Hi everyone! Long time no talk. I’m sorry about that, but this has been one of those summers where the first three weeks in June were super busy teaching and the past few weeks have flown by as my days are truly split between running the Sales/Marketing/Education of ICE Resin and my kids who are home on summer break. Our company — Susan and mine’s — has been growing so quickly. It’s exciting to nurture the business plan we put into place and see it come to fruition. For all entrepreneurs who dream of owning a successful business, I can tell you it’s no different in many ways than being a parent and working hard to care for, manage, nudge, wrangle and pour every ounce of energy into the birth and nurture of your ideas.
An interesting thing that’s happened to me more than few times in the past year are the questions from fellow artists seeking direction on making a full time career from their art. Honestly, I cringe a tad inside when someone approaches me on the topic. It’s not that I don’t like talking about it, it’s just that doing this full time can be really, really hard. While the world admires and appreciates authentic creativity, there’s still a schism for many of being able to pay one’s mortgage and life expenses solely from one’s art. It’s by no means insurmountable, it can just be difficult in the beginning because there are a lot of steps to take before opportunities begin to roll.
That said. I thought maybe it was time to sit down at my computer and share a little bit of hard-won advice I recently sent to one of our incredible artists on the ICE Resin Creative Team who reached out to me. Entire volumes can be written on artistic success, but here’s my 2 cents of where to begin. I’ve never written this publicly, but bits and pieces have come up in conversations with fellow artists over the years.
First, as cliche as it sounds, follow your heart. There is no one in the world who knows you better than you. Even in the midst of times of seemingly total confusion, it’s YOU who knows your deepest dreams, secrets and fears. Only you know your boundaries; the limits of what you’re willing to do (and more importantly not do) to have a successful career.
I found that when I first decided being an artist/writer/teacher is what I wanted to do that it helped to keep a journal. Not an art journal with paint and drawings and pretty doodles. A down-an-dirty journal to just start writing thoughts in. Write down everything in your life that you are really good it. Everything! These are your strengths, your natural-born gifts. Your strengths are the pillars you build your business upon. Feel in your heart how good it feels to know how amazing you are. Own it!
Ok, now for the hard part. Write down everything that you find challenging with your life. Stick to skills, rather than circumstances. Circumstances can get us into a mode of victimization where we give our power away to others. Skills you’re lacking are easier to deal with because you can either A. Learn them or B. Find someone who can help you. Here’s another important tip. If the other person has great skills you want/need, you are going to have to PAY them or BARTER with them. Sure these folks probably love you and will do it anyways but why not recognize their good karma and applaud them for moving so confidentially in the direction of their dreams. This exercise is not for the feint of heart. In order for it to really work, you must look at your stuff, honestly and directly. Own it! When I realized I have the power to change my life by taking responsibility for my thoughts, feelings and actions, I learned how amazing everyone’s lives truly are.
Got this? Ok, next is to step back and think about what you learned by gathering this type of intel on yourself. Once you’ve had some time to see things a little more clearly, go ahead and write down your dreams/goals. Be very specific. Dream the biggest dream for yourself that you can feel in your heart. Here’s the thing. You have to believe it can happen to you. If you don’t feel worthy of it, how will you draw it to you?
Now make a business plan. Do one small thing every single day (Monday through Friday is my reality, as I try to reserve weekends for family) that moves you forward in the direction of your dreams. If you find yourself doing all of these things and nothing seems to work, all I can tell you next is to get out of the house, off the computer/smartphone and off social media. Volunteer for something you believe in (it doesn’t have to be art related). Make time to connect with people. I fully believe it is the human connection, in the sharing of our stories, that makes magic happen. Small sparks can become large bonfires with a little bit of oxygen and proximity of other forms of matter as fuel.
This is by no means a complete list or road map to success. It’s what’s worked for me so far. I share it now because it feels like the right thing to do. Also because I need to step back again for a while and enjoy the sweet, fleeting summer days before I’m back on the road for CHA, Art Unraveled and CREATE Chicago. I have more samples to make and it’s time to get into my studio and stop procrastinating.
Here’s wishing all of you a very Artful summer!