Sunday, March 16, 2008

It's the Journey that Defines You! (part 1)

I remember taking family vacations
when my daughter was young. She would wear us out asking "Daddy are we almost there?" We finally gave her a map and a marker and every time we passed a city she put a mark on her map. Of course then she wanted to know.."How much longer to the next town!"

Developing an art career is very similar to taking a road trip:

You have to make plans for your destination and you need a map to get there. You have to keep focused on the map and the road ahead. If you get lost or take too many side trips, arriving at your destination will take longer. If you don't pay close attention to others while you're driving, you could crash and not make it at all.

Don't rush things:
I know sometimes it seems like others always get the breaks. But in truth some artists simply get on the "road" closer to the destination. A fine arts degree would certainly do this for you, so would living in a large metropolitan area or having connections with other successful artists.

Many artists, including myself, are starting at the beginning. If you want to succeed you must have a plan...your plan is the "map" for your journey.

Hone your skills, build a cohesive body of work, and get feed back from others in your field. If like me there's nothing in your area, check out some of the many art forums on the internet...Wet Canvas and Art Papa are just two. You can view the work of others and post your own art for critique. Posting in forums will also help you develop a web identity.

If you have no formal education in the field of art, some classes from a local Art Club or Center for the Arts might be helpful. I also took workshops from well known artists in my field. Like many artists, I had a natural talent but it needed to be refined and stretched. Just being with other artists gave me a high!

Develop a web presence. At a minimum today's artist needs a website and a blog. Your website is your online "gallery" where collectors and others interested in your art can view your works in an organized manner.

The major difference between a website and a blog is that a website needs to be promoted to be seen. Blogs on the other hand are like the "Energizer Bunny"...with the ability to announce themselves and keep on doing so with every posted update you make.

Link your blog to your website and like magic it will pull your website right along with it! Or better yet get a website with an integrated blog.

Develop other "real world" marketing strategies. This is a topic on it's own...but for now, think about how you will get your art out there in front of people? I suggest you start joining an area art club...they usually have two or three exhibits each year. Check out the Juried Art Fairs in your area. Talk to business owners about hanging your work in their establishments. You could plan a private showing...inviting friends and business associates. Work on building your mailing list...getting both email and snail mail addresses.

Stay focused on the road ahead:
You've begun your journey, you have your map, and you know your destination. Myself, I'm destined for the "long road". Like many artists, I began my career later in life. I have no "Fine Arts Degree" and to top it off, I live in a small Midwestern town...right in the middle of corn country. Yet against all odds I've managed a satisfying degree of success.

Imagine if this were a real road trip, you wouldn't just quit 300 miles from home. You would at least try to get somewhere. True, you might stop for gas and to stretch your legs...checking your map for accuracy, and gather your thoughts. But you would get back on the road again until you reached your destination.

"Daddy are we almost there?"
Your career as an artist is a journey. The gift of the journey is what you see, experience, and learn along the way. These experiences build your confidence and hone your craft.

It's one thing to read about another artists climb to success but nothing can replace living the artist's life as you travel your own road to success. There are sure to be some pot holes and speed bumps along the way. You'll know you're making progress by the milestones and landmarks you pass as you mark your own achievements.

Remember, it's the Journey that defines you.
  • Are you prepared?
  • Do you know your destination?
  • What do you need to do to get there?
  • Why are you waiting?
This article continues here: Part 2, Part 3, Part 4


Wet Canvas...Art Papa...artist forums
Art Marketing Links...other articles of interest

Marsha Robinett Fine
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Fiona Purdy said...

Hi Marsha,

Love your work and your blog posts.
I especially like this one. It really made me stop and think and made me see my art "journey" in a different light. I will be content to just keep on doing what it takes to get where I want to go and not try to push or rush it. Little by little I'll get there and in the process lighten up, not judge the speed of my success by someone else's, and most importantly Have a ton of fun along the way.


Fiona Purdy

Cindy said...

Great post Marsha! I know the highway is faster but sometimes not as picturesque. I have to remember those sidetrips off the highway have been some of the most memorable and rewarding.

Marsha Robinett said...

I appreciate your point of view. Being an artist is a difficult journey...stying focused and up-beat can be a challenge. Writing this series of articles has help me solidify what I already knew, strengthening my body and mind for the "trip".

Stay inspired and do have fun!

Glad you enjoyed the article. You are absolutely correct, side trips can be fun and I have fond memories of many. But as artists we need to be cautious of side trips in our careers...they can really put a glitch in your progress. I know I've done it!

Judy Mackey said...

Marsha, read this article on FineArtViews. What a nice article! Thank you for sharing it. You are so right--I am enjoying my journey! I do realize I need a map to see where I need to go though!


MaryAnn Cleary said...

Thanks, Marsha for a great article. Recently, I just returned from a two year work assignment in China. Coming back to the U.S. made me realize that I really wanted to focus on my art and not my engineering job. I opted to give it up versus relocating. However, I really want the journey to hurry up, but I know that I must stay focused and that it will take time.


Marsha Robinett said...

Judy and Maryanne
I think we all get impatient and some times have trouble seeing into the future.

Writing my goals down along with a reasonable time schedule has helped. Yet I still struggle with the "I want it now syndrome" every once in a while!

Stay focused and best of luck in your careers.

PamYla said...

Thank you this is very interesting, it is also a needed push and kick of confidence to hunker down and do the thing I love to do. Im thankful too, that you are offering this type of help with marketing. I sometimes get frustrated because from the moment I close my eyes I see all types of drawings and paintings being formed. lol as of yet, I cannot do them, but I belive that it is meant that these dreams will come true.
God bless you much, I especially liked the comment that God gives us our talents but does not take them away

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