It’s Nothing Personal, Just Business


We are in a recession.  Art is a luxury item.  You do the math.  Even on a good day, the art industry is a fiercely competitive,  challenging field. It can be lonely. I have seen and felt such desperation, and insincerity in a few artists these past few months it really scares me.  Heck, at any moment I might even have to get a second job or give up my studio just to make ends meet. For a full time artist, Art = Money.  And Money = Security & Success.  The thought that I could eventually end up as one of these desperate vulture artists scares the bejesus out of me. Like the fear of becoming the cliche you really are. Some people are willing to do whatever it takes to make a sale.  It is a dog eat dog world. But in the long run, it seems that the desperation makes the product smell as rank as the producer. Churning out a soulless, mass-produced product, does not a good artist make. Does the average person not recognize this? (Does the average person not even care about original art anymore?). You better get your ducks in a row and make sure you separate your “friends” from “business acquaintances” to avoid getting run over (hurt).

You can expect cold calculated “business moves” to be made along the way and don’t be too dismayed when you hear the statement, “…..nothing personal, its just business”. Businesses Corporations don’t look at individuals as human beings, they only do what is good for the “business,” (or I guess it is easy to tell themselves that), no matter who they step on or leave behind. So if one wants to – they can use their “art” as a business excuse. But every decision has its consequences. No ego wants to admit defeat – so it is easy to use someone else as a diversion. A coward takes the easy way out and justify their actions by laying blame on others.  You are merely viewed as the “competition.” Why do women find it so difficult to separate business from personal?  (I am certainly guilty of this) A woman should be able to put all personal feeling aside and take her position as a doormat with a smile? If you show a sign of weakness then that must mean you are not a good business person. Right?  But seriously folks, how can “art” really be “business” when it is created with passion and emotion, and sold by appealing to your emotions and senses.
I know none of this makes a damn bit of sense. Just my random babble. Something recently happened to a good artist friend that I found troubling. I won’t go into specifics.

However, I cleverly managed to drudge up an older image of a collage painting I entitled “Backstabber” just for this post:

Back Stabber

Backstabber - SOLD

My advice to her:
In times like these, I just try and mind my own business as much as possible. As artists, we are our own worst critic, so make good friends with yourself along the way. People who talk smack about your work are usually just jealous and have too much free time. Keep busy creating your own stuff and you won’t notice the mediocrity around you. The more you paint, the better you get, and the more you sell. And the more art opportunities you will find coming your way. Surround yourself with positive people. It may be hard, but try and find a network of people with similar goals. Supportive people. People that give and take, so you are not the one always doing the giving or worse, just the taking. And dump those who don’t bring anything to the table.  They are just energy vampires.

I think that with every brick wall I encounter, I am forced to then think out of the box and choose to take a different path. Adversity keeps you on your toes. The journey is an adventure, and hopefully the one that will take you and your art in exciting directions. Here are some things I constantly remind myself of:  Six tips on how to gain clout with the people (peers, patrons, clients, etc) that matter in your field. I think the following can apply to most any career.

1. Do what you’re passionate about — or get out!
The foundation for success in any field is loving what you do. Being successful takes hard work and long hours — if you aren’t genuinely intrigued by what’s holding you captive, your days will seem never-ending. I seriously don’t think I could even get out of bed if I knew I had to sell say, cars or coffee mugs for a living. If you have to do something, just to make ends meet, make sure it is interesting, you are learing something, or it some how benefits you in your “real” career or passion.

2. Don’t dwell on negative feedback.
As with anything, people will feel the need to impose their personal beliefs and opinions on the choices you will make along your career path. The media (economy) can be stressful as well. Keep your eye on the prize and look at negative opinions/forcasts as a challenge: Use them to help you set goals and surpass them.

3. Be fair, positive and ethical.
Every day, we deal with people who are catty, have negative attitudes, exude drama, and/or generally emanate unnecessary toxicity into others’ lives. People with positive energy, charisma, and an innate pleasantness are like a breath of fresh air. This type of attitude is contagious — everyone will be drawn to working with you on a continual basis.

4. Know your field.
Typically, people equate age with higher levels of education, experience, and knowledge. By immersing yourself into any sort of literature, news, industry-related education, or training, you are giving yourself an edge that will catch people off-guard. If you are really serious, you will need to know your history, know your contemporaries. Don’t be a blind ignorant fool. If you don’t have a wealth of experience, compensate with a wealth of knowledge. And when your take yourself seriously, others will too.

5. Find yourself a mentor.
This is a hard one for me, because most of the people/artists I know closely guard their information (due to jealously, greed, competitiveness? Who knows) But once you find someone willing to share/help/talk to you, be thankful and hold on. A good mentor can help shave years of mistakes off your  career.  Look for someone at the top of their game — someone who you respect and has been in the (art) business for many years. Immerse yourself into their day. The tips you will learn are priceless. Then pay it forward and become a mentor for someone else some day.

6. Give yourself permission to be successful.
You deserve it. If you are willing to work hard, then it can be yours, However, it doesn’t just happen over night, and it won’t just land in your lap. You have to make your own destiny. Even Mozart worked very, very, very, very, hard. He was not just born this amazing composer. He really worked hard. his entire life. Action = Results.

I keep this list handy to refer to when I am feeling down and not goal focused.  I try and get centered/grounded at the beginning of each week, and write my immediate goals and to-do list.  Good luck to you.

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1 Comment

Filed under Artist Ramblings

One response to “It’s Nothing Personal, Just Business

  1. Wise and thoughtful words, well expressed – good guidance for all of us.

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