THE INSPIRATION PLACE PODCAST
Well, hello. This is your host, artist Miriam Schulman, and you’re listening to episode number 93 of the Inspiration Place podcast. Today, we’re talking all about the three major mindset shifts you need to make. Whether that’s to create art or to sell it, you got to get out of your own way.
Before we dive in today’s topic, I want to address current events because I know that if you’re listening to this episode while it goes live, there may be some heavy things on your mind right now. There are always heavy things going on. But right now in 2020, we have two very heavy topics. The first, of course, is COVID, the pandemic that’s a global issue, and all the repercussions from that. It’s weighing on our hearts right now. It’s truly heartbreaking. And the second is what’s happening here in the US.
I know many of you are having trouble focusing on anything else right now. And some of the artists that I coach have even gone as far as to share with me that they worry that it’s frivolous to be focusing on art when there’s so much suffering in the world. There are so many other topics that are heavy, like racism.
So what I want to offer to you is that as artists, we have a role to play in all of this. I firmly believe art is a connector. Art brings people together. Art is a healer. Art can be a way to move people and spread a message that conveys your beliefs in social justice, in illness, in war, in political unrest. Art does have the power to do this, but it also has the power to make people feel comfortable, and it has the power to make people feel uncomfortable.
And you as the artist, you have the choice about how you want your art to make others feel. So either way, which other traction you choose, your art has a role in all of this. So your art is important. And it’s important now as it always was. So if you’re doubting if now is the time to focus on your art, that’s exactly why this conversation today is so important. What often stands in the way of struggling artists are these types of emotional triggers, such as doubt and fear about what you need to do. And all that doubt leads to confusion and overwhelm.
Now, the artists who do succeed have figured out how to plan for success. That’s why planning is so important. You need the right strategies, and you can’t be doubting your next moves. So if you aren’t sure where to start or what to do next for your art business, for marketing your art, I do have a time-tested process you can follow to get unstuck. We’re going to talk a lot about those mindset shifts that you need to make today, and about what’s holding you back.
But if you want my personal help to help you move forward, you can schedule an absolutely free 20-minute session with me. I call it my Passion to Profit planning session. Obviously, I don’t have time to talk to every single person who wants a session with me, which is why you have to apply. Go to schulmanart.com/biz. That’s B-I-Z. We’ll put the link in the show notes. If you don’t qualify for the strategy sessions, nothing to feel bad about. I will give you alternative action steps through email, and I’m the one who personally over sees that. So I can’t wait to hear from you.
Okay. Let’s get going with today’s show. In today’s episode, you’ll discover how you’re holding yourself back, the three major mindset shifts you need to make to sell more art… also to make more art, to be honest… and how to start recognizing these unhelpful thoughts, so you can change them. What I found over the last 20 years as working as an artist, and over the past few years coaching artists is that, marketing and selling your art has a lot less to do with specific strategies. And by that, I mean the latest social media craze, or which is the best print-on-demand site, and a lot more to do with how you manage your mind.
Marketing, selling, keep adding to the list, painting and creating art, they’re mental games. You’ve got to manage your thoughts to be successful at it. And really so many times, the difference between a successful artist, a profitable artist, and someone who’s struggling, in other words, the thriving versus the starving artist, it comes down to your attitude. I know that sounds really trite, but it’s 100% true.
Of course, there’s lots of tips, tools, tactics, and strategies that make the whole process faster and easier, and you know I’ve talked about them a lot on this podcast, and they are part of my Passion to Profit framework. But if you haven’t managed your mind, you’ll still struggle. If you’re struggling to market and sell your art successfully, you have to recognize that it might not be how your website is set up, or your Instagram feed, or any of those external things. It might be that your brain is the bottleneck that’s preventing you from reaching new levels of success.
If you think you can’t succeed because of the current circumstance… and you know what I mean by that, that cannot be named… and that idea, that thought that you can’t succeed is your belief, that will become truth for you. And I don’t mean that in a woo sort of way. I mean, because you will show up in a way, and your brain will look for evidence to make that true for you.
Here’s what I mean. Artists who give off because they believe it’s not appropriate to be selling art right now, they send fewer emails and create less posts. In fact, some of them aren’t sending anything out now at all. Less emailing, and less posting, and less marketing means you’re going to have fewer sales. If you’re afraid to sell, you’re not going to sell. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Meanwhile, there are many artists who are not scared, even now, and they’re showing up bigger and better than before. For example, here’s my friend I want to tell you about. Instead of complaining and bemoaning the cancellations of her profitable art festival circuit, Texas artist, Heidi Lowe shared with me that the online versions of these shows are generating huge interest in her art. She’s receiving emails from collectors who are interested in commissioning her to create showcase artworks for their homes for thousands of dollars.
