“So have you been selling lots of paintings lately?”
Or a variation of that:
“You’re an artist? So do you sell lots of paintings?”
Gawd, I hate those questions. Because the answer is, inevitably, no.
I know why too – I don’t market myself as well as I should. It’s also partially a career thing – I’m just starting out and it takes a while to build a fan and collector base. From what I’ve seen, I’d estimate that it takes about 10 years on average to build a really steady, stable art career. I’m only about 2-3 years into it. I’ve got plenty of time.
And I know that the person asking the question is one of two things, neither of which are malicious – 1. trying to be supportive about my career choice by asking about it, or 2. completely dumbfounded that I’m an artist and can’t possibly believe I could make a living from it, so they need to know.
They don’t mean anything by it really (unless it’s a confirmation of their belief that no, if you’re an artist, you must starve – which is fine.)
But for me it’s always a sharp reminder of what’s not happening in my art career – those all-revered sales. I probably shouldn’t even be telling you that I don’t sell frequently, but what the heck. We’re all friends here.
There’s a part of me that’s not even sure if I’m allowed to want to sell, or if I’m even allowed to want to make a living from my art. I think that’s part of what puts me off of marketing myself with more aplomb.
By the way, I 100% believe that artists should sell their work and be able to make a living off of it. These are just my particular brand of hang ups. You know, “Everyone should be able to make a living selling their art – except me.” It all comes down to believing in myself and my value, which is a completely different post. Maybe tomorrow’s.
But there’s another part of me that just plain does not want to do it, and I don’t have a clue why. Maybe that part figures if we never even try, then we have an excuse for not selling a lot. Whereas if we actually gave it a go, and then still didn’t sell, it’d be a lot harder for my fragile ego to take it.
Despite my best intentions, I have no kind of marketing plan. It’s pretty haphazard at best. I don’t really do anything well, or consistently, except for maybe post here.
I act like marketing is some thing that’s separate from my art, and from my creativity, when in reality, I know that it doesn’t have to be. I know that marketing my art could flow naturally with making my art.
There’s a lot to be delved into here, and this may be the beginning of a series of posts exploring why I don’t market myself as well as I should, and maybe some brainstorming on how I could combine the two to achieve my goals and my vision. Maybe I’ll even tackle setting goals that don’t feel icky to me, like most goals do.
Because at the end of the day, it’s not about the goals or the marketing itself – it’s about using those tools to achieve the things that I want in my life. It’s about creating a life that I’m really excited about, a life that allows me to expand, whether that’s through travel, bigger canvasses, or a computer that doesn’t hate me.
There’s lots to think about here.