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!

Agents: Partners or Saviors?

closeup of handshakeAs a creative coach, there’s one question that early-career clients never fail to ask: “Don’t I need an agent or manager to succeed?” I know why they ask. The agent is seen as the Holy Grail for an artist … the White Knight, who has come along to do all the heavy lifting in the artist’s career.   But it’s simply not true. (Artists who have had agents in the past can surely agree).

I always tell my clients that while an agent or a manager may be useful in the long run, most are inundated with requests, have limited time and are very selective about who they take on. Most agents will only create a true partnership with motivated and resourceful clients who actively promote their own work and bring strategic relationships to the party.

It’s a hard pill to swallow. Being an artist isn’t easy, and most artists don’t want to be involved in the business end of things because that takes away from the creative end, which is where they shine.

I explain to my clients that there are three steps to finding and working with an agent.

1. Be The Best Artist You Can Be: There’s that old saying that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  The same is true for agents.  When the artist is ready, the agent will appear.  Always try to improve your art.  Take classes.  Read technical books.  If you’re a theater or film artist, go see shows and movies to be aware of what’s happening in the industry.  If you’re a novelist or poet, go to readings.  If you’re a painter or sculptor, go to openings.  Join a community of your peers.  Learn from and share with your community.  People like to work with people they know — in person or by reputation — and agents are people too!

2. Know Why You Are An Artist: All the hob-knobbing and skill building in the world won’t help you land an agent, if you don’t have a purpose to your art. Each of your creations, performances, or publications should reflect who you are as an artist.  What is your voice?  If you don’t have a strong voice, you won’t be able to get an agent … and you’re not ready to have one. Keep your eyes on your work, instead of looking over your shoulder to see what everyone else is doing.  Create work that is authentically your aesthetic.  Don’t try to chase the marketplace.  Innovate instead!

3. Recognize Your Agent as Your Partner, Not Your Savior: When you do land an agent, don’t hand over the health and wealth of your creative career to your agent! Work together with your agent to make a plan to advance your career. Agents are great negotiators,  are wonderful advocates for your work, and are great for helping you get past the gatekeepers. But your agent isn’t alone in the struggle. You can’t depend on anyone to make your career for you.

It’s the Wild Wild West for 21st century artists.  There are loads of opportunities out there even if you don’t have an agent.  Start a new project and produce something.  Get out there and connect with movers and shakers in your industry.    Now is the time to be the entrepreneur of your creative career!