Every artist, if he or she is completely honest, has two parallel thoughts going at once: the first says, “I am the greatest genius in the history of painting,” and the second says, “I totally and completely suck.”
|Skylarking, by Carol L. Douglas, 24X36, available.|
If I can get my social media specialist to manage the admin, I’m going to do an online workshop on going professional. That means how to sell work, how to present yourself, how to use social media to advertise, and where and when to show. But before you sign up, I want you to consider carefully whether or not you really want to go that route.
My friend Nancy is a retired art teacher and an excellent painter. A few years ago, she asked me how she can sell paintings. Honestly, I can’t believe that the sheer grind of selling will make her happy, when she has so many other things occupying her time: a husband, grandkids, friends, travel. Selling is a tremendous amount of work. And it doesn’t validate the quality of her work—that stands on its own.
|Midsummer, by Carol L. Douglas, 24X36, available.|
I spend at least half my time on marketing. It’s what the experts say you can expect. In addition, I pay someone to do some of my online marketing for me. I’m still always behind. For example, my website is in dire need of updating. The successful painter is first and foremost an entrepreneur, not a painter. You work long hours, have your finger in everything, and nothing is ever finished.
I’ve been painting since I was a child, and I can honestly say that nothing else is closer to my ‘true’ work. However, I spent years avoiding becoming a professional because I didn’t believe I could make a living doing it. I’m happy to have proved myself wrong. But it’s been difficult. I had no models for entrepreneurism. I’ve had to figure it out by trial and error.
|Ottawa House, by Carol L. Douglas, 14X18, available|
I’m not sorry I made the transition. Honestly, I don’t have many other marketable skills. However, there’s one thing that’s changed for me. I no longer paint for the pure joy of it, but as part of an effort to create and develop a business.
Does that make me insincere? I don’t think so. Every painting is a communication between the artist and his audience. Sometimes, the way the audience says, “I love it” is by getting out its collective checkbook. Nobody questions that when a musician cuts a best-selling album, but for some reason painters can beat themselves up about selling out.
|Jack Pine, by Carol L. Douglas, 8X10, available.|
There are moments in every job that are tremendously rewarding. I didn’t begrudge my doctor his fee because he fist-bumped me when he finally figured out that I had cancer. I love hard work myself. My favorite job after painting was waitressing. Should I not have been paid because I had a good time doing it? That would be nuts. But there is that perception about the arts in general, that we’re having too good a time to justify a paycheck.
The marketplace can be very cruel. Every artist, if he or she is completely honest, has two parallel thoughts going at once: the first says, “I am the greatest genius in the history of painting,” and the second says, “I totally and completely suck.”
To succeed, you need to silence those voices. Instead, just tell yourself, “I have a product, and I’ll test whether there’s a market for it.” As personal as painting is, you’ll suffer if you let the marketplace be a referendum on your inner self.