A Marketing Message from Art Publisher B. Eric Rhoads
A few weeks ago I visited the grave of Vincent Van Gogh, in the quaint little Northern French village of Auvers-sur-Oise, as part of our annual art cruise. We were walking the same streets and trails Van Gogh traveled and painted.
Van Gogh has become the model of the "starving artist." How many people have told you the life of an artist can't be a good one because it's such a struggle?
It's a lie.
Though adversity stimulates growth and life's problems do typically make us better people and artists, the idea that success in their lifetimes is not possible for artists is simply a lie. In that same town, artists such as Daubigny, Pissarro, and Corot were great successes, as were many artists around Normandy and Paris. Yet we hold on to this romantic notion that we as artists have to struggle.
The Church Van Gogh painted
What lies are holding you back as an artist?
We have all been held back by lies -- lies others have told us, lies we absorb, lies we tell ourselves. You can either choose to believe them and allow them to affect you, or you can choose to prove them wrong.
We all cling to the lies we've heard from family members, friends, teachers, and colleagues, yet those are the very thoughts that may be keeping you from achieving success. After all, it's a lot easier to give yourself an excuse for failure when it's common knowledge that an artist as great as Van Gogh had to struggle all his life.
It's time to bury the lies.
Vincent and Theo buried together
Last night I watched a movie called "Seven Days in Utopia," about a golfer who could not perform at his peak because of the voices in his head -- things he'd heard from his father, mother, teachers, and friends Those voices unknowingly interfered with his success. The premise of one scene in the movie was to focus on truths and to literally bury the lies. The golfer is instructed to write his epitaph, in order to help clarify his priorities. (I do this in my Marketing Boot Camp video.)
What are the critical voices in your head saying? Though we each have our own, here are some of the lies you may be holding on to:
- Artists never really make a lot of money.
- The life of an artist is filled with sacrifice.
- Artists are weird.
- Artists are social misfits.
- The artists who are rich had special advantages.
- Success is about who you know.
- No one wants my artwork, really.
- Being successful will prevent me from painting what I want.
- There is no room for more "greats."
- The only successful artists are modern artists.
- I have to put in my time and can't succeed till I'm older.
- I'm too old to get good.
- I don't deserve success.
- My parents were right, this art thing will never amount to anything.
- I'm an artist because it's what my parents wanted me to do.
- I could never sell enough paintings to quit my day job.
- There are so many artists who deserve success more than me.
What lies are rattling around in your head? It's time to find out.
Shut yourself in a quiet room and start writing down everything you know about yourself and your art. Take careful notice of what creeps into your mind. Now ask yourself which of those thoughts are lies, which thoughts are limiting you and giving you an excuse for failure. Whether those lies come from others or are things you've told yourself, it doesn't mean they should have power over you.
You'll find this exercise to be cleansing, and you'll find that you've been spending a lot of your time letting untruths govern your life.
Every single artist I know, including some of the most successful artists in the world, have to deal with some form of negative self-talk. The only difference between the successes and failures is that the successes have learned to push most of it away the second they realize it's there, and they don't let it affect their performance.
What about you? Find the lies and bury them. It will change your career and impact your success immediately.
PS: I battle negative thoughts every day of my life. In fact, it's a constant battle, and sometimes the lies win. There are things I've avoided because I tell myself I'm not the right fit, not good enough, not smart enough, not successful enough. In fact, after the first Plein Air Convention, where I presented Marketing Boot Camp, I told myself people wouldn't be interested in a Marketing Boot Camp II, about how to get into galleries, how to make websites sell more product, how to build a brand, and how to use social media for success. In fact, I almost decided not to do it. What swayed me was a call from an artist who had followed my advice and seen her career transformed. Then and only then did I stop listening to the lies in my head. This may seem like a silly exercise, but do whatever it takes to remove negative "truths" that are really lies that hold you back.