Lately, I have been reflecting a lot of my art school days and what they didn’t teach you there. It was so great to have 4 years of uninterrupted focus on the fundamentals, technique, and attempting to master the skill set of art making. It was so great to be in this little bubble where the world revolved around art. Every day I struggled to improve and my entire focus was achieving that technical and aesthetic improvement. My entire focus was on excelling at my craft. Sometimes a secondary focus would be on trying to figure out what great art was and studying the history of art. We had art history classes which some days intrigued me and other days bored me or even angered me. We had classes on perspective, printmaking, drawing, painting, sculpture and we had one class – ONE! On career development.
I remember in my second year of art school reading the book, “Art and Fear” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. Mostly, because making art for me at the time was still a major battle of a fear of failure. Something in the book stood out to me at the time about how many art students left art school and never made art again! Whoa, I thought…why? Why would you do that? Go to art school for 4 whole years, get a degree, go into major debt for only to not do it? Most of the students graduate only to go back into the system to get their Masters degree and eventually become professors themselves. I remember being so struck by this at the time and thought to myself, “But I don’t want to be a professor and get a masters degree. Can’t I just be an artist?” Sure enough by my fourth year the professors were trying to push me towards that path and I just refused. At the time, however, I didn’t really have a clear understanding of how you could be an artist by selling paintings. Although I wanted to teach I knew that the college system was not for me and I wanted my career to be as an artist not as an art professor making art in my spare time.
There were some useful topics covered in our career development, most of which were how to get into galleries or how to get grants. Both of these are viable paths and options, but there are so many more, at least now 6 years later and I would think then too. It’s just they didn’t know how to do it themselves (any other way) so how could they teach us. They would bring in visiting artists that seemed to perpetuate the belief that this is the system and if it doesn’t work for you well you’re just somehow not genius enough because the genius artists get all kinds of success and opportunities thrown at them. So we all hoped to be geniuses. And somehow this is acceptable in degree granting programs that they are sending their graduates out into the world without any real business skills. I mean business and art just don’t go together right? Again, I don’t totally blame them. None of us want them to go together. The whole point of being a bohemian artist is to be painting when the passion strikes, struggling, broke…or totally so hip and cool that we don’t care about money. Somehow the not being concerned about business side makes us a purer artist in most of our eyes. We’re pure. We want to paint what we want to paint. We don’t even want to take on commissions. We don’t care what the public wants and that is why we are not selling art. Even Michelangelo cared what the Pope wanted and gladly accepted the money for it.
I’m saying all of this to say that if you are an artist there is another way. It’s okay and frankly you owe it to yourself to learn how to handle your art business in the right way. Last fall, I took a course with Alexis Fedor called the Profit Canvas and I am still benefiting from the ongoing support there. I wish they would have taught us ½ of this in art school as it has made me feel like I am worthy of the art I create. The course is geared to artists specifically (in any field) and gives concrete applicable steps to creating an art business that still aligns with your values and helps you investigate those values too.
She is giving a free pre-training right now if you want to check it out. I’ve been telling all of my friends because I want no one to miss this opportunity that needs it. If you are struggling I recommend you get in there and find out if it’s for you.
Here is a quote from Art and Fear:
“Not many people continue making art when — abruptly — their work is no longer seen, no longer exhibited, no longer commented upon, no longer encouraged. Could you?”
And I would add no longer buying art (see again that gets left out). If you are struggling I recommend you get in there and find out if it’s for you. Here is the link for the free training: CLICK HERE https://bit.ly/2GJ9OvE to enroll now (it's free!!)
Here's to truly Happy Painting....when you're not stressed out about paying the rent next month or how you can afford to go to the doctor. Here's to empowering artists!
So last year I read this book on the myth of the starving artist, by Jeff Goins, along with a whole other slew of books about how to sell art online, how to sell to interior designers, etc, etc, etc. So obviously I was a little obsessed with this topic. Last year, I also signed up for a motivational course called the 100 day challenge and my goal was how could I sell some artwork? This was my frustration, my conundrum, my quest for answers last year.
