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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 

 

WHY WRITE AN ARTIST STATEMENT? 

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… 

    Ariane Goodwin's signature file

     

      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

          ORGANIZATION 

          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. 

          ARTISTIC DIRECTION 

          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.  

          Ariane Goodwin's signature file

           

            Selling Your Art: Building Block No.2: Your Art Is Visible (Part 1, cont.)

            Selling Your Art: Building Block No.2: Your Art Is Visible (Part 1, cont.)

            Let’s do a quick review of last week’s Selling-Your-Art Building Block No.1 and Selling-Your-Art Building Block No.2 (Part 1)

            Selling-Your-Art Building Blocks Recap

            Selling-Your-Art Building Block No.1: Your Art Is Created:

            This is a foundational building block, which needs your attention in three key areas:

            1. You’re putting in the time and effort to reach a certain level of skillfulness.
            2. You’re establishing your artistic fingerprint, your unique artist angle.
            3. You’re reaching deep into your creative spirit and manifesting a creative truth for the world to experience.

            Selling-Your-Art Building Block No.2 (Part 1): Your Art Is Visible

            This might seem too obvious to bother with, until you consider all the ways your art might be functionally invisible. This can run the gamut from not being visible at all, to being visible, but inaccessible.:

            1. Your website contact form doesn’t work (and you don’t know this because you don’t email yourself—on a regular basis—from that same form!).
            2. You lost a gallery and haven’t worked yourself up to move on.
            3. Your website is a ho-hum, portfolio-only menagerie of your work.
            4. You truly think words don’t matter, so no artist statement and a boring bio.

            are you unintentionally blocking the visibility you need for selling your art

            Are You Unintentionally Blocking The Visibility You Need For Selling Your Art?

            If you are already a professional artist selling your art, or you are heading in that direction, you realize how essential it is to be the sensitive creative you are, and a pragmatic, life-long learner.

            You realize that the truth and power of your art, and thus the truth and power of selling your art, rests on more than the surface-level, nitty-gritty, administrative and marketing tasks.

            As important as these daily, weekly, monthly external tasks are, they can also be the barrier to paying attention to the less obvious, emotional and spiritual capacities of our internal experience.

            It’s this rarely explored, internal territory with its exotic fauna and flora that underpins what determines how you sell your art, because it determines the most basic relationship you have:  your relationship to your art.

            And your relationship to your art is what pulls the invisible strings of success for selling your art. I go into this in depth in my artist manifesto: Your Path of Visionary Affluence: A Manifesto for Artists who want to sell more art.

            When you don’t pay attention to the internal stories you whisper to yourself, they control your internal experience in the same way an out-of-control child wreaks havoc in a grocery store because the caretaker isn’t paying attention.

            The key is being psychologically strong enough, and intellectually willing enough, to be wrong from time to time. Or willing  to experience emotional discomfort from time to time, without putting your hair on fire.

            Otherwise, you may be unintentionally blocking how visible and accessible your artwork is, and then passing this off with “I forgot.” Or, “I didn’t know.” Or (my favorite), “I didn’t mean to… (fill in the blank).”

            When Your Art is Visible, You Are Visible. And Selling Your Art is the Most Visible of All.

            When Your Art is Visible, You Are Visible. And Selling Your Art is the Most Visible of All.

            But, how do you know which old triggers are keeping you from selling your art because its visibility and accessibility is compromised?

            For a lot of creatives, being visible is a double-edged sword. We crave it, on the one hand; while being skeptical and cautious on the other.

            The joys of being visible means we’re on the road to success. We’re seen—the holy grail of human desire. The artwork we love is in the world and for the world, and what could be more satisfying?

            And… selling your art is the culmination of creative work and the ultimate joy of visibility.

            Meanwhile, in the underground of our psyches, visibility can also dredge up all shapes and sizes of triggers related to early trauma. From the belittling remarks of classmates to terrifying nights with a drunk parent, a good many of us have experienced life in ways we do not wish to repeat.

            And even though we’ve historically grown way past those incidents, they often live on in the crevices of our bodies, and pop out when the trigger conditions are right. For most of us, this happens on the QT, buried beneath the more urgent, daily tasks of living.

