Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Importance of Goals

The last time we met, we looked at how art is spiritual in nature. I hope over the last few weeks you have been able to see how God is guiding you in your creative process. I also hope that you have been able to lose yourself in the joy & bliss that comes from creating your art.

This week’s topic falls right in line with that which I have been struggling as of late. Since it seems that I am having issues keeping some of the goals I have set for myself, I believe that it is time to discuss the topic of goals as it relates to being an artist. I also want to discuss why having goals is so important.

Before I get into the business of discussing the importance of having tangible goals, I need to ask you this question …

Do you have goals set for yourself as an artist?

If not, do you plan on setting goals for yourself?

Do you believe that you can achieve success without them?

If you don’t have goals set for yourself, what keeps you from setting them?

As you are digesting those questions, I will begin by tackling the last question first: What is keeping you from setting goals?

I can speak from personal experience in saying that the number one reason I used to avoid setting goals for myself was that I didn’t want to set myself up for failure. I thought that it would be easier to produce artwork if I didn’t have to be accountable to some set plan.

The problem with that thought process is that it automatically sets you up for failure. Without goals you don’t have a clue as to where you are going with your art career. You have nothing in which to gage your success or failure. If you aren’t accountable to yourself then you will be more likely to slack in your art production. It will be easier for you to say that you will start that next project tomorrow, but then you find yourself always waiting for tomorrow.

Without goals you are essentially a ship without a rudder; you are a pilot without a flight plan.

I believe that you cannot achieve success without having goals. For just the reason I already mentioned. Goals help keep you accountable to yourself, and they help you gauge where you are on the road to becoming successful.

In Isaiah 32:8 it says,

"But the noble person makes noble plans, and by noble deeds he stands."

So, now that you have a better idea as to why goals are so important, let’s look at the characteristics of good goals.

First and foremost, you must set goals that are BIG! Do not simply set goals that you know you can achieve quickly and easily. You must stretch yourself. If you are not stretching yourself, then you are not growing as an artist & you won’t reach the levels of success that might reach if you set really big goals.

If you have been listening to “The Empowered Artist” from day one, you may have already set your overall goal without even knowing it. In week three, I spoke to you about success & how you need to determine for yourself what success means to you. Now, if you have determined what success looks like for yourself, then you can start to quickly put together your long-term, over-arching goals.

Once you have your long-term, major goals in place, you can start breaking them down into smaller, more short-term goals. These short-term goals must be formulated in a way that once achieved they will have you closer to achieving the long-term goals. These short-term goals will be more manageable, and they will help keep you from being over-powered & overwhelmed by how large and insurmountable your long-range goals may seem to be.

Even your short-term goals can be further broken down to smaller goals, which, in turn, can be broken down into even smaller goals. You should be able to do this until you can track DAILY the success & forward momentum of your art career.

Your goals must be SPECIFIC as well. Especially when you are crafting your short-term goals, it is very important to make sure that they are specific and tangible. You want to be able to look at your goal, and know specifically whether you have achieved your goal or not.

You need your goals to break down into smaller segments that are specifically defined in order that you can keep track of where you are in the pursuit of your long-term goals. If you find that you are off track slightly, you can adjust your daily goals accordingly in order to ensure that your long-term goals are not put in jeopardy.

You will face obstacles in the pursuit of your goals. Your goals & your success will be opposed, so it is vital that you are able to track your goals daily in order to tweak them & change them to overcome the obstacles & opposition that will come.

That is why I also believe that it is important to write down your goals on a piece of paper. Write down each goal. Start by writing your major, over-arching goals. Then write down your next subset of goals, and under each of those goals write down the smaller goals that make up the larger goals. Remember to be specific & to rank them in order of importance.

Once written down, you need to review your goals on a daily basis.

You may even want to take some time each day or each week to meditate on your goals.

Stand in front of the mirror & recite your goals whether it be your major career goal or the individual goals you have set for yourself that particular day. Recite your goals with passion, and imagine yourself already achieving the goals you have set for yourself.

For instance, if one of your goals is to have a major solo exhibition at a well-known or prestigious gallery, imagine yourself there on opening night basking in the celebration of that achievement. Imagine that you are conversing with the many collectors who have come to view your works on opening night. Visualize in vivid detail what it would be like to achieve the goals you have set for yourself, and cement the visualization with the emotions that will accompany those achievements. Being able to do so will prove to be instrumental in you being able to achieve your goals.

As Earl Nightingale has stated:

"The more intensely we feel about an idea or a goal, the more assuredly the idea, buried deep in our subconscious, will direct us along the path to its fulfillment."