I thought I had done everything right. I went to art school, got into galleries and got awards at big art shows. For me I was still dissatisfied looking at the bank account every month. I was struggling to build savings, pay for health care and pay down student loan debt, let alone afford a nice studio. Now I would justify it to myself saying well you just have to be patient you’re only X amount of years into this or I would say to myself well you shouldn’t have gone into art if you wanted to make money – you chose something you love, so you can’t have it all. Wow! I started peeling back the layers to these really weird beliefs. I don’t know where they came from. I know many of them have been repeated to me over and over again. Yet I was not satisfied and these thoughts left me feeling helpless and even angry. Which left me questioning where did these thoughts come from?
Ever since art school I have had many people who would get upset that I would try to sell my artwork, they would knock that I was sales-y and make comments that eluded to the fact that I wasn’t a true artist because I was interested in selling my work. As if selling my art myself somehow made me an impure artist. Other incidents include times when I’ve shared my work in art groups online and put the price or my website link saying available and I would get disparaging remarks about how I’m sales-y again. Really? Just for including a link to my website or putting a price on it? Obviously, you’re going to offend someone no matter what you do, but the bigger point I’m trying to make is that this underlying sentiment about art and artists is still out there and it still swallows up I don’t know how many artists every year. I discovered that even I was afraid, the one accused of being so sales-y, of even sending an email to my mailing list about available work for sale. Afraid of their judgment, afraid they would unsubscribe. So I wound up feeling like this helpless little animal shivering in the corner just hoping one day.... maybe one day soon someone will call, email, somehow magically find me and say I want to buy a painting.
I’m writing this to say if you want to make a living as an artist you need to be open to other possibilities. Our world is changing and while I know the traditional gallery route can work for many it is not the only option now and it won’t work entirely for most. I'm super grateful for all the galleries that represent me and for the sales they make, but unfortunately the sales are still sparse for me in them. At one point I had work in 8 different galleries across the country and I still was barely making a living. Many of those have closed their doors since. Perhaps you don’t need that much, but mine is the only income I have. No one else is supporting me or helping me out and I decided to fight these pre-conceived notions of the humble starving artist because I was sick of feeling helpless. I was tired of feeling self-doubt because my work wasn’t selling.
My search last year let me to many books I’ve mentioned, most of which were quite good but still didn’t give me applicable tools or the ways they were recommending just weren’t my path (like licensing my work). The search led me to purchasing various art coaches downloadable books, the 100 day challenge and phone calls with non-art related business coaches.
*note about the 100 day challenge that I wrote about last year in the spring. It yielded incredible results for me and was an excellent motivational course. This course was only $180 and I still feel it was worth every penny. However, being a general motivational course it was not geared specifically towards building an art business. So after it was over, I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t have a business plan for the future so I was back to where I was before except having found a few ideas that I could use again in the future.
I moved to Coloradosearching for a stronger art community than I was in both for personal growth and business needs. I was still on this quest for how to not be a starving artist anymore, and how I could create a business plan that was sustainable which still felt totally sacrilegious as an artist (even after uncovering why the myth of the starving artist exists and reading about how wealthy Michelangelo actually was). One day in my quest for answers I stumbled on a woman named Alexis Fedor, who was being interviewed by Owen Garrett. Alexis was starting a new course called the Profit Canvas and after listening to this and many of Alexis’s podcasts my intuition said that I needed to do this. I was skeptical and nervous about the cost of the program, but I felt I really need to give this a shot. She had a 30 day money back guarantee so that made up my mind.
Now, when I decide to do something it is a firm decision. When I signed up for Alexis’s course I decided I would do everything she recommended, I would be totally open to try it all and I would give as much time to it as it called for even if that meant I wasn’t painting very much. For me there’s nothing more disempowering than having made lots of beautiful paintings and they wind up collecting dust in your studio. I also know you can't expect all of your work to sell, but the ratio of sold to sold was unsatisfying for me. I also knew my work was good, and I’m constantly striving to get better so I knew I wasn’t selling because of low quality work…or because my prices were too high.
Alexis’s course hit everything for me: questioning those beliefs and forming new ones, finding out what I personally need and where I naturally flow in my work, finding more value in my work, discovering what my collectors needed and wanted from me, creating a revenue plan that was in alignment with what I’m already creating and adding in so many new options that are filling in the gaps…because I’m not just selling 5k paintings constantly, learning how to do marketing better and research and improving my social media marketing and email marketing. I’m reaching more people with my work and now in a variety of ways, not just through selling paintings.
