Creative Business Growing Pains
This morning I finally unpacked one of my favorite pieces from this past year. A mixed media piece depicting a Man 0’war jelly fish at the bottom of the ocean. It has been at least six or eight months since I have even looked at this piece, let alone worked on it. Understandably so—PCS move, family adjustments, children sickness and my educational goals took priority. It wasn’t until I sat and really looked at this piece that I realized my business wasn’t necessarily portraying my artistic voice. That everything I am currently selling, while they still have value is holding me back. I am playing it safe. I am afraid of putting my personal artwork out into the world. I am holding myself and in turn my business back.
…“Why are you doubting your ability? Look how far you have come. Take the time and take a chance on yourself.”
One of my mentors is my family member’s partner. He is a world renowned artist and his work is inspiring and intimidating. He has many years of experience in the industry and his talent has taken him to places I can only dream of. On top of all of this, he is one of the most caring, thoughtful persons I am fortunate enough to call my family. Before we moved, we were able to sit down and talk about my creative journey. I looked him directly in the eye and flat out asked, “Do I have the ability to be a successful artist? To make a living from my personal work?” As I sat there holding my breath, he smiled and you can tell he knew how much his answer would mean to me. “I absolutely do. But I think you jumped to selling online too quickly. You need time to really develop and try to get into a gallery wherever you go.” I was so thrilled and remember having a sort of “aha!” moment. A moment where I was elated as well as receptive. How did I lose sight of that already?
Halfway through writing this post I stopped and flung myself into my studio searching for my original artwork. I found three large portfolios dating back to the beginning of college. I went through all of them and saw my growth from school to now. As I was looking at my work I thought to myself, “Why are you doubting your ability? Look how far you have come. Take the time and take a chance on yourself.” And now as I sit back down to resume my writing, I feel invigorated and inspired to try to get into an art gallery somewhere. To do this, I will continue to create everyday and explore my weaknesses as well as my strengths. Why be afraid of failing? I heard once that it is the first attempt at learning and entrepreneurs are continuously learning and evolving. Military spouses are in a constant state of flux, adapting to the ups and downs that come with our life journey. If I really want to be unique in this competitive creative business, my voice is what will make that possible. Not the voices of others who have come before me but MINE. And man do I have an interesting journey to tell!
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be practical or even frugal at times. Of course you need to sell things to make a profit. That is why I offer so many personalized options on my website. Personalized items sell! What I would like to do is combine personalized gifts with unique pieces. I have more growing pains to go through before I figure this out but there is no doubt in my mind that I will.
If I could offer some advice to anyone out there struggling to take the next step in their creative business it would be this: Find your voice and stay true to that voice. Your perspective is more valuable than how many followers you have, or how many sales you have made. Slow growth allows you to try and fail at things, tweak your process and discover new things! I am currently going through these growing pains and although it can be stressful, I cannot wait to see what the future holds.