As artists, as people, most of our struggles come from the lies that we tell ourselves.
Not only does our suffering come from the lies that we tell ourselves; it’s also the lies that we accept from others.
As artists, we’re told a lot of lies.
I realize that is why I’m always telling my students, “The truth will set you free.”
1. In art school, art professors advise that we just need to focus on mastering our chosen creative medium to have a successful art career.
But the fact is, we are not going to have an art “career.” We are going to have to build an art business. Why? If you have a career, you have a job, and you would receive a paycheck. Fine artists and artisans don’t receive paychecks. They file a profit and loss statement.
2. The art establishment tells us that we can’t sell our art without them. But the fact is we don’t need anyone’s permission, praise or sanction to sell our art.
Art collectors would much prefer to know and support the artist, so the middleman is increasingly irrelevant.
3. The likes of American Idol tell us that we must be “discovered.”
But artists are not “discovered.” No one is coming to save you.
I entered art school at age seventeen. I didn’t know any better. Since then I have learned so much about being a successful independent artist that I thought I would list as many of the lies that artists are being fed.
Can you add to this list of myths of what it takes to be a successful artist?
- You have to be perfect.
- You are introverted, so you can’t sell your art.
- You can succeed alone.
- Your art has to be perfect.
- You have to be 100% self-confident.
- You just can’t focus.
- If you start selling your art you will not be able to sell anything different.
- You have to make art that appeals to everyone.
- You have to sell yourself.
- You need to get a representative to take care of the business and marketing of your art.
- You have no talent.
- You have extraordinary talent.
- You need to get into art galleries.
- Only a very few artists will “make it.”
- If you sell your art, then you are a sellout.
- You have to discount your art.
- Art sells itself.
- You have to pay your dues. (Not sure who you have to pay these dues.)
- You can’t charge money for something that you love making.
- You have to donate your art to charities.
- If you donate your art to for fundraising events, then wealthy people will like you and buy your art.
- Just do what you love, and the money will come.
- You have to compete with other artists.
- If you’re an artist, then you are special.
- Artists starve.
- All artists must struggle.
- If you’re an artist, you are not capable of managing a business.
- Artists deserve to be supported by grants publicly funded grants.
- The world needs art. (Actually, most of the world needs need healthy food, education, safety, shelter and clean drinking water. Art is a luxury.)
- You need to give repeat buyers a deal or discount.
- No one‘s buying art anymore the economy is not good.
- You need to try different genres and creative mediums and dabble so that you can find your niche.
- Your art will be worth something after your dead.
- You are just misunderstood as an artist.
- You’re just ahead of your time artistically.
- You need to get your art into museum collections.
- You need to win prestigious art contests.
- You need to build an excellent resume.
- You need to join professional artist organizations.
- Art is dead.
- No one is buying art.
- You need to network. (This is BS. You need to make more friends.)
- You need to gain exposure, no matter what.
- You need to work for free to gain exposure.
- The customer is always right.
- If you give someone a deal on your art, then you’ll get more sales from them.
- You need to give your friends a family a discount.
- You can’t charge your friends a family for your art.
- You can’t make a living as an artist these days.
- You need to be an art scholar.
- You need positive reviews by famous art critics.
- You need to be a famous art professor.
- You need an MFA from one of the very top art schools.
- You need to have someone else support you financially.
- You need to have commercial art and then your “own” art.
- Need to start by building a website.
- You need to sleep your way to the top.
- Most artists have mental illnesses.
- You’ll be famous after you’re dead.
- You have got to compete with other artists and be the very best.
- Artists are addicts.
- Artists are weird.
- Artists struggle.
- Artists are sex addicts.
- You just need to get some press.
- You just need to be discovered.
The truth is if you want to sell your art you need to create value above and beyond it so that it will serve a niche.