Most artists are sensitive people, attune to emotions and perceptions that others miss. You see more, you feel more, you absorb more of the vibrations around you. Such permeable boundaries make you a better artist, but may also keep you stuck in your art career. You listen to negative voices in your head instead of saying what’s on your mind.
Your own sensitivity makes you exaggerate the risks of speaking up. Remember, people don’t actually know what you need unless you tell them, and you cannot predict their response. Relationships break down around communication issues all the time, and the same thing can happen to an art career.
Instead of imagining difficulties, speak up and start a conversation. If you’re not satisfied with your gallery’s efforts, stop worrying and talk to the owner. When you’ve been unhappy with your critique group for years, start suggesting how the group might be improved. Instead of envying the successful artists in your network, talk to those who might help you take the next steps in your own career.
When the voices in your head become worries that are holding you back, turn them into conversations with real people. Plan what you want to say, be ready to listen, and don’t give up too soon.
When you speak up and ask for what you need, you don’t always get what you want. People say no, or not right now, or ignore your request. Funny thing, though, you feel relief when you speak up. You finally “get it off your mind” so that you can let go and move on to other possibilities.
The more you practice speaking up for yourself, the easier it gets. Remember, your voice as an artist includes your actual voice, asking for what you need and deserve.
Mary Edwards, Ph.D
Career & Life Coach for Artists
“Left Brain Skills for Right Brained People”
As an artist coach, I bring a unique combination of business knowledge, art world experience, and professional coaching skill to my practice.