Monday, 3 October 2011

Running an art business - dealing with "blockages"

As part of my voluntary redundancy package, I am entitled to two "one to one tailored support" sessions, and I had the first of these a couple of weeks ago. Usually, these are designed to help people find a new job, but occasionally, as in my case, it is to help them set up their own business. Whilst the facilitator, Mike, was able to come up with a couple of new ideas, in the main, he was able to confirm that I am thinking along the right lines, that I am identifying positive strategies whilst being mindful of the potential pitfalls, and that my modest short term aims are realistic. It sounds such a simple thing, but at least I can now see that I am not flapping about aimlessly, even if sometimes it feels like I am.

Mike and I discussed how to tackle "blockages" - those issues which have a tendency to hinder progress, or even bring everything to a grinding halt.

One recurring problem for me is lack of time, or my perception of a lack of time, for my art. In my own defence, I would argue that three children, a dog, a fair sized house and garden and a job cannot be rolled up and dealt with in a couple of hours a day. One artist friend of mine once gave me a very hard time about this, stressing that I needed to stop making excuses and get on with it. I felt exasperated at the time, but he was right - no-one is interested in excuses and bleating about it doesn't put paint on canvas.

Well, now I have given up my job and I have found myself a cleaner, which has liberated me and has enabled me to put in some serious painting hours. One problem solved. The other blockages need more work.

Pricing my work appropriately is a real conundrum for me, as I imagine it is for most artists when they start to sell. I can see that part of the problem is the connection of pricing to my attitude towards painting. It doesn't much feel like a job, to be honest, and I float so much between wanting people to like what I do and being embarrassed about the whole thing, that it is easier to give the paintings away. I'm going to have to come back to the issue of pricing when I have given it more thought, but for the time being I am trying to focus on the simple truth that if I can make some money from selling paintings, I shall be able to spend more time painting.

The embarrassment factor is a blockage in other areas. I want to promote my business but, as I have mentioned before, giving my business card to people seems too forward. My Vistaprint postcards have arrived now, so I really have no excuse to not carry them at all times and hand them out when opportunities arise.

In the same vein. some time ago, I devised a footer for my emails which comprises a thumbnail of a painting and my website address. As I had to choose whether or not to attach it to each individual e-mail, more often than not, I chose not to. After my talk with Mike, I changed the setting on my e-mails, so that the footer appears automatically. Nevertheless, I am so embarrassed about using it, I usually delete it!

A further blockage is my chronic inability to understand Facebook - which really deserves a seperate posting!!


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  2. I know how you feel. I intended to spend several hours painting today but, since spring is here, other things took priority. Instead of painting, I spent the afternoon prepping the garden beds, planting vegetable seeds, and applying Preen to the rest of our 1.3 acres of land. All the while I'm telling myself I'm supposed to be painting. But, I know a couple hours of Preen now will save me days of weeding later. So, it's not an excuse. It's a fact. Sometimes you just have to do other things, like it or not. :/