Artists, It's Time to Get Over Feeling Icky about Self Promotion

As artists we strive to be authentic. We search for truth as we take something unseen and bring it to light. Our creativity is born of our unique vision, heart, and soul. It's hard then to see the concept of making a sale as fitting in with this pure self-expression. Time and again, through mass media and even our own artistic creations (particularly film and TV), we've been shown that salespeople are inauthentic. At best they're shallow and pleasantly disconnected (the QVC archetype), and at worst they're slimy, underhanded manipulators greedy for our hard-earned cash (the Snake Oil archetype).

With this kind of spectrum we're naturally repelled by the idea of trying to sell something.

We take the day job and keep art as a side gig or hobby, so it remains untarnished by the murky underworld of money. Yet, we simultaneously lament our lack of time and opportunity when it comes to our art.

Time and again artists who become successful at selling their own wares are seen as "sell-outs," the art world's dirtiest word and most scathing insult.

We've come to believe that artists who achieve status as not only full-time artists, but financially sound ones at that, lose something in the process - their soul, their vision, their edge.

This is unfair and a double standard. We can't yearn for a culture that supports artists then criticize those who receive support - monetary or otherwise. At this point in our cultural history, sales is no longer something to shy away from due to an outdated belief that doing so requires pimping a product we don't care about to an unsuspecting audience.

Selling is simply about finding a compatible home for the work we make so we can continue to make it. Today, artists who want to be doing it full-time must embrace making a living from their art, and understand that our creative expression doesn't just remain intact in the face of money, but thrives with the acquisition of it.

Truthfully, when we're turned off by someone promoting themselves it's not that they're promoting themselves, it's how they're doing it.

Being authentic is easier than ever. Thanks to the internet and social media we can now directly connect our daily lives with a growing audience. We can share images or thoughts about our creative process. We can ask questions to engage with fans, or for informative feedback. We can show works-in-progress, bringing people into the fold as we navigate our way through creation. We can even post about our kids, our animals, our food and more.

We can do these things, and we should if we want to be financially successful. These authentic day-to-day offerings are how we share our essence and our work with people we feel aligned with, people who want to own what we make. It's time for creative folks to show up, be visible, and let go of the idea that it's wrong to promote our work. The world needs successful, authentic, creative people who embrace their life's purpose by allowing themselves to be supported.

And, hey, even if you put yourself out there and don't make many sales for whatever reason (a reason you'll likely uncover if you keep at it), you can be sure that sharing your creative work will inspire other potential creators to express themselves, or encourage fellow artists to show up and be seen too.

If you want to learn to become a better receiver - of joy, pleasure, money, creativity, and more - please join me for theTao of Receivingonline program starting May 24, 2015!

Photo by MartinaK15/cc


Are You an Artist Who Gives, Gives, Gives?

When I was a child my mother once said to me, exasperated, "You can't save the whole world, you know!" Oh, but I tried.

Like many creative types, I was a sensitive kid. I wanted to fix everything. I wanted to make everyone happy, to make them smile, to take away their pain.

As a young adult, I spent many hours volunteering with a number of organizations, and even took a course called "Volunteering in the Community." Upon graduation I became a VISTA Volunteer (think domestic Peace Corps) for not one year of service, but two. Later, as a middle school teacher I brought students to tutor disenfranchised youth and to serve food in soup kitchens. I had them dumpster dive to find materials for an Earth Day-inspired "trashion" show. Later still I rescued an abused dog and took up fostering for a time, had Christmas parties where I asked folks to bring donations to the local shelter.

Through it all I was the friend who would listen to your drama, the one you could call at any time with any problem. I gave advice. So much advice. I was always there to "help." I was the employee that would settle for less so my employers could have more. I was the artist that gave her work away because she felt uncomfortable taking money when other people had nothing. Over and over again I relinquished my time, money, and energy in the spirit of "giving."

Guess what? I could not save the world. Surprise, surprise!

Turns out there's a reason the phrase "bleeding heart" exists. After years of giving, giving, giving - much of it with misguided intent - my heart felt drained. (So did my adrenals and my bank account!)

In short, I was tapped out. Fried. Toast. I mean, I even went to the doctor to get tested for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

It has taken YEARS of retreating, regrouping, and redefining myself to become rejuvenated again. I have learned the importance of balance and boundaries. I have learned that over-giving creates dependency and powerlessness. I have learned no one is going to value you and your time if you don't value it first. I have learned that money is an important and necessary tool.

Alas, old habits die hard it seems, because not long ago I felt the weight of a challenging situation in my life. I asked my Invisible Support Team (ie. guides, angels, dearly departed dog - you get the gist) to tell me one thing - just one! - that could change this situation in my life in a permanent and lasting way.

The answer was, "Let yourself receive."

In thinking about that nugget of inspiration I realized that many people confuse receiving with taking. Taking is greedy and selfish and comes from a place of fear. Receiving is natural, joyous, and comes from a place of empowerment. There can be no giving without receiving.

When we give without receiving we create imbalance.

With this in mind I have created a new online program that will allow me and a group of like-minded artists and "inner space explorers" to understand receiving in a deeper way, most especially in a way that shifts our thoughts and behaviors.

The Tao of Receiving program is a 40 day experiment that uses our own lives as Receiving Laboratories. It's designed to help you receive more - more love, more forgiveness, more money, more joy. You can find out all the details here.

If you can relate to my story about giving, giving, giving, I do hope you'll join me from May 24th to July 2nd, 2015 for this one-of-a-kind program.

In the end, when we give and receive equally and from a place of love, we are doing all of us a great service.

Photo Credit: Purple Rain/CC