This week's topic comes from a comment that Laure Ferlita made in response to the previous post. Laure asked for some thoughts on how to balance it all - being an artist, producing work, being our own marketing person, and being someone who is constantly learning. And as she noted, this was the short list!
Balance is very important because without it, we run the risk of becoming worn out, unproductive, overwhelmed and unmotivated.
The key to balance is to look at all of your goals and tasks and prioritize. Many people are good at goal setting but they are not so good at establishing realistic priorities and achievable time lines. Some people end up working on the goals that they like, for example they know they need to establish a body of work and they like making their art so they spend a lot of their time on this goal, while not spending enough time on other important tasks. Other people tackle all of their goals at once, doing a bit of each regardless of the urgency of individual goals. The result is that artists end up exerting a great deal of effort but they don't have the results they need for that particular time.
So where does perspective come into this? Step back and look at the big picture. How do you perceive yourself and what you are doing? Are you an artist? Would you like to sell your work to the public? Are you a small business owner?... Did I get you on this last question? Here is where your perspective might need to shift. If you are an artist and you intend to sell your work, you need to start thinking of yourself as the owner of a business. This simple paradigm shift in your thinking is what you need in order to enable you to prioritize your goals properly. Shifting your perspective from one in which you are an artist that occasionally, hopefully sells some work to that of someone who owns a business in which art is the product for sale, is the key to obtaining balance.
Many artists resent the time that the business side of things takes. These tasks are many and they eat into our studio time. But they are necessary. If you wish to remain a hobby artist that might sell a piece from time to time, then your priorities are different. But if you truly wish to make a living at your art, you must realize that you are running a business. Imagine owning some sort of business - it could be a coffee bar, a pizzeria, a clothing store, anything...Do you think that you could successfully run these sorts of business without dealing with marketing, customers, advertising, staff, doing things like ordering stock and materials, managing inventory, cleaning the store everyday, etc.? Of course you couldn't. The truth is that you can't run an art business successfully without dedicating a significant amount of time to non-art tasks. Unless you hire an agent to promote you or you have galleries that will sell all of your work, you will need to roll up your sleeves and get to work yourself.
Once you have had the revelation that you are running a business, it makes it easier to prioritize your goals. Which are the tasks that need to be done next in order to run your business successfully? Balance will come once you have defined a manageable lists of goals, along with a realistic time line. It takes time to build a successful business so take a longer view of things. We tend to get out of balance when we have a false sense of urgency, that feeling that everything has to happen at once. Artists often feel pressure to be doing it all. We can become overwhelmed when we are convinced that we need to have a fabulous website, a successful blog, a line of note cards and reproductions, a large body of work consisting of several interesting series, several art shows lined up, art entered into several juried competitions, etc. and we think it has to all happen NOW! These are all worthwhile aspects to running a successful business, but give yourself time to develop them. Determine which tasks are most important and focus on these first. You can work on things concurrently, but don't feel that you need to be doing them all. Relax, breathe.
Next week I will continue with more thoughts on running an art business and how you can remain motivated when doing all of that non-art related stuff...