From writing poetry at 2am to nearly sending yourself blind over a canvas, living your life as an artist can be challenging, draining and requires a level of multitasking that is unfathomable to most but let's be honest, none of us would would have it any other way! That moment of absolute bliss when a project is finished or when you've rescued something from a complete disaster, that feeling is unrivalled. Art is in your blood, it is the feeling place of your spirit and to not do it is unthinkable. I'm going to share some advice and some tips that I wish someone would have told me when I began this journey nearly 20 years ago. None of this was taught to me through my college or University qualifications so I'm sharing it with you now. I've put together 6 tips to help you survive a creative life.
1. Self care
You will work and work and work some more and no amount of money will ever compensate the hours of your life you will give to your craft. You will forget to eat, you won't sleep properly and your body will get sick as a result. Don't let it. Your body is your business. When you are full of flu or backache you simply don't work as well so please, do your best to eat right. Do yoga. Get your vitimins in and if you have been up all night at the mercy of the muses then give yourself a lie in the next day. Be gentle to your body. It is a beautiful machine that enables you to create the things you love.
2. Love your own company
Writing, painting, making music, taking photographs, all of it requires long hours of solitude to perfect. You would be doing yourself a massive favour if you learned to love your own company. Remember that most of your friends will probably be in 9 to 5 jobs and whilst it's awesome to work for yourself and I personally wouldn't give it up for the world your dog or cat can only carry a conversation with you for so long. So cultivate a capacity for solitude. Learn to love it and use it to your advantage. In it you will learn things about yourself most people never come across, trust me.
3. Create THEN sell
So this one is a bit of a hot topic because you will probably at some point get a commission or a gig that does not set your heart on fire and 9 times out of 10 you will be financially driven to do them. You aren't selling out by doing these kinds of projects, you've just become fond of doing things like eating and sleeping under a roof so you need to do what you need to do to keep that happening. I've been asked to paint someone's dog, sing covers of songs that SUCK and write band reviews. None of which is the art I like to produce BUT it pays! I would advise that you not turn the work down when it comes but we are all trying to get to a space where the work we love to create is what sells best. Even if you are in the middle of five commissions or ten wedding gigs and it's driving you bonkers make time to do your personal projects. You WILL get to a space where your favourite work to do is your day job. Just make room for it and be sure to advertise it first.
4. Market YOU
This is the one thing that I REALLY wish someone would have told me in University. The art, music and writing industry is saturated and you can allow yourself to be convinced into thinking that standing out from the crowd requires hefty marketing plans and huge financial backing. It doesn't. When people buy art it's normally because they like YOU. Most of the marketing we do these days is online but the time it takes to create trust still hasn't changed. Research shows that it takes someone roughly three times to view your website before they feel confident enough to buy from you. I sell either directly to people or to known galleries who already have established that trust with their clientelle. Let your audience get to know you. Connect. Reach out. People don't just buy your art they invest in you so give them something to invest in.
5. Don't compete
Take a look at the walls of your house. Take a look at your ipod or cd collection. Take a look at your book shelves. People listen to more than one band, they like more than one artist, they read more than one book so instead of stepping over each other to get whatever form of limelight you think you might be getting why not help everyone get where they want to go? I have friends who are abstract artists, graffiti artists and illustrators, musicians and writers of all kinds. When we help each other we help ourselves, we build our networks. Just because someone is buying your friends CD at a gig doesnt mean you've lost a sale and it doesn't mean that you aren't going to sell to the exact same person in five minutes. Share audiences. Share resources. When you help others they remember. I have had many commisions and gigs off other artists and bands I have helped along the way. Be a decent person and you'd be surprised at how many people will support you.
6. Find your tribe
Your existing friends may be wonderful. Maybe they've fed you, maybe they've let you live in their shed, maybe they've turned up to all of your shittiest gigs and still screamed as if they were at wembley but you will STILL need other artists in your life. People who understand and can help. Those on the same journey as you will know all the pit falls and may even be able to help you creatively when you are a bit stuck. As artists one of the things I have come to understand is that we are terrible at creating and keeping communities. It's like trying to herd cats! But we need each other, we are stronger together and we truly can help one another in times of need. Find other artists in your area or online if you have to. We all get it!
Well I hope that's helped you a bit. I would ask that you please help and share the blogs, pages and work of all your local artists and friends who craft and make! Share the love people!
Thank you for tuning in!
May the force be with you!