Show Up Strong

How to attract your ideal collectors using confidence

There’s a disconnect between what an artist feels about themselves and what their audience wants. Artists tend to be unsure about the quality of their work, unsure about when they can call themselves artists or professional, and unsure about whether their art has value.

Audiences want to be inspired, delighted and step outside of their boring lives for a hot minute. They look to creatives to show them the way to be, live and think even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Stop and think about the artists you follow and admire: do they hesitate and waffle? Or do they lead?

Yeah, but you’re not an artist to admire and follow right? WRONG! See, this is where mindset can lift you up or drop you hard. You have to have clarity in where you want to be going, and then act like you’re already there before you get there.

Yep, a mind fuck but it’s important.

Here’s what I’ve seen so many artists do, and why it actually hurts them more than helps them:

1 Ask their audience for feedback about their art.

Uh… WHY? Even if your audience is full of professional artists, unless you’re a student, their opinion doesn’t matter. It’s your art. You made it from whatever muse or creative process in your head. No one else’s opinion matters.

If you’re not sure, have a trusted artist friend privately look at something but never do this publicly online. Not even in one of those art critique groups. And make sure you’re very clear on the kind of feedback you want.

“Help me figure out why the eyes aren’t working,” is far better than, “what’s wrong with this picture?” It defines the parameters of what you’re looking for and ensures you get useful feedback rather than random stuff.

2. Ask their audience for title suggestions.

Again… WHY? Why do so many artists do this? And if you do it, you need to stop. The thing is, the act of creating art belongs to the artist. You know your motivations, your story and emotions behind a piece in a way that a viewer never will. Your relationship with your art is intimate. It’s sacred.

I get that giving your art titles is hard. Or boring. Or your least favourite part. Whatever. Maybe it’s because you haven’t looked at why you’ve created a certain piece. What the emotions are behind it. It’s up to you to know who you are and why you create. If you’re not clear on that, then you have some work to do. But whatever you do, you title your own art. Don’t skimp on this.

3. Ask their audience for what to make next.

Uh no. Unless you’re working on commissions, this is a part of the creative process that belongs to you. Your art comes from your life, your thoughts, your emotions and your experiences so why would you invite someone to come in and put their virtual hands on it?

Remember that artists are magical unicorns to normal people. You want to invite them into your world but only so far. Far enough to feel welcome. Not far enough to rub the glitter off your unicorn.

And I get why so many artists do this. Aside from a lack of confidence about showing up, someone told them to create posts that invite engagement. And to engage in this way. This is garbage engagement and it makes you look unprofessional and insecure. The right kind of engagement has you looking confident, like an authority figure or professional, so that people go from random connection to knowing, liking and trusting you.

People who trust you will buy from you.

So, the way to show up online is this:

  • behind the scenes sh ots of your work in progress, you in your studio space, your brushes or tools ready to work or messy from work. Things that show the magic of your creative process but let you keep ownership.
  • stories about how you come up with your art. Maybe you’re inspired by butterflies or hockey or something. Write about the things you love, or better yet, talk about them in video.

The way the artist brain works is magical and lateral and an artist can start with, “I love hockey” and it leads to making abstract work with cross hatches inspired by goalie nets. No one would immediately connect the two without that little story to do so, but it makes your work so much more accessible.

  • When you share your work in a non sales post, find things to ask people about to get that interaction. If you paint a blue sky, for example, talk about how important blue is to you and your life and then ask your audience if they have a favourite memory associated with the colour.

If you paint plein air, maybe talk about your favourite seasons or how you deal with mosquitoes and invite suggestions in for best bug repellents or whatever. Again, letting your audience in without letting them sit on the furniture.

Do show up like you know what you’re doing

Think of it this way, even if you’re not a well known artist right now, you need to act like one. I don’t mean arrogantly but I do mean showing up confidently. Like you know what you’re doing, your art flows naturally (even if it doesn’t) and that you embrace being an artist (even if sometimes it’s difficult to).

Humans naturally look for leaders in the people around them. If you act like one, you will get followers. And once you get to the next level, you won’t have those embarrassingly unprofessional posts to find and delete; you’ll just keep creating magic.

Paula Mould

Paula Mould

Paula Mould is a fine artist, published author and business coach for Leigh & Paula.

She also swears, mostly on purpose.

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