How to Handle Expectations, Being Crazy, and Art Business Success

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The truly creative person is one who can think crazy; such a person knows full well that many of his great ideas will prove to be worthless

— Frank Goble

I want to tell you about a terrific artist who is also my cousin. She is in a group I coach for art business success. If you follow me, you may know about my AMTP membership program that advises an international group of artists on learning practical art marketing to help them live their best artist lives. It’s priced for all artists, no matter who they are or where they live.

I believe how you market your art has everything to do with how you live your life as an artist. The goal is to help AMTP members to enjoy their best artists’ lives by assisting them in knowing what is possible and how to create a plan to turn dreams into reality.

I’m Her Elder

I’m a month older than my cousin. We started kindergarten together and are good friends living nearby in Phoenix. She is an AMTP member and the extraordinary artist who painted sweet Lucie, our cherished first rescue who you see on the banner above. My apologies for the resolution, but despite that, you can see the skill and artistry in bringing out Lucie’s personality. It touches me every time I see it.

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She’s Not Alone.

My cousin is an AMTP member who is not active in the group. As many subscribe but do not partake in the Facebook group or live sessions, she’s not alone. I’m guessing she’s not alone in feeling some guilt pangs over missed opportunities or not following through on art business activities or training.

I don’t want her or anyone in similar circumstances to feel poorly about such things. It’s not worth it because there is no payoff. Let it go. We all do it except for the outliers, and that’s why they are outliers.

Like You, She’s Busy.

As with others in the AMTP group, my cousin leads a busy life where making art is essential but not her only interest. She wrote me recently:

Hey Cuz,
Your dedication and work in helping artists astound me. I apologize most sincerely that I haven’t been taking your workshops. It is my loss, I am sure. 

I know you are wise, so you don’t hold a grudge, but surely you must feel like I am a bit crazy. I do.” 


I replied to her this way and with further thoughts added for this post:

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Hey Cuz,

Thanks for your email. You’ve been on your mind; we need to get together soon. And no worries about your participation in the AMTP group. I get why you haven’t spent much time with it – more than you may realize – and I pass no judgment because it serves no purpose. 

An Early Lesson in Rejection.

After I wrote my first book, How to Profit from the Art Print Market, in 2005, I found only a few people would ever read it cover to cover. That hurt until I realized I was a victim of my self-imposed unrealistic expectations. Awakening to the reality that I could and should shed that self-inflicted negative mentality was a valuable lesson I never forgot.

So, if you are in my group and not active or bought my books and didn’t read them, I did the same to others. Life’s too short to worry about such things.

To me, it’s not how much money you make; it’s about how much joy you give and take.

— Barney Davey

You’re Crazy; I’m Crazy, We’re All Crazy.

Do I think you’re crazy? Of course, but so is everyone else, including me. We all have a unique brand of crazy. But I don’t think you are crazy for being interested in knowing a little about art marketing, but not enough to work on it regularly.

You’re busy with other things, and marketing is boring and not fun, particularly for creative-brained artists. Plus, it’s a hard job that takes dedication and a long time to pay off. So instead, you primarily get your work into the world through your connections and word-of-mouth. And that’s how most artists in some form or other market today. 

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Selling Art on All Levels is a Connections Business.

On this blog and in the AMTP group, I’ve covered the concept of connections regularly in recent months and continue to promote the idea. We all make connections in our lives, and as a result, it’s natural that you’ll find a few patrons along the way.

It is less complicated for most artists to think of a marketing plan as working on a project to make friends or acquaintances rather than finding buyers. Keep in mind it is likely your ideal buyer shares common interests with you making your connections to them more effortless. 

I believe success in life as an artist starts with honestly evaluating yourself. What makes you happy, and what realistic dreams do you have for getting your art into the world? I recommend taking everyone out of the equation to make it about you. When you know the answers, you can use the insights to determine how many connections and how much marketing you need to hit your goal.

Your Current Marketing Plan Might Be All You Need.

Cuz, you might already be there with a de facto marketing plan, and I guess you are. You are doing about the amount of business that is comfortable. I know that you know you could sell more art if you dedicated more time to the business of art. But I also know it’s not how you want to use your time.

I also suspect your conscious brain sees other artists having success, and you know you are more talented than them, which means you know you could compete with them if you wish. And that is a cause of internal turmoil and worry you are letting yourself down.

These feelings are because your conscious mind receives streams with advice to do this or do that to get your career in gear. So what happens is you end up beating yourself up. It’s like attaching yourself to a built-in stress inducer. Who needs that?

Why Your Subconscious Mind Is Hitting the Brakes.

Meanwhile, I believe your subconscious mind is running the show. It knows you could do business and marketing, but it also knows that doing that won’t make you happy. So there is always a price to pay to attain success, and your subconscious brain is pumping the brakes to keep you from committing to a complex program with a scant chance for success. Not because the program is bad or won’t work, but because it only works when it gets really worked. And doing that kind of work is not a row most artists will hoe with inspired energy.    

I recognize you as a very talented fine artist, just as you know that my sister is an exceptional singer-songwriter. You both could have pushed your artistry into the world of business but chose other sensible, accommodating paths. How you have expressed yourselves as artists out of the limelight and business because that was not your thing is exemplary. You do it your way, and there is plenty to like about that.

What Truly Works Best for You.

It’s a safe bet you subconsciously decided not to let business ruin your joy in making art. That’s not saying you can’t or don’t do business, but that you do it the unique way that works for you.

I believe when you get your conscious and subconscious on the same wavelength, it opens you to the opportunity to live your best artist’s life. It allows you to release guilt and anxiety over any “What if” emotions regarding your art career. Life gets better when you feel good about your choices and permit yourself to ignore the advice and opinions of those who don’t contribute to your support.

You Can Live Your Dream for Reals!

You can use your insights to develop a sound strategy and proper marketing tools —  if you even need them — to fulfill your dream as you determine it.

I like to point out, “It’s not a dream if you’re living it.” 

That is my message for you and every artist that reads this post. Put in the work to get on your wavelength and get in tune with yourself. Self-realization is the greatest gift artists can give them. Enjoy what you have and live life as you like it. Let the rest of the crazy business opportunities and ideas go. Release yourself from them.   

Endless Choices.

You can be an “all that” hotshot if you want. Or you can lay about and only create when the muse strikes. Those and every other iteration are legitimate choices to manage your art business and life as an artist.

If you know you are in tune with yourself, your art, your art business, and your life in general, you are blessed. You’ve attained what I call Art-Life Dream-Work Balance. Of course, you will always have tensions and wobbles, but life is good if you are primarily stable and balanced. And there is no reason you can’t work things to live your best artist’s life in balance. 

What Is Success To You?

Just as you are the architect of your art, you direct your life and art business. Being an artist is more than a job it’s a way of life, a way to be. You can be an artist without being in business, but most are to some degree because they sell their work, which puts them in business.

To describe success, it’s having a good sense of what you want from your life as an artist in the art business. I’m repeating the following concepts because I can’t express them enough or better.

How you market your art has everything to do with how you live your life as an artist.

You will enjoy your best life as an artist when you know what you want is possible, and have a plan to match your reality to your dreams.

— Barney Davey

You Are Invited.

To me, it’s not how much money you make; it’s about how much joy you give and take. So I welcome you to accept my invitation to join a worldwide community of artists and me in the AMTP (Art Marketing Toolkit Project.) It would be a pleasure to know you inside the group, and I know that because you read all the way down here. You’re my kinda people.

The Guide to Art-related Careers
Learn about art-related Careers.

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