Finding Your Opportunity As An Artist
Picture yourself sitting at your desk filling out college applications and saying, “You know I want to be an artist so I can starve and worry about how I’m going to make my rent next month”. Unfortunately, I’ve heard those same worries from myself and from those around me. As artists, how do we prevent some of those worries? When it comes to business having passion doesn't change the amount of work that needs to be done, but it can can give you the drive you need to get started.
When you make a living by crafting a blank sheet of paper or canvas and turn it into a masterpiece, you should hold your head high. Artists are magicians and alchemists. They turn nothing into something. They breathe life into each piece we create. The trash you threw out is turned whole again by our imagination. These are the reasons I think we are underpaid and sometimes under appreciated by those around us. They don't see us haul our tubs of prints and stackable shelves to each show. We put pieces of ourselves on display for the whole world to see. All in the hope that someone else will connect to us. You want to see them smile at funny animal drawing you finished at 3:00 in the morning because you couldn’t let your eyes close until that animal was laid out on paper.
Thankfully, the digital world is making some parts of our lives easier. We have more options and opportunities for showing our work. We still go to shows and haul our tubs around but our dependence on the show circuit is slowly diminishing. There should be a celebration when you hear the notification sound in your inbox for your first online sale even if it’s under a $1. Personally, I think it deserves one more scoop of chocolate chip mint ice cream in your bowl. Just remember, the next time you stare at your stack of bills or you feel the sides of your head ache because the 1st of the month is approaching there are other people out there who support you. They want you to succeed and defy the stereotype of the starving artist.
The best opportunity you can have as an artist is getting started. Set yourself up for the chance to be seen. Schedule your first show, and I would recommend choosing a show that doesn't cost you a month's rent to join. Create your website or create your online portfolio. There are plenty of sites that have templates available to make the process less painful. All you have to do is add pictures and a brief description. Treat your craft like the 9 to 5 job, and find those people out there using their imagination to think their way out of debt. Follow the financial gurus to find ways to market your work. Learn from the financial entrepreneurs who are creating jobs that didn't exist yesterday. Some of them created online sites to help people like you. Take ten minutes and start putting your work up online. Use sites like Zazzle or Cafepress to make use of those doodles you have piled up in a corner.
The point is to keep those ever observing eyes of yours alert. The reason I wrote this blog was to share those resources with you and keep you updated on new innovations. I recently read in Entrepreneur.com, an online magazine inspiring start-ups and entrepreneurs of today, that Etsy Merchants will be able to sell directly to merchants online. Our means of contacting large store buyers to place our prints in their home section is one step closer. Would it hurt to make the phone call yourself or network in person with a buyer? No, direct connections are always better. Just remember when you hand out your business cards or meet someone new they are going to look for you online. You can’t be discovered if no one sees your work. The top buyer for Nordstrom’s exclusive home department can’t find your work online if you don’t have your work listed. My advice is to keep creating. Create and fine tune your craft when no one is watching, then share it. Don’t wait to be appreciated 100 years later after someone cleans out their attic and discovers your masterpiece.
Artist and Author at mahieustudios.com
(Visit the links to click on your opportunities. The article on Etsy’s decision to open directly to retailers can be found in the article link or here at http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/233130.
Mahieu Studios believes no one should starve visually or literally.