And, as Henry Emerson Fosdick has stated:

"Picture yourself vividly as winning and that alone will contribute immeasurably to success. Great living starts with a picture, held in your imagination, of what you would like to do or be."

Once you have your goals defined, be careful with whom you share your goals if you share them with anyone at all. Although I believe that you do need a close group of friends or individuals with whom you can share your hopes and dreams. You definitely should not share them with anyone who will become a naysayer that will create obstacles in your achieving success. The persons with whom you share your goals must be trustworthy, and they must be individuals who will help you in achieving your goal.

As Proverbs 15:22 states:

"Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed."

Well, I hope that I have shed some light on the importance of setting goals in order to achieve success in your art career. I also hope that I have inspired you to finally sit down and write your goals out on paper; to take those first steps in achieving the success that has been eluding you so far. If you already have some goals, I hope you are inspired to dust off your list and see exactly where you are in achieving those goals. I hope you sit down to tweak and adjust your goals where they need to be in order that you stay on track in becoming successful.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Art IS Spiritual In Nature

The last time we met, we looked at additional ways to enhance our self-image. Specifically, we looked at the use of affirmation statements as a way to continually feed your mind positive thoughts about who you are as an artist.

Since it has been so long since our last talk, I hope you were able to put the extra time to good use by creating affirmation statements that are uplifting & help create a positive outlook in your life as an artist.

Remember the quote from Zig Ziglar; “your input determines your output.”

This week we are going to explore spirituality & art. We are going to explore why I believe that creating art is a truly spiritual experience.

Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist’s Way, acknowledges the link between art and spirituality in this quote:

“Creativity is a spiritual force. The force that drives the green fuse through the flower, as Dylan Thomas defined his idea of the life force, is the same urge that drives us toward creation. There is a central will to create that is part of our human heritage and potential. Because creation is always an act of faith, and faith is a spiritual issue, so is creativity. As we strive for our highest selves, our spiritual selves, we cannot help but be more aware, more proactive, and more creative.”

Think about the times when you are in the studio or out in nature creating works of art. Think about the feeling that you experience when you are in the zone painting or sculpting. It is a feeling of joy or bliss that fills your heart telling you that at that moment everything is meant as it should be. At that moment you are doing exactly what you were created to do.

The mural that I just completed in Deep Ellum is a good example. Most every day that I was downtown painting was a time of absolute joy. It didn’t matter that the temperature outside was 105 degrees. It didn’t matter that the surface I was working on was giving me fits because it was so roughly textured. I was doing exactly what I was meant to do at that moment. The experience was joyful, and even therapeutic. It was just me, my paint, a wall & time alone with God. It was extremely spiritual in nature.

I firmly believe that all work is spiritual, especially when it is the work that God has written on your heart to do.

I know that sometimes it is hard to believe that God would be so intimately involved in our lives, or that art could even play a role in God’s plans, but listen to the following verse from Exodus chapter 31 verses 1 through 4 regarding Bezalel:

Then the LORD said to Moses,
"See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

As you can see, it was God who filled Bezalel with His Spirit, and it was God who gave him the skill, ability & knowledge to make artistic designs. It was a completely spiritual process that was initiated by the Creator.

If God did that for Bezalel, could He do that for you? For me?

Would he do that for you? For me?

Do you believe that He could? Or would?

Take some time to think about it, to meditate on it & to pray about it.

Now, couple the verse from Exodus I just read with the verse from Jeremiah chapter 29 verse 11:

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Is it possible that God truly does create us to be artists?

Is it possible that He desires you to prosper as an artist?

If God created you to be an artist, and to prosper as an artist, wouldn’t that make the act of creating art a spiritual process for you?

Again - Take some time to think about it, to meditate on it & to pray about it.

I believe that God truly does create artists, and I believe that He does intend them to prosper as well. I also believe that the very act of creating art IS a spiritual process.

By creating works of art we come closer to the Creator as we engage in the process of creation & we honor Him by creating works of art as we were created to do.

I believe that all work brings us closer to God, because our work is in itself an act of creation. It gives us insight into the Creator of the universe when we take part in the act of creation; whether it is creating a work of art, a poem, a song, or even an engineering report. However, I believe we artists are unique in that there is little framework for our act of creation. We are limited only by our imagination. I believe that brings us closer to understanding how God could create something as extraordinary as the universe from absolutely nothing.