Could you imagine if she had missed out on those opportunities because she was too scared to market right now? She loves this new opportunity created right now by the current environment, because things are moving online. She no longer has to schlep her art cross-country from Texas to Florida, and she can sell from home.
Let’s talk a little bit more about how this becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because people talk about this with law of attraction, but there’s really brain science behind it. There’s science behind it. If you feel confident and certain that you’re going to sell, and so you are sending out those emails and you’re confidently putting yourself out there, you will. The more confidently you communicate, the more art you’ll sell. And by the way, it never works the other way around. Meaning, you won’t sell more art by staying quiet or waiting it out, whatever that means.
So if you’re asking yourself when will this current situation end, you are asking yourself the wrong question. The right question to be asking right now is, how to continue, how to pivot and even thrive, how to take the reins of your destiny and take control of your art business. If you’ve been selling in person, it’s time to up your game and start communicating more frequently online. It’s more important than ever to get out of your own way and stop telling yourself why it won’t work. You can be a more successful artist.
There are lots of unhelpful thoughts that come up for us around selling our work. But I want to go over the three most common ones today that I see over and over again when I work with my clients and when I talk with artists.
Mindset problem number one, let go of perfectionism. The first mindset block, and perhaps the most common one is perfectionism; waiting for everything to be just right before you market or sell your art. Now, even if you think you’re not a perfectionist or you don’t identify as one, the way to recognize if this really is your problem is if you say to yourself, something that kind of sounds like, “I’m not ready yet, because,” dot, dot, dot, dot. Whatever you’re telling yourself after the because, that’s a limiting belief, and that’s a thought that you should probably think about changing.
I have a client who’s been working with me for a while in my Artist Incubator program. And in that program, I teach that one of the ways to be more marketable is to develop your signature style. What I mean by that is you really can’t be painting like your teacher. Like you really can’t be making Miriam Schulman’s and then market it. The artist I was working with took it to mean that she shouldn’t her market at all, until she figures out her style or the style she wants to be known for, whatever that means.
That’s perfectionism talking, because even the greatest artists, they never had just one style. Van Gogh didn’t have one style, Picasso didn’t have one style, even Monet didn’t have one style. They worked, and they worked, and they worked until they found something. But that didn’t stop them from putting it out there from the beginning.
So many of us want to get it all perfect before we do anything. And do you know why? It’s because we don’t want to be rejected. We want it perfect before we show our work to anyone, until it’s perfect, but that’s not how marketing works. The only way you can figure out your style is to keep putting it out there, and in a big way. Ask people to collect it and see how they respond. You have to keep painting, and you have to keep marketing those paintings.
Because here’s the thing. It’s not just about finding your style in a vacuum, it’s about finding a style that is both marketable and that collectors relate to. And the only way to figure that out is to put your art out there for sale. Instagram likes don’t count. I mean, they kind of count, but people don’t really put their money where their mouth is until they take out their wallets. And that’s what you are looking for them to do. That is like a vote for your style.
You’re not going to find out what works by staying small and keeping your art under wraps. Perfectionism is such an important topic that I dedicated an entire episode to it. In episode number 34, I interviewed therapist Rebecca Bass-Ching about what perfectionism costs us. And here is what she had to say.
We’re finding that this is something that is deeply connected, not just to not making the art and people not completing things, but perfectionism is impacting people’s well-being, physical and mental health. Perfectionism shows up in a couple ways in work. I see it in two ways. So it usually stereotypically shows up as someone who’s a workaholic, it’s never done, and they’re always working to the bone. But perfectionism also shows up in procrastination, in under-functioning and not starting.
The perfectionist does not want to put anything out there before it’s perfect, with a capital P. And she calls herself a perfectionist, but it’s really a fancy name for fear. Perfectionists want everything to be perfect, because they believe that if it’s perfect they won’t be rejected. But that isn’t even true. The truth is, when you do arrive at your signature style, it will be marketable because some people will love it and others will hate it. In order to be successful, you have to be vulnerable. You have to bear your true soul.
Love me or hate me. There’s no money in the middle. And let’s face it. If you’re a peach, you could be the juiciest peach on the tree, but not everyone likes peaches. Some people don’t like eating fuzzy fruit. So the perfect peach will still get rejected by a peach hater.