            If we don’t become aware of our visibility triggers, then they quietly slash and burn our art careers in ways our daily Creative Self doesn’t see. And selling your art becomes the casualty.

            An emotional trigger just happens. No control here. The trick is what you do after the trigger shows up

            So, what do we do with this? I mean, isn’t a trigger out of our control?

            Yes… and No.

            An emotional trigger just happens. No control here. The trick is what you do after the trigger shows up.

            First, notice the visibility trigger that just happened.

            Your clue will be somewhere in your body where a major shift occurred: your stomach lurched / your headache started / your shoulders tightened / your jaw clenched.

            This body reflex will be consistent for each trigger; it doesn’t change until you become aware and awake.

            Next, once you’ve identified your physical reaction to your emotional trigger, ask yourself: What’s going on here?

            And listen for a response, which might not turn up right away. But that’s okay. If you follow noticing your body’s specific response to the trigger with the question– What’s going on here?—over time you’ll become aware of the connection to something that happened to you before.

            The key is both self-kindness and self-respect. You’re doing this to strengthen your internal ability to allow your art to be completely and wholly visible so selling your art doesn’t hit any speed bumps.

            This is not the time for blame or ridicule or self-criticism. It’s only time to become aware and awake so selling your art becomes a joyous success.

            Alongside visibility triggers is another tricky pattern of behavior I’ve identified as The Gap.

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

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

            Most of us experience The Gap on any given day as an unconscious, socially acceptable response to some mis-step we’ve taken. In most cases, it’s not worth paying attention to.

            However, in some cases it can, inadvertently, derail the visibility you need for selling your art. But, this is tricky territory, as you’ll see, because as far as I know, no one has dug into this common, human pattern of behavior to understand it’s true nature.

            In fact, this behavior is so common it’s dismissed out of hand. And this is one of its greatest feats: hiding a deceptive deflection behind a familiar, innocent sounding refrain…

            I’m sorry… I didn’t intend to… (fill in the blank).

            But, there is a way out of this coverup.

            selling your art map the gap

            It’s rare when we take the time to examine the interplay between our external reality and our internal landscape.

            And yet, dialogue between these two realities pretty much determines how we move through the world: what art we make, how others perceive who we are and what we do, and how we perceive ourselves.

            It’s also the disconnect between our external behavior and our internal intentions that get us into trouble.

            This common remark—“Yes, but I didn’t intend to do xxx (fill in the blank).”—is hiding an ego-generated reaction (in a moment you’ll see why I call it that) that poses as a rationale for behavior that has, to some degree, troubled the person on the receiving end of the behavior.

            “Yes, but I didn’t intend to (fill in the blank)…” is, in reality, always a cleverly disguised excuse.

            First, consider that the behavior (whatever it is) has actually happened. It’s a done deal. No taking it back.

            A Couple of Not-So-Fun Examples Where Internal & External Realities Collide

            You accidentally knock over your friend’s water glass and it spreads over the painting she’s been working on for weeks.

            Of course, you didn’t mean to. But how does that change the hours of work she can never get back?

            Or, blissfully unaware that the gallery owner can hear you, “She just won’t stop yammering!” becomes a hot moment you can’t take back. I didn’t intend to hurt her feelings has zero impact on feelings already hurt.

            As bad as you might feel, “I didn’t intend to do that” does not, nay…cannot mend fences.

            Why?

            If you uncloak the “rationale” of this reaction, you will find a scared, ego turning the spotlight away from the (mis)behavior and the person affected, and onto the ego itself as the real victim of… of all things…an intention.

            I didn’t intend is a way to avoid responsibility for the result of some behavior by implying a kind of innocence behind the behavior that should be the real factor considered.

            So, what’s really going on here?

            why is the gap relevant to selling your art

            And why is The Gap relevant to Selling Your Art: Building Block No.2?

            Most of the time, most of us are oblivious to the disconnect between what we are experiencing internally and our external behavior.

            We assume, 99% of the time, that whatever we are experiencing internally (the home of all intentions) is automatically showing up in our behavior. And, of course we also assume that anyone else can see this is true.