With that in mind, let’s take a moment to examine some quotes from others who have found that there is a direct correlation between art and spirituality:

‘The music that really turns me on is either running toward God or away from God. Both recognize the pivot; that God is at the center of the jaunt.”
- Bono, U2

“The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.”
- Michelangelo

“To send light into the darkness of men's hearts - such is the duty of the artist.”
- Robert A. Schumann (German Romantic composer, 1810-1856)

“Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.”
- André Gide (Zid)

“Apart from God every activity is merely a passing whiff of insignificance.”
- Alfred North Whitehead

“Your talent is God's gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God.”
- Leo Buscaglia

As you continue your journey over this next week, I want you to start thinking of how your personal act of creating art is distinctly spiritual to you. Ask yourself how your art brings you closer to your Creator. Think about creating affirmation statements that highlight this relationship between your art and your spiritual life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Using Affirmation Statements To Enhance Your Self-Image

Last week was a good week where we began talking about self-image and how important it is to have a positive outlook in order to be successful as an artist. We talked about removing negative influences in your life and replacing those negative thoughts with positive thoughts. All of what we talked about can be summed up in the two quotes I used last week.

The first was from Henry Ford who said, “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

The second was from Zig Ziglar who stated, “Your input determines your output.”

By replacing negative thoughts with positive thoughts you will begin to improve your self-image & it will, in turn, help you begin to believe that you can have success as an artist.

This week we are going to continue to explore ways to improve the way we see ourselves as artists. We will continue to look at ways to improve our self-image.

Another way you can improve your self-image is by using affirmation statements to continually feed your mind with positive thoughts about who you are as an artist.

These can be simple statements that state the obvious such as, “I am an artist.”

That may seem a bit ridiculous at first, because we all already believe we’re artists, right?

Do we really?

One of the biggest things we artists struggle with is our identity. We are constantly wondering if we truly are artists. We wonder if what we produce creatively is actually worthy of being called art. We constantly doubt ourselves & our abilities.

A simple affirmation such as “I am an artist,” helps us to break down those false negative beliefs that have been built up in our subconscious mind over time. Of course, since those negative beliefs have been built up over time, it will take time to dismantle the negative beliefs that have come to dominate our thoughts. But know this; those false beliefs can and will be removed if you are persistent in the application and use of affirmations.

There are several keys to creating successful affirmations.

First, you must write your affirmations down! You cannot move forward by just thinking up affirmations and letting them stay in your mind. You must write them down in order that they become more concrete & real.

Second, your affirmation statements must be written in the first person. They must include several “I am” phrases in order make them personal to you.

Third, once you have written them down, you must recite them out loud at least twice daily. The reason for this is that you are trying to change your belief system from negative to positive. It is easier to do this if your mind is processing the words you read and say aloud. The more often you do it the easier it is for your mind to accept it as truth.

Fourth, while you are reading your affirmation, you must BELIEVE that what you are reading is true. Close your eyes while you read your affirmation and visualize yourself exactly as you desire to be and as you have written out in your affirmation statement. Try your best to recite your affirmation with emotion & belief. It is when you can recite it with emotion & belief that your affirmations will have their greatest power to influence your thoughts & begin to produce positive fruit in your life.

For example, one of the affirmations that I use is as follows:

“The God of the Universe created the heavens and the earth. He created all that exists. He created all the beauty in nature, and all the creatures that live. He is the ultimate artist. I was created in His image; therefore I am an exceptional artist.”

I use this affirmation to remind myself that God himself is an artist & He has placed the desire to create on my heart as well. So if that indeed is true, how could I be anything other than an “exceptional artist?”

Just so you know, I don’t place my creative abilities on par with God’s creative abilities, but I do know that he created me to use the artistic abilities that He gave me for something special on this earth. So, that is exactly what I intend to do.

Okay, remember the verse from Jeremiah I quoted a few weeks ago?

It’s Jeremiah 29:11 -

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

Try re-writing that verse as an affirmation. It might go something like this:

“I am an artist. God has planned my life that way. God plans to prosper me as an artist. He plans to give me hope and a future as an artist.”

Does that sound believable?

Do you believe that?

Trust me; I know how hard it is to accept such a statement as that. But please just think about it for a while. Meditate on it. Let it sink in.

I mean, what if it IS true?

What would that mean in your life?

If God’s plan for you is that you should create art, then that plan will also include that He will prosper you in that. He will give you hope and a future through your abilities as an artist.

Does that sound too good to be true?

Well if it does, that’s all right for now. I know that it is difficult to believe at times. Especially when you have been programmed over the years to believe you deserve the exact opposite.

