I recently had a conversation with a friend who I’ve been observing in social situations down-playing his success as an artist. It often baffles me when I hear him speak like this – this person is incredibly talented, and a pretty darn successful artist, and here he is leading people to believe he’s less awesome than he really is?! It is an extreme minority who manage to make a sustainable living from my friend’s chosen creative industry, and evidently it begins to take it’s toll.
The conversation drove me to enquire into my own tactics when it comes to chatting socially about my work. I’ve long employed a method of only talking about the positives. Early in my career I found myself publicly lamenting the hardships of life as an artist- always struggling to pay rent, settling for low rates, not being able to afford to join my friends for dinner on the town.
At some point I got tired of hearing myself complaining, so I switched to only promoting the positive aspects of my job. Dropping details into conversation of an awesome upcoming project even if it’s my only current contract; rearranging the description of a relatively dull commission to make it sound a bit more interesting; revelling in the fact that I got to spend all day painting (even though I ate toast for every meal that day).
It may seem like dishonesty to an extent, but I see it as merely a protective veneer. It’s important to keep close friends and fellow artists around who you are able to have a whinge at when it’s called for, and if someone wishes to enquire further into the highs and lows of a creative career, i’m not going to lie to them; I’d love to shop exclusively at the organic shop!
But the more you talk about your worth as an artist, the more you believe it, and the more other people will believe it. The people you meet socially may well have a connection to a potential client, and if those people come away with the impression that you’re enjoying success as an artist, they’re more likely to go forth and tell others how great you are.
You are great!
I feel like my tactics pay off. Of course it’s often a hard road to ‘make it’ in the creative industry, and no doubt it takes heaps of hard work — but spreading positivity around you will bring positivity back in. Be that in the form of cool collaborations with fellow artists, contracts with clients who are happy to pay the money you deserve, or simply a mega-boost to your own creative energy.