As I dive into a professional career as a West Coast abstract artist, I am caught in the balancing act of finding time to make art and also figuring out how to get my art noticed.
I have been in my office today thinking about my job in advertising sales. I sucked at it. I had to cold call all sorts of different businesses, from architect firms to gift shops, by phone and in person, in attempt to sell ad space for a New Orleans city magazine. I didn’t like it at all. My boss would say things like “We don’t take no for an answer!” In my mind, I’d be thinking “but they said no…wtf am I supposed to do about it?” I’m not a pushy person and talking about circulation and demographics just sounded like a hustle. I didn’t like the hustle. Now that I’m following my passion, all that has changed.
Self-promotion is a MUST if I want to get my abstract art noticed.
I had been working on my art biz for almost 4 years when I finally decided to become a full-time artist. I have enough business background and had done enough research to know that self-promotion was going to be necessary and I was NOT excited about it. My past experience in sales showed me that I didn’t enjoy it and in turn, I wasn’t very good at it.
I have never been a person who enjoyed the spot light. Alcohol used to help with that but when I gave that up, I felt as though I was an introvert who had been pretending, my whole life, to be an extrovert. The last thing I wanted to do is stand in front of you and tell you how awesome I am. I realize now that the issue was that I didn't think I was worth much, and how can you self-promote if you have no confidence in what you’re selling?
Finding creative ways to market myself as a West Coast abstract artist is half of my day. The other half, I actually make art.
As I’ve been diving deeper into what it means to be a professional artist, I find that “hustling” is about half of my day. I have to figure out different ways to promote my art. I don’t mind talking with people about my art. I don’t mind sending emails and making phone calls, starting dialogs on Instagram and whipping out business cards without being asked. In my prior sales experience, my cheeks would burn red and I would get embarrassed talking about the magazine. It all felt so phony. But now I believe in what I’m selling and I’m finding out that’s half the battle.
I know there are people in sales who are true artists of their trade. They can sell anything to anyone at any time. Hats off to them. For the rest of us, the most important ingredient to getting noticed is to, first and foremost, believe in your product. If you’re selling yourself, you’d better like yourself ok or you’re going to have a really hard time.
When I joined Instagram, I stumbled across an artist from Miami named Ronald Sanchez who recently had a show called Word Play. I am attracted to his use of reclaimed objects and stencil work. I love his strong typography use and mixed media projects, but what I am really attracted to is his message.
After I saw Ronald’s above piece, it became my mantra. I’m not kidding when I say that every person I see, I’m wondering if they could be a potential collector or influencer. If I meet you for the first time I’m sizing you up and I can’t wait to tell you I’m an artist. When I see that spark of interest flash in your eye you can bet that what I’m thinking is, “how can I engage you further?” My hustle really does have a hustle. And when I’m feeling so confident about myself that I feel I can do no wrong, I look to another one of Ronald’s pieces that speaks out to me:
I can’t forget that staying humble is sometimes as endearing as oozing confidence and the two working together, well it seems a balance that I’ll strive for the rest of my career. So, thanks to Ronald, for giving me my work mantra. Because even on days like today, when my hustle feels pretty small, I just have to remember that that the squeaky wheel gets the grease and that I’m not going to reach anyone without making a little noise.
And with that, look out because I’m off to hustle you, your Grandma and anyone else that might buy my art. (Note the link? That's right...I'm hustling you right now!)
The piece at top is Submerged 36x36 Paper & Acrylic on Canvas and it is for sale in my gallery. Buy it before someone else does...
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