half of… 

 The Ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art: Your Artistic Fingerprint 

We are all deeply familiar with the sensation that we are unique; there is only one of me, and only one of you. 

And yet, even though we live in a culture that elevates individualism over the collective, celebrating our uniqueness is discouraged by a whole host of admonishments:  

It’s not polite to brag.  

Who do you think you are? 

So, you think you’re better than others… 

There’s always someone more talented than you. 

You’re stuck up. 

You sure do have a high opinion of yourself! 

And then there’s the disparity between women being confidently themselves and men: 

You’re too loud. 

You’re a bitch. 

You’re too dramatic. 

You talk too much. 

Don’t step on anyone’s toes. 

Don’t be a (fill in the blank)… slut, loudmouth,  and so on… 

Our rational minds may have learned to compensate for, or overcome, this pervasive, persuasive cultural negativity to the point where we truly believe we are free of its subconscious undertow. 

And yet, for a whole host of artists, this cultural mindset has poisoned the well of their Original Uniqueness of their Original Selves—some more so, some less. 

The result is either a fuzzy, incomplete, or completely missing artistic fingerprint because the uniqueness of who we are and the uniqueness of our artwork are intimately, and forever, entwined. 

When an artist is highly skilled, talented even, and yet it’s impossible to tell their artwork apart from dozens of equally skilled artists with similar work, that’s what the world of card sharks would call “a tell.”  

Often these artists have settled for the ohhs and ahhs of family and friends; or the creative high that goes hand-in-hand with the skillful execution of a piece. All the while denying the world a true slice of their unique soul. 

As I’ve said before, and it bears repeating, repeating, repeating:  

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.  

Every artist I’ve ever met has told me of the moments where they felt elevated they had entered a timeless, seamless flow where there was no distinction 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. 

Like the fingerprints on your fingers, your Artistic fingerprint holds this intriguing, creative paradox: it is at once unique and universal–always a fingerprint… yet never the same. 

Creative Magic: when you give yourself permission to mine the depths for 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.

your artistic fingerprint is the ultimate creative paradox

A Case Study For The Ultimate Selling Your Art Power Couple: 

Your Artist Statement & Artistic Fingerprint 

When one of my private clients held a solo exhibition of his sculpture, he followed my suggestion to display each, singular art statement, about an individual piece, alongside the artwork. 

The typed statements were mounted at the top of thin, metal poles rising out of a stand to shoulder-height, so you could walk right up and read it. And because the font size was large enough, anyone else peering over someone’s shoulder could also read it.  

I arrived at the opening early and made a point to be a fly on the wall. And what I saw truly surprised me. The oft-quoted truism—a picture is worth a thousand words—had all the air knocked out of it that night. 

All evening, with its 200 plus guests, I watched the same scene unfold.  

Someone would approach one of the sculptures, glance briefly at the piece, then immediately turn and read the entire art statement; some that were two or three paragraphs.  

Then they would turn back, with an appreciative nod or smile, and really look at the sculpture, walk around it, talk about it, walk around it some more. 

I could see on their faces how their brains first registered, and then organized, the words they read with the images they saw.  I could literally see how the combination kept them engaged with each piece, and how it sparked conversations between the guests. 

The result of that night was a selling-your-art success… 

…and a triumph for the ultimate Power Couple for Selling Your Art 

Your Artistic Fingerprint and Your Artist Statement. 


If you are ready to write your ultimate artist statement, check out the all new, updated 3rd Edition of my eBook: Writing The Artist Statement: Revealing The True Spirit of Your Work 

Ariane Goodwin's signature file


    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


        What Makes Great Art Great? So Selling Your Art Comes With Confidence Baked In… (Parts 1 & 2)

        What Makes Great Art Great? So Selling Your Art Comes With Confidence Baked In… (Parts 1 & 2)

        PART 1 – What Makes Great Art Great?  So Selling Your Art Comes With Confidence Baked In… 

        Over my six years of the smARTist Telesummit (now smARTist Revival Podcasts) , I asked hundreds of artists how they define success through the unique Vision Questionnaire that participants filled out. 