I’m writing this in hopes that it may help another artist out there. I’m sure I still have much to learn, but for the first time in 6 years of my art career I feel like I’m the captain of my art business ship and I have systems in place now for continued success which makes me feel secure.
I cannot express enough gratitude to Alexis for this course!
If you are at all interested, Alexis is offering a free taste-tester course starting April 14th called the Creator’s Profit Plan and you can get in now for instant access here: https://bit.ly/2GJ9OvE
You won't regret it.
Oh, here's some of my newest paintings....and you guessed it....They are all for sale!!! Just go to my website www.kellifolsom.com to find out more. I also invite you to become part of my artistic community here: http://eepurl.com/dpg-_9
So lately I've been on the go like crazy from Italy, to moving to Denver then teaching a workshop in Virginia then a trip to Santa Fe....needless to say I've been pushing myself a lot and when I do that sometimes I don't take the down time to stay charged up and fresh. I realized this morning that if I didn't take that time I was bound to snap! I like to go through my journals and do some gratitude journaling to reset my mind. I really like The Five Minute Journal: https://thehustle.co/the-five-minute-journal-will-make-you-happier. So check that out if you are interested. It's short and sweet. Write down three things that you are grateful for and three things that would make today great.
Here's my three things I'm grateful for today:
PROGRESS - Hope that I can evolve, change and grow into the human being I would like to become more like.
REJECTION- When looking at rejection in a different way I see that when I or my work is rejected it is a reminder for me to be my biggest champion; not to wait for someone else to value you me or my work; to give myself and others that much needed compliment and encouragement.
COMPASSION - I am so thankful that people are compassionate and patient towards me. When others recognize I am imperfect, human and show me kindness opens me up to do the same for myself and others.
Oh yeah....and all of these wonderful beautiful places and people I have met this month!
Really they were a delightful group and very brave since many of them had never painted a still life from life. They had really great attitudes and made some beautiful paintings in this three day workshop.
Once I returned from Virginia, we took a trip to Santa Fe to check out all of the beautiful works in the galleries there. It truly is a magical place. I still can't get over those gorgeous clouds and mountains!
We were only there for 3 days, but packed a lot in including seeing the Fechin house and studio, Total Arts Gallery, most of the Santa Fe galleries....did some mighty fine eating and even an afternoon of painting.
A couple of Fechin's paintings that I really loved out of the collection.
Fechin's tiny little door into his adobe studio and his view into the garden from inside. Needless to say I was envious of his studio!
Monte graciously took this photo of me with one of my paintings completed on a beautiful evening before dinner. I actually haven't painted in several weeks (other than demonstrations) since the move and all the travel so it was a pleasure regardless of how rusty I was.
In April, I decided to sign up for this program called the 100 day challenge. At the time I was exhausted and getting burned out, I was frustrated with lack of results....and yes I do tend to be impatient...and yes I am a bit of an overachiever. I always have this desire to grow, to change, to get better results and to become a better version of myself. Part of my exhaustion was due to overworking, teaching too much and doing some teaching that was really not a good fit for me at a local University for two semesters. So as I was doing my usual digging on the internet for new ideas for marketing my art and getting more sales I wound up stumbling on someone's blog....don't remember whose know (you know how that goes) and she gave a long list of resources some of which I had read and just weren't for me and at the end she mentioned this program called the 100 Day Challenge. I went and checked this out and listened to some interviews by the creator on YouTube. Again, I felt this instinct saying you gotta try this. The Challenge started before tax time and before my 2nd semester was over! Not the right time I thought - excuses, excuses. Looked it up and a third objection - it cost $200....a 4th objection - this is just Tony Robbins motivational stuff.... Fear, Panic, what will people think of me bullshit. So, I signed up. I thought, What's the worst that can happen? I lose $200. What's the best that can happen? I learn some powerful lessons that actually change the course of things. BINGO. SIGN ME UP.
