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What we Want Versus What we Need: The Artist’s Dilemma

Everyone wants something.

To give you a non-art example, I have a friend who wants to open her own coffee shop. She’s had that dream for a long time. But of course, there are a ton of little steps that she needs to accomplish before selling her first Caramel Macchiato . . . And dreaming about what she wants to happen isn’t going to solve her problem.

Instead, she almost has to avoid thinking about the “want” and just focus on what NEEDS to happen.

Does that sound familiar?

I’ll admit I’ve spent my fair share of time dreaming. But if we dream too much, we’ll never do what needs to be done.

So what do you want? Is it. . .

More sales?

Many of us dream of selling our art on a regular basis. We imagine what life would be like if every piece we painted was instantly purchased by collectors.

We want more purchases. . . but what we NEED is more contact with people—more one-to-one conversations in person, on our blogs, in forums, or by email.

Like an old-style vacuum cleaner salesman, we need to make face time, somehow, some way. Imagining a “sale” without actually putting forth the effort to make contact with buyers is fruitless. In a way, reading blogs or books on marketing without putting the methods into practice is the same thing. It’s a way of dreaming without doing.

At some point you’ve got to put the book away and get to work.

More exposure?

There’s been a lot of talk over the past year or two about using social media as a way of reaching more people. Right now the big social media sites are Twitter and Facebook. A year ago it was Digg. Before that, MySpace.

I think there’s a place for social media in art marketing—there are over 200 million people using Facebook, after all—but more often than not, what artists actually need is a more focused exposure.

We need to start within a niche, and then grow outward from there. That’s why I like the idea of blogging. You can create a site that’s very, VERY niche, so you know that anyone who finds you will be interested in that niche too.

More respect?

A few weeks ago I published an article on EmptyEasel entitled Are Artists Stupid?

You should read the article yourself, but in it the author shares that she attended a design event where one of the panelists said, “you have to be stupid to be an artist.”

That statement bothered me just like I’m sure it bothers most of you. . . after all, we all want more respect, for ourselves and our craft. Yet I think that what we NEED is to be on those types of panels. To be up front, where our voices can be heard.

If we want respect, we need to step out and earn it, each and every one of us.

So what’s the takeaway?

Wanting something is easy. Dreaming about it is even easier (as artists, we tend to have good imaginations, after all).

My challenge for you today is to replace your “wants” with what you NEED to get there. When you catch yourself dreaming, write down a list of everything you need to do that would make that dream a reality—and then start doing them, one at a time.

It probably won’t be easy, but as they say, nothing worth doing ever is.

*Note: this post may contain affiliate links*

The following article was orginally posted on 30dayartist.com, a site which challenges artists to create 40 works of art in 30 days, all while blogging about it. I took the challenge, and these are my thoughts about the experience as a whole. During my 30dayartist challenge I’ve gotten a few comments and emails that have said things. . . read more

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