Having the confidence to ask for what you need can be one of the hardest parts of shaping your career as an artist. It’s not easy to approach galleries and say that your work is worthy of their walls, or to fill out applications that enumerate your many accomplishments. It can be even more intimidating still to ask for money, something that is very often a necessity in the life and career of an artist.
Remember how hard it was for Barry?
Alison, a Praxis student, needed a boost to get her over the initial fear of making a leap.
She diligently followed along with the Praxis lessons but needed to make the move from theory to practice. After her second course module, she decided there was no time like the present. In her own words:
“After I did the second module where the homework was to write a letter but Brainard also challenged us to take a leap and make an ask that very week i decided to take a leap. I didn’t finish writing my letter but i decided to ask anyone who came into my studio/gallery to donate to my upcoming solo show at a local museum in my city (terrifying). I used Brainard’s model of offering studio credit. Out of many asks which resulted in “no thanks” and “not right now” (mortified) I finally got two yesses (jumping for joy). One couple gave me a check for $400 and the second couple also made out a $400 check. I couldn’t believe it I had not even finished my letter yet nor sent them out nor made calls. This gave me a boost of confidence.”
For Alison, it was about overcoming the feeling of embarrassment around so much as asking for what she needed. And after that she had to get used to standing firmly on the spot and taking no for an answer. With a smile.
You will never get a single thing you don’t ask for. Whether that’s an opportunity you don’t apply for or patron and sponsor money you never reach out toward. It’s really that simple. And while you won’t get what you ask for every time, the beautiful thing is that you have literally nothing to lose. So the answer is no, move on graciously and try again. Eventually you, just like Alison, will be jumping for joy when you hear that first yes.