And by that I mean bone-real confidence; not the pumped-up kind, where we’re skating over a surface of insecurity and fear, and so we’re pumping ourselves up to keep from falling over a cliff.
I’m talking about the kind of confidence that’s based on what decades of academic research have shown: that it is not compliments—it is not people telling you how good your art is—it is your level of competence that is the bedrock of your confidence.
Here are 5 cool ways to increase your art-career competence, which will automatically increase your confidence. (And if I’ve left any out, go right ahead and add it in the comments!)
1. Cool Confidence in the Studio
I don’t care where you are on the career path, keeping your technical skills finely tuned is essential. If you know you are shaky at any level, or slowly getting a bit jaded or stale, find a mentor, a leader in your genre to work with, or start an artist group and invite artists who have the skill levels you would like to have.
If nothing else, set yourself a new challenge, something out of your comfort zone. Work that place hard for 3 weeks and see what changes in your skill level. There is no destination here, only continual arriving…
2. Cool Confidence in Your Relationship To Your Art
When’s the last time you had a heart-to-heart with a piece of work? Did you keep a written record of that conversation? I know an artist who literally talks to her paintings and waits for them to respond.
If nothing else, keep a notebook in the studio next to you and jot down key phrases as they swirl around in your mind. Otherwise, the wallpaper inside your head will fade away and you might lose the very phrase that unlocks the next collector’s heart and purse.
3. Cool Confidence in Your Artistic Fingerprint
When your work is speaking from the level of your soul, no one can ever successfully copy you. Your artistic fingerprint is just that: yours. By definition it cannot be anyone else’s.
Here’s the litmus test: If you were in a group show with 10 artists and you had 4 pieces sprinkled in-between the other artists and spread over three rooms, could a stranger see one piece in one room, than another piece in a different room and immediately know these pieces were from the same artist – and not because they were all cats! (or pears, or landscapes)
An artistic fingerprint can be simple or complex, and it is never about self-duplication. It’s something you do organically, probably effortlessly, and it infuses your work with what I call the soul essence of self.
4. Cool Confidence in Your Titles
This is the beginning of your non-visual communication with your viewers. And in the land where websites rule (or Facebook), words are essential. Even the raging visual Pinterest asks you to name your boards, put words with the image you pin.
Words are your true friend because they help you create more than one level of association, increasing what I call the “sticky factor” that helps people remember you. Smell the coffee. Taste the tang of the freshly sliced tangerine. Feel the rough edge of a broken fingernail. Listen to the church bells call to prayer. See how well that works?
Compare to: “Untitled #10” Need I say more?
Yes, actually I do. Online, people search by words. One artists got two commissions just by giving her landscapes the exact names of the location where she painted them. Someone googled those areas looking for gifts and found her work… need I say more?
5. Cool Confidence in What You Say About Your Work
People are always going to ask you about your work. Hemming and hawing, coming out with stock phrases about beauty and color and light, or over reaching for the bravado of academic phrases, this is the provenance of amateurs.
(Yes, I know… more words. Funny how word-language follows us around…)
Remember that notebook I suggested in Cool Confidence #2? This is your treasure chest of perfect words. Keep it by your side, next to your bed, in the car, in the studio… Jot down ALL thoughts (that primes the brain to keep supplying you with more). Don’t edit. Especially don’t judge. At this stage its all good because once you’ve let your brain dump out the cliches, the dumb, the boring (the weeds), only then is there room for the sleeping jewels underneath to shine through.
Start here, with these five competence building blocks, and watch how quickly your confidence shifts into a higher gear.
Because, all your marketing plans, all your business goals are on shaky ground until your confidence levels become strong enough to support them.
Wouldn’t it be great to know a few confidence tips, like how to address friends and family who overtly, or subtly, put down your desire for an art career? And what if you had a system designed to give your confidence a real boost no matter what’s going on?
At the smARTist Telesummit 2012, one of our keynote speakers did just that, while 9 other keynote speakers covered everything you’d want to know about: “Your Collector Lifeline: How to Use Confidence, Connection, and Communication so They Buy Your Art.”
And right now, for a few days, I’m running an Early Bird Discount on the Home Study Edition – where you can get all the material from the live conference and soak it up in the comfort of your studio or home.