Being a West coast abstract artist means that, by default, I'm also a small business owner... But I'm not sure the same business rules apply to me as an artist.
So, the past couple of weeks have been…um…interesting. I worked super hard at the end of last year to have a revenue and marketing plan in place for all of 2018 so that my year was planned out to the T. How very responsible and business owner-y of me, yes? Well…I think I’m throwing the majority of it out.
I have been a sponge when it comes to learning about growing my business. I have taken more courses than I can count and worked with 2 separate business coaches since 2015. The amount of information that has gone into my brain is stifling…literally. Half the time, I feel like I can’t move. I am the kind of person that given direction, I will take that ball and run with it until I reach my goal, or my legs buckle from underneath me. Last week, they buckled.
I simply cannot keep up. My drive to be a successful abstract artist, writer and business owner has brought me to the brink. And I want to be clear here…it’s not the mission or the art that has led to here. It’s my drive. My never ending want for more. My belief of, “By doing X, Y & Z, I will get A, B & C” just isn’t really panning out. Here, in no particular order, is a sampling of all the suggestions that I have been given in order to grow my business.
- Create art for all price levels
- Write a blog to create content for my website
- Submit guest blogs to places where my “ideal clients” hand out
- Submit articles to magazines
- Approach pod casts for interview possibilities
- Email 3 people a day, 2 strangers a week and send specific articles via email or better yet, snail mail, to 1 person per week
- Join Instagram (I won’t list all of the different ways I’ve been directed to use IG)
- Join Facebook business
- Run Facebook ads and promotions
- Create a mailing list and send out emails often and consistently
- Send out surveys to my mailing list
- Participate in different Facebook groups
- Create a Patreon page
- Repurpose my art for art prints and products (I won’t list all of the different products that have been suggested…there are too many)
- Create a webinar for people struggling with anxiety and depression
- Create an “Excel for Artists” webinar
- Create a private Facebook group for my fans
- Collaborate with other artists
- Do art shows
- Do pop up shops
- Do holiday sales (Christmas, Mother’s Day, Earth Day, etc…)
- Be sending press releases to media regularly
And like I said, that’s merely a sampling. I have a very hard time not taking every suggestion I get seriously (with the exception of “excel for artists” as I’d rather put hot pokers in my eyes that try to teach artists to be organized). If you’ve been following me for a few years, you’ll know that I’ve tried the majority of this list. I’ve at least dipped my toes in each and every one.
You know what it’s gotten me? Exhaustion, disappointment and SI joint issues from sitting at the desk.
More of this please...
Plus, I feel like I’m further away from my art. I was told last Fall that at the phase of business I’m in, I should be spending 80% of my time on marketing and 20% on creating art. I’m just not sure that I can sustain that. In fact, I know I can’t. The complexities of trying to weave all of these things into my day to day has hurt my productivity rather than helped it.
Here’s a statistic that I’m not too happy with: In 2017, I created 54 paintings (wow!). If we broke that down by months that would mean by the end of April 2017, I had completed 18 paintings. This year, I’ve done about half that, so far. Now, I’m aware that I didn’t do all 54 of those paintings evenly divided over the months. I know that I did 20 small ones in the months leading up to the holidays. Regardless, I’m not painting nearly as much as I want to be.
And more of this...
I kind of freaked out on my business association Facebook page last week. Here’s an excerpt from that freak out: “I want to make art, sell art and surf. It's a little frustrating that in order to do that, I have to become all of these other things. Patreon, pop up sales, webinars, conference calls, blog writing...jeez...can't I just paint? I spend 6 hours a day with this stuff and 2 in the studio. I freak out every now and then from this pace and have to run to the coast to hide from it all.”
To my surprise, do you know what my business coach’s response was? “I want to make art, sell art and surf. This is exactly what you should do, no questions asked. Your business needs to reflect this Vision in its Mission, and you need to shave off everything that is not in alignment with this.” Amen. Hallelujah. Queue standing ovation here.
True to self, now that I have a person of authority in my life telling me that I should do what I want to, I now feel I have permission to do so. (Sorry Mom…apparently, I had to pay someone to tell me what you’ve been telling me for a while now.)
So, more art. Of all kinds. No more: “In order to brand myself, I need to stick to a square canvas only using this one technique”, or “I have to only paint one theme or subject”, or “I can’t stray from my established prices”, on and on, etc… I’m actually working on some small paintings right now and I’m not using paper in them…OMG! Imagine!
And less of this...
As an artist, I think I should be experimenting all the time. That’s what will keep my work interesting and my passion ignited. And as a person, I just need the ocean. I’m so much happier when I’m surfing regularly. I know that I need to give my business attention, but I’ve been attending the fuck out of it for a few years now and I haven’t necessarily seen the rewards for focusing on the business side of things. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some growth, and I've learned a lot, but not enough to justify sustaining this cray cray pace.
I’m pulling back. Re-assessing. Simplifying. Remembering my passions and why they should ALWAYS be the focus. I want to be doing the things that spark my soul more and the things that turn me into a puddle on the floor less. More art. More surfing. Less computer time. Less bitching. Word.