        And as surprising as it was to me, a very small percentage of the over 2,500 artists defined success as “producing great art.” For 87%, success was the annual amount of art income– ranging from $20,000 to $500,000 a year. 

        Maybe it’s because great art is associated with historical figures, museum retrospectives, and the millions thrown down on the auction block. Maybe great feels like shoes too big to fill. 

        Or maybe it comes tagged with the age-old response that great is in the eye of the beholder—too subjective to pin down. 

        Or, for women artists, the persistent patriarchal overlay on great means it’s an exercise in futility; while for men great is a challenge that might best them even when they do their best. 

        I wonder what would change for selling your art if great was not only definable but also achievable

        I wonder what would change for selling your art if great was not only definable, but also achievable? 

        Daniel Grant, an arts writer and presenter at the smARTist Telesummit in 2011, once wrote, “I define an artist’s importance by three criteria.  How much he or she captures the soul of a moment, how much he or she influences subsequent generations of painters, and how much he or she expresses an individual style.” 

        This begs the question: Can you produce great art but not be an “important” artist? 

        For certainly great art is produced all the time without the artist being considered “important” in terms of Grant’s three criteria. 

        Even if you do not have a burning desire to produce great art, I know in your heart that you want your art to Wow! people, to cause a significant enough response that someone wants to own a piece no matter what. 

        And this only happens when, in the eyes of the viewer in that moment, your art is great.

        I don’t remember the exact moment I realized that great art was easily identifiable. I know it was in a coaching session with one of my artist when I heard myself calmly,confidently define great art as if it was the single most obvious thing in the world. 

        Since then, I’ve looked carefully to see how well my definition stands up. 

        What I love the most about this definition is that it puts you, the artist, in control of selling your art. You do not have to “guess” what the “soul of the moment” is or how you will be perceived by the future, you simply have to fulfill one of three requirements. 

        If you fulfill all three, and you learn how to run a business and marketing campaign, the world just might be your oyster. 

        Before Great Art Comes A Foundation

        However, Before GreatArt Comes A Foundation

        This part has been repeated so much I’m sure you can say it in your sleep. And even though it screams common sense, you’d be surprised at how many artists neglect the basics: 

        • Skillful competence with your materials
        • Skillful competence with your execution of mark making, sculpting or crafting
        • A signature, artistic fingerprint that is repeatedly recognizable as yours across multiple pieces of your work 
        • Producing enough to meet the demand

        With this foundation in the studio, and a similar foundation in career administration, you can build a sustainable career without producing great art. 

        But if you yearn for more, try this. 

        With Great Art Complexity Rules

        With Great Art Complexity Rules… Even When It’s Simple 

        For most of my life I’ve understood that one attribute of greatness is the ability to take something complex and make it easy to understand, make it accessible, especially when dealing with intellectual concepts. 

        The result is how complexity seems to melt away in the elegance of a simple distillation. When this happens, we disremember the layered, multi-faceted richness that gave birth to the satisfaction of what we can now understand. 

        I remember watching a movie on Picasso that started with him drawing a simple line on a piece of glass. It took less than two seconds, and yet that one line echoed like a giant bell with the layers and complexity of years of art making. 

        If you want to make great art, then start with one or more levels of complexity: 

        1. Complexity of technique
        2. Complexity of subject matter
        3. Complexity of message

        When you create complexity, you hold the viewer longer. When you layer in complexities in technique and subject matter and message, you invite your viewers inside their own brains and challenge them to expand their lived experience. 

        Since a viewer is often captured by the art (under your control) plus some personal trigger (not under your control), offering an experience that is not easily dismissed or walked away from is key.  

        It’s the layers and complexity that hold the viewer captive long enough for them to feel they cannot walk away from whatever soul siren your art is singing to them. 

        part 2 of what makes great art great

        Part 2 – What Makes Great Art Great? 

        Are You Hiding Behind Beauty? 