That is why these affirmations are so important. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for you to remove negative thoughts and beliefs and replace them with positive thoughts and beliefs.

Just stay open to the possibility that God wants to bless YOU as you use the gifts that He has given you, and be open to the idea that you cannot even fathom the extent of the blessings that He wants to pour out on you.

Of course, I don’t want anyone to think that the verse in Jeremiah means that everything will come easy and your path to creating rewarding art will come easy as well. It won’t. It will require hard work, dedication, perseverance and trust. And as I have stated before, it will be opposed.

I also understand that the verse is taken somewhat out of context from its use in Jeremiah, but I also know that our God is a loving God that wants to bless His children. There are just too many other verses in the Bible that point to that.

So, please stay open to the idea.

As you continue your journey this week, I want you to start thinking of different affirmations that you can use to help further your success as an artist. Once you have thought of an affirmation or two, remember that you must write them down. Once written the affirmations begin to become believable. Next, you must remember to say them out loud at least twice daily in order that they might be their most effective.

You might even want to post your affirmations in a place where you can see them each day in the morning as you wake up & in the evening as you get ready for bed. The bathroom mirror is an excellent place to post them. That way you can look yourself in the eye as you read them out loud. By looking yourself in the eye as you read them, it will be easier for you to instill them with belief as they are being read.

So, get busy and create affirmation statements that will begin to impact your life!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Self-Image - Remove the Negative, Add the Positive

If you remember the last time we met, we talked about success. We determined that YOU have to decide what success means to you. No one else can decide that for you. You must also never let your quest for success as an artist impact any other area of your life negatively, because you are never truly successful if you have to sacrifice another part of your life in order to attain success.

Today, I would like to talk to you about having a healthy self-image and how important that is to being a successful artist.

What I mean by having a healthy self-image is that you truly believe in your ability to become successful. It’s not arrogance that causes this belief in yourself. It is a dogged determination that you will work hard enough to achieve your dreams that causes this belief. Believing in yourself is quite possibly the most important step in becoming successful. Let me repeat that again, and pause a moment to let it sink in.

Believing in yourself is quite possibly the most important step in becoming successful.

You might be thinking to yourself right now that artists aren’t really suppossed to be materially successful. Artists have to always struggle to make ends meet. Art after all is just a hobby, right?

Your friends, family and even other artists will often tell you that as an artist you just have to accept the fact that you will never make any money. You will just be dirt poor, and you will always be fighting for your next meal. They are the friends and artists that feed the myth of the so-called “starving artist.”

Well, if you begin to buy in to that nonsense; if you begin to listen to the naysayers; and if you start believing what they are saying as being truth then chances are that you will begin to live out that “truth” in your own life. You will find that you never seem to make any money with your art. You simply find that success as an artist is always just out of reach.

On the flip side, if you block out the nonsense; if you begin to stop listening to the naysayers; and if you reject the myth of the “starving artist” and believe that success is attainable then you will begin to find that doors start opening up for you. Good things start happening, and you find yourself starting to become successful as an artist. You will begin to see that success as an artist is well within your reach.

Henry Ford is famously remembered for saying “whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”

That is SO true. Belief in yourself is key.

Let’s not get all starry-eyed into thinking that it is easy to believe your way into success, because it’s not.

It is hard work.

It will be opposed.

Remember when I referenced “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield a couple of weeks ago? He talks at length about “resistance” being the very thing that stands between the life you currently live & the life you wish to live. You will find that it is no different with believing in your self. You will find that things will conspire against you in such a way to try to break your spirit; to try and make you doubt that success is attainable. You must resist the temptation to buy into those things that stand in your way of greatness.

A word of warning, if being an artist is truly your calling (and I have a feeling that most of you listening already feel that you are called to be an artist. It is, in fact, written deeply in your heart) then expect to be heavily assaulted in this area. You will need to guard yourself at all times against negativity.

So, how do you guard against negativity? How do you nurture a healthy self-image? How do you maintain belief in your ability to succeed as an artist? What if you don’t believe that you can succeed as an artist? What if you have already bought into the lies & myths surrounding the very idea of being a successful artist?

To be sure, there is a lot to unpack here. There is a depth to learning how to develop a healthy self-image and how to develop a belief in yourself that I believe will take more than one blog/podcast to fully explore. With that in mind, it is my hope that this particular blog/podcast will serve as a brief introduction of things to come.

One of the first things you can do to nurture a healthy self-image & guard against negativity is to tune out all negative thoughts & stop letting negative information gain access to your mind.

