I LEARNED THIS LESSON THE HARD WAY
It was 2008, just after the recession hit America hard. The affect of a downturn resulted in a huge change with my collector base and in turn my own business. People were losing jobs, couldn’t get new ones or barely managed through unemployment, so disposable income was gone. Sales slowed. Also, one of my licensing deals made a new development as the company itself changed their program, cutting exposure to the wider network I had developed clientelle with. My cushion disappeared. My IRA and savings were now empty. Numbers were dwindling and checks were dissapearing. Just as well, the changes in the industry, e-business in general and the advancement of mobile technology was altering the way people shopped. I felt alone and bitter.
For a good year or two, I worked on improving my efforts, dabbled in a whole lot of experimentation with my art style/genre in hopes of finding the sweet spot again and made new connetions for licensing. My experimentations slowed down my sales even further and alienated long-time collectors who loved the work I HAD been doing. It was a large risk on my part. I changed up my site several times, my blog several times and my art collection SEVERAL times. I always had the fans who stayed with me throughout and love anything I did, but I was making large abrupt changes that just hurt me more. And so I became more desperate to continue the consistent income that had supported me and my family completely.
That’s when I took on a project with a large automotive company and random projects with social media startups. My name for marketing in the new media world had brought me new connections in an industry outside of my art. And so I pursued that with everything I had and could. Of course, during my projects with the auto company and the startups, I had lost touch with my art business and my collectors. I had lost my motivation to work, to win and to improve. I lost my work ethic that inspired me to wakeup everyday at 6am in the morning, sometimes earlier. The work ethic that drove me to create everyday and work hard for my fans. I just went through the motions, adjusted to my every whim and nearly lost my business altogether. It wasn’t until a huge interview with a famous tech radio show invited me on for a live interview. He was and is one of the most popular shows on radio and the web and it was a huge honor to be brought on just to talk about my art.
AND I completely bashed my own work.
He asked all the typical questions, to which I replied with cynical, downtrodden answers. How I hated doing what I was doing. How I was failing at my business (so I thought). How I was sick of what people wanted. I didn’t hate or dislike my fans, but felt like I was pigeonholed in one category for the rest of my career.
BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD. All around.
The reality was that my art was spectacular, that my fans were incredible and that my business was NOT in fact failing. It was amazingly sustained despite my complete and utter disregard for it. Just letting my career blow in the breeze. I had become angry, confused and disillusioned. It was more like a delusion. I had no idea the breadth of my art’s power. Of the work I put into it. He brought me on the show because what I had created was profound and for most artists, only a dream. And I practically SPIT ON IT.
They may not have noticed that or felt that I was being negatived. They were really enthralled with the story and the fans that interracted throughout the show really liked the work. I rolled my eyes, figuratively and literally. What a terrible thing I was. I didn’t realize my failure until after I watched the show. That opened my eyes.
HOW YOU VIEW YOUR WORK MATTERS
Outlook DOES affect everything. How you work, how you view your work or talk about your work and how you view the future. How you view it affects how others will view it. If you say or think you’re failing or terrible, your family and friends will too. And your fans. And your potential clients. And the galleries. Etc and so on.
Don’t ever look down at what you do or allow anyone else to. It’s a gift and talent most people do not enjoy or wish they had. Work hard, do not relent. And be the light. Stop yourself if you ever feel like saying something negative about what you do, because you never know what could happen.