TRANSCRIPT Ep. 294: Sleeping Beauty Complex


Miriam Schulman: The brain craves certainty, and if you’re uncertain, your customers are going to pick that up. When you’re confident, you’re be projecting certainty, which will make your customers feel more comfortable about buying from you.

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: Hey there, my friend, this is your curator of inspiration, Miriam Schulman. And welcome to the Inspiration Place. So if you listen to my podcast last week, you know that today I’m doing a marathon of podcast recording and I decided that the most important thing, my rocks of getting done, were my podcasts. You’re so welcome. And today what we’re focusing on is what I call Sleeping Beauty Complex. So this is something I talked about inside my book Artpreneur. And the reason why I’m bringing it up today is because during my boot camp, one of the things that came up over and over again were these questions. And they’re all kind of related. So the top three questions were number one, “What medium should I focus on?” Or “If I have several mediums, how should I know what I should focus on?”. Or number two, “Should I have it all figured out first before I start working on the marketing?”. So the figure it out could be what you’re focusing on, what your style is, maybe it’s building a website, anything. All right. And the third thing I have is “Should I wait to market until I’ve learned x, y, z?” And so two and three are a little bit different because two usually most people, when they say, “I haven’t figured it all out”, they’re talking about their art.

Or three, It’s like maybe they want to wait until they have a website done before they start marketing. Okay, so all three of these things I’m combining into the same category of people who are waiting to do things because they think they have to know how to do something first. But I’m going to tackle them one at a time because there are some nuances to them. Okay. And just as a little aside, if I end up talking fast, it’s because I’m trying to get these three podcasts done in one day. And last week’s podcast, it took me about two hours to write and research and another 40 minutes just to record it. So it was like three hours. And if I let the next two podcasts take me three hours each, I will be here till 9:00 at night doing nothing but podcasts, and that’s not what I want to do. So today’s episode is not scripted at all. I’m doing it in the way my friend Patty Lennon likes to do it, which is I just flip on the switch. I mean, I have a couple of bullet points written down, and I’m just letting the divine guide me in my production of this podcast. So the first thing I want to talk about is decision drama. And this was number one, I had one of the artists in the incubator. She’s, you know, she actually is still a student, but that’s not really the point of this, because whether you’re a student or you just like to work on a lot of different kinds of art, many of you have heard me say you’re going to be more successful if you focus on that one thing and known for that one thing. Okay?

And if you take a look at my most successful artist incubator clients, and I’m thinking off the top of my head, Patrick Guindon, he does mostly colorful florals. We have Priya Gore, she does wildlife art. We have Grace Marquez, who does underwater art. So each of them are known for one thing, and they focus on one thing. Now, the truth is, it doesn’t mean that you can’t experiment. So we know, for example, that Picasso went through many different styles. He had his rose period. He had his blue period. He was a Cubist. He did abstract expressionist style painting. He also did sculpture. So he did experiment throughout his life. And he didn’t say to his art dealer, you know, I’m working on this cubist thing and I haven’t got it all figured out yet so please don’t sell any of this art yet. Because by the time he figured it out, he was moving on to the next thing. By the time he figured out Cubism, he’s probably bored with it. He spent some a long time during Cubism figuring it out, and once he figured it all out, he moved on. And that’s why he switched from painting to sculpting.

He figured out his painting. He did enough paintings. He said, “Okay, I want to do sculpture now.” So not during any time did he say, “I can’t market this because my style is still evolving.” But here’s the difference. And this is what I want you to know. If you like to experiment with lots of different things, that’s fine. That’s what I bring up the Picasso example because he did, but he only worked on one thing at a time. And when it comes time to market your art, you don’t want it to look like a garage sale. You don’t want to look like, well, these are the records that I bought when I was really into Donny Osmond in the 70s. And now here are my Rubik’s Cubes that were my obsession in the 80s and during the 90s. I bought a lot of CDs and etc. Do you see what I mean? So when you go to present a collection, it should be only, and I’m just using this as a metaphor, let’s just say your record collection. So it’s okay if you have the Donny Osmond records mixed in with the Beatles, because now this is all a record collection. Does that make sense? What you want to do when you’re presenting your art, whether that’s online, in a portfolio or in person at an in-person art show or exhibit is that you want to act as a curator. You want to curate everything.

