The Secret for Artists
The following blog is the first in a series of articles from a guest, Ruth Payne
. For many of you in the Vancouver area, Ruth Payne will need no introduction. Ruth is the curator at the Ferry Building Gallery and the Visual Arts Coordinator of West Vancouver Cultural Services.
The Secret for Artists
The Secret for artists is first knowing what you want to have happen in your art career.
The film THE SECRET (if you haven't watched it, DO!) spells it out in simple terms. The Law of Attractions is always at work and you create what you think about.
You must have a clear dream so why not make it big as well as real for you? As Somerset Maugham quipped, "it's a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it." Dream from your heart while keeping your feet firmly on the ground. This will give you your heart's desire and a vision that you can articulate. Before you delve into the specifics necessary to present yourself to a gallery with the intention of having them represent you, it is necessary to do some in-depth self examination. This authentic, reflective and investigative journey is worthwhile for all artists…and it makes the journey simpler. Art-making and art marketing is a heartfelt journey; to keep that connection is essential. I believe it is in the heart-space that one knows what the dream is.
Do you really want to exhibit in New York City in a world-class museum? Or do you want to be a weekend painter, giving your art as gifts to your family and friends and occasionally exhibiting in a local community gallery? Do you prefer the art festival and outdoor market type of venue? Do you want to sell your art as a sideline business which you run as a sole proprietorship? Does the idea of exhibiting in a group show appeal to you more than showing solo? Do you prefer to show people your work in your home or studio and not exhibit in galleries? Are you an Internet buff who would rather spend more time promoting yourself on-line? These are just a few of the questions you want to ask yourself…now you know where to start.
Spend at least a month on this, journaling your thoughts and inspirations on what success is going to look like to you. Draw pictures, use lots of colour, cut out images and sayings in magazines. Make a Personal Success collage of your art business. Set aside a special sketchbook to make notes, jot down ideas, successes, tips, doodles, goals, dreams and entitle it: My Successful Art Career. Visit galleries and look at as many other artists' work as possible (advice from painter Gordon Smith). This will give you an idea of where you fit in the art world. Also think about where you fit in art history. What is your style, influences, mentors? Then share your findings with a fellow artist, trusted family member or friend.
The next step is to Begin with the End in Mind by imagining yourself at the end of your life. This is a very useful visualization, one of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People from the book by Stephen Covey. What did you do with your art that you are so thrilled with? What did you accomplish that was just right for you? Now you can work backwards to present time and make plans, goals and commit to making your dream happen. Next, write it all down. As long as the idea is just in your head it is a slogan. I believe to make it a goal and make it manifest, you have to write it down.
Now you can begin the path to successfully exhibiting and marketing your art. Stay tuned for more in April on the specifics of organizing your art business for success.
Ruth Payne, Visual Arts Coordinator,
West Vancouver Cultural Services, Ferry Building Gallery
About Ruth Payne
Ruth brings 25 years of experience as a gallery curator, visual artist, stress management consultant and teacher and runs the popular Arts Connection Networking Salon for visual artists.
This article first appeared in the My Art News Letter #12