I know the title of this post really says it all. But if you’ve followed me for any length of time, you probably know that I’m verbose and more than capable of expanding the concept into a full article.
My worst clients – oh I hate to admit it, but I have had clients who weren’t a great fit, though I don’t have them often anymore because I can spot them before we decide to work together – my worst clients are always the ones who are more focused on the thought of creating all day and never worrying about money than on the reality of owning an art business.
ART, LIKE ANY CAREER, INVOLVES WORK.
I’ve never met anyone who has a job or a business where they never do anything they don’t love. I think the only way to score that situation might be to be born to rich parents who would rather spoil you than raise you to be a good citizen and productive member of society.
So I think it’s important while you’re dreaming up the perfect career path and writing out your ideal day and feeling “called” to be an artist, that you actually come back to earth for a moment and let those dreams be lofty but still possible.
IT’S A FINE LINE, SURE.
But I know you’re smart enough to judge what’s possible and what’s not. And I can tell you it starts with beating back the idea that you’ll spend every day in a sun-soaked studio painting masterpieces.
The truth is that ultimately if you were to become a famous artist, you could outsource a lot of the business workings. You could hire a top-notch accountant, a customer service specialist, a lawyer, an employee who packs and ships your art to your customers, and a brilliant copywriter/marketer. Seriously, you could conceivably have an entire team dedicated to running your business for you.
But – and this is a big but – you would still have to network, do interviews, give artist talks, and speak directly with important curators and patrons.
I KNOW MOST OF THAT STUFF DOESN’T SOUND FUN, RIGHT?
Even if you achieve the dream, the dreamiest version possible in the reality of our world, you’ll still have to work sometimes.
And, while I don’t enjoy plummeting you back to earth from the dream of not having to work all that much, it’s incredibly rare that an artist skips the part of their career where they can’t hire people to do all the business stuff for them. In fact, most successful artists spend a minimum of 5 years (and often 10, 20, or even 30 years!) hustling in their business doing the hard work themselves.
I am not telling you this to discourage you, of course. You know that’s not my style. But I’m telling you because the sooner you realize this and accept it, the sooner you can move forward and actually start building that business effectively (assuming you still want it).
THE SOONER YOU REALIZE THIS AND ACCEPT IT, THE SOONER YOU CAN MOVE FORWARD AND ACTUALLY START BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS EFFECTIVELY.
I’ve seen it. As I said, I’ve had clients who were dreaming the impossible. And while they are wonderful artists and wonderful people, they always felt too good for the work we were doing together. They always felt that it shouldn’t be such a struggle to get the results. They always felt that they shouldn’t have to experiment, test, iterate, or – God forbid – fail on occasion.
But when one of them would realize what it really takes to be a successful artist and accept that they really feel it’s worth the work, then the magic would kick in. Like that part of the montage where everything comes together and the hero starts improving.
And that’s my biggest wish for every artist I encounter – that they’ll be able to make effective progress and steady improvement in their business if they truly believe that a real art business is what they want from their career.
READY TO WORK HARD?
If you’re ready to work hard, the thing I see most artists NOT doing is getting media attention. Getting the press mentions is actually a lot simpler than it looks and I taught the step-by-step in a video that I will gladly share with you.