So there’s a common theme. The common theme, like I said, could be all records. The common theme could be all things from the 70s, like, okay, we have the Donny Osmond Records along with the Donny Osmond lunchbox, along with the glitter roller skates. I don’t know, I’m thinking back to my childhood. What are the things I liked. Charlie’s Angels? Who knows? So maybe it’s only your ceramics or it’s only abstracts, but within abstracts, maybe it’s only abstract landscapes could be a little more specific. All right. So it’s not going to be here’s one of these and one of those. Like Picasso he would look like such a hack if he went to his art dealer, “Well, here’s my cubist painting. Here’s my sculpture. Here’s my other painting. Here’s my rose painting. Do you want to represent me?” And our art dealer would be like, “No, because I have no idea how to talk about you. I have no idea how to market you because you’re all these different things. So how do I describe you to somebody?” So you pick one thing at a time. Now, the question I got during boot camp is like, “Well, how do I know what to pick first?” And here’s the thing. You don’t have to know. This is what I tell my kids. I always tell my kids “There are no wrong decisions.” They hate when I say that. By the way, when they’re asking me, what should I do? And I’m like, there’s no wrong decisions.

Make a decision and put your energy instead of putting your energy into decision making. Put your energy into making that decision the right one. Making decisions is hard and we waste so much time and energy thinking about it. We can also lose money when we take too much time to make up our minds and we miss opportunities. For example, one of my clients, Nancy, not her real name, of course, was trying to decide between two studio spaces in downtown Chicago and one space cost 750 per month, but was very inconvenient. It was a long drive from our house. The other was a short distance from her home, but it cost hundreds more. However, she was so indecisive for so long that she lost out on the lower priced space. Now, we make countless decisions all the time that help us move forward in our life. Whether that’s your art, like what genre to do, what medium to do, whether to your business, maybe which website to choose, what email marketing platform to choose. But when you don’t decide, you don’t risk failure. And that’s why a lot of us take a long time to decide. We think if we don’t make a decision, then we can’t make the wrong one. But the problem with not making a decision is also making a decision. It’s making a decision not to move forward. Now, you should keep in mind that your customers are also afraid of making mistakes. They’re afraid of buying the wrong kind of art.


So that’s why projecting a strong belief about yourself and your art will help your customers worry less. But here’s what I want you to know. If you’re an uncertain person. If you’re the kind of person who takes a long time to make decisions or avoids making decisions, you’ll be projecting that uncertainty which is going to repel your customers. The brain craves certainty, and if you’re uncertain, your customers are going to pick that up. When you’re confident, you’ll be projecting certainty, which will make your customers feel more comfortable about buying from you. Now, the other thing that I want to tell you is about owning your own decisions. So one of the reasons for that knee jerk response, like, I have to ask my whatever my husband, my spouse, my partner is, you think it lets you off the hook if you get buy in for somebody else that you believe if you fail, you can shift some blame to them. Oh, you told me you thought this was a good idea. But when you take 100% sovereignty over your decisions, you’ll also become more accountable for their outcomes, and you’ll be more determined than ever to succeed. So choose to believe that every decision you make is the right one. That includes choosing which medium to focus on. And then somebody says, well, what if I’m wrong? Then you make another decision. But the thing is, is that you make a decision and you commit to it fully, not half heartedly. Commit to it fully.

I’m going to talk next about the “Should I have it all figured out first? Should I have it all figured out?.” So this is something else I talk about in my book Artpreneur. It’s on page 102 and it’s in the chapter Embrace Your Inner Weirdo. But it is about, really that chapter is about finding a marketable style. And I put this step as step nine called Love Your Baby Now. So if you’re reluctant to market a style because it’s still evolving, in other words, you haven’t figured it all out yet. I call that Sleeping Beauty complex. So if you think about the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty, the young princess is raised by fairies who they scurry her off into the woods as a little baby to protect her from the evil curse. And we don’t see her next until she’s a fully grown woman. No pimples, no glasses, no braces. She completely skips the adolescent stage. Now, artists who have Sleeping Beauty complex, they want to hide their art away until it’s fully evolved or grown up. In other words, it’s all figured out. Why is this? You want to avoid criticism. You want to avoid negative feedback. However, the best way to know if your style is marketable is to take it out in the world and start marketing it. Yes, if it still has braces and glasses and pimples, don’t wait until your art baby, until your art business is fully grown up, until you start taking it out of the forest.

