Monday, July 22, 2013

Fortune Favors The Bold

Sometimes you read or hear a phrase that resonates so clearly within you it is like the blossoming sound of a spoon tapped on a crystal goblet. For me, it was a quote attributed to Virgil "Fortune Favors the Bold".

I have often written in these articles that any success that I have attained is not so much because I am a great talent, nor am I particularly well connected. That is not to say that I am without talent (and any talent I do have should be attributed to God), but rather that the difference between my success and those who may be more talented who achieve less is simply that I took a risk. No one can admire your work if you keep it in the closet.

At some point you have to take responsibility for your personal art. Perhaps what you want is to be a weekend artist and use your art as a release from the pressures of your life. If that is the case, then you must make time to do that for yourself. If you are trying to make a living from your art, you have to take a different tack. Just making time for your art is not enough; you also have to get it out in front of people who need to see it. That is probably the hardest thing we face.

Before I talk about that, I want to discuss the idiotic stereotype of the starving artist. Yes, many artists can't make a living at their craft but the reason is not that there are not buyers for it; it is because they did not understand that by making the decision to make a living as an artist, they must also become a businessperson. Some of us must hire bookkeepers and assistants to keep us on track if numbers and paperwork bog us down. That's fine. That's part of the business. Like any other business, you may have to get a loan to get started.

Your art is not enough - it has to be seen. You have to do whatever it takes to get that done. Take responsibility. Talk to a bank. Talk to the SBA. Talk to women's groups or other organizations that give grants or mentorship. If you want it, you can have it. Many people who are less talented than you are have made it.

Now, on to showing our work, it is a hard line to draw between promotion that gets positive attention and being egotistical - but only in our minds. We are taught as children that talking about our accomplishments and ourselves in a positive light is "bragging". "Bragging" is bad. Oh please! We aren't children anymore!

There is a line between bragging and promotion. Promotion is a professional necessity. We have to put together press kits, press releases, and promotional materials to get our name out in front of Editors, Producers, Gallery Owners, etc. It is not bragging to talk about what you do and how you are unique. If you find it hard to write about yourself, then put money out to get a publicist to write the press releases for you. If you can't afford that, trade with another artist; you write about them and have them write about you.

Fortune Favors the Bold. Everything I have ever achieved in life is because I tried. No one has ever handed me something for free. I had to ask or follow up on leads for every column, article, design, book, and project I have ever done. There is no need to be pushy, but there is a need to be professional and consistent.

Want to write a book? Go to the bookstore and look at similar books. Find the names of four or five publishers and then write to ask them for their submission guidelines. Do the same with magazines. The guidelines will tell you how to submit your work.

Want to be shown in a gallery? Call a gallery and ask how you go about getting your work shown. Chances are you need good photography of your work. This means not sending in the fuzzy snapshot taken in your living room at night with the kid's toys in the background. If you don't have a good camera, barter with someone who does or pay to have your work photographed. Treat it as a business and your work will be repaid.

If you meet someone of influence in your industry, follow up with a handwritten letter to tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. Handwritten letters are a rarity these days and for that reason it will be remembered. At a recent trade show, instead of handing out business cards to everyone, I made twenty or so painted and stamped tags, cut slits in it for my business card and gave these to key people at the show. When they get home, they will remember my card over the dozens that they were given that week. Most people told me they would display the tag in their office - a continuing reminder of my work!

Finally, I would encourage you, as I often do, to write out goals. No matter how lofty or far off they sound, write it out. Two years ago I wrote out a goal about writing a reference book that I felt would be unique in the marketplace. Within months I signed a deal with the publisher that was my first choice in the marketplace.

Putting your goals in writing is like shouting your intention to the universe. It causes you to be aware of opportunities that you might have missed before. It brings synchronicity to everyday events.

When I bought a new car a few years ago, I had never seen a car like the one we bought. Within days it seemed like everyone on the road had the same car! The reason was that now I was in tune with the car, I knew what it looked like so it caught my eye when it hadn't before. Goals are like that. Once you write a goal down you are more likely to bring it up in conversation, and be aware of opportunities when they present themselves to you.

Fortune Favors the Bold. 

Inside you, maybe buried beneath many layers, you remember that voice that was so SURE and so powerful telling you that you ARE special and your work DOES have value. That is the voice of the bold. It is inside you. It is the real you that gets covered by convention and peer pressure. But, I know that you wouldn't be reading this newsletter if you didn't want to bring that voice out into the open. Go on; give it a try. Be Bold and watch for Fortune to favor you.


  1. My viewpoint of the "starving" artist. Many artists create their works of art and write works of literature not beacuse they want to make money. It is purely for art's sake, not from a commercial standpoint. If someone appreciates it and wants to buy it, so much the better. In order to survive, the smart artist can find a way to combine commercialism with their art. Otherwise, we had day jobs. Just my 2 cents (or is that 2 dollars now?) lol


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