Welcome back to “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z.
When I began this series, the letter Z seemed a long ways away, but here we are at the end of the alphabet. So today I’m playing with Zen, zoom, zigzag and zowie.
How you perceive the world has a large influence on how you make decisions and move through that world. The ideal amount of marketing for most artists is to do the least amount possible. Some artists want no part of the business side at all.
I understand that feeling; I do.
There’s one problem with that, though—you’re the one in charge, and someone has to do the marketing work. Otherwise, you just have an expensive hobby.
So if you’re like most artists, you have to wear all the hats at once: administrative, creative, technical, and relational. And you have to be ready to change from one hat into another at a moment’s notice.
You need a clever combination of Zen, zoom, zigzag, and zowie.
In the face of chaos, Zen is the calm mindset that helps you make good decisions. After all:
• You can never know in advance how people will receive your work
• You can’t possibly anticipate all the problems you’ll encounter
• You won’t always recognize opportunities or obstacles when they first appear
Taking a Zen approach requires stepping outside the new imperative of acting fast all of the time. Remember to stop, look and listen.
Before you think that Zen is too “woo woo” or a haphazard way to live, Oahu based artist Patrice Federspiel—a transplant from Wisconsin—has created an entire art career just this way. It started when she went to Oahu to house sit for a friend and ended up staying.
Here’s the Zen way to approach your art career:
1. Be really clear about your vision of building your future. Patrice still constantly reimagines her future and then takes steps to make things happen.
2. Observe how the way that you see world both supports and obstructs your path. Patrice’s approach to life is much more in tune with the spirit of aloha.
3. Embrace the paradox and follow the path of least resistance. Patrice remained in Hawaii and began to exhibit along the zoo fence and is now in galleries there and on the mainland.
Patrice left the norm of her day job with structure, people and things. She had a place to stay that felt good and allowed her to explore the possibility of a life as a full time artist in Hawaii. She accepted the opportunity in front of her with a true spirit of Zen.
Next, she had to zoom into action.
There are two kinds of zoom:
• Moving or traveling very quickly
• Transitioning from a long-range viewpoint to close-up (or vice-versa).
These days, the speed of the internet drives artists to frenzy trying to keep up, if they’ve not first decided what to focus on. Once you’ve chosen a specific path:
• Zoom in on the details so you can take action
• Zoom ahead to the first key actions
Patrice used to get up at 4:30 a.m. to make art, because she knew that she would be tired after she returned home from work in the evening. Because of her job, she made a good living that allowed her to buy high quality materials and take a trip to Hawaii to house sit for her friend.
In Hawaii, her first “zoom” was her immediate response to the island light and fresh surroundings that excited her creative instincts.
There was a long zig and a few zags before she zoomed again. Building a business while building a new life does take time, patience and persistence. . .
Life is unpredictable so there is rarely a direct path to any milestone. More often, we set out off for a destination and then encounter a series of short, sharp turns or long, languid angles. Plan as we might (and we should plan!) we still need to be ready to zigzag.
Patrice Federspiel zoomed away from the security of a full time job with benefits on the mainland towards an imagined life as an artist on a rock in the ocean. Then she zoomed in on how she would support herself while she pursued her dream.
Being a mainlander (and therefore outsider) offered many opportunities to zig and zag while she established herself as a resident. She became a cultural detective and learned the local ways.
Patrice also shifted her medium from oil to watercolour in deference to the climate and to protect her health in her living space. She adapted her artistic eye so well to a new demanding medium of watercolor that she became president of the local watercolor society.
For twenty years, Patrice has zoomed in on opportunities that match her personal beliefs and lifestyle choices. She has zigged and zagged as she paid close attention to what worked and what needed to work differently, as she developed her art business and created income from her vision of “living the art of aloha.”
Your ultimate goal is zowie. Zowie means to express astonishment or admiration, especially (but not only) in response to something sudden or speedy. You know—that rush you get from something extraordinary that touches you in some way.
Zowie works best when:
• The artist feels it during creation and marketing
• The viewer feels it while viewing the art and engaging with the artist
Patrice exudes zowie. Her paintings express it. Her collectors feel it. She doesn’t rest there. She writes about her life as an artist, she teaches others to use watercolor, and she encourages and helps other artists.
There is no straight line from “here to there” in creative and marketing pursuits. But with these 4 “Z’s” you will make it through.
Follow the links below to read more articles in “The ABC’s of Art Marketing”—an alphabet guide to marketing your art, from A to Z: