TRANSCRIPT: Ep. 241 Why Marketing and Mindset Trump Talent with Miriam Schulman


Miriam Schulman:
Everybody was born with creativity inside of them. That is what humans are. We are creative people. We are co-creators with the world. So from the very first finger painting, you were an artist as a toddler. Your artwork wasn’t accompanied by the mind chatter that might have convinced you that you weren’t good enough. You painted because it brought you joy. There was no doubt in your mind that you could do it. Now you may have as you got an older started to notice that other children got more praise than you did when they showed off their art. And then in time maybe people have told you that you’re good or not so good or whatever. And in time you began to believe you couldn’t be an artist and you started to believe that talent myth that some people were born with talent and others weren’t. But the truth is, there’s something else going on here, and that is you need to have the skills to get results and to have great skills, you need to practice those skills. So the child who starts off as a clumsy artist can acquire the skills they need. And the longer that child is willing to work at it, the better they get.

Speaker 2:
It’s The Inspiration Place podcast with artist Miriam Schulman. Welcome to The Inspiration Place podcast, an Art World Insider podcast for artists by an artist where each week we go behind the scenes to uncover the perspiration and inspiration behind the art. And now your host, Miriam Schulman.

Miriam Schulman:
Well, hello there. This is Miriam Shulman. You’re curator of inspiration and you’re listening to episode number 241. I am so excited that you’re here. Today, we are talking about how marketing and mindset trump talent. And I can’t wait to dive into it. I’ve put a bunch of notes down that I’m going to dive into. But before I do that, I just wanted to let you know that we are two weeks from the release of the book Artpreneur, which means it’s going to be in the stores. Now, if you live in the US, guess what? And money’s tight. Guess what? You can request your library to carry it for you. Did you know libraries will order any book you want? So go to your local library and ask them to order Artpreneur by yours truly, Miriam Schulman. And they’ll make sure you get it. And you’ll be first on the list as soon as it comes in. I used to do that all the time. So there you go. Now, if you do have a little bit of extra extra, then invest in the book. And here’s why. I’ve put together a juicy bonus package worth way more than the cost of the paperback or the Kindle or the Audible, however you choose to enjoy your books.

So to get that, go to and you can actually start enjoying many of the bonuses right away. There is the Artpreneur Appendix that we’ve put together for you so you don’t have to waste time looking for best resources. And there’s a 12-video series where I’m working inside my journal. There’s basically one art journal spread per chapter where you will come away with inspiration and some art viewer tips and a little behind-the-scenes from each chapter and sometimes I even read from the book. So you’ll totally love that. All right. So once again, that’s and there’s other bonuses I haven’t talked about. You’ll find all that on the page. What you do is you order the book from wherever you want to so that can be your local bookstore. If you’re worried about international shipping, has free wide international shipping or if Amazon’s the easiest for you, you can do that. Once you order, grab that order number off of your receipt or off of the email you get from the retailer. So you can put that back into the form. So we’ll ask for your name, your email and your order number. There is a human, by the way, who checks the order numbers to make sure that they look kosher, and then we’ll make sure you’ll get all of those juicy bonuses. We can’t wait for you to enjoy them. They’re my present for you. And just a thank you. Thank you to you for supporting the book. And yeah, that’s it. Okay. So now on with the show.

Okay, my friend. So what I’m talking about is something that has come up a lot, a lot, a lot during the interviews as well as from the trolls. So the trolls ask very good questions sometimes. They’re not always completely wrong. The main troll question I get and that also comes up sometimes in interviews is what about talent? Because in my book I say, anybody can do this. And so that creates the objection. Well, Miriam, what about talent? And I also hear similar things from the trolls or trolls on my social media post will say things like, Well, you just have to focus on being a good artist. That’s all you have to do. And unfortunately, that’s not true because we’ve all seen in every market and every industry, less talented people rise to the top and more talented people flail. And that’s not just in the arts. There are people who maybe are, I don’t know, life coaches, business coaches, actors, anything, anything. And they may look around and say, wait a minute, she’s not even that talented. She’s not even that great. She’s not even that smart or whatever. So what makes the difference? Why do some people rise to the top and other people don’t? And the difference is marketing and mindset.

I would even argue that mindset is probably even more important than the marketing because your marketing won’t work that well if you don’t have a strong mindset behind it. That is what we talked about in the Choose to Believe episode from last week. So we’ll make sure we link to it. But when you need to come from that confident place of belief in order not to give up and to feel so strongly about your message that you truly believe the world will miss out. And that’s why when people troll on my Facebook ads, it doesn’t bother me one bit because I know that they’re missing out. And actually, I’m going to just take a little bit a little moment to dissect that. And I also, by the way, yes, of course, I have an episode all about how to deal with trolls, critics and haters. I think you would really like that. So we’ll link to that in the show notes as well. But what I’ve noticed a lot is when I’ve actually taken the time to click through on trolls profiles, and it’s very easy to do on Instagram because when I click on them, I can see what kind of art they do, how many pieces of art they have, how many followers they have, do they even have a website? And sometimes I’ve even broken my own rule.


So I made a rule a long time ago, back in the nineties that in the infancy of. Social media, not even social media. This is pre-social media when I was selling on eBay. So I made a rule a long time ago not to fight with strangers on the internet and not just strangers, not to fight with people on the Internet. But sometimes I wouldn’t say I’m fighting, I’m engaging. Sometimes I’ll engage and I’ll ask them, Hey, John. And by the way, nine times out of ten, the troll is a dude. Sorry, there’s a few female trolls, but most of the ones trolling on my stuff are dudes. Hey, John, where can I see your art? Oh, I don’t have a website. Or where do you sell your art? Oh, I don’t have a website. I’m still working on making it better. So that would make sense then, that you would post the remark under my ad to help artists that you just have to get better because your belief is that you’re not good enough and that’s why you’re posting this remark right now. You’re projecting. You’re projecting.There was a similar one that where somebody was obviously projecting where they said, Oh, this is such BS, it’s [inaudible]. Now I have such belief in myself because I’ve been selling my own art for over 20 years that that kind of remark doesn’t affect me. And then of course, when I click on over to these are not real names, of course, Jason’s profile, I can see, yeah, he’s just getting started and the stuff he’s making look all like copies of other people’s art and he’s clearly just starting out, which there’s nothing wrong with that. But that’s why he’s, he’s making those remarks. So it doesn’t affect me at all.

But the question about what about talent is a valid one, and it’s one that is definitely worth unpacking, which is why I wanted to talk about it today. So on talent does matter to some extent. So, for example, Michelangelo, very talented, no question. Also very good at marketing and very good at giving the people what they want. You know, the pope, he did whatever the pope wanted him to do. He didn’t say, well, I am a true artist, therefore I’m not going to paint the Sistine Chapel, because that is not what I feel like painting, because that’s the other churlish comments that get a real artist only paints what they want. And it’s not true. Michelangelo did whatever the pope wanted, even when he asked him to paint the Sistine Chapel. He didn’t say, Hey, Pope, I’m a sculptor. I don’t do murals. I’m not a muralist. Now, he did it, so. There’s that. And he did make a lot of money. There are research that shows that if you convert the amount of money that Michelangelo had into today’s dollars, he would be considered a millionaire.

And I would thank Jeff Goins, his book, Real Artists Don’t Starve for that research. Excellent book, by the way. We’ll link to that in the show notes, too. So moving on about the talent, why does talent not matter so much? A lot of people like to think about Van Gogh, who did none of his own marketing in his lifetime. But here’s the truth about Van Gogh. So Van Gogh’s brother, Theo, was an art dealer. Many people know that. And he maybe I think he sold one of Van Gogh’s paintings during their lifetime. So Theodor Van Gogh, Vincent Van Gogh’s brother, passed away of syphilis right after. Vincent Van Gogh passed away. And so his widow, who had a young son who was actually named after Vincent, had a young son, and she was left with the business of her husband. So her name, Josephine Van Gogh. She took it upon herself to market Van Gogh’s artwork. So there was a shit ton of marketing behind Van Gogh that made him into the famous artist you have today. And that legacy was continued to nurtured and built upon with her son, Vincent Van Gogh. I believe that he has an interest. I don’t remember exactly. He has an interest in the Van Gogh Museum and the legacy and building that legacy. But she was very, very strategic, very, very smart in how she built his career and nurtured his career.

Okay, and I want to give another example of how artists market themselves. So the artist Alice Neel, who was born in 1900 and died in 19, I believe, 84. She died in the 1980s and recently they did a huge retrospective of her art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which definitely establishes her in the canon of art history. I have done other episodes about her, and I believe I have some YouTubes about her as well so that’s definitely worth checking out and looking at her art. But I wanted what I wanted to share with you is that she was working in New York during the same time as the Abstract Expressionists, and she was working in a figurative style which was not in vogue at that time. But one thing she did that definitely helped elevate her career and was a very smart marketing on her part is she invited her art critic friends and her, I would say art world friends because they weren’t all critics. She would invite her art world friends to sit for portraits. And having these portraits, basically, of famous people in the art world helped elevate her visibility. So by the end of her life, she was not a starving artist either. She had a retrospective while she was alive at the Whitney, and I think that one was in the early 1980s.
That might have been the 1984 date that I’m thinking of. And she passed away shortly after the Whitney retrospective.

So that was marketing. And now I want to give a third example. So this is Rubens. So Rubens I’ve talked about in the past when I was talking about the importance of using publicity to market. Rubens was a Dutch artist, so in the Netherlands, and he was also a diplomat, so he was aware of what was going on politically and he knew that it would be very difficult to get his art out of the country unless he did some specific marketing. So what he did was he created etchings of his art and he had those distributed to. The royal families across Europe. So basically he was doing social posts. He was sharing social posts, or you could say sending postcards. So he was sending out these etchings across Europe, and that is how he got a lot of his commissions from the royal families was because of this marketing that he did. So if you want to think like a famous artist, marketing matters. Marketing matters and mindset matters. Because if you’re doing any of this marketing from the place of desperation rather than a place of confidence, it’s going to have an icky residue on it. Now, as an artist and an art instructor, I hear over and over again, “I wish I had your talent”.

And although I am really grateful to hear that compliment, I do believe that anyone can be an artist. I do. However, you need to develop the right mindset and learn the skills and techniques to get the results you want. Everybody was born with creativity inside of them. That is what humans are. We are creative people. We are co-creators with the world. So from the very first finger painting, you were an artist as a toddler. Your artwork wasn’t accompanied by the mind chatter that might have convinced you that you weren’t good enough. You painted because it brought you joy. There was no doubt in your mind that you could do it. Now you may have as you gotten older started to notice that other children got more praise than you did when they showed off their art. And then in time maybe people have told you that you’re good or not so good or whatever. And in time you began to believe you couldn’t be an artist and you started to believe that talent myth that some people were born with talent and others weren’t. But the truth is, there’s something else going on here, and that is you need to have the skills to get results and to have great skills, you need to practice those skills. So the child who starts off as a clumsy artist can acquire the skills they need. And the longer that child is willing to work at it, the better they get.

So that is why when my fourth-grade teacher imagine, so in fourth grade, how old are we in fourth grade? Eight. Nine. Something like that? Not maybe I was nine, so nine years old, something like that. So I was told I was an artist and I started believing in it. And I was practicing it because I believed I was good at it and I got better at it. Now, this is just how you learn and acquire any other skill such as tennis, bridge, knitting, musical instruments. This is something actually that Amy. This is something that Amy Chow talks about in her book Tiger Mothers is about how when you encourage it’s more than encourage, how when you force children to play musical instrument, they don’t like it in the beginning because they’re not good at it. But once you force them to practice, the philosophy is and by force, I don’t think she’s chaining them to the piano. But whatever discipline she’s using to practice, the more they practice, the better they get. And then they enjoy the instrument. So they enjoy it because they got good. And the only way you get good is if you practice. So this is true of art and this is of course true with your marketing as well. Some of my marketing is just so much better than it was. Ten years ago, five years ago, even two years ago, because of how much I practice it.

