Business

The Best Thing To Do For Yourself- Ask For Help

If you're like me (and a lot of other people!) you may find yourself wanting to learn/do/improve your life & business on your own. It took me a long time to really admit I needed more than myself to create the career I desired. And since I decided to let others help me on my journey my life has improved drastically. Not just in business but in my personal life as well!

If you're at a point where you're frustrated, unenthused or even ashamed of your creative career thus far, then take a deep look at where you've been denying yourself help. Maybe you need a total overhaul or maybe it's as simple as putting in the time to ask someone about your marketing, your pricing or your customer etiquette. 

Once I dove into my own mission of finding mentors, guides and creative business buddies I've expanded not only my knowledge but my network. I've gained friends in the process who inspire and support my big creative dreams. And I've learned from others who've created businesses I admire and gotten an inside look at what it will take to get mine to my ideal level. 

And the most important part of what I learned when I asked for help- is that the most successful people get a lot of help!! High-achieving and inspirational people are able to be that way because of the help they've received, and continue to receive. It's not only opened my eyes to the positive force of a community you trust but also that no one is a "one woman show" in reality. 

So I challenge you to ask for help, and lots of it! Let go of the idea you can and should be able to do everything on your own. You and whoever you work with will be SO much better off when you go beyond yourself and let others in to help. 

Peace, love & pixels,

Sonya

Ask an Artist: Interview with Painter Megan Carty

So happy I got connected with our guest today, because her work is gorgeous and she's just as fantastic! Here she brings you real world artist advice from her creative space in Massachusetts.

 

RWC: What is your current position/job title? 

MC: Fine Artist/Painter of COLOR! (And full-time Mom of 3 little kiddos.)

RWC: Love that! How long have you been in that role? And what did you do before?

MC: I’ve been focused on painting as my business for 10 months now (despite it being a hobby for over 26 years). Before this, I was a graphic designer in the retail field creating store signage, packaging, and other print materials. For a short while I saw success as a wedding invitation and stationery designer and even did my own letterpress printing. Once I had children I had to simplify!

RWC: Where do you live?

MC: I live in the cozy countryside of Pepperell, Massachusetts!

RWC: What gets you excited about what you do?

MC: I love to express my vision in color. I try to make what I would want on my own wall and I try my hardest to spread happiness or soothing comfort through my paintings. It’s exciting to serve others in this way, and know that I’m contributing to the world in my own small way.

RWC: Right, we're always our own first client! Did you go to school for an art degree? If so where?

 MC: I got a BFA in Advertising Design from Syracuse University’s College of Visual and Performing Arts: School of Art and Design in the year 2000. Almost all of my courses were art or design focused. I gravitated to any elective that involved drawing or painting!

RWC: Did you find it easy to transition from school to the “real world”? 

MC: At first I found it easy. But I quickly learned that what I was passionate about or believed to be true were not necessarily what the paying clients were interested in. I spent a great deal of time creating things for others- much like a robot. I felt creatively dry and derailed. It was a humbling time as I learned to focus on learning about business and the realities of being a designer.

RWC: How long did it take you to find your niche/soul purpose/medium of choice?

MC: It was about 15 years after graduation when I decided to stop feeling fearful of following my ultimate dream of being a full-time painter. I’d always wanted to be an artist but had a misguided belief that it would be impossible and unrealistic. I’ve learned a lot about positive mindset in my years and I can make anything I want come to fruition if I plan for it and put goals around it. With the internet, I am able to reach a global audience in need of art! There’s no excuse!

RWC: So true. Mindset is so key to success. How much did you charge for your first client/commission?

MC: My first big painting commission was $900. The client had a specific size and color scheme in mind and I created an abstract piece based on her vision. She was happy, I was happy and it was an overall win!

RWC: Did you ever do work for free, and do you think it's necessary? 

MC: Never do work for free! First of all, it is unethical. For people to value the arts, they must respect the time, education, sweat and expertise that goes into the final product. When you give it away for free, it ruins this understanding. Also, working for free (or for very little) undermines all the other artists of the world trying to make a good living. We aren’t just supposed to SURVIVE, we are supposed to THRIVE. We must always value our time, our talents, our education, and our expertise. Besides, when the plumber comes over to fix my pipes, I don’t expect him to do it for free. Nor do I ask! And I certainly wouldn’t walk into a restaurant and demand my meal be the priciest on the menu and I expect it to be FREE. Bottom line: Don’t devalue your business!

RWC: Do you have advice for art students? 

MC: My advice for art students is to really explore deep down what it is you most would love to be creating in an ideal world. Remove the fear or doubt. Take that answer and run with it. Find experts in that field and see how they’ve built success for themselves. Really take time to learn from the ground up. And stand firm in your belief that YOU can do it too. There is enough success to go around and there is something for EVERYONE.

