Under every myth, or cliché, you can find reality when you look at the facts.
In The Flip Side of the "Starving Artist" Myth - Part 1, I flipped:
Myth #1: You Must Starve To Be An Artist
Myth #2: Society Owes Artists a Living
Myth #3: Artists Are Not Business People, My Dealer Will Handle Everything
These myths imply that good artists must be poor and prefer someone else to take care of business.
My experience with artists does not match this insulting picture.
Successful artists manage money as carefully as their creativity. They make their own living. They make art, handle business administration and do art marketing.
Let's flip three more demeaning myths about artists.
Myth #4: A True Artist Lives Life Free and Without Structure
A corollary to the "starving artist" myth is the notion that artists are "free spirits" who live in a world where "normal" rules and schedules do not apply. In this misguided description, artists do whatever they want, when they want and how they want. Being creative requires artists to push the boundaries of outlandishness and rebel against normal business constraints. If they were like the rest of the world, they wouldn't be artists.
The Flip Side: Order and Organization Release Space for Creativity
This stereotype doesn't hold up to real life. I've often been surprised when I meet artists after a telephone conversation and a look at images of their work. You could pass them on the street or see them in the grocery store and not have a clue that they are artists. Even though their art may push boundaries, like everyone else, they take care of mundane daily tasks.
Creativity does not exempt artists from structure. Quite the opposite is true. Even the process of taking an idea and making it into art involves the structure of values, perspective and balance. When it comes to the art of business, to be successful, artists have to coordinate efforts with others.
You are a "whole-brained" organizer of your art business. You use your right-brained skills to envision your future, design your business, and create marketing methods. Your left-brained skills kick in to organize activities and tasks. In fact, there is not a clear-cut division. Both sides of your brain make and measure your progress towards your goals and make adjustments when you are off course.
Myth #5: Artists Don't Need to Know About Anything But Their Art
If you just want to make art, and ignore the business side of an art career, you limit yourself to being a hobbyist or an amateur. No problem if that is the artist's lifestyle you desire and you have other sources of income.
The Flip-Side: You Need to Be an Expert in Marketing Your Art
You need to be expert in making your art- it's the core of your business.
Without art, you won't have a business. Without art marketing you'll have a studio full of art.
When you sell directly to collectors, you are the marketing chief, cook and bottle washer. Art representatives, agents and gallery dealers are more likely to notice and want to work with you if you've done a good job of getting attention already. Remember, they want a business partner not a dependent.
Myth #6: Your Artwork is So Good, It Will Appeal to Everyone
It's rare that your immediate circle of family and friends will buy all the art you make. A related misperception is that your art must have wide appeal if you want to be successful. That's true for some licensed art or open edition prints but doesn't necessarily apply to originals and limited editions.
The Flip Side: You Find, Attract and Nurture Your "Tribe"
You don't need everyone to like your art. You just need individuals who resonate with your aesthetic and have the money and willingness to pay for your work. You must attract enough followers to create a steady income.
You market and get exposure for your art to find people who might like it, attract them to exhibits, and nurture their interest in your work. Then you keep on connecting with that audience. Relationships are the bedrock of sales.
I'll share and flip three more myths next week.
How do you handle these myths to educate the people who believe them? Please post your replies here or on Facebook and Twitter.
P.S. If you need an accountability partner for your art business or someone to roll up sleeves to produce art marketing materials or work on your web site, just let us know. We can help you. If you haven't already had one, start with a complimentary 15-minute conversation. Sign up here.