Art Gallery / Handmade Market

6 Things You Must Believe to Succeed as an Artist

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By Missy Hancock

  1. Art changes the world & I make art because my art makes a difference. Whether you have stories to tell, songs to sing, paintings to paint, characters to play, or you just “gotta dance!”, you must believe that the world is made a better place by your creations. Sometimes, art works at healing the heart of the artist and the world is made better by a healed and whole you!  It is hard to measure the benefit of art in a tangible way, but when you think about that feeling that your favorite song gives you, or the way finishing an incredible book or movie can restore your hope, you realize what a bleak world it would be without the power of art.  Doctors work to heal bodies and artists work to heal souls.
  2. My art is of real value and it is only right that I charge a living wage for it. Most artists exist somewhat in a state of guilt for following their impractical dream because we live in a world full of miserable uninspired individuals who carry a banner of “if I have to suffer, so do you.” Screw that! Just because your mom didn’t have creative passion or courage and decided to play it safe in a career she didn’t even like does NOT mean you have to.  Most people long to find that one thing that they genuinely love to do and care about. As an artist, you are fortunate to know that creativity is your passion. Don’t let other people’s lack of passion and vision block your own and don’t feel guilty for charging a living wage for your work.
  3. Following my artistic calling is not selfish but is me playing the role I was created for. To follow another path simply to please others would not be serving the world to the best of my abilities. This has already been touched on but I must reiterate. Do not apologize for knowing what you want out of life. Do not feel guilty for having dreams and goals.  And do not let anyone tell you you are being selfish for following those dreams and goals. If your dreams and goals were to get a sensible job as an accountant, almost no one would take issue with them; yet the desire to make a living as an artist is no less valid. No one is going to argue with the fact that a steady paycheck and a 401K are desirable, but not at the sake of living your life to its fullest, and not at the sake of your sanity or general well being. I recently was talking to a fashion designer who shared how she had worked as an administrative assistant for years to make ends meet, but she had to drink alcohol every day to stand it.  There is no reason you can’t make a living following your passion. FIND A WAY! You may also find that if you are happy and satisfied with your life, you need less money because you no longer need to spend money to try and fill the emptiness in your creative spirit.
  4.  To choose the life of the artist does not have to mean choosing a life of poverty, many many MANY artists make a successful living. I simply have to find my way to do the same. I know you know this, but selling work online is a good place to start. There are so many online marketplaces for creative people now. The good old tried and true, Etsy, is still running strong, as well as sites like Shopify, and Shopenvy, just to name a few.  Do your research. Find a marketplace that works for you. Consider using multiple marketplaces. I know, if you are like most artists, you will say, “But I hate selling myself.” or “I’m just not any good at marketing.” It is time to suck it up and get good at it. It is better to sacrifice a little of your “idealist” nature and learn to market yourself, than it is to sacrifice your dreams entirely.  If you were to work in any other field to make your living, you would be doing many things all day every day that you didn’t like to do or “feel like” doing, but you would suck it up for the paycheck.  Well, now you write your own paychecks, so do everything you can to make it a good one. If you are a musician, learn to market yourself and book shows or hire a booking agent. If you are an actress or writer and you need an agent to sell your work or get jobs, then do what it takes to get an agent. Take the steps required of you to make working as an artist a paying endeavor.
  5. There is not some glorious place of perfection that an artist reaches to be ready to put themselves and their art out into the world. Yes, it is important to work on your craft and to always do your best, but you will never achieve perfection or likely even complete satisfaction with your work.  You put it out there because you must. Because to complete the cycle of creativity, the creative work must be experienced by an audience. Know this, and know also that other people’s opinions of your work are irrelevant as long as you are staying true to your own artistic vision.  There will always be harsh critics (although honestly, you will have to face them less than you would think because they are usually more comfortable talking about the artist than to the artist) ignore them to the best of your abilities. They are most likely unfulfilled artists themselves and instead of using their creativity and art for good, they sit on it out of fear or laziness and try to destroy the courage of those who are brave enough and disciplined enough to do the work. Truly take to heart the old adage, “what other people think of me is none of my business!”
  6. Making good art is hard work and as a successful artist, I embrace this.  Making good art involves much more than the romantic notion that inspiration will overtake the artist and he will be swept away creating and it will take no effort or discipline on his own part.  Sometimes inspiration may come, but usually only after an artist chooses the discipline to sit down and make art, to sit down and paint or sculpt or write. Like Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.” Writing a novel, making an album, creating a body of work for an art exhibit, developing a character can all be painstaking processes. As Hemingway put it, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” The result of your labor (or your blood-letting) is the most glorious sense of accomplishment and worth every minute of it!   

Shawn & Missy Hancock are creative entrepreneurs who run Hancock Creative Shop, an art gallery and handmade market in Guthrie, OK.  Their life purpose is captured in their shop’s mission  “Encourage Your Soul!”

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