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The self imageI don’t think human beings are very good at accurately determining our performance.

I might have been traumatized on this issue though…

When I was 11, I was switched from one grade 6 class to the other mid-way through term.

It was a whole bag of suck.

I got moved from kind Mrs. Ferguson’s class to desk-slapping, angry-faced Mr. Hancock who also had an abnormally high number of the shitty-bullying kids in his class.

THEN I got a report card that was all average.

Now admittedly, Mr. Hancock had my mom and I that it wasn’t an accurate indication of how well I could do as he’d only had me for half the term… But still.

I could barely see ‘average’ through my tears.

The worst was hearing my Dad pronounce:
 
 

“Maybe she’s not actually
an above average student.
 
Maybe, all the teachers just assume
she’s above average and have marked her
like that out of habit.”

 
 

WELL… Fuck you too Dad.

Geezus.

I can get evaluated not on my work but on how people judge me?

It doesn’t matter how hard I work – I can’t guarantee that I’ll be judged based on what I do?

That’s a hard life lesson period – I don’t think I was ready for it at 11 because it’s haunted me ever since.
 
 

Know where you are

imagePutting aside my own inability to feel confident that I am performing well – knowing where you are in your art development is crucial to your biz success.

As you know – I’m a big fan of Mark Silver and he’s pretty confident that most of us are probably over confident about where we are in our business development.

He often cautions us to be humble and do his readiness assessment and accept that we’re likely not as far along in our business development as we think we are – and that’s okay.

The problems are when we start making decisions for our biz that are not in alignment with our actual level of growth.

We can waste time, money and effort and feel out of resonance with our business ground when this occurs.

It sucks.

The same is true of our art.

 
 

Humble asking – are you there yet?

I want you to look at what you’re creating.

Look at your work and humble yourself enough to answer these hard questions honestly…
 
 

Are you producing quality saleable work?

gold coins-128x128This is an absolutely subjective question.

Other people’s treasures and all that… but you need to search your heart for the truth.

We know when we’re ready and we’ve improved and evolved enough to really dig in and get behind our own work.

I’ve seen the process many times with my staff and clients.

Some come to me before they’re ready to be in business.

They do a bit of business work but then come back to me and share that they’ve been concentrating mostly on their process and breaking through to the next level in their work.

Your art will never stop evolving and expanding – but nurture it to emergence before thrusting it into business.

It is so much easier to market and promote your art when you are 100% behind what you’re creating.

If you have doubts – potential clients will have doubts and it means you’re not ready yet.

Go back into the studio and dig in – you’re almost there.
 
 

Are you creating quality, saleable work consistently & in a quantity that can support a business?

imageYour profit and sustainability is directly connected to how much you can produce.

It’s not a pretty truth – but it’s true.

I have a brilliantly talented artist friend that sells every single piece he makes and has a commission waiting list longer that his arm – but still can’t make a go of his art business.

**Because he can’t work quick enough to make a profit on them.**

His work is beautiful and sought after – but he works in graphite on paper, which doesn’t fetch the same price as paint on canvas (oil fetching more than acrylic) and each piece takes him over a month to complete.

He can’t charge what they’re actually worth in terms of time.

It’s a hard spot to be in and he is unwilling to make any concessions – so he continues to make art and barely pay his rent each month.

Ideally he’ll reach the level where he can ask $10 – $20k each for his graphite works…

(He might have to be dead first.)
 
 

Can you continue to produce at that level for the foreseeable future?

VacationIf working full-time hours in the studio for a month burns you out to the point that you need 2 weeks of relax to recover and get your juices flowing again…

You probably shouldn’t consider an art business.

Most artists in biz spend way over 40 hours a week creating and it’s predominantly an energizing activity.

Consider that maybe you’re a hobbyist. You could have a creative side gig going, but you’re probably not suited to an art business.

Most artists don’t need to recover from studio time.
 
 

Are you producing work that is adding to a signature portfolio?

imageAn artist’s portfolio filled with a variety of media and subject matter is an indication that they’re not ready to take it professional yet.

It may sound harsh but it looks amateurish.

Most artists work in series because creating self-imposed boundaries makes it easier to focus and go deeper into each work.

Artists are looking for mastery. We’re all in service to mastery of the medium and the message.

We can spend an entire lifetime trying to master one medium – the idea of a business made out of all mediums and all subject matter is the career of a hobbyist.
 
 

Has your work taken on a recognizable signature style?

This is probably the most indicative to me that your work is ready for business.

Maybe you’ve already got people interested, maybe you’re already making a few sales and you’ve got people contacting you about purchase information…

The light goes on when people tell you that they recognized your work as soon as they came in the room.

They know it’s yours – they know immediately when they see it posted on social media.
 
 

They recognize your work at a glance.

 
 

When that happens – you’re ready.

It’s go time.

Go. Go. Go.
 
 

P.S.

Freakonomics talked about Grit and Getting Great at Anything which are perfectly applicable to this topic. Listen to both podcasts.
 
 
 

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