This post is by, Eric Armusik, regular contributing author for FineArtViews. Eric is best known for his classical figurative paintings for private collectors and churches alike. Currently, he is painting 40 large, 4ft x 5ft panels of Dante’s Inferno with the assistance of renowned Dante Scholar, Dr. Christopher Kleinhenz. A museum exhibition and comprehensive book will be available once the collection is completed. Eric teaches painting and drawing online to students worldwide, click here for more information. If you'd like to take advantage of his new student discount for Fall 2019 click here. He’s extremely passionate about inspiring and empowering artists through his blog, Underrated Artist as well as his popular YouTube channel, “The Truth About Being An Artist.”
8 Steps to Get Up and Fight
What do you do when something you’re hoping for doesn’t work out? Or worse, what do you do when a string of things fail to gel in your art business? These are the questions we all have to ask when we dedicate ourselves to making it in this business. Unlike your typical entrepreneur, we have a lot of emotional investment in what we do - when our work is rejected, we see it as a rejection of ourselves. The emotional attachment is powerful and when such a devastating event takes place, it can cause a volatile environment that can easily impede our growth and success. But how can we learn to separate that deep-seated emotional devotion from the reality of conducting business in a very competitive world? Here are a few tips that I’ve created based on years of experience.
1) Learn to create a business mindset separate from your art.
Marketing and promoting your art is business and needs to be approached in a logical and calculated manner. You must resolve yourself to the fact that you’ll have setbacks just like any other business. You must NEVER allow your emotions to control your business – it’s the most unprofessional and damning step you can take. Sadly, many artists have taken failures so hard and personal, it resulted in addiction, depression and even suicide. At the very least, many of us have just packed it in and went back to a “normal” life of 9 to 5 work. Think of how many talented people never realized their full potential and how worse off the world is for it. I’ve been at the bottom many, many times. I know how soul-crushing and horrible it feels. But out of those very painful lessons, I’ve developed many coping skills to help get me out of that murky pool of self-pity and back to creating. And truthfully, working is always the best medicine for an artist – it reinvigorates the soul and re-sets our unique brains.
2) Do not disrespect yourself.
It’s really easy to take it all out on yourself. Being accountable is a good thing but telling yourself you’re a failure and refusing to see yourself as anything but a failure, is just going to prolong your suffering. Break the cycle any way you have to, but do not stew in your unhappiness. When I’ve been in these situations I’ll do anything to change up the energy in my body and mind. It could be time working out, prayer, going for a walk or a ride in the country or having coffee with my wife to just talk things out. Take the time to recharge yourself and ignore the desire to punish yourself for taking that time. I’m certain most of you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s a horrific cycle – we know we need time to put things in perspective and to nurture ourselves but then we feel guilty for not working. It’s just another creative way our wounded egos are trying to self-sabotage us back into those muddy waters. Learn to be a bit selfish – take the time to re-calibrate so nothing negative lingers.
3) Get Stronger
Judge yourself on a scale of 1 through 10 with 10 being invincible. If you're feeling like an 8, and you have a problem that is a 2, you won’t even think twice about it. But what happens if you feel like a 2 and every small problem around you is a 3? You’re going to be miserable. Life is hard. No matter what kind of engineering people try to do in this world, life will always be an enormous challenge. You must get emotionally tough to handle it. It’s the very reason Spartan men and women trained from an early age. They knew the dangers that lay all around them. When you build strength in your mind and body you walk more confidently in this world. A positive attitude will be your armor and it will help you to fight off problems so you can continue working on your success. For me, it’s heavy weights and going for a walk with my wife. During that time, we focus on nature, talk things out and center ourselves. Honestly, that’s when we’re both feeling the most creative and getting pumped up for our day.
4) Don’t think in absolutes
Success is always a law of averages. You might succeed today and fail tomorrow. Be careful to never use dangerous words like “always” or “never” – they’re the enemies of a positive mindset. In fact, I refuse to use them when I speak. When you use these harsh, absolute words, you’re literally cursing your future. Everyone knows someone, maybe a friend or a family member that uses this sort of pessimistic verbiage continually. Step back and look at them and ask yourself, do they look happy? Are they supportive? Can you see them as a positive role model? Of course not. They are angry and resentful, they gave up. Life to them is drudgery and their anger is a mask for their disappointment in themselves. Remember, if you give up, that’s your future.
5) Share your thoughts with someone you respect, not an audience
I know it’s intoxicating to go on the internet and tell everyone about your problems but I’m here to tell you, as harshly as I can, that it’s a sign of weakness and desperation. I’ve touched on this subject numerous times in other blogs and my video series. I’m not here to candy-coat this issue and I’m not afraid of the snarky remarks in defense of the ‘social media’ purge. If you’re not interested in my advice, you can stop reading this blog and continue on with your life as you see fit. But the unpleasant reality is that people who create an identity based on their online crying are never, ever, looked fondly upon or respected. In fact, they are nothing but a sick amusement and I promise you, there will always be someone rolling their eyes and clicking their tongue. Be known for your art, not your depressing, self-indulgent whining. Talk it out with someone close to you and refrain from using your profile as a soapbox. If you don’t have a sympathetic friend, find someone you respect on social media and privately message them. There are a good number of artists that are always there to help one another and lend an ear. You’ll get more out of a one on one conversation than becoming entertainment.
6) Turn the problem into a solution.
A few years back I had an absolute catastrophe happen while shipping one of my paintings across the country. I built a good, solid crate and insured the work for a lot of money. However, the framer it shipped to, failed to open the box inside the 48-hour window thus breaching the insurance agreement. I won’t lie, it was a disaster of epic proportions – a disaster I took precautions to avoid. After a nasty screaming match on the phone with the unprofessional and quite frankly, irresponsible framer, I spoke with the client about the issue and how we could go forward to best resolve the issue. So it’s clear, this was an expensive and large piece and it was purchased by a new and important collector – I was willing to do anything to maintain my reputation and integrity as an artist. As we spoke, he remarked how overpriced he thought the frame was that was being built. Shocked by the price, I gave him an estimate to build a custom frame for half the price. Pleased, the client paid to ship the painting back to me. I was able to fix the damage and build a gorgeous frame that opened up a new source of income for me. What started out as a bad situation became a resounding success.
7) Have faith
It’s been said that faith is the answer to fear. As a life-long practicing Catholic, it’s the remedy for all that troubles me. My faith allows me to see beyond the bumps in the road and to know that in the end, it’s all going to work out for my highest good. It also alleviates the worry about ‘how” it’s going to be accomplished – I pray and let go. It doesn’t mean that I don’t take plenty of action in the meantime to fix my problems. I do the work and allow God to take over. Faith gets me off of the floor and back on my feet every time. Don’t worry about how it’s all going to work out – worry is a time-consumer and will rob your future every time. Focus on doing your absolute best and let it go. The one thing I’ve learned in this business is that you can’t force an outcome.
Don’t sit around waiting for “inspiration” or “the right time” to start working on your future. Remember, someday never comes. You must learn to take responsibility and accountability for your failures. Pointing the finger at someone else will only alleviate the pain temporarily. In the end, that pain comes rushing back and aches twice as bad. There are too many people each year that die wishing they had pursued their dreams. Do you want to be one of them or do you want to achieve what you dreamed of as a child? Get up and do something about it today.
I hope these suggestions will help you continue doing what you love and building your best life. It’s a blessing to be an artist - we have the greatest job in the world. Never forget that!
My very best to you and your business.
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