Now your art doesn’t have to be perfect, and your marketing does not have to be perfect either. I’m always encouraging my artist clients to take imperfect action now, take inspired action because done is always better than perfect. Get that imperfect art out there and get that imperfect email out.
Mindset number two, stop indulging in overwhelm. Another common mindset problem I see that holds artists back from selling more art is that they indulge in overwhelm. Notice I said indulge, because you do have a choice. Overwhelm is an optional thought.
I tell my artists and those who take advantage of the Passion to Profit strategy calls, that if I could program their brains like in the movie The Matrix… great movie, by the way… so if I could program your brain to follow all my strategies, absolutely to a T, you would have no trouble selling your art. The problem is that your human brain is designed to keep you safe.
So naturally, doubt and fear will get in your way. And when you have fears and doubts, you will behave in one of two ways. This is what I see. Either you’ll do massive amounts of research, I call this procrast learning, and discover all kinds of strategies you could do. Which means, you will be so stuck with your panties in a bunch because you’ll be working on TikTok, and working on Instagram, and doing Insta Stories and IGTV. What about Twitter? And how about YouTube? And then maybe you should start an Etsy shop. Or what about Saatchi or Fine Art America? So you’ll learn all kinds of things you could be doing and you’ll soak it up like a sponge, but all this information will just leave you spinning even more because you still won’t know what to do first.
The other way I see this doubt and fear showing up is some people just shut down. This leads to other types of procrastination. Here are some of the ones that I’ve seen. Procrast cleaning. Amy Porterfield shared that in our interview together. Procrast snacking. That’s one I’m guilty of, procrast snacking. And here’s another one I like, procrast caffeinating. That’s when you tell yourself, you’ll get started after you’ve had that cup of coffee. And by the way, those who shutdown, maybe they will procrast to whatever for a while, but they usually end up doing nothing.
So this may feel like overwhelm, the unknowingness. It is a vicious cycle. The fear leads to doubt, which leads to confusion, which leads to overwhelm, which leads to inaction. When you get overwhelmed, the easiest thing to do is nothing, because if you don’t know what you’re supposed to do first, of course you’re not going to do anything. If you don’t know what to do, if you can’t decide which path to take or even where to start, of course you’re going to do nothing. So you shouldn’t beat yourself up. It’s not that you’re lazy or you have bad time management. Most of the time, it’s because you don’t have a solid strategy and you have not managed your mind.
Now, the more you go looking for more information, you’re going to have more options. So if you’re always Googling things, looking for advice, this is for you. But instead of giving you clarity, all that research is just going to add to your confusion. Now, as I mentioned before, overwhelm is a choice, which means you can make a conscious decision to do something different. Usually, that means taking action.
I found that overwhelm and taking action cannot coexist. Let me repeat that. Taking action and overwhelm cannot coexist; even imperfect action, especially imperfect action, because that’s the only way you know it works. Just make a choice and move forward. That’s the only way to get out of overwhelm.
Again, I have a whole episode on Overcoming Overwhelm. It’s episode number 58, and I’ll make sure I’ll link that in today’s show notes. And today’s show is episode number 93. So you’ll find everything I’ve talked about today at schulmanart.com/93.
Mindset number three is let go of scarcity thinking. The final mindset I want to talk to you about today that holds people back and it might be holding you back is scarcity thinking. And this shows up in lots of different ways. I see it show up in my beginning art students as an unwillingness to invest in quality art supplies. Or if they have the quality supplies, they want to wait until they get better before they use them. So they hoard the good supplies. But they’re holding themselves back from improving by using the cheap paper, and the cheap brushes and so on. It’s like saving the good China or the good bottle of wine, and then you never end up using it at all.
Well, that’s the hoarding part of it. But what’s worse, if you’re hoarding the good stuff, it’s like never cooking with good and fresh ingredients. Like instead of using fresh fruit, cooking from canned goods, and then wondering why it doesn’t taste as good as fresh.
So that’s why it can be really insidious. Poor supplies often lead to poor results, creating a vicious cycle where artists think they aren’t good enough. And by the way, that can be so easily fixed. It couldn’t be so frustrating for me when I see them not investing in the right supplies or in investing in teachers who can teach them techniques. Just trying to teach yourself doesn’t always work. Yes, it’s free, but you’re wasting your art supplies sometimes if you are not learning the skills you need to move forward.