        Whether you’re in the studio, attending an opening gala, or selling your art online, there’s a lot that comes with being an artist to stoke the ego fires:  

        • Admiration 
        • The ultimate badge of specialness 
        • Cascading down the river of Creativity Flow 
        • Rampant self-expression 
        • The delight of watching what’s around the corner coming towards you  

               (or you towards it) 

        • An unbridled thrill of a purpose-driven life 
        • Merging with forces that are bigger than the ego (a bit of irony, that one) 
        • The ability to create beauty (as in “the eye of the beholder”) 

        Only, before I continue, a couple of clarifications… 

        1. The Ego 

        I have never been at peace with ego bashing and the popular idea that our ego is a function of The Self that either gets in our way, or presents some hurdle to a more authentic or spiritual self. Or that its core essence is narcissistic and infantile. 

        I experience Ego as a state of being that provides us with essential survival tools for our psyches, even as it allows us to experience pleasure. 

        It gives us a framework to understand our own personalities. It provides the template for self-reflection. It gives us a sense of wholeness, so the disparate selves we all experience (who are we out with our friends vs. with our mother?) don’t scatter into a pile of disconnected parts. 

        And Ego gives us a framework to understand our own maturation process. Through the Ego we can sense when we are maturing out of an infantile state. 

        And, yes, some of us settle for narcissism or fail to mature. And some of us use the Ego to bolster neurosis, bore our friends, and batter our colleagues. 

        But this is not, de facto, the Ego’s fault. The Whole Self has responsibility here. What the Ego most clearly gives us, or withholds, is our ability to be confident (earned or not). While it is maturity, not the Ego, which can measure what we’ve rightfully earned (or not). 

        When You Are Selling Your Art, Your Ego Can Help Or Hinder.   

        Here’s a short list to make sure your Ego is serving you and not the other way around when selling your art. Feel free to add other options: 

        • Have you asked a trusted art mentor or successful artist you trust to critique your work? 
        • Are your prices in line with similar work in other galleries? 
        • Are you prepared, ahead of time, to hold a conversation that is about your viewer’s reactions and questions, or might you end up on a rant about yourself? 
        • Do you feel viewers are innately gracious or critical? 
        • Are you feeling open or defensive when questioned about your work? 
        • When viewing other artists’ work, do you compare yourself to them or lean into experiencing what they have to offer? 
        • It’s Not All A Bed of Roses 

        The partial list of artist ego-pleasures, above, does not discount the raft of challenges—from how to maintain integrity and put food on the table, to how to endure a fund raising event when you’d rather be in the studio—which are also part of your ArtLife. 

        The Siren’s Call to “Beauty Above All” When Selling Your Art 

        The real trick is allowing our Ego fires to be stoked without following the Siren’s call away from how we shine the light on our true self. 

        For what great art does not, at some level, do that? Shine the light on the true self? 

        And the strongest Siren’s call for artists, I’ve found, is the Siren’s Call to Beauty. 

        I am not suggesting that you do not make beautiful art, if that’s what compels you to get up in the morning. 

        But don’t stop at that destination unless you are 100% sure that your beautiful art is simultaneously shining the light on your true self—all the time, in all kinds of weather.  

        Far too often, I see artists stopping by the lake to admire the seductive reflection of Beauty without diving in to see what treasures linger below, in the Dark of the Deep. 

        Far too often, I watch artists skillfully ruled by fear (which can go by many names: stubborn, resistant, it’s just who I am, beauty is my soul, it sells so well, people love it… ) as they simultaneously hide the light of their true self behind the beauty. 

        As you read this, notice where in your body some feeling is beginning to arise: a light tingle of recognition in the throat, a small clutch of fear in the stomach, a slight tightness across your shoulders… you’ll know it when you feel it. 

        This is the clue your deepest Self is offering you to pay attention, to stay open to the possibility that you are unwittingly listening to the Siren’s Call For Beauty to avoid the challenge of creating from a place of discomfort and discovery. 

        Remember, what you creatively explore does not necessarily have to be unveiled. You can work in the dark, and decide whether or not what you are doing is asking to be in the world at large as is, or in another, more advanced iteration, or what piece truly wants is to remain in your private collection as process for your creative self. 


        Take The Challenge:  

        Give up Beauty for the next two weeks  

        and let me know what happens in the comments… 

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          Selling Your Art: Building Block No.2: Art Visibility/Studio Time (Part 2)

          Selling Your Art: Building Block No.2: Art Visibility/Studio Time (Part 2)

          Where Studio Time Plays The Central Role In “Your Art Is Visible” 

          First, let’s do a quick review of the last blog post Selling-Your-Art: Building Block No.2, Your Art Is Visible (Part 1.) where we looked at a process called “Map The Gap.” And how this keeps the dynamic connection between your art’s visibility and selling your art alive and strong. 