It could be as simple as turning off the television. It could be as drastic as changing the friends with whom you associate.

I know for me, I had to stop listening to talk radio in the mornings on the way to work. I also had to stop watching the news on television. Although both provided a great deal of useful information, they are both very negatively slanted.

Once I stopped listening to the negative, I laid the foundation for something better to take its place. The same will be true for you.

The next thing you can do to nurture a healthy self-image & guard against negativity is to tune in to positive thoughts & start letting positive information gain access to your mind.

This can be done in a variety of ways. You can read positive and uplifting books, and you can listen to positive and uplifting podcasts on your iPod.

For instance, reading authors such as Zig Ziglar, Dale Carnegie, Dan Miller, John Eldredge and John Maxwell will help put positive thoughts into your mind.

I have found that reading those particular authors along with others, and listening to podcasts such as the Daily Audio Bible keep my mind filled with positive energy.

As Zig Ziglar states, “Your input determines your output.”

By feeding your mind positive information, you will in turn produce positive output in your own life.

Once you begin having positive thoughts of your own and you start seeing yourself positively, it becomes much easier to envision yourself as being a successful artist.

And envision you must.

If you cannot envision yourself being successful as an artist, then you will not be successful.

So, which will it be for you?

Will you continue to let you mind be filled with negative thoughts, or will you turn the tables and start putting positive information into your mind?

It’s your choice & I know that you will want to start feeding upon the positive & rejecting the negative.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What is Success?

Last week we talked about the fact that you, as an artist, are 100% responsible for your future. Whether you are ultimately successful or not is completely up to you. Remember you already have all the tools necessary in which to become successful.

But, what is success really? This is the topic I want to explore today.

Webster’s Dictionary defines success as:

a: degree or measure of succeeding,
b: favorable or desired outcome;
also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence

So, that is what Webster has defined success as, but where does that leave us?

I mean, we all talk about how we want to be successful artists, but what does that mean exactly?

If you have decided that you DO want to be successful, you must then define what success looks like to you.

Take a little bit of time right now to let that sink in. Begin to think and explore in your mind exactly what being successful as an artist looks like to you.

Does success mean wealth for you? If so, how much wealth do you need to have to be considered successful?

Does success mean that you are recognized in the art community as a great artist? If so, what part of the art community needs to recognize your greatness? Is it local, statewide, national or international recognition that you seek?

Does success mean fame & notoriety? If so, what is the scope of your fame?

So, have you given it any thought yet?

What does success look like to you?

For me, being able to create works of art that sells consistently enough & well enough that I am able to support my family well is what success looks like to me. Of course, I also desire the accolades that come with creating great works of art, but bottom line is that I want to be able to create works of art and be able to provide for my family.

Maybe you are like me and simply want to be able to create art & support your family.

Maybe success to you is having a large bankroll & international notoriety?

Maybe it’s this.

Maybe it’s that.

Whatever it is, you must define it for yourself, and you must be specific.

Once you have determined what success looks like to you, you need to understand that you have to be willing to do whatever it takes to see it through. Remember, you are 100% responsible for your success, so you must make sure that you are doing everything in your power to make it happen.

One thing you must know is that there are no short-cuts to becoming successful. You cannot achieve success by trying to cheat the system. You must achieve success through hard work & dedication. Most importantly you must achieve success with strong moral character & integrity.

If you try to get there any other way, you compromise yourself, and any perceived success will be short lived. Once your lack of character or integrity comes to light, and it almost certainly will at some point, people will cease to do business with you.

Another thing you must know is that there is more to success than you might think. Here is what I mean:

I believe that in order to be truly successful as an artist, your perceived success should not affect any other aspect of your life negatively.

In short, you must look to become successful in all areas of your life as well. Because if you do end up becoming a world famous artist, but you have done so by sacrificing your family, your physical health or your spiritual health can you really be considered successful?

Success should never cause you harm in any other area of your life. If it does; you are not truly successful.

Conversely, if you think that there is an area of you life that is not currently running on all cylinders, you must address the issue and correct it. If you do not, the imbalance in your life will eventually begin to affect the other areas of your life and most assuredly it will affect your ability to create art. For example, if you are having issues with your health and you don’t do anything to correct it, your ability to create will eventually be affected.

When it comes to the subject of success, it pays to look for wisdom in other places. One of the places I go to quite often is the Bible.

Luke 9:25 (NIV)
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?

So think of your success in the context of that verse.