RWC: YES! I love to say there is room for every artist to be successful. What resources were/are helpful to you as a creative? 

MC: I’m obsessed with podcasts. They are free and I learn a lot about marketing and business from them. I also love online classes at places like CreativeLive. I’m always learning new things and am so grateful that I can!

RWC: Huge CreativeLive fan. How do you define and acknowledge your success? 

MC: Success, for me, is about having the freedom in my day to do what I most like to do. Sometimes I want to spend extra time with my family. Other times, I want to paint all day. I try to set my goals so that I have this freedom and still accomplish all I need. I also see success as making a good income from my art; it is a business and I want it to thrive and bring in an abundance of wealth! I’m not ashamed to put that out there because it is true and we all deserve to prosper! Each little thing that goes well in my business is cause for a mini celebration and I make sure to give thanks for any good press or kudos that come my way. You have to celebrate every little win and keep it fun!

RWC: What do you wish you’d learned sooner about living a creative and happy life?

MC: I wish I’d just gone for it sooner! I was so filled with self-doubt and fear. As I’ve gotten older, I’m less concerned with what others think…this has played a role in my newfound bravery to just throw my hat in the ring. Life is too short to sit around wondering what could have been. Over time, you start to see other artists having maddening amounts of success and you think “Well, if THEY can do it, why can’t I?” Don’t wait for everything to be perfect, just show up and share your gifts. That’s why you have them!

RWC: If there’s one or two things you think are necessary to spend money on to help/achieve a successful creative path what are they? 

MC: I would spend money on classes on marketing/public relations…there are lots of online courses where you can learn at your own pace so you can be prepared to run your own art business. Never be afraid to spend money on bettering yourself for your career. It all comes back to you in the value of your art. Don’t be cheap with yourself or that’s all you’ll get back!

RWC: Do you have coaches/mentors that you look to as well? And would you recommend others to do so?

 MC: I currently am working with a business coach and am thrilled with the results! It is helpful for someone else who is objective to look at my business and show me where I could be more brave, or to ask me the big questions that help get me “unstuck.” I now realize I can go after anything I want if I simply believe I can and make a plan for it. I highly recommend using a coach! I’ve had so many “a-ha” moments since I’ve started and it’s been invaluable!

RWC: How often do you set and/or reassess goals- both personal and business wise? 

MC: I set goals each week and these support the goals I have for each month…for each quarter…and for the year. I reassess at the end of each month to see what progress I’m making, what is working versus what is not, and to figure out what my next goals need to be. I love this because I feel like I always know what general direction I’m going. My goals are like my North Star.

RWC: Can you tell us about any challenges of having an art business? 

MC: The challenges are being your own boss and holding yourself accountable to reach your goals and maintain momentum. Selling art is not for the meek! It is a long-game—a marathon— and you have to have the passion and patience to lay down a good business foundation brick-by-brick. It takes a lot of tenacity and faith.

RWC: Wise words. What is the best thing about being a creative professional? 

MC: I love having the freedom to make my own schedule! I also love knowing my work is making someone else’s day a bit brighter. I get to do what brings my heart and soul such deep joy and share it with others. I also like that I am in control of my own success.

RWC: Any other tips, tricks, or words of advice you'd like to share? 

MC: You’ve gotta believe in what you do. Stand behind it, own it, and nurture it. Nobody else is going to do that for you. If you are unsure of your purpose with your work, then take serious time to ask why you make what you do? Why do you want to be an artist? What is special about what you do? This gives you the foundation for your mission and is the foundation for everything you will build. Without a “why” then you have no idea who you are serving with your work and you won’t know who you are marketing to. Really explore what it is you love to create and figure out the “why” and you won’t go wrong! 

Thank you so much for your insight Megan!! To check out her work and purchase some paintings to make you & your walls happy head to her website: www.megancartyart.com

If you are a thriving visual artist and want to help others by sharing your path to creative success- reach out! We'd love to have you. 

Peace, love & pixels,

Sonya

How & Why You Should Network in College

I've had some discussions lately about networking and thought I'd share insights for those of you questioning how & why you can start networking while in school.

Myth: You have to have a job/business/biz cards to network.

Fact: The point of networking is to make connections & relationships, not just to tell people about your work. If you're looking for a job networking in different groups (can be in person&online) is a great way to get leads. If you don't have a business or job and you're trying to figure out what you want to do networking can also benefit you as you can meet a range of people and connect with those in your industry of choice to ask questions! Also, if you don't have business cards it's cool, just make sure to get the other person's and then FOLLOW UP! (Template for follow up emails here.)

Myth: People are going to judge you for being a student. 

Fact: Most decent humans out there will be happy to give you advice, and will be impressed you're taking the initiative to join professional groups while in school. Age does not determine your capacity to have engaging interactions. Be pleasant, ask questions and don't be shy about saying you're a student and working to figure out what path you may want to take after school. 

