October 9, 2011

The Work

Before you can call yourself an artist, you must make art—lots of art. If you have been in the creative path for a long time, you know this. If you are still standing on the sidelines, it's probably because you aren't making enough art. Begin Work Zone Sign Thinking about making art is a good thing, but only to the point where it materializes in you getting up and putting those thoughts into real world expressions. There are a lot of people out there who are talented but for one reason or another never get to the actual work of doing their art. Those reasons are lovingly referred to in the art world as "resistance". There are countless forms of resistance, and over time we'll spend a lot of space in Outside the lines addressing them, and how to overcome them.

It's very important to develop a strategy to keep yourself working. There's nobody breathing down your neck to keep you going. It's all you. That strategy might be to set deadlines and goals for yourself. It might be to block out a certain time period for the work on a regular basis. It might require making a commitment to a friend who wants to encourage your career. Again, it's all you. You know what kind of motivators work for you, and only you can put those in place. So get busy. Do the work, whatever it takes!

Being Seen

peek a boo pictureIt's good to be seen. In fact, if you and your art are not being seen, you are probably not making much progress toward what most would consider a satisfying art career. One must be a bit of an extrovert to be an artist. Your work is deeply personal and there is no guarantee that it will be meaningful or moving to anyone but you. This is tough. If your skin is thin, or you are too shy, this reality might be your strongest source of resistance to making and showing work. Showing art is a sort of spiritual and emotional nudity, and it takes a certain brashness to take that risk.

Add to this the fact that until we see your work, and lots of it, the world around you doesn't really care. How could it be otherwise? And like it or not, the public must see your work for a while, and become familiar with your name and your style before people will start to take you seriously.

There are countless ways to get your work shown, and over time, we will address many of these. But for now, start by making a list of all the ways you are already actively putting your art and your name out in the public arena. If you are not showing work anywhere at all, the first, easiest, cheapest step is to post a photo album on your social networking account (like Facebook or Google+) and share it with your circles of friends there. Are you getting results? Results come in several flavors: sales, invitations to show, mentions in the press, first hand comments from fans of your work, comments and links in social networks...next month we will start to look at specific strategies to increase and improve your exposure. And whatever you do, don't get discouraged. Exposure is a long path and results are not always quick to come. But if you stay at it, results will come for sure.

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Peggy Sonoda

Michael Reddell
PO Box 160
Cambria, CA 93428

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