About two months ago, I took a week off from painting to do a sort of "business cleanse". I wanted to really investigate where the weak points were in my business- do I need to send out newsletters, do I need to up my social media posts, should I have an online store, etc... . I figured since everyone around me seems to have lots and lots of avenues to sell their work, I should be looking at that too. Online, online, online. I even listened to business podcasts for entrepreneurs about how to make your Instagram feed more aesthetic and "curated" (barf).
But I knew there was a a problem. To be honest, at the end of the week I wanted to move to the woods and get off the grid. I was so overwhelmed with how much many of my peers do, how much time is drained into selling their work, their vision, and sometimes even themselves. I'm really happy that things like social media give small business owners the power to advertise and sell their work on their own, and they are not dependent on how someone else presents them and their work. But MY GOD, to me, it is exhausting. And it sounds exhausting for EVERYONE I spoke to. I may be slightly more extroverted when it comes to meeting people, but I am on online introvert FOR SURE. Is that even a thing!?!
After looking into all these ways of trying to keep up with the changes going on on how people view, experience, buy and sell art, I came up with these conclusions FOR ME. These don't apply to everyone, obviously, but I thought they were interesting to share.
1. I need to paint more. I've gotten a bit relaxed about keeping decent hours actually painting, at the easel, brush in hand. The more I paint, guess what? The more paintings I have to sell! The more I get to explore, get to fail, get to try. I grow more. I had a bit or resistance around painting for some reason last spring, and I really looked at my hours. I set up a routine of painting for 25 hours a week, and I'm on month 2 of doing this. It works REALLY REALLY WELL. Not only for flushing out lots of ideas, but for that amazing painting juju to show up and lay it's kind gift on me. Most of what I've been painting isn't mind blowing, but my brain and eyes and hands are warmed up and ready.
This was, by far, the thing I got the most out of all that week of business cleansing (which may have just been resistance to painting, if I'm honest).
2. I have great things in my life in place, and I need to take care of them. I know a lot of artists aren't down with galleries, but I absolutely LOVE mine. They take great care of me. For a few years, I have not been able to send them the amounts of work I would like because I either take too much on, or else I don't paint enough. I have been behind for literally years. But when I do send them a painting that I personally like and have spent the time to work on, they pretty much always sell it at some point. I'm very lucky for this, I know that. There's nothing more frustrating for an artist than to spend ages on a painting, then ship it off to a gallery only to have it sit there for YEARS. It's absurd. But, if you have a GOOD gallery or partnership, one that continuously does their part to advertise you, backs you up when you grow, and is invested in you and your work, THIS IS PRICELESS. If you are one of the lucky artists who has this- take care of them too!!! Working with a gallery, or ANY partnership that sells your work, it's really really important to remember that you will always be stronger if you work interdependently, rather that independently. I truly believe this, and I have proof. I have some very solid partnerships in place, and I realized that I'm not taking full advantage of all of the wonderful opportunities there. Sometimes I'm so caught up in growth, I forget to see what I already have. I have spread myself out so thin, I forget to strengthen the roots of the trees I have worked to hard to foster all these years.
And THAT'S IT. No, I didn't find that I had any major holes in my business model, that my peak times of posting on Instagram would make or break my followship. Nope. I didn't find that I could maximize my tools online, or that maybe I needed to reorganize the balance of teaching and painting. Nope. None of that!! I simply need to spend more time doing something really well, then let the amazing people who know how to sell art really well DO THIER JOB. That's it. That is literally all I walked away from after a week of being on the phone with social media gurus, multi-tasking friends and peers, me hunting down the best services to promote my work, yadayada. And this is not to poopoo on those things- I think they are amazing tools of liberation that can help make artists survive and prosper. I just suck at multi tasking, and I'm lucky enough to have some seriously cool relationships already in place. So cheers to loving what you have and making the most of it! If social media is your jam and your way of doing that, then take care of THAT. If you are looking for better partnerships so that you can really foster some amazing creativity, DO THAT. Doing something well is so important (to me) in an era of things being made and viewed cheaply and quickly. So that's my two cents, and you get what you pay for :)