Myth: Every adult is comfortable networking.

Fact: Almost no one is naturally comfortable or even enthused about traditional networking events! It's hard to go out on a Wednesday night and meet strangers no matter what your age is. It's about making it a habit and committing to attend and getting something out of it. So don't worry about feeling awkward and walking up to a stranger to chat- everyone feels awkward! 

Myth: If I am not a professional I will have nothing to talk about.

Fact: Professionals aren't unemotional robots, they have lives and feelings too! Don't feel like you only have to talk business. One of my favorite things to ask to break the ice is "Do you have any travel plans coming up?" This gets people comfortable and excited to talk about their vacation or next trip. Asking some more personal questions like this will give you an easier time when you realize you can just have a conversation. 

So yes, start networking in college. It may take a while to find the groups that you enjoy but they're out there! These days there are so many choices for HOW you can interact and create connections, so don't assume it's just guys in suits at happy hour that are able to network. Check out MeetUp.com for endless groups, and search Facebook for online communities of every breed that will support your career interests.

Peace, love & pixels,

Sonya

P.s. If you want to get event photography experience volunteer to shoot networking events-you get free entry, a chance to mingle & build a portfolio!  

First Ever Super Awesome Virtual Summit!

I'M SO FREAKIN EXCITED!! This Friday-Nov.20th- I'm hosting our first RWC virtual summit- The Creative Success Summit for Emerging Visual Artists!!! You can sign up here!

I'm pumped not only because I have connected with and will be interviewing two truly accomplished, talented, and super nice art professionals- but because I get to engage with YOU- emerging artists who are looking for some guidance, inspiration, motivation, and reassurance that an awesome art career is waiting for you. (Check out the speakers here and here.)

I picked up a beautiful print recently that said, "It is real. It is possible. It is yours." And heck yeahhhh that is so true and relevant to what we're doing here. 

I started Real World Creatives because I felt there was a void in educating young artists on how to use their creative skills and talents to make a living in the real world. That includes fine art and commercial art and craft art and decorative arts. Everyone has a place, and it's about time we connected and supported emerging artists with a comprehensive set of tools, advice and inspiration for creating a sustainable living from art. 

It's hard to explain how much I love working on this business and being a source of real help and connection for artists. I hope you'll join me at the summit and continue engaging with RWC as you follow your creative path! If there is anything I can provide for you (sorry can't buy everyone puppies) please let me know at any time! 

Peace, love, and pixels,

Sonya 

Keep Calm and Internship On

It is pretty much a given these days that you’ll end up in an internship or two while in school and even after you’ve graduated. Internships can provide eye-opening looks into the possible career of your future. But they can also be really boring, frustrating and not in your best interest. The key is to ask a lot of questions and do your research on all possible internships before you dive into one. I made the mistake a couple of times of not thoroughly finding out what I’d be doing or how it would really be an effective and positive experience for myself. No one wants their time wasted- and even as a student you have the right to use your own time wisely while working for others. One thing I didn’t realize as a student looking for internships, is that not only should I provide value to the employer BUT they should provide value to me. That is true whether you are working for free or payment of any kind.

Things to keep in mind when searching for internships:

1. What kind of business is it and who runs it? Is it a new start up/gallery/company still figuring out workspace and roles, or a well oiled machine with lots of rules set in place? What internet presence do they have and what do others say about them? Are you working with a boss one-on-one, or with other interns/assistants/employees?  I had experiences where I was mostly working alone but really enjoyed the work and had real responsibility, as well as times I was sitting next to the employer and barely learned a thing and was bored as hell. And had to walk her dog…love dogs, but not what I was looking for!

2How much time can you commit? Decide upfront how many hours/weeks/months you’ll be there. Even if things change it is helpful to have expectations voiced at the beginning. If receiving payment make sure you understand how and when you’ll be paid. Also, always ask if payment is available! It may not be, but sometimes even a small stipend is a great motivator and reward for work well done.

3Decide to learn as much as possible and make sure they know what you’re interested in learning. I know from running a business it is easy to forget what wasn’t always general knowledge or that explaining how systems came to be, can be really helpful to those not familiar with the business. Don’t be afraid to ask questions- but do take note of when the appropriate times are to do so. (Like not in front of clients.)

4Reach out to businesses or individuals you’d like to work with. THIS IS HUGE! Some of my best internships came from asking for the opportunity, not because there was any advertisement that they were hiring. Look in your area for places you admire and think you could learn from, let them know you’re interested and available.

Internships can be fantastic opportunities to see the inner workings of various jobs and companies.  They are also great for making connections in the “real world” and beginning to network with those you may one day work with. Always look for relationships that will be symbiotic, stand up for what’s right for you, and if on the off chance it all goes to shit- smile and walk away gracefully!

Peace, love & pixels- Sonya