One of the most challenging personal ' issues ' I've had in the past was making allowances, excuses or treating others better than myself. This doesn't translate well into a healthy personal or professional life.
As an artist the most important lesson I have learned, and it took me years, to finally understand and know how to advocate for myself proactively, as a business person. Creating art is business, and creating a good business is an art. This doesn't mean I make art I don't really want to create for money, that's called selling out. I want to create art that has value above and beyond my art and sell it, this is my vision.
Artists advocating for themselves is lesson is a particularly difficult lesson to learn, because we aren't taught it in art school. Especially if you are female, trying to navigate their way in a male dominated art market, in spite of the fact the majority of art students in University Fine Art programs are women, however are not represented in enough galleries or museums.
So I thought I would give a brief list of 7 ways to be your own best boss that you probably already know many if you're an artist. I have found the more I revisit and apply helpful lists, hints, tips and useful tools that empower me as a professional artist, they act as important reminders that get embedded into my psyche. I can compare it to learning a skill. Someone shows me how to do it, I give it a try, and then I have to practice it to improve my skill, until it becomes inherent to my basic nature.
Here's my list of 7 Ways For Artists To Be Their Best Boss
1. Advocate for yourself. Be you own best friend. Most artists can't afford to have an agent or a dealer, and why should you pay them to do so, when you can get 100% return and be the kind of ideal boss you'd want as an employer. Don't settle for sloppy seconds and end up saying to yourself,' You're Fired!'
2. Allow courage to be your guide. Go against the grain and don't allow fear to dictate your behaviour, or someone else to dictate your behaviour.
3. Believe in yourself. The old adage you hear time and time again is so very true. If you don't believe in yourself, how can others believe in you? Don't be shy and hide your lamp under a bushel, because you won't be seen and your lamp will likely just burn out!
Building productive discipline work habits and focus will help to build your confidence.
4. Know your purpose and mission. Having a vision with authentic integrity helps you to clarify and determine your purpose and inspired mission. that should be both over and beyond the value of the created art work itself. Once you have laid this foundation you can find the target market that you can best serve and celebrate their values and culture. Know your why, what, how and who.
5. Network. In business you hear this word over and over, because it is absolutely essential. There are countless ways to network. Personal interaction, connections through friends/fans, family and social media are excellent ways to make inroads. Also following up with contacts made will make the difference for your business in the present and into the future. Have a great business card at the ready to share with potential clients.
6. Be reliable. There is a myth that artists are always unreliable, crazy, addicts, mentally ill, and perpetually lazy and poor. Don't give those who believe these myths any more reason to perpetuate them, by not following through. Mean what you say, and say what you mean. If you can't for whatever reason follow through, make sure you own up to your mistake immediately, make your amends, assuring the client it will never happen again. We all want and need to have and keep a good reputation.
7. Have a business plan. This can be a tricky one because most of us haven't got two clues as artists how to go about getting ourselves an effective business plan. As someone once anonymously stated," A plan to do business without a plan, is a plan to do no business. "
Basic money management is paramount to effectively running a business. Learning from a Business Development Bureau can't show an artist how to do this because they aren't artists and what you are selling is emotion not a widgets.
Learning from another artist who has not only the experience, strength and hope to share with you is invaluable, but learning from other artists in community who walk the talk and know from where they speak is priceless. Being in a creative community with artists that support, encourage and mentor one another is the way we grow exponentially. I have been blessed to find one such person in Ann Rea from Artist's Who Thrive. I strongly suggest you visit her site, because it might make all the difference to you and you'll hire yourself, because you'll find more than 7 ways to become an artist who is your best boss and hire yourself!
That's my list. Please feel free to add to it! I'd love that!