3 Major Challenges Emerging Artists Face (And How to Overcome Them)

Eisklettern_kl_engstligenfallYou’ve made a commitment to being an artist. You’re not hiding your creative side anymore, and when people ask what you do, your art is included in the description (if not leading it). Congratulations! As you march towards your goal of becoming a successful artist – whatever that means to you – you’re bound to face these obstacles in one form or other.

  1. The Catch-22 Problem: You can’t get your work shown, produced, or published because you’re not a name brand, but you can’t become a name brand until you get your work shown, produced, or published. This is the familiar lament of emerging artists everywhere.

    What you can do about it: There’s not a silver bullet solution to this problem and it takes time, but there are steps you can take to get your work recognized.  Do the art for art’s sake first. Then figure out what themes run through your work so you can speak intelligently about it. Get comfortable talking about your work. Create a succinct and exciting description of what you are doing (otherwise known as your elevator pitch) that rolls off your tongue and will make others interested in knowing more.  Socialize with other artists and producers in your medium.  Get involved in an organization that supports artists in your field. Become a fixture in the community. Take the initiative to produce your own small shows, productions, or short films, collaborate with friends on projects, make friends with bloggers and other press on the scene.  All this activity contributes to the relationship building that is essential to getting your work noticed and supported.  It will help others get to know you better and in turn they will contribute to a critical mass around you that is necessary for you to breakthrough.

  2. The Cash Problem: You are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of materials or software you need to buy to support your creative practice. You can’t afford the classes you’d like to take to increase your skill set. The kitchen table or garage isn’t cutting it anymore, and you need a new workspace pronto.

    What you can do about it: Save your money. Being an artist isn’t cheap. You need to invest in yourself before you ask others to do the same. Maybe you cut back on the fancy coffees. Or bring lunch to the office more often. Trim some kind of indulgence and put it in your artist fund. If you have a few shows or publications under your belt, you can begin to apply for grants to support your work. Do a crowd-funding campaign to finance one aspect of a specific project-start small ($5,000 or less) so that you reach your goal.  There are even residencies that provide artists space for their practice. Caution: grant applications can become a job unto themselves! Apprentice with a more established artist for access to advanced machinery. Barter for leftover materials or equipment.  Split the cost of the software with some friends. There are a myriad of ways to get access to what you need.

  3. The Confidence Problem: You are comfortable telling people you’re an artist, but you’re not so comfortable telling them about what type of art you create. You downplay your work by telling people it’s not that interesting or that it’s not groundbreaking and you don’t know why you do it.

    What you can do about it: Bite your tongue. Well, not literally. Every time you get the urge to sweep your creative work under the rug or downplay its significance, say something nice about it instead. If you don’t believe in your work no one else will!  And if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Change the subject, or tell the person you’re speaking with that you’re far too superstitious about your art to talk about it.  Regularly take the time to go inward and get in touch with why you do what you do and what is good about it.  The more you say positive things about your creative projects, the better you’ll feel about them and the more confident you’ll become.

Are there any challenges on this list that keep you from growing as an artist? Do you have any creative solutions to these common problems that we didn’t already mention?

No Excuses. Make Your Art A Priority Now.

by Joanne Zippel

You’ve probably heard the story of Hernán Cortés. Even if you don’t recognize the name, you may remember him as the Spanish Conquistador who prevented his crew from turning back from battle by ordering them to destroy their ships. (A lot of people think they burned the boats, but that’s not how they did it.) The point of destroying the boats was so that there was no option but for the men to fight. It’s time for you to burn the boats that are keeping you from doing your artistic work and jumpstart your creative career.

Instead of saying “I don’t have time” or “I’m not connected enough” or “I don’t have the money,” try saying “What can do today to engage with my artistic self?” See how that feels and start to move forward with your project. Your self-limiting beliefs should never stand in the way of you working on your artistic projects. You’re a creative person by nature, and that means you can come up with creative solutions to your problems.

Make your artistic career a high priority in your life. Next time you feel like saying, “I don’t have time to work on my painting,( or novel, screenplay or performing)” say this instead: “I’m not making time for my art because it’s not a priority right now.”

Does that feel good to you? Probably not. But that’s the unfinished part of the sentence whenever you start talking about your perceived obstacles. Isn’t it time to change your narrative? The words you use are a reflection of your thought processes and your belief system and when you hear these words – even though they’re coming from your mouth – they’re a reinforcement of those negative beliefs.

You can create a fulfilling artistic career, if you make it a priority. Feed your passion and choose to live your life as an artist. It’s your choice to make your creative life your core experience. Value your creativity. What you do every day is tied to your priorities. You should take action on your artistic career every day.

If you need a some guidance in making this change, I offer a free, 30-minute Creative Career Action Planning Session where you can learn 3 simple but powerful tips to move your creative career forward!  Schedule your session today!