So it’s about knowing the proper techniques to create your art. It’s about knowing the proper techniques to market which brings me back. I mentioned the trolls, where they’re wrong. A lot of times I’ll get trolls saying you don’t need to learn gimmicks. And the truth is, I kind of again, there’s like sometimes there’s a seed of truth of what the trolls say. I’m not teaching social media gimmicks because I don’t believe in them. Anyone who’s been following me long enough knows that most of the techniques that you can use on social media, a lot of them can be flash in the pan and they will work for a short time, but sometimes they will stop working. The main thing you need to know is what is the fundamental marketing principles that are behind it. If you can apply it using social media, that’s great. Otherwise, just use traditional marketing. And the better you get at learning traditional marketing, the better you’ll be at selling. It won’t feel gimmicky to you, it’ll just feel authentic and real. So it’s about having proper techniques to create your art and also proper techniques for marketing. Nothing’s gimmicky about it. Look at Rubens sending out his etchings. And Van Gogh’s sister in law marketing the shit out of his art. So I just want to bring it back to the talent myth. So not everyone needs to be a child prodigy. You don’t need to be a child prodigy to eventually be a great artist or a great musician or a great writer or whatever it is you’re aspiring to do.

So let’s face it, there’s only a handful of child prodigies, and the media loves them. They love, love highlighting them. I’m laughing because my kids, when they were young, we listened to the public radio station WQXR, and they had what my kids used to call the bat hour when they would trot out like 10-year-olds and 12-year-olds who were playing like these exceptional sonatas and concerto, and they called it the Bat hour because it triggered them, it triggered them. They found it intimidating. I can’t say I blame them. I get triggered to buy figs. So anyway. Yeah. So the media loves to trot out the prodigies, and not all those prodigies end up being lifelong artists. Very few of them do. A lot of them who were those Tiger kids who were forced to play piano went on to medical school. But anyway, I digress. So here’s the thing. If you want to achieve fame, marginal claim, or just make a sustainable living or a hobby with your painting or dance, your music or sports, you’ve got to do the one thing, you’ve got to work at it, and then don’t give up. Even when it isn’t easy. And if you want to sell your art. And make a living from your art. Same thing. You work on marketing it and don’t give up. Even when it becomes uncomfortable and difficult.

So my mother was a professional dance teacher. She studied dance in college, but she would be the first to tell you that she was always the worst one in the dance studio. So how did she make it as a professional dance instructor? The answer is simple but maybe not obvious. She simply didn’t give up or get discouraged. She didn’t. And it’s like that Picasso saying, you know, it’s easy to be good when you’re young. It’s harder to be good when you’re old. And that’s the way I interpret that. I think actually Picasso’s intention behind that quote is that. He was trying at the time when he was trying to achieve that naive quality in his artwork that come so naturally to young people. So my daughter is a professional musician. She did show an early affinity for musical rhythms and music, but she did not begin her formal lessons in cello until the fifth grade, which is considered really late to begin classical music training, especially when you consider that Yo-Yo Ma was already playing at the Kennedy Center at age seven. But she didn’t let not being a child prodigy or getting a late start at cello discourage her. And now she actually is a middle school orchestra teacher and that’s what she’s doing this year. She has a leave replacement job. So she’s a full time music teacher in Westchester teaching strings.

I don’t know what she’ll be doing next year, but ever since she graduated music school, she’s had continuous employment doing these leave replacement jobs. So she has realized her dream of being a professional musician and her dream actually was to be or is to be a music teacher, not a performer. So she is living her dream. So how is she able to do this? She didn’t give up when things weren’t easy. She works incredibly hard. When she was in college and in high school, she spent her school vacations and her summers doing scales and technique to catch up. Meanwhile, the child prodigies in our neighborhood, which was a very, you know, very affluent New York suburb, they got bored of their musical instruments and moved on to other things by the time they reached high school, which is fine. Not everybody needs to have that dream. But what made her stand out above the rest is she held onto her dream and didn’t give up. So that’s why consistency of effort counts. Consistency is everything and commitment. Relentless commitment is so important. I also want to share a story about my son. So my son is he’s now 22. He lives in Israel. He is in the IDF. He, actually, I just heard that he tried out for the Special Forces unit. I’m not sure how I feel about that. If I want him to realize that dream or not.