I signed up and kept it secret for quite a while afraid of judgements against it. Anyways, I can happily report that it was an incredible experience - not easy, but incredible. Therefore, I STRONGLY recommend the program to anyone who wants to see some changes in their life, in any area. This is not just for artists or entrepreneurs, it's for everyone. It's not just to make money or lose weight, it can be for developing mindfulness or spending more time with your family. Doesn't matter. The program is general and designed to walk you through any goal and keep you motivated while working on it. You are the one that makes it happen though, by taking action and following through.
Disclosure: If you have weird beliefs about making money or are too much of an idealist to think that you should be a starving artist.....READ NO FURTHER.
My goal happened to be a painting sales goal. They encouraged you to set a big goal, to be clear on what you wanted. I already knew what my ultimate goal was for a yearly salary...but it always seems so far off in the future and I always felt like, "Hey what control do I have over whether or not people want to buy my paintings?". I thought gosh I have my work in galleries across the country and I'm doing everything I know how to do otherwise to make an income. Other thoughts included, "Geez, I hate marketing stuff. I don't want to be a sleezeball salesman. It should be about the art. People will judge me for being superficial and caring about money....yaddy yaddy yaddy." Truth was I knew there had to be some other ideas, other options and I already knew I was putting off a lot of things that would improve my circumstances. Although I was at a point of burn-out, I felt there was no better time than this when I'm sick of what I'm currently doing and need to re-focus.
So I set a big goal. It was 1/4 of what my eventual hopeful income will be...which just happened to be more painting sales income than I made all of last year! I thought wow, this will be damn near impossible. But I started the program with such excitement anyway, not with doubts, determined to give it everything I had. The daily videos the challenge sent kept me focused on how to reach them and on days that I was sinking back into comfort zone or wanting to give up the program kept the flame lit until I could see some more results. By 1/2 way through the 100 days I had made more than 60% of my goal! I was so elated....then the next 2 weeks I saw very little results ....and started to think this was all I was going to be able to do. I started to get tired of trying. So there were a few days that I put out very little effort and felt bummed. I realized I didn't want to end like that, I would rather not reach the goal doing everything I could than to not reach it and wonder what if I had really given it my best shot. By the end, I am happy to report that I reached 95% of my goal!!!!!!! The goal was not simply about the money, it was about doing what I needed to do....not blaming others and feeling powerless for what income wasn't coming in. I took back responsibility and in turn felt more powerful and in control (not in control of the outcome mind you, but of my own actions and mind).
Here are the most practical applications I learned my the challenge:
1. Get clear on my goals. Understand WHY I want to achieve them. What will that success look and feel like? 2. Brainstorm ways that I can reach these goals. Just take a piece of paper and start righting down ANY idea that comes to mind...don't judge it or say that's a stupid idea. 3. Set daily, weekly, even hourly ways to reach your goal and keep track of which goals you met. The biggest thing that helped me once I had a list of brainstorm ideas and actions was to plan out my day in 30 MINUTE SEGMENTS. Yep, 30 minutes. This was a life changer for me. 4. PRIORITIZE. Sometimes I have so many little things I have to do that I'll do those all day and have no energy for the very important stuff. What is going to move you closest to your goal the fastest? Take action on these first! You can't get around some daily to do's. Do them last, do them first...I don't care...just do them fast and only the ones that HAVE to be done. Are there things you can hire out? Automate? Just not do? 5. FOCUS AND FOLLOW THROUGH. Things I had been putting off because I just dreaded doing it!! a.k.a computer crap....or spending money on advertising,etc. OUCH. Now, I realize just how little time they actually took once I took action and how painless it was. BIG RESULTS on both of these. Also, there is no bigger self esteem booster (in my opinion) than doing things that you have been procrastinating for 2 years. Yep, that's right. You heard me. 2 years. Sigh. 6. RECOGNIZE YOUR HUMAN-NESS. You're gonna have days that you want to give up and quit. It's okay. Go back to your WHY's on your goals. Think about how you're gonna feel having reached them.....and take a day off! The program actually reminds you constantly on how important self-care is , that you are well rested, well fed, spending time in nature and with loved ones. You actually perform better and new ideas come to you when you do this. But when you rest- rest - don't be anxious that you don't have your nose to the grindstone. Be in the moment. 7. DO SCARY AND NEW THINGS. Execute the ideas that scare you the most and the ideas that you've never tried. Be open to new ways of reaching your goal. We tend follow what's been modelled for us....I mean you only know what you know how to do, right? Wrong. Open up to other ways...look for other options. One thing that happened to me was I started getting requests for commissions just out of nowhere. I've rarely done commissions before, but I was open and said YES. The commissions brought in 30% of my sales goal.
