Much is made of the need to network and get out and about when you work as an artist, a freelancer, an independent business person. Indeed, in these writings, we spend a great deal of time and energy on the fact that it is imperative for anyone who considers themselves a career artist to carve out time to market, meet and greet, and get to know the arts community around you. This is all well and good, and truly important, but there is much to be said about the importance of remembering why it is you do all of this extraneous stuff.
At the very center of things, it is about your work. This is the crux of the whole situation. The reason why you do what you do. Without your work, there is nothing.
The life of an artist can become something of a scene. There are always openings to attend—your own and colleagues’, patrons and gallery owners to schmooze, perhaps even a local vibrant social scene to keep up with. There is so much to do, it is easy to become wrapped up in it all and let your practice slip to the wayside. When you feel yourself becoming de-centered, or just plain irritated, this is the time to fall back and regain perspective. Opt out for a few days and immerse yourself in the studio. Remember your roots. Pay homage to your art.
For others, the pace necessary to maintain an active network can be simply overwhelming. Shaking hands and small talk doesn’t suit everyone and for some this can be the hardest part of the equation. If this is the case for you, do not feel like there is a single thing wrong with that—or with you. Use your art as a way to escape to a quieter pace. While you will still need to create time and space to attend to the business side of things, your studio practice is not only the most important piece of the puzzle, it is also a way to regain your footing and even an excuse to give if you need to sit out an event or two.
We live in a time and place where the need to be public overshadows almost all else, particularly when it comes to finding any sort of success whether financial or otherwise. It is easy to feel like your every move is being scrutinized. Between the demands of social media, the eyes of the world on your innermost thoughts and emotions manifested in your art, and the face to face time required to maintain your footing in the community, it can feel like living in a fishbowl all the time. Let your studio be your sanctuary. Whether you have a small corner or a huge warehouse, own this space and don’t hesitate to escape to it.
Never forget that you are standing where you are because of your art. This is the impetus that gets you out of bed in the morning and leads you out the door (or to the studio) to create. This is what led you to this website, these writings, your pursuit of a way to turn your passion, your obsession, into a viable career. Losing sight of this means losing a critical piece of your very foundation.
We have discussed in the past the need to create something of a persona in order to blend in certain art scenes. We have also touched upon conversational tactics and tips for being remembered by those who could give you a helping hand as you build a career. Throughout these posts we have always tried to make clear that you can practice these means to an end but still maintain your authenticity. The way to do that is to be sure that, above all else, you base your actions in your artistic work.
Without this fundamental piece of things, you run the risk of becoming burned out. Why put forth the energy to carve out a niche in the arts community at the expense of the very thing that led you there in the first place?
As you move forward in your career and are exposed to new experiences, new people, new opportunities, you will find these influences will affect your work. Let them in and be open to the changes they may make. You may also find that as your exhibits and sales continues to grow, your days become fuller of the minutia of being your own representative. Take a step back and be sure that you are still finding your way to the studio on a regular basis.
It is only by remaining true to who you were when you decided to take this leap that you will carry forward the integrity of your artist self. Just as in all things, it is important to remember what brought you to this place and pay homage to it no matter how much the circumstances around you may change.