That’s a hard thing. Having a kid in the army, being in the line of danger. However, he really wanted to be a top wrestler when he was in high school. And that is something else that he started off a little late. Because in the Midwest, in places like Wisconsin or places where not just the Midwest, but places where there are pockets of very enthusiastic wrestling kids, they start off very young. And my son didn’t start off until he was in middle school. So he had a lot of catching up to do. And in high school, he started going to the gym before school with my husband, with his father every morning to lift weights so that he could wrestle in college. And then he also after school, after his wrestling practice, he would go to a wrestling club to hone his skills. And he did this sometimes during the season and mostly during the off-season. So every time he’s testing his technique during training, he’s practicing. Some days go well, others don’t. But every day he learned he got better by putting in the time and the mindset and the techniques. So how did this end up for him? So. He was very disappointed that senior year he just missed out in winning sectionals. He came in number two and his mindset, his mental game basically got the better of him in that final, final round. But he did realize his dream of wrestling in college, so he didn’t get to the level of Division one.

He wrestled at NYU, which is Division three, but he was determined he did not give up and he trained over the summer instead of hanging out with his friends instead of going to summer camp. So this is something that you have to do to put in the effort. And any coach or athlete will tell you that what makes all the difference is the consistency of effort over the long run. He did not give up.

Now. I play tennis for fun and I haven’t found a place to play it yet in in New York City. I heard there are places to play it, but I haven’t played it yet. But I used to play it for fun when I lived in the suburbs and I was definitely not born with any special talent for it. And I also started very late. I didn’t learn to play until I was in my thirties, but you need lessons. So no one’s really born with tennis talent. It’s something that you develop over time. I didn’t just take one lesson and then now I’m no good or I’m good not good enough. I take lessons every week when I was playing during the summer so that I was good enough to enjoy the game. So imagine if I just shrugged my shoulders and said I couldn’t play tennis because I wasn’t born with tennis talent or I was too old to start.

But unfortunately, I hear that all the time from people who say they’d like to create art, but they don’t have any talent. Now, obviously, you’re not going to see me at the US Open or even leading the town tennis team. It’s not my dream to be even an amateur tennis player. Like, very good at that. So that’s not what I spend my time on. But that’s, you know, it’s because tennis is not my singular passion. But art is. Art is. So for tennis, I am good enough to play for the sheer joy of it. And for some people, that could be what it is for their art. They can just take classes enough just to feel good about their art. Maybe their paintings won’t be hanging in the museum, by the way, neither will mine. But that’s not the point. The process of painting makes them happy, and with a little patience and practice and perseverance, their art can make others happy as well. Now, for those of you who want to make a thriving living from your art, who already have confidence in your art, you need to develop confidence in your marketing and know that it matters. Know that this matters and that being awesome is not good enough. It’s not good enough just to be awesome. You have to be awesome. I mean good at your craft, you have to market it.

So that is what I’m offering to you for 2023. It is important to put in the marketing and develop the right mindset to be a thriving artist. And that is why I wrote the book Artpreneur, which of course you can get at You can order it there. Those of you who are not so sure you want to read it yet, make sure you get a free chapter. You can get the chapter one. Choose to believe And yeah, like I said at the beginning of the hour, if you live in the US, just go to your local library and ask them to order it for you. Of course, I would love to work deeper with you inside the Artist Incubator Coaching program. It’s a great time to join us at the beginning of the year. And if you haven’t already downloaded my free ebook, we have so many links. My God. So you can get those links in the show notes. This is episode 241. All right, everyone, thanks so much for joining me here today. I will see you the same time, same place next week. Until then, stay inspired.

Speaker 2:
Thank you for listening to The Inspiration Place podcast. Connect with us on Facebook at On Instagram @Schulmanart, and of course on


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