If you have been implementing the advice and tips given here over the last year you have hopefully seen some positive changes. Even if it is no more than a change in your attitude towards your work, that is a big start. The way to become a professional and successful artist is to act like one first. For the last in this series we’re going to look at how to keep the momentum up.
Don’t get ahead of yourself
Just because you’ve had a little success and gained some experience does not mean you should be paying less attention to developing your business skills. You should always be pushing for more. If you’ve been accepted into one gallery, use it as encouragement to try out for others, not as an excuse to kick back and relax. Keep entering new competitions, attending new events, talking to new people and seeking out new ways to get your work out there.
We have stressed many times the importance of acting professionally as an artist, and hopefully you have put some of our advice to practical use. However, for many artists the novelty of acting in a business-like fashion soon wears off and they slip back into their student routines. Don’t get caught in this trap.
Being professional actually becomes more important as you grow as an artist. When you are starting out it is easy to remember meetings and deadlines because you have so few and they are so important to you. With a growth in your profile and success, however, you will see an exponential growth in your contacts and communications. It can be scary, but never bury your head in the sand.
Keep a diary of your appointments and a database of your contacts. In your contacts database you should keep as much information about that person as possible: where you met, what you talked about, what agreements you made etc. They too have chaotic lives so will often need a gentle reminder as to who you are.
Never upset current relationships
Even if you’re sure that something big is coming along, some better gallery has accepted your work or you have an upcoming exhibition, never upset your current relationships – you never know when you’ll need them again.
If you do have a show or an exhibition of your work, congratulations! It is indescribably satisfying to have people gathered together to see and discuss your art, but you must maintain your professionalism. It is a huge opportunity to further your career, and how you behave will have a direct effect upon it.
Don’t get drunk
It is tempting to treat the show as a party, especially if everyone else is. However, you are the host and the star simultaneously, so all attention will be on you. Nothing ends a show quicker than an inebriated artist, and you can be sure it will stay in the minds of everyone for all the wrong reasons.
Be amiable with everyone
Don’t sit in the corner with your friends and family just because they’re the only people you know there. Everyone knows who you are and will be interested to meet you. Yes, you will have to repeat the same things over and over again all night, but each time it should sound fresh, as if they are the first people to ask that question.
Don’t snub anyone just because you don’t think they can help your career. If nothing else, a buyer could be anyone in the room; but more significantly, darting from one important looking person to another makes you appear to be an ingratiating fraud. Engage people in sincere conversation about art and you will find yourself attracting people rather than repelling them.
A heated argument creates as bad an atmosphere as drunkenness. If you find yourself disagreeing with someone on the end of a barbed comment about your work, contain yourself and walk away. Even if you win the argument it will be counter productive. Also, if someone thinks something positive about your art that you don’t agree with, don’t tell them they are wrong. Simply say you had never seen it that way and be happy that they did.
As you go forth in your career as a professional artist, always continue to refine your business skills. Make as many friends as possible, don’t burn your bridges, stay positive, and keep utilizing the opportunities that ArteXposed offers to their fullest. Good luck!