          Map The Gap: Let’s review  

          There are a number of ways your art can become unintentionally more invisible than visible. 

          • When you’re faced with an art sale falling apart.  
          • Or a time when you want to put your art in the world, but you hit roadblocks with other people who are involved.  
          • Or you have a difficult commission client who presses all your buttons. 
          • You’re struggling with a collector, buyer, gallery owner, or another artist 

          In any of these scenarios, Map the Gap is a sleek and easy process to identify, and eliminate, one internal factor that can gum up selling your art.  

          When you Map the Gap, you can adjust your behavior to accurately reflect your sincere intention. This comes in handy when you need to navigate any sticky relationship affecting you selling your art.  

          In five easy steps, Map The Gap often untangles the knot. 

          But how? 

          Since most of us, most of the time, think and feel that our internal experience automatically aligns with our external behavior, we fail to check it out.

          But if we recognize this dissonance (the gap), and if we Map the Gap, suddenly there’s a release in any tangled knot of circumstances for us to: 

          1. a) Recognize that our behavior is not honoring our intention accurately
          2. b) Address the gap with the person involved 
          3. c) Mindfully create behavior that reflects the truth of your intentions
          4. d) Align, with integrity, with whomever is interacting with us

          All of which leads to the potential for selling your art with grace and ease. 

          Now, let’s tackle the next visibility/invisibility factor that might be affecting when you are selling your art: Studio Time. 

           Selling Your Art Building Block No.2 Visibility Studio Time Part 2

          Is Studio Time Undermining The Visibility You Need For Selling Your Art? 

          When other demands come into play, studio time often gets no play time. Or at least, not as much as your creative spirit needs and wants. Which often means, after taking care of the “others” in our lives, we end up with crumbs. 

          But the truth is that studio time is the one external, visibility factor guaranteed to affect selling your art. 

          Then, there’s the “putting ourselves first” to deal with. We harbor a cultural mandate that declares nurturing and caring for others as an altruistic character trait, and caring for ourselves as selfish.  

          If we ignore this mandate, we run the risk of being labeled “selfish,” a form of social shunning that exacts a black mark against our reputation as a good person. 

          Unfortunately, other traits, like self-centered, get thrown into the same roiling pot. 

          In truth, there’s an unacknowledged irony here.  

          Being selfish, where someone behaves only in their own interest with no concern for others, most often rises out of that person’s inability to discern what their real needs are. So their Alert Protective Self works very hard to grab their attention… to pay attention to what they truly need.  

          This hyperfocus—or self-centered focus on essential inner needs that are not being addressed—means the person’s inner attention is totally absorbed in an effort to wake up the part of themselves that is sleepwalking.  

          This isn’t selfishness as a disservice to others, but as a disservice to oneself. 

          If you, in an effort to make studio time a priority so selling your art becomes a reality, experience either yourself, or anyone around you, labeling you as “selfish,” or “self-centered” … 

          Pause, breath, and take a moment to examine which kind of selfishness is actually operating. 

          Do you truly need to focus on taking care of what you need? And, so, for a time this means you don’t have the bandwidth to also be a caretaker/cheerleader/nurturer for others? 

          If you can't time find to create, you can't make art to sell

          Finding more time to create, so selling your art becomes viable, is what haunts most artists I’ve worked with. 

          And oddly enough,  even the most productive artists, who seem to easily overcome roadblocks, they also tell me they feel as if they can’t carve out enough studio time to make the art they need for selling their art.  

          Which makes me to wonder if time is the culprit, or merely an easy rationale masking other issues. 

          Often Time Slips Away Because We Aren’t Paying Attention To It  

          When you want to change behavior that operates on autopilot, try this: 

          1. Name, or better yet, write down the specific roadblock, or roadblocks, that take away from your studio time. 

          When we name something directly, it directs our brain to retrieve it from our sub/unconscious to make it consciously available so we can work with it. 

