When times are tough economically, inevitably the outlook becomes grim and the tone negative and we are all familiar with the starving artist myth. Negativity can drain the life out of our dreams and our enthusiasm. Without either of these, our motivation to do the work vanishes. So today, lets get a hope adjustment.
I am a firm believer in the notion that if someone else is out there doing what you would like to do, then it is possible. There is living proof!
Regardless of the current state of the economy there are artists that are making it. You know this, but maybe it is time for a gentle reminder.
I was recently encouraged by fellow artists. I am a new member on the executive of a Studio Tour. I attended a meeting during which we would be jurying in new artists. One artist arrived a bit late and breathless. She had lost track of time in her studio. Teresa had been up early on a very cold morning, working in her underheated garage/pottery studio with her hands in cold water making pots. The thrill of recent creation was evident in her pumped up energy and when the noon hour meeting was over she was dashing back for more of the same. A cancellation for the upcoming tour occurred due to a date conflict and last week another painter and I headed back to the coordinator's house to critique the work of a replacement applicant. When offered a cup of coffee or tea, Karl replied that no he couldn't stay, he had to get back to his studio and back to work. And he meant it.
I went home, back to my own studio and drafting table and as I sat there colouring away, I noted how I was surrounded by artists who were making it. Karl is a family man who earns his living by painting. Teresa works full time as a potter. I thought of my friend Myra who is a talented silver smith and she is busy year round with jewelry commissions. Then there is my friend Margaret, a single mom of two girls that earns a living painting and teaching art.
It is being done folks. What are these people doing that is so successful? First of all they have their noses to the grindstone and they are doing the work. They don't sit around examining the odds for success, they do the work. You can't have a good reputation and a great body of art if you don't do the work. And I might also add that these people are doing it their own way. Three of the four artists mentioned do not have websites. Amazing yes, but true. They don't do any social media, no time on Facebook, Twitter, no blogs, nothing for sale on-line, heck Karl barely reads his email! :-) What they do have is body of work behind them that speaks for itself. Over time they have honed their skills and their craft and they have satisfied clients. Word of mouth is often the best form of advertising. Of course these people stay visible, they participate in quality exhibitions and so on but most importantly they each have terrific work ethics, they do the work.
Look around you. I'll bet you will find successful artists (and if you don't know any, may I suggest you get yourself out there and get connected to fellow artists - you might wish to read my posts under Finding Support - click highlighted text for the link or look in right sidebar for the 'button'). Don't let the doom and gloom of the headlines drag you down and take you out. Yes, people have found themselves unemployed or underemployed, galleries have closed and artists are feeling the pinch. BUT, there are artists out there who are selling their art. Focus on the possibilities. Work hard. You may have to refresh your marketing strategy. It may not be easy but then again, much worth having isn't. So, turn off the news, stay away from the papers, get positive and head to your studio now. Do the work. The bonus is that it simply feels better to be working! Finally, may I suggest that you strive to, by your example, to become someone else's inspiration. Time to pay it forward!