            Sometimes these two distinct, yet constantly intertwined realities are aligned. What you experience internally is manifesting in your external behavior. And that makes for smooth sailing.

            But a good deal of the time, there is a gap between the two. And this gap can be a one, on a scale of 1 to 10, or a ten—or anywhere in-between.

            The problem is, it’s very hard to know how much of a gap is manifesting (or if there’s any gap at all) by ourselves.

            It’s as if the Divine Order of Things has decreed that “the eye cannot see the eye” as a clue that we need each other. That cooperation and connection trumps isolation and disconnection.

            selling your art cooperation and connection

            So, then, what to do when selling your art is on the line…

            because you’re struggling with a collector, buyer, gallery owner, or another artist?

            Here’s a five-step, Map The Gap Process that’s easy to learn and apply:

            First, check out, with yourself, if the bumpy interaction might be exacerbated by your unawareness of the gap between your intention (internal experience) and your behavior (external manifestation).

            Second, trust yourself. Self-honesty is a hard-won trait that can breathe life into any tangled knot.

            Third, firmly (internally) tell your ego to: Please take a back seat  (climb a tree, go read at the library, etc.). I’m happy to let you back in afterwards, but for now, I need my space—go!

            Fourth, trust the other person. People rarely back away from a genuine, heartfelt plea for help or an apology given sincerely. So, ask the person in the tangle with you, I’d love the truth right now: how do you interpret what I am saying and doing?

            Fifth, listen to the other person. To keep it safe and simple, only do this with one person at a time. Group dynamics can be dicey when you’re learning to work with your ego instead of against it.

            Okay, this has been a lot.

            Map The Gap: Let’s review the dynamic connection between your art’s visibility and selling your art.

            When you’re faced with an art sale that has just slipped through your fingers. Or a time when you are trying to put your art in the world and you keep hitting roadblocks with other people. Or you’re working on a commission with a difficult client, see what happens when you apply the five steps in Map The Gap.

            Because most of the time, most of us feel that whatever we are experiencing internally is naturally aligned with our behavior, we fail to check it out.

            But if we do, 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

            When did you last experience The Gap and it’s consequences?

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

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              Selling Your Art: Let’s Start At The Beginning 

              Selling Your Art: Let’s Start At The Beginning 

              Selling Your Art: The Beginning…

              When a piece of your work sells, it lights you up. When I hear about it, it lights me up too. 

              Nothing is more validating, more affirming than someone wanting to pay you for the piece you’ve poured your heart and soul into. 

              It’s a high like no other. 

              And in that split second transfer of money for art, all the hours with their endless details—some high, some low—melt away. 

              But along the way, you had to take three foundational steps toward those art sales. 

              Each one seeming so obvious, and in some cases inevitable, that taking time to pay conscious attention might feel frivolous, or unnecessary. 

              I’d like to stress-test that by peeking under the ArtLife hood. 

              3 basic building blocks to selling your art

              No.1 —  Your art is created.  

              You’re putting in the time and effort to reach a certain level of skillfulness. You’re establishing your artistic fingerprint, your unique artist angle. You’re reaching deep into your creative spirit and manifesting a creative truth for the world to experience. 

              No.2 —  Your art is visible. You’re in a gallery. Or hosting an in-studio reception. Or at an art fair. Or maintaining your website, not as a glorified portfolio, but as an experience for people who will become lovers of your work.  

              No.3 —  You, the artist, are excited to engage. You’re answering a question from a potential collector standing next to one of your pieces in a gallery. You’re responding to an email from a potential buyer who just saw a piece on your website. You’re answering an email from someone who met someone who told that someone about your work. You’re replying to comments on Instagram that invite the sale. 

              Nail all three steps, in sequence, and the golden ring on the Selling Your Art Merry-go-Round is yours. 

              Obvious, you’re thinking.  

              I agree. 

              Only, let’s see what happens when we reverse it, shall we?  

              Because, after decades of experience with artists at all career levels (and in all genres), I have watched as one (or more) of these obvious basic steps become… A stumble. A missed opportunity. A missed art sale 

              what happens when we reverse the basic building blocks of art sales

              No.1 – Your art is sort of made. It is generic or superficial. It needs more technical expertise. Your art needs an honest critique from a trusted art-community source. It fails the authentic artistic fingerprint test. (You know…unique to only you…) Your art needs more of you more of the time. 

