What is that “sweet spot” for an Artist?

For me, the sweet spot is that perfect balance between the “true artist” inside – one who is true to her/his inner artist voice, regardless of what the outside world thinks vs the “commercial artist” – one who is savvy-er and is sharply aware of what it takes to sell or earn good money for what she/ he creates.

Neither, in my opinion, is wrong and I am starting to realise that it is the perennial struggle for all of us Creative people. “Do I create for money or do I want to make money and survive?”

I believe that we all are mature enough by this point to now realise that the whole “I am a poor struggling artist” syndrome is not a mantra we really want to live by. It may have worked in the 70’s or 80’s when Artists are the rebels and the bohos and a true artist is destined to be poor …because god forbid, how would you be able to find that tortured soul to create from otherwise?

I think, with Instagram and social media nowadays, this ‘Struggling Artist’ syndrome should slowly be a thing of the past. I actually believe that anyone can be an artist if they choose to. After all,  all children are born creative and curious …the two fundamentals of what it takes to be an artist, right?

Yesterday, I was at the Affordable Art Fair Singapore and I noticed that almost every gallery or representative I spoke to always proudly announced the number of exhibitions that the artist has done. I questioned “Why is that important?” Some would actually say “It isn’t” ..whilst others explained that it is an indication of how popular the artist is.

Really? Perhaps in the 1990s when the internet wasn’t available..and the only way that one shares their creative work is through exhibitions and fairs but with Instagram and Facebook and other forms of social media, there are so many creative ways to reach one’s target audience now.

So I am not sure if the number of exhibitions is going to remain a credential or accolade to an Artist’s CV in the near future…but that’s a whole different conversation.

For me, what I am struggling with at the moment is finding that sweet spot between creating something that resonates truly with me vs what I know people will like. And whilst social media makes it so much easier to connect and communicate with your potential buyer, it can clout your creative process.

In the words of Le Matt, one of the superb mentors at Art Space Cafe, where I currently go to paint and get mentorship sometimes, “The creative process of an Artist should be as pure as possible, and once creation is complete – that’s when marketing / commercial comes in.”

The penny dropped for me when he said that.

I realised I almost need to go into my artist cave and shut out the noise outside during the creation process, and as the journey progresses, you come further and further out of the cave…closer and closer to the light at the ‘end’ of the cave… where the noise gets louder and louder.

Easier said than done – particularly when, if you are like me, you would be sharing some work in progress or behind the scene shots, because:

(1) its nice for your followers to see it,

(2) its important and a great way to keep your potential buyers engaged and primed to buy; and

(3) most buyers love understanding how the piece of art was created because it make a great story and dinner conversation.

Everyone loves being let into the ‘behind-the-scenes’… and most importantly, I just love sharing and taking people along with me on my journey. 🙂

I have yet to find that sweet spot for myself and I am trying everything I can to calm down that inner chatter that demonises me constantly….

All I know is that these few things so far are helping me go in the right direction so I’d urge you to do it as well if you are looking to find that sweet spot 😉

  • Meditation – couldn’t recommend it more. I started with once a week and now I try to do it everyday, and when I miss a day or two, I start to get withdrawal symptoms. It is AMAZING to help with the chatter.
  • Exercise – I choose mainly yoga and swimming because they are the two exercises that are good for my back. I also love the fact that yoga helps me focus on myself for an hour, and swimming helps me almost zone out and appreciate the soothing feeling of water around me.
  • Reading – I am currently “A new earth” by Eckhart Tolle – amazing book. All about the ego and how it consumes us. Thank you, Amreen.
  • You Tube – When I am painting, I love watching ‘Shark Tank’ because I love firing up the left side of the brain whilst using the right side of the brain (haha, spot the nerd). I also love Marie Forleo for her ever insightful and wise nuggets of gold for creative people.

`Thank you for listening to my rant and sharing my journey of discovery with me.

I look forward to our next post.