Viewer, Linda Calkin asked what the very first thing to do in getting started online.

In this video I share five keys for becoming a thriving and successful artist!

As an artist myself, these are some of the things that have helped me get to where I am today. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or someone who’s been at it for years, there’s always room to learn more. Let me know what you think in the comments below!

5 pillars to thrive

5 pillars to thrive

Video Transcript:

Linda asked a really good question a couple of days ago in my free Facebook group. ”How to start from the start, the very start, what to do first, what to do second, third and so on.” And as I was thinking about how I was going to answer that question, it occurred to me that it’s been a while since I’ve talked about the five key things that you need in order to be in a position to share your artwork with the world.  

No matter what your end goal is, whether you want to have impact, meaning you’re not worried about making money from your paintings, you just want eyeballs on it because you want to change people’s lives in some way, or whether you want to increase your income from selling your work. It doesn’t matter which one it is. There’s some key things you’ve got to have in place. It’s not just going to magically happen and there’s no little red easy button on your desk or on your easel that you can press to just serendipitously have it all.

And yes, even though I started a good while back on doing this, you can still do it now. In fact, there’s never been a better time to get started than there is right now. 

So, let’s look at what those five pillars are to a thriving artist’s practice. 

Number one is the center part, the thriving artists mindset. Because if you don’t get your inner game lined up, it really doesn’t matter what you do on the outer. 

The single most important differentiator between whether somebody is able to achieve their goal as an artist or not has to do with their belief in themselves. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re not going to be successful. You’ve got to have that compelling belief in yourself or you’ll stop when the going gets tough. 

That inner authority, that inner belief helps you when you run into brick walls, when you run into roadblocks, when you feel blocked. 

The second big pillar is creating compelling artwork. Mindset comes first, but then comes the ability to create compelling art. None of us make perfect artwork. All skillsets are always in progress. We’re always improving, always learning, always making better art. You don’t have to wait to make perfect paintings in order to get started because remember, you’re never going to make a perfect painting. Share the most compelling paintings that you have right now and do everything that you can think of to make better paintings.

What is compelling artwork? It’s the stuff that grabs your attention like a magnet and pulls the viewer in, things that, for example, are using really strong value patterns. Because as my students know, because I preach this all the time, value is the first thing our visual perception recognizes. It’s the key to making compelling artwork. Make compelling artwork and you’ll have that second pillar in place. 

Third pillar is to build your online platform. Doesn’t matter whether you think you want to work with physical galleries or you want to sell on your website, or you don’t want to sell at all. You just want to share your work with the world. You need an online platform.  

Gone are the days when you could get into a gallery solely on slides. Anybody remember slides? That’s totally outdated. You have to have a website. That’s how those people find you. We have to be active partners with the galleries that represent us.

We have to do part of the work. We can’t just sit back and do nothing, eat bonbons and paint. Nobody gets to do that anymore. I’m not sure anybody ever did that. 

What goes into an online platform? There are three parts and I’m going to give them to you in order. These are the tools that are going to help you reach your audience.  

The first tool is to create a social media hub. Social media is crucial. It’s one of the things that gives us our independence at this point. It’s one of the things that lets us build a direct relationship with our potential ideal collectors. What platform doesn’t matter. You want to be on the platform that you are more likely to post on and the platform where your ideal collectors hang out.  

You don’t have to be on all of them. You need to be on one of them effectively. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Pinterest, Instagram, or Facebook, but you gotta be on one. That’s step one. First get the social media hub going. You can actually sell off of social media directly, not the best way to go about doing it, but it’s possible. You can use that as a way to leverage your audience there and get started. Social media first. 

The second part is your email list. You need to get an email service provider and you need to start collecting email subscribers, and you don’t have to have a website in order to do that. 

Third step is your website. Many people make the mistake of doing this first. That’s the wrong way around. They go and build their website first. And then they go, “where are all the people?” And amazed that nobody has shown up. 

Well, that’s because they don’t know who you are. There’s no way for them to find you. So, you do that last and you use those first two things to drive them to your website. And when you work those three things in tandem and you have a system worked out so that you’re not just mindlessly scrolling on Facebook or Instagram, and you’re intentionally driving traffic to your website and getting people to subscribe to your email list.

Then you can move to pillar number four, which is to grow your audience. When you get to building an audience, you are using your online platform, your thriving artist mindset, and your compelling artwork to reach out to your ideal collector and grow an audience. Not just an audience of anybody and everybody, but your audience of ideal collectors.

It doesn’t do me any good to build an audience of other artists. I see so many artists doing that. Don’t do that. Some artists buy. A lot of artists don’t. You don’t want to fill up your audience with other artists who are not necessarily going to be your buyers. You need an audience of your ideal collectors. You can do an awful lot with a small audience and so don’t feel like you have to get to a thousand people before you can do anything.  

Once you have that audience engaged and you build a relationship with them, then you can move to pillar five and launch your artwork. In essence, have your own online solo show, where you share your work with whoever you’ve decided your ideal audience is.  

Whether it is gallerists, because you want to get into a gallery, interior designers, because you want to work with designers, or people who collect landscapes, all of those revolve around you creating some kind of event and releasing your work out into the world. But you can’t do that until you’ve got those other four pillars in place. 

So there is indeed an order, starting with the mindset. Number two is the compelling art. Number three is the online platform, and remember it starts with social media, goes to your email list, and then to your website. You then use your online platform to grow your audience, which is pillar number four. Then moving on to pillar five, you share your work with that audience through a launch.


2021 webinar invitation

How to Use Value, Color, and Composition to Make Compelling Paintings

You're invited to a special free workshop I’m hosting where I'll share how you can leverage composition, value, and color to make compelling paintings. If you missed this earlier now's the time to save your seat.  You can learn more here and find a time that fits your schedule.

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