          You can't work with something until you actually know what it is.

          1. Brainstorm options for what you, or those around you, can do to reduce the amount of time you spend on this roadblock. With classic brainstorming, you need to get all the “obvious” options out of the way first before the creative ones come up. So get every idea down on paper, without editing or judging. 
          2. Keep in mind that we operate on a limited amount of will per day. Every decision, or action we take, eats up a portion of our will. If studio time is paramount (and I’m hoping it is), do that before you do anything else. This is the best way I know to maximize any amount of time you have for a project, especially if it has to be limited
          3. Write a mantra for your studio time. Print it out. Or paint it out…and put it where you can see it every day. 

              Here is a list of the most common Studio Time Thieves stealing the very art you need to sell your art: 

              Work/Income Conflicts: 

              • Where you have to balance making art with a day job (or two, or three…) 

              Responsibility for Caregiving: 

              • When children, elderly parents, or other members of your family need you 

              Issues With Your Health: 

              • When physical or mental health issues limit your energy and focus 

              Household Responsibilities and/or Distractions: 

              • When  daily life chores and demands nibble away at your studio time 
              • Where frequent interruptions or distractions break your creative focus 
              • When you don’t have a dedicated, separate studio space to remove you from home life  

              Motivational Factors: 

              • When you struggle with procrastination, lack of motivation, or creative blocks 
              • When you feel guilty dedicating so much time to your studio  
              • When you have an inspiration drought or burnout from life on steroids 

              Time Management: 

              • Where your administrative, art related tasks (exhibitions, teaching, marketing, etc.) interfere with your creative focus 
              • When you over commit to projects with deadlines that collide 
              • Faltering when it comes to a consistent studio schedule 

              Logistical Issues: 

              • When you need to travel regularly, so keeping a routine feels impossible 

              when you make your art, your art becomes visible

              Here are three different perspectives on finding studio time that I’ve lifted straight out of the smARTist Telesummit Revival Podcast #2.  

              • Organizing as a foundational factor in studio time  
              • Defining your artistic direction with concrete specifics  
              • Understanding how both artificial and natural time impacts how we create


              1. Jennifer Loudon (our smARTist Organizing Expert) starts with reminding us how we take ourselves to task for not having enough time in the studio, which undermines our creative mood. 

              With simple exercises, she helps artists find a way to be okay, in this moment, just as we are. Embracing the radical choice to truly believe there is nothing to change or fix, solve or get rid of.

              Because, once you breath in that choice (and Jennifer knows exactly how to guide you toward this awareness), you open up to new moods and new choices that paradoxically, and gratefully, lead to finding more creative time in the studio—no matter what. 


              2. Aletta de Wal, M. Ed (our smARTist Art Career Expert) comes from a more traditional stance where you unleash the forces of desire, will and planning to the studio time you need and want.  

              Two of the building blocks affecting studio time that she explores are 1) how you define your artistic direction and 2) how you approach organization. 

              In her presentation, Aletta has you answer specific question to help you identify where you are right now, and what you need to go forward. 

              WHAT’S TIME GOT TO DO WITH IT? 

              3. Waverly Fitzgerald (smARTistâ Time Expert) offers a radical view of time in two distinct realms of experience: natural time and artificial time, and how understanding time in both realms impacts the personal, natural rhythms of our life. 

              As a creative herself, she shows us how to identify our sweet spot for creating, how to use the seasons to trigger a surge in creativity, how to find our “prime time” so we’re ready to work when we’re most creative, and why the ultradian rhythm works so well. 

              But, for me, the most influential part of Waverly’s presentation is her distinction between goal setting and theme setting and how she uses both of these, in tandem, to orchestrate time within her own life. 

              Here then are three, immediate tools you can use to get more studio time. 

              1. Embracing your inherent, human wholeness as you organize and manage your studio time so selling your art becomes viable 
              2. Paying attention to your artistic direction so selling your art becomes part of the artistic vision 
              3. Learning how natural and artificial time impacts you on a daily basis so you are selling your art as a whole artist  

              Now, it’s your turn. When did you last experience the feeling that your time in the studio was “selfish?” 

              I’d love to start a conversation, so please leave me a comment.  

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