Weekly smARTips: Part 2: Who is an artist’s best resource?

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Move your career into high gear… one tip at a time!

Your smARTip for this week:

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Part 2: Who is an artist’s best resource? 
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While I was writing last week’s smARTip, Part 1 of the artist-to-artist relationship, Sari Grove commented on an earlier post about the Art-Selling Equilateral Triangle.

And, of course, I took a writing break to scan her comment.

Turns out it was way too fascinating to just scan (something I’ve learned about Sari – she’s not the scannable type). It also turns out that her War & Peace comment had a lot to say about the artist-to-artist relationship – from a whole other perspective. Sari’s comment changed the way I ended up writing this week’s smARTip.

It’s as if these blogging encounters ignore the expected boundaries of time and space, as if… we are all living in one brain. (An idea I rather like…)

So, last week, to quickly recap, we looked at the ways another artist might be your best resource (passive vs. active), and how to initially zero in on what you would like from such a relationship.

And that, once you decide to venture into an active relationship, the emphasis shifts, new considerations come into play.

No matter what your past experiences have been—my experience, and those of artists I’ve worked with, supports energy flowing in the direction of mutually sustainable connections between you and your fellow artists.

It also means you are the initiator and need a healthy emotional attitude that is open to having your overtures accepted or rejected—with no attachment to either outcome.

As the initiator, you set the tone for this budding relationship, where I think it’s terribly important to keep in mind…

There is No Such a Thing as Too Much Appreciation and Respect

Even the most skeptical, wary artist, when approached with genuine appreciation and respect, softens.

Here are 8 suggestions that the artists I’ve worked with have found helpful for a successful approach:

1. Be clear about what you want from an artist before you approach them. Clarity saves both their time and yours, plus it makes it easier to move forward.

2. Research as much as you can about this artist before your first contact.

3. In your very first contact (email or phone), start with showing your respect and appreciation for their work and/or accomplishments. (You’ve done your research, so this part should be easy).

4. In this first contact, ask permission to take the connection to the next level by explaining that you have XX number of questions about X. Be specific. Be concise. Be clear.

5. In this first contact, DO NOT ASK YOUR Qs until you have gotten a response to No.4. (If you are on the phone—and they’ve said they have time to talk–and they say yes about responding to your Qs–have these ready!)

6. Only ask one or two questions in a single interaction; save the others after you’ve seen how the artist is resp0nding from your first interaction. Even if they indicate they could chat longer – don’t! You are going for a relationship, not a one-night stand.

7. Resist any temptation to get into a debate. If the artist says something you disagree with, consider what’s more important to you: having enough of a relationship to find what you originally wanted, or being right. That said, if the interaction starts twanging with any level of aggravation, it might be time to gracefully bow out. The art world can be a small place and outright animosity may trip you down the road.

8. Pay attention to the artist’s tone of voice, and pace of the conversation. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. Trust your gut. Just because you initiated the connection doesn’t mean you are suppose to stick it out. Again, if an ending seems unavoidable, be gracious.

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Your smARTist Move of the week 

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Go ahead, take the plunge.

Find an artist whom you would really love to know on a first name basis.

Then follow the suggestion on Part 1 and Part 2 of “Who is an artist’s best resource?” And let me know how it works out!


Maybe you’ve already tried this. If you have, and have anything to add about your experience with artist connections, please share your story in the comments!
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6 Responses to “Weekly smARTips: Part 2: Who is an artist’s best resource?”

  1. Carol says:

    Love this idea and thanks for setting the groundwork/ground rules so that expectations are clear.

    I will have to ponder this one and also look around to see with whom I would like to approach. MERCI!

  2. Kate Aubrey says:

    I’m in huge agreement with you, Ariane. The art groups whose members support one another seem to go farther faster than those with a high level of competitive attitude. When I help someone out, it seems like three people then step forward to help me out. It’s great.
    It surprises me that you make no mention of that most helpful, growthful relationship, the critique group. A critique group with dedicated members and firm rules about overly derogatory critiques builds firm bonds and better paintings. They can help artist members learn faster and think outside of the box more easily (an essential part of being an artist as one begins to look past basic technique & composition mastery).
    Supportive yet honest critique groups are worth their collective weight in gold. I always look for one wherever I live.
    Thanks for the thoughts.

    • Whoa – a critique group? Of course, what a great idea, given the group is both aligned with each other and has different skill levels / career levels.

      I never mentioned it, Kate, because I had no idea these were out there in such a formalized way.

      Which just goes to make my point: other artists are your (my) greatest resource!!!!!

      • Kate Aubrey says:

        They aren’t always out there. Sometimes I have to organize one, but there are always people who are interested in partaking.

        I find that an important ingredient is the artists’ attitudes toward their own work. A good group generally requires that each member, regardless of level of expertise, has a certain devotion to their art that goes beyond a hobby level.

        There’s nothing wrong with pursuing art as a hobby; it’s just that critique groups that operate mainly at a hobbyist level kind of morph into a social function over time.

        Likewise, the intensity of honest critiques, however supportively phrased, tend to intimidate people who don’t kind of “live and breathe art”.
        There has to be kind of that “fire in the belly” before one is willing to deliberately take that risk on a regular basis.

        If it’s there, then what one can learn becomes far more important

  3. Kate Aubrey says:

    Oops. My trackpad hiccuped. As I was saying:
    If that fire is there, then the chance to learn becomes far more important than the fear of exposure.

    Here’s hoping that makes some sense

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