              No.2 – Your art is invisible: Your website contact form doesn’t work (and you don’t know this because you don’t email yourself—on a regular basis—from that same form!). You lost a gallery and haven’t worked yourself up to move on. Your website is a ho-hum, portfolio-only menagerie of your work. You truly think words don’t matter, so no artist statement and a boring bio. 

              No.3 – You, the artist, fail to engage: Because the art is invisible, how can a collector stand next to you asking questions at an opening? There is no potential collector emailing you, either from your website or from someone who never saw your work, so couldn’t recommend it to someone else. Or you have the work up on a website, but no email list and no newsletter. You do Instagram, but forget to respond to comments. 

              With any one of these basic building blocks, if the artist falters, selling your art falters. 

              Let’s Dive Deeper Into Each Basic, Selling Your Art Building Block  

              art sale building block no.1 your art is created

              At first glance, Your art is created might seem too obvious to bother with until you encounter three sticky wickets : getting enough studio time, being clear about what you are making, and consistently developing your artist fingerprint. 

              Some might frame each of these as a problem, which, for me, is problematic. Problems have a habit of indicating that you’re at fault in some way.  

              If you frame these as artistic intentions, then accountability becomes connected to the impartial marker of “Is it working?” “What would work better? Faster? More easily?” 

              1. Intention: Get enough studio time to make the work you need for selling your art. 

              When I gave out my Vision Questionnaire of 28 questions to the smARTist Telesummit participants, so they could identify where they were in their art career, a consistent response to one of the questions was: I need more time in the studio. 

              It seems everything eats into studio time: family commitments, health issues, survival issues, even the irrepressible kitchen sink makes demands. 

              What’s hard is to take responsibility for what part of this is unconscious self-sabotage. We might wish to lay reasonable, rational, and often guilt-laden demands at the feet of fate, or duty, or obligation, or anything but at the feet of our own choices. 

              It’s not to say that family commitments, health issues, survival issues, etc. aren’t real. They are, and often alarmingly so. 

              But first and foremost, we are responsible for how we show up. And if we are not taking stock of what we need, along with everyone else’s needs, that is on us. 

              Give yourself the gift you give others: the time you deserve.  

              It’s truly that simple. 

              1. Intention: Be clear about what you are making so you have art to sell.

              Because creativity is not genre specific, most creative people have more creative inspirations than they know what to do with.  

              for some of us the sheer luminosity of an idea becomes a firefly of creative possibilities that we'll follow deep into the forest

              This is both a gift and a curse. If we harness this instinct, it turns into the gift of creating with intention. But if we spend too much time chasing down one inspiration after another, it muddies our creative waters. 

              This doesn’t mean sticking to one thing—an impossibility for a good many of us. 

              It means focusing on what makes your art…well…your art. Which brings us smack into the third intention for making art: developing a consistent artist fingerprint. 

              1. Intention: Consistently selling your art depends on a consistent Artist Fingerprint.TM  

              Does your work have an identifiable, artist fingerprint TM, visual cues that signal to any viewer that this work of art is yours and only yours?  

              Are you aware of these visual cues?  

              Are they intentional and conscious, or merely part of your creative flow outside of verbal language? 

              You know a Judy Chicago, a Georges Seurat, or a Louise Joséphine Bourgeois because they each have an artist fingerprint that immediately identifies their work and often spans decades, styles, concepts, and mediums. 

              Even if you’ve not thought of this before, can you look at several pieces of your work and describe what aspects are reliable from piece to piece?  

              It might be a technique, a way of using color, light, perspective; subject matter married to a unique technique; a crossover of artistic genres (think writing and painting).  

              Besides these visual cues of your art making,  there’s a more enigmatic characteristic of your artist fingerprintTM:  it’s the light passing through your spirit/soul into your earthly mind/body that guides you when you manifest creativity for the world to experience. 

              Once you put in the time and effort to hone your skill and technique, it’s time to reach deep into your creative spirit and pull out your artistic truth.  

              your artist fingerprint is the indelible foundation of your artist identity

              And your artistic identity is the true force behind your art sales. 