Love your baby now. Start loving your art now. Now, when you’re just starting out, I get it. You may not have a lot of fans to validate an idea, but if at least one person loves your art, you’ve got something. If there’s one, there’s usually more. So we were talking a few weeks ago about how email is like the cockroach of marketing. So here I am with cockroaches again. But fans are like cockroaches. If there’s one, there’s usually more than one. There’s two, there’s four. You just need to know and trust and believe that if at least one person likes your art, there’s more out there. And it will be true for lots of people. Here’s the thing though. It is a lot easier to validate your art when you bring it in person, because when you’re online, you don’t always know if you’re not getting feedback because perhaps the algorithms are hiding your posts, or if they don’t like it, you won’t know. If you go out in person, you’re going to know pretty quickly. When I’m at art fairs, people are not afraid to tell me when they don’t like something, and sometimes it’s because they don’t realize I’m the artist because I don’t look like a typical artist. They may think that maybe I’m another customer, so in front of each other they might—I remember I’m thinking one particular example, these two oldish ladies and I say oldish because they were probably the age I am now, but at the time I thought they were older ladies.

One was saying, I don’t like these lemons, and the other was like, no, I don’t either. And right in front of me. And you know what? It’s okay. It was good feedback. Now, does that mean because one person doesn’t like your art that you should dismiss it? Absolutely not. However, if you do these shows and you’re in front and by shows, I’m talking about ones where there’s enough traffic to really validate your ideas, you will find out much faster which things people like in general, which things people don’t like in general. Which things sell. So people are going to vote a lot more of their dollars than they are with their comments, and then you’ll know what to do more of. Now, if you’re asking people for feedback, you got to want to say it in a confident way. Because I see this all the time with artists in their emails. They’ll post a picture in their email and they have a way of posting it and talking about it, where it’s not even the exact words they use. It’s almost like a pretty girl with bow. So it might be a nice looking art, and they may even say pretty words, but you can smell their desperation so you can kind of smell if they have an attitude. Like, what do you think about my art? Instead of this is my art. So if you’re doing it in a way where people can tell you’re apologizing for it and that you are insecure about your art, you definitely will get more negative feedback than if you communicate in a way that’s very confident.

So the more you communicate with confidence, the more easily you’ll sell your art and your ideas no matter what you’re creating. How you feel about yourself. How you feel about what you’re making will definitely impact your results. That’s why what we talked about last week with rocks first really getting things done and how that impacts your self trust, how that impacts your confidence really matters. All right. So I want to review a couple of things that are in my book right now about what you need to believe to be a successful artist about your art. So I already said before, in terms of which medium should you start with? Pick one, just go with it and go with it and work on it and work on it hard until you can’t do any more with it. And if you’re wrong about that being successful, then change. But about having it figured all out. What you need to do is embrace that vulnerability of not having it figured all out. You need to embrace vulnerability every step of the way while you’re developing that signature style. When you’re developing your style, when you’re figuring it out.

Sure, it’s okay to sprinkle a little bit of spice from your other influences. That’s fine, but you do want to combine it in a new way so that you are more original. Okay, so let’s wrap up. What I want you to know, my friend, is there’s never been a better time to sell art on your own. Outside of the traditional gallery system, the art world gatekeepers who used to decide what was worthy of being featured are being pushed aside by the internet. And now anyone with a laptop and a dream can make a thriving living from their art. And that’s so groundbreaking. I can’t say it enough. Anyone can make a thriving living from their art. And I know people say to me, But Miriam, what about talent? Sure talent matters, but really, your mindset and your marketing matter more if you’re hiding your style, if you’re hiding your art away, waiting for it to grow up to be a beautiful princess before you bring it out, you’re going to make less money. Let the world pay you while you’re figuring it out. Your style is going to be evolving your entire life. That’s why I brought up Picasso. His style continued to evolve. He wasn’t still making the rose paintings or blue paintings at the time that he passed. So why not make money along the way now? Can you imagine what it would feel like to be earning a sustainable living from your art, your collectors, the people who fall in love with your work? They don’t care if you’re famous.

They collect your art because they feel a connection to you. No fame required. And when I hear people say, I just need to know how to do x, y, z and then I’ll be ready or I need to figure it out first, or I’m waiting for the perfect time. Here’s the thing you’ll never feel ready. Readiness is not a feeling. So many artists get caught up in wanting to get it all perfect that they never actually get it going. And what they don’t realize. There are only a few things you need to do to build a thriving art business. Now I talk about this in my book Artpreneur. But if you’re not a reader and or you already listen to an audible, I invite you to take my free masterclass. How to Sell More Art. You do not have to be insta famous to make this work. You don’t have to have it all figured out to make this work. To join me on my free masterclass, go to All right, my friends, thank you so much for being with me here today. I’ll see you the same time, same place next week. We’ll be talking about power words, all the words you need to know for your website. So until then, stay inspired. Bye bye, my friend.

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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