Now when it comes to marketing art, it looks like this. The artist who will spend hours doing tedious computer tasks that they could either be outsourcing to another human or investing in a tool, a computer that could automate the process for them. For example, there are many tools that will make your email marketing efforts so much easier.
I use Leadpages as well as Mailchimp. And they’re not free. I don’t use the free version of either one. Leadpages is only $15 a month. But an artist who is suffering from scarcity thinking, she will hold on to every single dollar. It’s such a shame because investing in something like $15 a month could save so much time and help them make even more money. If you don’t believe that you can make money from your art, you will hold yourself back from investing in your career, and that will ultimately hurt you.
The other way this scarcity mentality shows up is with artists who are constantly giving their art away for free. Oh my gosh, or even taking commissions for free or very cheap because they’re afraid the other person can’t afford it, or they are in too intimidated to ask them, or they feel it’s inappropriate at this time.
And you know what? That’s your scarcity mindset talking. I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter lately around the idea that it’s difficult for artists because of the pandemic, or it’s going to be an economic recession and it’s going to be hard to make a living, or from people who feel it’s inappropriate to be selling. And this is a limiting belief that can really hurt you.
And the truth is, it’s not necessarily true. If you look back, even during the Great Depression there were working artists. The Great Depression was the first time in US history that artists began addressing politics in their art and using their art to influence society. Artists organized exhibitions on social and political themes, such as poverty, lack of affordable housing, anti-lynching, anti-fascism, and worker strike. There were such beautiful things that came out of art at this time, and people paid for this art.
Artists painted their experiences from World War II, World War I, the Great Depression, the rise of Nazism. There’s also wonderful art from the Spanish flu. Some of the most famous painters include Edvard Munch who painted his anxiety, The Scream, and Salvador Dali and other surrealists as well. Gorgeous art, successful art, coming out of that time.
And in every recession, there are still people willing to pay for art. Just anecdotally, I mentioned Heidi earlier, she is receiving commissions in the multiple thousands of dollars right now, this spring. So you should know that. But I also know other artists selling their art right now, and they’ve been selling this entire time that we’ve had these stay-at-home orders.
So I mentioned Heidi earlier. But another example is my good friend and another guest of this podcast, Blenda Tyvoll. She shared with me recently that she’s continuously selling her art over the past few months, and she’s been getting $500 in print sales each and every month this spring on Fine Art America. And that only makes up a fraction of her art sales.
By the way, just so you know, I mentioned the Inspired Insiders’ Club earlier, where in June we’re doing 30 days of portrait painting. That’s going to be watching me do my process. But members last month got treated to a tutorial of how to list their art in Fine Art America that Blenda hosted for us. And when you join, you can actually access that video immediately.
So if you want more information on the club, which is a membership site for those who want to become a better artist, but I also once a month meet with them, I answer art questions, I give feedback in art as well as answer questions about marketing. So all those things. It’s the best way, the best value really of getting access to me. Go to schulmanart.com/join. It may not be open for enrollment when you’re listening to this recording, but you can join the wait list at any time.
By the way, at Blenda’s interview was one of my first interviews. It’s episode number two, schulmanart.com/2. I’ll be sure to link to that in the show notes as well.
Don’t second-guess who can and cannot afford your art, or whether or not people can buy or not buy your art right now. Just assume everybody can. People who can will. And this reminds me of a really good story. Excuse my poor French pronunciation. Ambroise Vollard was a French art dealer. And I went to an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So he was an art dealer. I believe that was the theme, like the art that he dealt.
So the story I learned when I went to that show, this art dealer by the way, was regarded as one of the most important dealers in French contemporary art at the beginning of the 20th century. He was the force behind the first exhibitions of Cezanne, Picasso, Renoir and many, many other important French painters.
But as the story goes, Vollard mounted a huge exhibition of the then unknown artist Cezanne. He bought up 150 of his canvases and put on an exhibition. So Vollard was minding the gallery when a bearded man wearing dirty overalls entered a shop. He thought the man might be a poor farmer, but the man picked out three of the most important pieces in the Cezanne collection and bought them outright.
Who was the man in overalls? Oh, it was Claude Monet. He just hadn’t changed out of his gardening clothes. Just because he was an artist didn’t mean he didn’t buy art himself. So that would also be a false assumption that people make, “Oh, only artists look at my art.”