              So, what have we covered so far?  

              Let’s do a quick recap for Art Sale Building Block No.1. 

              When you  

              1. get enough studio time 
              2. and are clear about what you are making with your indelible, artistic fingerprint 
              3. then, Your Art Is Created, becomes the obvious first Selling Your Art Building Block. 

                  Art Sale Building Block No.2

                  Here again, Your art is visible might seem so self-evident  as to border on absurdity. 

                  Then again… 

                  What if your website contact form isn’t working? Or you’ve lost the one gallery (or two) that you had?  

                  Or you keep waiting for the perfect piece to materialize under your fingers before daring to go public? Or you’ve hit a creative roadblock? Or self-doubts have asserted themselves? Or family demands force studio time off the map? 

                  Or… your don’t sell your art because you refuse to show your work—for one reason or another. 

                  Once upon a time, an artist contacted me for private coaching.  

                  I had one spot left in my practice and I was excited to fill it—with the caveat that we first determine if coaching together would be a good fit. The last thing I ever want is to work with an artist who won’t, for one reason or another, be able to benefit from a coaching relationship. 

                  This time, my standard preview session proved invaluable in a way I could have never imagined. 

                  Ms. Private Extraordinaire (you guessed it… not her real name) had been painting for three decades. She had thousands of pieces in several storage units. But, she had never, ever, shown a single piece. 

                  Let me repeat: Never.  Shown.  A.  Single.  Piece. 

                  Or, put another way: Never.  Sold.  A.  Single.  Piece. 

                  Thank goodness this was a phone conversation, and not Aoom, as I’m not known for my poker face. My voice, on the other hand, I could manage. 

                  What’s holding you back from showing your work? My voice even, curious. 

                   Nothing, she said. My work is private. Just for me. I don’t want to show it. 

                  And do you have any intention of making artwork for others to experience?  

                  No, she said, I definitely don’t want to show it. 

                  Given that, I continued, what would you like from me? 

                  I don’t know, she said, I was hoping you could tell me. 

                  Is there any chance I can help you find a way to release a select group of your paintings from their storage units for an exhibition?  

                  Or, that you would work on a select group for such an exhibition? 

                  Meanwhile, the graphic text bubble over my head: 

                  Any chance I can get you to release the fear cocoon  

                  that holds you, and your creativity, 

                  as prisoners under lock and key? 

                  I could never do that, she replied, answering my spoken and unspoken question.  

                  Her voice was steady. It didn’t quaver. She didn’t hesitate in her response. She held the silence that followed. 

                  (I listen very, very carefully to silences because they always have so much to say…) 

                  We exchanged a few pleasantries before … 

                  I don’t see a way forward, I said, because the work I do is about artists changing the world by putting their work in the world. 

                  She understood.  

                  Our parting was amicable. 

                  When the work is invisible, you literally cannot sell your art.  

                  The trick here is understanding what “invisible” actually means. 

                  In the case of Ms. Private Extraordinaire, invisible was literal. I’m pretty darn sure if you’re reading this, that’s not you. 

                  Most likely, you’re working just as hard to have your work visibile as you are making the work. 

                  Or, your work is visible, but perhaps inaccessible: An outdated website. A contact form that’s not working. A gallery with odd opening hours that keep changing. Or, heaven forbid, a gallery that doesn’t respond to queries from collectors and buyers. 

                  I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve gone to an artist’s website and sent them an email from their site…and…silence. Or the last work they uploaded is 2018. There’s no artist statement (you know, that personal connection that furthers the bond between artist and collector).  

                  So, maybe you’re not guilty of any of these “let’s-make-visibility-as-hard-as-possible” no-art-sale crimes. 

                  are there unintentional ways the visibility you desire, and need, for an art sale are being hampered

                  In next week’s blog post, I’ll tease apart how the gap between your internal experience and your external behavior can, inadvertently, derail the visibility you need for art-sales. 

                  It’s a process I call Map The Gap. 

                  I’d love to “see” you here. But that’s only possible if you drop a comment or two below in the comment fields. 

                  Tell me, do you have specific issues with making your artwork visible? 

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