Do You Sing the Song of Artists Everywhere?

It goes like this: me me me me me me me

Art is so damn personal. It is. It’s supposed to be. But if you’re a creator you should know that your art has two journeys and it’s important to recognize your role as an artist in only the one journey.

I connect with a lot of artists every day. I see thousands of profiles every month. Almost without fail artists make everything online about them.

It’s completely understandable. My art. My suffering. My path. My journey. My creative process.

But when you’re trying to sell your art, by continuing to make your art about you, you disconnect with your audience. Since art IS so personal, a connection with your audience is an essential factor in selling your art. That disconnect can kill your business or make your growth much slower than it has to be.

You want to make sure your audience knows your art is about them and for them.

Why? Because everyone, without fail, sees your work (and the world around them) thinking, “what’s in it for me?” When you make your work entirely about you, they can’t make that connection unless they know you personally. And unless you are personal friends with a few thousand people, you don’t have enough friends to sell your art at rates that let you make a good living.

Look at Apple. Yep, iPhone Apple. They sell status rather than phones and computers and whatever. You buy an Apple product, you are telling the world you have style, money and are of a certain social class.

They have made the connection with their audience and shown them exactly what’s in it for them. People gladly shell out for Apple products because of that.

Starbucks is the same. The coffee and other beverages aren’t really all that great but when you go there you show you have the money, you’re serious about business and again, of a certain social class. I hold all my face to face meetings in a Starbucks because meeting in Tim Horton’s just doesn’t have the same vibe.

This directly translates to your art.

When I talk about the two journeys your art makes, I mean this: the first journey is the act of making. This is your journey. How you connect with your art, your process, yourself, your thoughts. It’s deep and emotional.

When your art is done and signed, you see your work in very specific ways. Where it doesn’t live up to your ideas. Your emotional attachment relates to whatever drove you to make the piece. Your love (or hate) for everything you make.

But when it’s done and signed, your journey becomes memories. It’s done.

Then the second journey begins and it’s how other people interact with your art. The memories or emotions it triggers. The connection they look to make with it. How it resonates. And your audience’s reaction has nothing to do with you at all, or oddly enough, nothing really to do with your art. It’s all about them.

People view the world through their own lenses. Lenses made up of their experiences, social standing, traumas and memories. Two people can look at the same piece and have two different reactions to it.

Say you paint a portrait of a pig. One person sees bacon and gets hungry, the other sees the sweet face and falls in love. Maybe even joins an animal rights activist group. Same painting, different reactions.

You can’t control those reactions. Sure, you can set your work up to trigger people, but beyond that there’s no control. Your finished art is not about you.

So when you write about your work, post online or even talk about it in person, you have to find ways to make it about your audience. “I paint fabulous and energetic paintings which show how much I love colour,” won’t cut it.

Who cares how you feel about colour? Your audience won’t.

But, “my art helps people with exceptional taste create vibrant indoor spaces that reflect who they boldly are,” works so much better.

You’re telling your audience that they are awesome and special (always a good thing).

You’re telling them what your work does for their homes or offices.

You’re telling them that your work gives them status.

Suddenly you connect far, far more easily with people who want to buy art. You are deliberately making the second journey about them and making it easy for them to see why they should buy it.

And, as an added bonus, you stand out from every other artist without doing anything different except for changing your tune.

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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