When Your Artistic Muse Calls
If you’re a fan of “The Voice,” you’ve heard it many times. The contestant feels that singing is what they are “supposed to do.” They feel driven to embrace and share their artistic gift.
That’s a sentiment that isn’t unique to musical artistry. Be it writing, painting, sculpting, or any other creative expression, it often comes with an inner voice beckoning the artist to perform. The call of the artistic muse.
But unlike an offer of a career position that offers security and a regular income, there’s no promise of a paycheck. For the committed artist, the road ahead is usually uncharted, lonely, and full of trials. Here’s some advice from the experts who have been there, and survived.
Deciding to Follow Your Artistic Muse
Even as you feel compelled to express your talents, there are things to seriously consider. Perhaps in a perfect world, there would be no concerns about income. Given that you have to pay the rent and eat, income does matter. Are you prepared to endure the struggles common to budding artists? Or, are you willing to balance a typical job and working at your art part time for an unknown length of time?
If you are prepared to face the economic realities, there is another big question. Success is not guaranteed. At all. There is no assurance you’ll get buyers, praise, or even artistic credit for what you create. Are you willing to produce your art simply for the sake of your art?
Promoting Your Art and Yourself
Remember that being an artist also means you’re in the business of selling your art. As in any business, promotion and marketing are important parts of the game. Also remember that you are a brand that you’ll have to develop a marketing plan for.
Branding is what sets you apart. It establishes you and your art as a unique and desirable product. Especially when starting out, this will require self-promotion, extensive use of social media, and a commitment to knocking on doors.
How fast should you promote? Baby steps and patience are keys to long-term success. In “How to Be an Artist,” author JoAnneh Nagler says it’s best to raise . . .
” our art as we would raise a child, to stand on it’s own two feet. When we buy ourselves stuff that we can’t yet afford – – even stuff we think we need for our artwork – – we end up desperate to have our newly launched art sell the minute it hits the market. Why? Because we’re behind the eight ball, we’re borrowing up to our eyeballs, and we need our work to pay off now . . . and our desperation makes us fail.”
Remember that slow growth is better than no growth. Or worse, going backwards.
Long-term success in any business requires three things:
- A product for which there is a market
- A way to deliver that product and make a profit
- Managing all the related affairs of the business. This is everything from taxes to general labor that supports your efforts.
So naturally, you must:
- Continue to improve your art
- Get people to buy it at a price that gives a positive net result
- Learn all the support tasks and how (and when) to delegate them.
All of this requires just as much balance as the art you produce. In “The Artist’s Compass,” Rachel Moore gives these seven suggestions to achieve it:
- Carve out pockets of time for friends and family
- Limit time-wasting people and activities
- Build some real downtime into your schedule
- Take time to explore other art forms or new experiences
- Look beyond the major cities for your career
- Work smart, not hard
- Take care of your body
Your Artistic Muse Has Called . . .
And you’ve decided to answer. Find a good coach and mentor. A traditional coach is the most expensive, but will also return huge dividends for the money spent. If you can’t find or afford one, invest a few dollars in the two books referenced above. The authors have shared personal insights on pursuing the life of an artist that are as good as any live coach you could hope for.
Don’t forget to join an appropriate local, national, or international artists organization. For example, if you’re into music, the Women’s International Music Network (WIMN) has tons of contacts and resources.
Good guidance and networking will supercharge your artistic efforts. Together, they’ll light the way towards a rewarding future. And help you share your special gift!