"Put it out there, take risks, put your ego aside."
The start-up days, they take grit, man. That's why these kinds of cliches ring so true - they may be cliche to the point of losing meaning, but cliches exist because there's truth to them, right?
Us creatives are in a similar boat, in the grit-needing department. Business coaches might not speak exactly our language, but the sentiment is the same. When Professor Wright from Painting 201 isn't telling you what to put to canvas, you’re left to your own devices to start something of substance. You have to search for your visual voice and figure out what the end goal is.
'Strategy' and 'marketing' are both concepts that live more comfortably in the domain of the aggressive business coach. But a maker, an artist - she needs to make friends with those concepts. That's where ‘putting it out there, taking risks, and putting your ego aside’ comes in.
At the bare minimum, I’m talking simply about allowing your work to be seen, and saying it’s for sale. There’s so much more to it, but when you’re early in your artistic career, showing UP and showing OFF can take major stones. But even if it shakes your nerves, it's always worth it. The more you practice putting it out there, the more you see that the consequences of doing so with mediocre results are not so bad, and the consequences of not doing it at all are very nearly devastating. Zero results with zero action, right?
When my husband and I used to have a couple of shops, years ago, hoo boy did we ever put it out there. Probably the funniest thing we ever did, was when we first opened in a private ballroom for viewing exhibitions by appointment. It was perched up on the third floor of a residential building, a dream of a townhouse, the epitome of tucked away Upper East Side preciousness... it was very tucked away. We had the occasional appointment, but they were too few for our fancy in the early days, so we tag teamed it. ⠀
I'd be dressed to host upstairs, trays of treats and pots of tea at the ready. Down on the street, as tourists moseyed past the nearby museums looking for adventure, we brought it to them! Adventure! My husband would charm them, chat up some pair who hadn't had enough art and design at the Guggs, and send them up to me. Adventure! In a ballroom! Art and design! Tea! From a stranger! We were all probably being quite foolish, the tourists and us kids, but it felt like the ultimate of scrappy, take-biz-by-the-horns-and-make-it-happen kind of drive. None of us turned out to be a creep, luckily. ⠀
My ballroom moment in this here arts business happened not too long ago. I hosted a studio sale on IG Live. It was highly uncomfortable for me! I had to do deep breathing and stretches in my garden before I could show up on live video for the first time. But it went better than I could have hoped, and more importantly, I was so psyched that I found that bravery. In that moment, I found comfort in the discomfort of running a creative business.
Especially in these Corona days, what are some things you can do to take biz by the horns as a creative? How can you take your ego out of the equation for a few minutes and put your creativity out there? Deep breaths!