I don't get anything from the 100 Day Challenge for sharing this information with you, but I am so happy with my experience I want to share it in case anyone else needs it right now. I believe the next section starts in September. Check it out here: www.100daychallenge.com
Has anyone ever said to you, "You're so creative."? If you're like me sometimes you feel a little doubt when you hear that. A little insecurity perhaps. If you're like me you are in awe of other artists creativity but perhaps think you are lacking in some way. Logic says if you create, you are creative. So what is the literal definition of create? The dictionary defines create as to bring something into existence. Hey, I do that all the time, every day. So I must be creative! That makes me feel pretty good and gives me the energy to want to create more. This is just a reminder for myself and anyone else that needs to hear this. Pay attention to these little doubts, to the over glorification of anothers creativity, to your beliefs. If you are making something you are CREATIVE PERIOD.
I wish you all much success, joy and love in your creative process.
Above are some of my new paintings I have done over the last 2 weeks. I hope that they brighten your day and inspire you either to enjoy the beauty around you or to create your own. All are available for purchase.
Also, I am still cleaning out my studio and have marked down some older gallery works to $475! You can check those out on the sidebar link to my Daily Paintworks Gallery.
Thank you guys so much for your continued support. Every time you pin, share or comment helps me out. It's not just sales that helps an artist these days. I encourage you to visit my new website and share away and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter that goes out every two weeks!
In my experience every time I have invested in myself it has never gone wrong. I have never regretted it or felt like it wasn't worth the time or the money. Some of us are more inclined to invest time and some might find it easier to invest money. Maybe you love going to workshops or conventions, but you have trouble putting in the time painting or creating privately. Maybe you have no problem putting in tons of time creating, but you struggle letting go of money to get more education. Maybe you are introverted and it's just plain uncomfortable attending a show, workshop or promoting yourself. Let's face it sometimes you just don't want to make a change that you know you need to make.
I think you have to do all of these things in order to be at your best and to get the rewards you deserve for your hard work:
1. Daily solitary creating time. 2. Increasing your skills by investing in education. 3. Share your work with others (promotion-icky-lol).
You have to be self-aware. Recognize where your strengths are in these categories and where you are the weakest. Maybe you're the Instagram king but don't invest in taking classes or workshops. Maybe you paint all day every day, but don't have a gallery or can't afford art ads in the magazines. Whatever your situation you have to figure out what it is you want out of art and take chances by doing the stuff that you are uncomfortable with that will help you reach your goals. So figure out which one really is weak for you and start putting time and/or money towards it. In my experience, the reward from that will feel so great and it will return profits and growth.
Personally, I have struggled with letting go of money to invest in promotion, workshops and attending events. There is alot you can do for free with social media now a days, but at some point you'll find you just have to push a little harder especially if no one else is doing it for you. I have a lot of fear for being broke especially when I already spent $100,000 on art school. I also struggle with doing tasks that I just don't find interesting or they take a lot of time to change- like anything administrative or computer related. So those are my weak spots. My strengths are making the work, investing in education and free self promotion online.
One thing recently that I changed was getting a new website, which I put off doing for a year! Finally, 1 month ago I decided that was unacceptable and I would make a move. After making a list of what I needed and what I didn't want I decided to sign on with Fine Art Studio Online. And I gotta say that I am so in love with their service and product that I am highly recommending it. I wished I had done it a year ago. It has been incredibly easy to use, update and they transferred my original domain name and website very quickly and easily. I also can't say enough about their tech support! Computer stuff really annoys me sometimes, so I love that if I can't figure something out or find something that they are there to help...and help HAPPILY they do. None of them are jerks about it and they respond super fast.
So if you are in the market for a new site please check them out: