20. Feb, 2022

Professional Artist Goals? Mindset Matters

As storm Franklin rages outside and I journey to the end of my Covid isolation, this time at home has, once again, given me an opportunity to reflect.  I have spent my Sunday working, producing new paintings to sell, in the midst of people telling me to take care of myself and take a break to recover from Covid.  Its difficult to explain that, by doing my job, it's helping me mentally and physically.  

I've touched on mindset quite a bit in previous blog posts, but not really labelled it as such, so here I am, doing just that.  Why?  Because it is an intrinsic part of being a successful full time, professional artist.  It's vital.  It's so important, I may even do an Instagram live on it!  

So, let's examine what a professional artists mindset looks like.  I'm no expert, I'm just talking from my own experience and any other pros out there are welcome to add or correct things!  

Firstly, what is a successful professional artist?  Well, I see it as someone who is earning a living from their art on a consistent level.  It is their only source of income.  If you were to change the word artist to 'entrepreneur', this probably is a better fit.  Successful entrepreneurs have the same mindset, they just apply it in a different way, depending on their business.  If you want to choose a career as an artist, you must think like an entrepreneur.  

Secondly, you must have self belief.  Artists are their own worst critics, it's a well known fact, but when it comes to the physical act of creating, we believe in what we are doing in that moment.  No one else's opinion matters.  After we've finished, it takes time to grow broad shoulders to take criticism, but whilst creating, it is a very subjective existence.  We believe we have already succeeded before we even begin.  That is true for the bigger, long term plan as well.  We know where we will be in 1, 5, 10 years time.  We set the goals and believe we will meet them.  

Thirdly, being flexible is part of our make up.  That self belief is there, because we know, if our original plan isn't working, we can change it.  It's within our control.  We always have a plan, a vision before we start, but we know that an important part of the creative process is to roll with the punches.  It's ours, no one else's. We have the power to change it.  This also applies to your business structure. Most artists are not solely reliant on just selling pictures, they explore other avenues of passive income.  Teaching, demonstrations, curating.  This is all part of the job.  As well as self promotion, admin and legal stuff.  

We are obsessed.  Obsessive about our creative process, about our income potential, about our business plan, obsessed.  Our minds never stay still.  Why? Because we are in charge.  We have a plan, it's ours only and because we are in control, we won't stop until we feel fulfilled, until we have contributed to our business plan enough.  

Business plan, You say?  Yes!  Being a professional artist is a business, which requires a business ethic.  You get up, you show up, you work hard, you plan.  If it's your reliable income, it's a job.  There's no dipping in and out whenever the inspiration hits.  You work even when there's no inspiration.  You go out and find it.  You build a plan that includes an income projection, phases, pricing plans.  Treat it as though you are applying for a business loan.  The vision is bigger than just what will appear on the canvas, it's a forecast of your future.  Take it seriously, or forever be a hobbyist.  

I have all of the above and although I have days of uncertainty (especially within the last two years), I know I can always put in the work, make those necessary tweaks and continue on to success.  

If you would like further advice on this subject, I will be offering an artists surgery online shortly, as well as at my studio.  Details are available on request.