Your art career might seem like a pile of unrelated puzzle pieces. You are trying to do a lot of different things: make a plan, be strategic, use social media to become visible, develop a coherent body of work. But when will the whole picture become clear?
Entrepreneurs face the same challenge, and you can learn from their experience.
Artists and entrepreneurs have a lot in common. You both struggle to make an idea happen. Entrepreneurs have to identify potential customers, just as you need to find your audience. You both need to present your work in a clear and compelling way.
Successful entrepreneurs have an attitude that can be inspiring to artists. They approach their work with an open mind and a spirit of experimentation. They take risks, they invest in themselves, they get advice from experts, and most of all, they learn from their failures. Biographies of entrepreneurs always tell stories of their early efforts: an idea that proved impractical, an experiment that didn’t work hundreds of times before it succeeded.
Artists embrace this spirit when they are making art, but somehow forget to apply the same attitude to their art career. You try something once, and if it doesn’t work you give up and blame yourself for your failure.
Entrepreneurs teach us to embrace two ways of being in the world. First, you organize and plan. You set goals and measure your progress. You ask for advice and follow it. These activities start to fill in the outlines of your jigsaw puzzle. They help you see the larger picture of what is possible.
And then you let go, and open yourself up to the random gifts of the universe. Again and again entrepreneurs tell us about the opportunity “that came out of nowhere,” the accidental meeting with an investor, the sudden insight about a new approach. These seemingly random happenings are the result of all the hard work that went before.
Think of your art career as a jigsaw puzzle, where your job is to put enough pieces in place so that the outline of the whole picture begins to take shape. That’s when the magic happens.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”