So this blog is a week late because I was in a wedding and then had to play catchup with commissions and work all week, and this is a great example of me being a hypocrite and not sticking to my deadlines. I also haven’t posted new art in a while, because I have been working on commissions, which brings me to my main point: selling out is really ok, all the cool kids are doing it to pay bills. Whether you are a musician playing cover songs at weddings on the weekends to support your songwriting career, or an artist painting peoples’ dogs or favorite quotes, or an aspiring filmmaker filming graduation ceremonies and high school football games, if you are practicing your craft in some way and getting paid, then why is that in any way bad? People who judge you for it are liars because everyone has to pay the bills somehow, unless you’re a trust fund kid in which case ~slow clap~. Example, I paint a lot of watercolors of homes for people, they make great gifts and honestly keep my art business afloat. Are houses my area of focus or part of my artist statement? No, but I love painting! If I am still producing the work that contributes to my vision as an artist and also practice fundamentals of painting, by painting watercolors of houses, and getting paid to do it, I consider that a win-win.
I say yes to absolutely every art commission (or project) and graphic design job that comes my way and I hope that’s a no brainer for most other people trying to make it as a creative entrepreneur, and I have to remind myself to be completely open minded about every job and give each commission 1150%. At my old job my attention to detail was often criticized. Call it selective hearing or putting what I wanted to do over what I have to do first or just being scatterbrained, I fully admit it’s my weakness, and although I've learned how to work on it, the one thing I am able to devote all of my attention to for any amount of time is my art. I never rush through projects; when I am painting, I don’t do things like, oh.. I don’t know, put a giant typo on a direct mailer that got sent out to 1000 Nashvillians. I want that dedication to be evident in every single thing that I paint or produce.
Being open minded also ties into creating your own opportunities. When I started this year with the goal in mind to have one art show per month, I had to readjust. I changed that goal to “I will work towards one major art related goal each month”. I apply to galleries and calls for artists pretty regularly and I usually don’t get what I hope for out of it. I am in the stage in my independent career where I am pretty much just blindly throwing tons of darts with both hands and seeing what sticks. I am constantly reaching out to people in my career field for advice, following them on social media, and looking for inspiration everywhere. BUT there is a really big difference between seeking inspiration, and flat out copying what someone successful did. Originality is everything. Here’s an example. I love Heather Day; her artwork and social media presence and brand is just gold. I read her blog about getting sponsors and was really inspired by it. I am in no way there yet, but it got me thinking- if I can’t get sponsors, working with other local, female entrepreneurs could be really cool- tying in other brands and supporting local businesses and collaborating. So, I came up with this idea to incorporate other brands into what I am doing- I won’t divulge all the details yet, because I want it to be a surprise (in two weeks, stay tuned!), but after weeks of applying to existing opportunities and not getting what I wanted out of it, I decided to create my own. This is really how I have showcased my art. I wasn’t having much luck reaching out to galleries one month, so I reached out to a local brewery with bare walls. I want more social media followers and email subscribers, so I reached out to some local businesses I really like to see if they want to co-promote. I guess my point in all of this is, don’t get discouraged if you find that you’re not getting what you wanted out of all your efforts and hard work. It just means it’s time to think creatively. I usually break down what I want to the most basic root of it- I change “I want my art in that gallery” to “I want people interested in the Nashville art scene to see my art” to “I just want to share my art and have it on display somewhere”. Breaking a goal down to the core of what it is I actually want to accomplish allows me to come up with a million different ways in which to achieve that goal. I find it’s really helpful to write all of those different ideas down on paper and then using those ideas as your to-do list for the day.
I have also been pretty amazed by what I can accomplish when I just really want to do something, versus when I have to. Again, kind of a no brainer. This goes back to the days of summer reading. I love reading, I would be reading all summer anyways, but there’s something about when it was being assigned to me that made it become a hated chore. Same goes for this, when I am working towards a goal that I really want, I am able to think so much more creatively and be so much more open minded about opportunities. This may just be that I am really stubborn millennial, hence the whole goal to be my own boss, but all of this works for me and maybe it will work for you too!