Part of developing an abundant mindset as an artist is valuing art of other artists, and being willing to invest in it. I know that I collect art by other artists. Ashley Longshore, who is arguably one of the most successful artists I’ve had on this show… I think she’s episode number one… she collects other art as well. So just because you’re an artist doesn’t mean you don’t collect art.
So the moral of the story, you don’t get to decide what other people can and can’t afford. But you do get to decide the mindset you’re going to approach selling with. Meaning, keep your brain out of other people’s wallets. Now, if any of this I talked about today sounds familiar, you are not alone my friend. I see these limiting beliefs all the time in my clients who work with me in the Artist Incubator coaching program, which is why I wanted to talk about it today. It’s something that comes up again and again.
The key to shifting these mindsets is to start recognizing them. You want to develop a level of mindfulness that will allow you to question these thoughts. Literally, just ask, “Is this true?” You have to completely figure out your signature style before you can start selling your art.
Nope. It can be difficult at first to recognize these patterns on your own. They’re like ruts in the road. Once you’re in them, it’s hard to get out. And blind spots are called blind spots for a reason. They’re things we don’t see in yourself.
But ultimately, you’ll start recognizing when you’re having these thoughts that are getting in the way of your progress. You might even start to be able to just smile and catch yourself, and shake your head and say, “Oh man, look what my brain was trying to get away with just now.” That’s why coaching can be so powerful. The coach is outside your head, helping you see the way you’re thinking, can help you spot when one of those limiting beliefs is cropping up and keeping you stuck.
Coaching is not an easy button, but it can be a shortcut because a coach like me has walked the walk, not just talk the talk. I’ve walked this path so many times before, both for myself and with so many other artists. Group coaching is also very powerful for this reason. Group coaching helps you see your behavior in somebody else. And it’s just hilarious how in your mind you might be telling them to do such and such, and then suddenly you realize, “Hey, that’s actually what I need to be doing myself.”
Anyone who’s ever been to a Weight Watchers meeting has seen this in action. Once you recognize, “Hey, I’m procrastinating on that thing because I want everything to be perfect,” or, “I just spent the last hour Googling more information because I’m overwhelmed or I’m confused,” then you can redirect yourself.
Mindset is so important, which is why actually for my Artist Incubator program, I just hired a life coach to help me out with the program. It’s a supplement to the Artist Incubator program, so they get me and they get life coaching. So inside the Artist Incubator program, artists learn the right strategies to take and develop the mindset they need to get there.
So if you’re intrigued and you want to join a motivated group of artists who will lift you up and surround yourself with positivity, if you’re tempted, if you’re ready to take control of your own destiny and make money from your art in your home, then I invite you to apply for the Artist Incubator program. Inside the Artist Incubator, I teach my Passion to Profit planning system.
And once you have these plans in place, you’ll be able to create and market a body of art that your collectors will drool over. You’ll generate consistent income from your artwork, no matter what the economic climate, and you’ll dedicate more of your precious time to actually painting and less time indulging in confusion and overwhelm.
If you recognized yourself in some of our mindset talk today and you think some coaching might help you get out of your own way to become more successful, I would love to talk to you. To apply for one of these free strategy sessions, just go to schulmanart.com/biz.
That’s B-I-Z. Based on the answers to your questions, if you’re a right fit, then I’d love to talk to you. And those 20 minutes, you’ll get tons more strategy from me. And if not, I’ll give you a personalized email with what your next best steps are.
Okay. So that was a lot today. Next week, we have a really special guest. I can’t wait to spill the beans on that. Trust me, you do not want to miss it. Make sure you hit the Subscribe or Follow button in your podcast app. And if you’re feeling extra generous, please leave me a review on Apple Podcast to tell us what you love most about this show. Here’s how. Search for the Inspiration Place, scroll down till you see ratings and reviews, hit five stars, write a review. And most importantly, don’t forget to hit the Send button.
By the way, if you add your Instagram handle at the end of the review, mine’s @schulmanart, if you put that in there, I’ll even give you a shout out over on my Instagram Stories. All right, guys, thanks so much for being with me here today. I hope you have an inspirational week. And I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. Make it a great one.
Subscribe & Review in iTunes
Are you subscribed to my podcast? If you’re not, I want to encourage you to do that today. I don’t want you to miss an episode. I’m adding a bunch of bonus episodes to the mix and if you’re not subscribed there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on those. Click here to subscribe in iTunes!
Now if you’re feeling extra loving, I would be really grateful if you left me a review over on iTunes, too. Those reviews help other people find my podcast and they’re also fun for me to go in and read. Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. Thank you!