Whatever success means to you, it is my hope that you are able to achieve it. Remember you must first define it, and then you must go about attaining it without letting the pursuit of success adversely affect any other area of your life.

With all that has been said today about success, I want to close with what Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say about the subject of success:

"To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

You Are 100% Responsible For All Aspects Of Your Art Career

Last week I gave you a brief introduction as to what you can expect each week on The Empowered Artist, and today we will dive in to a topic that is possibly one the hardest topics for each of us to accept. It is a topic that each of us, as artists, have had to face at one time or another. Maybe it’s at the forefront of your mind right now.

The topic of which I’m speaking, of course, is Personal Responsibility.

What I am going to say next can possibly be seen as being heartless (especially if you are struggling with this topic right now) so I’m just going to say it …

You, as an artist, are 100% responsible for your own future.

Not 50%. Not 75%. Not even 99%.

Let me repeat this for emphasis, you, as an artist, are 100% responsible for your own future.

There is no getting around this fact, especially if you truly want to be successful. You must realize that you alone are responsible for all aspects of being in business as an artist. No one else is responsible for your success. There are no scapegoats that you can use if you are not where you desire to be as an artist. You can accept NO excuses from yourself when it comes to your art career, because frankly, any excuse you dream up for yourself at this point can only be seen as complaining why your career isn’t where it should be.

Here is what you must know …

Complaining will not take your career any higher.
Complaining will not produce beautiful works of art.
Complaining will not sell you art.
Complaining will only guarantee that you achieve mediocrity at best with your art.

Since success is what you want as an artist, then you must begin to recognize when you are setting yourself up for mediocrity. Examine the thoughts that cross your mind when you think about your art career, especially the thoughts that come up when you are examining any potential roadblock in your career.

You may find yourself saying:

“I want to be successful as an artist” …

"but, all I want to do is create. I don’t want to have to do anything else."

Or, "but, I'm not good at marketing my own work."

Or, "but, I don't have time to do everything."

Or, “but, I have to do something else just to earn a living”

Or, “but, I can’t now that I have all this responsibility.”

If you find that any of these thoughts or any similar thoughts have crossed your mind, you need to understand that by allowing these thoughts to permeate you mind you are actually sabotaging your own efforts to succeed.

These complaints or excuses you create in your mind are really just your way of comforting yourself for not living up to your end of the bargain. It’s like saying to yourself, “it’s just to hard,” and then laying on the couch and eating ice cream.

In his book, “The War of Art,” Steven Pressfield refers to those things that stand between the life you live & the life you wish to live as “resistance.” Can you see how these complaints and excuses that have been floating around in your mind are just a form of resistance that is standing between you and the life you desire? I hope you can.

If you haven’t read Pressfield’s book, I highly recommend that you do so as it lays out exactly what creative types must do to overcome “resistance.”

Again, the success you desire is only attainable if you take 100% responsibility for your own career.

Josiah Charles Stamp, President of the Bank of England in the 1920's, once said,

“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”

Here is why you can’t escape responsibility …

Let’s say that all you truly want to do is create your art work, and you want someone else to handle all the day-to-day aspects of your business. Let’s even take for granted that you have the means in which to hire the person or persons to do that for you.

Well, you have to take responsibility to do the research that finds the individual(s) that you can trust that will handle those aspects of your business. You have to make sure that they are going to represent you & your work as you intend them to. Then once you have hired the people to do the work, you have the responsibility of making sure that they continually represent you & your work as you want to be represented.

As I said last week, you are the best advocate for your art, so you have to make sure the people you have representing your art are familiar with how you would want your work represented. And you also have to remember that it is a continual process.

So you see, even if you can have other take care of certain aspects of your career, you are no less responsible for its success.

Here is the good news if you have the desire to create art. I mean, if you truly desire to be an artist, then odds are that you CAN do all the work that is necessary to be successful. Even if you don’t feel that you have the required skill set for a particular area, it is a skill set that can be learned. You have all the tools necessary at your disposal to be successful.

Two verses from the Bible sum up why I believe that you can be successful as an artist if that is what you truly desire.

Psalms 8:3 -5

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?
You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. (NIV)

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

These verses point to two things.

First, that each of us has been crowned with glory & honor. I believe that each of us displays the glory that was bestowed on us in different ways. For us creative types, I believe we display this glory through the act of creating art.

Second, that God has distinct plans for each of us that give us hope and a future. If you have a burning desire to create art, chances are that it is part of the plan God has for you. It is your job to figure out exactly what that means for you, but it should give you hope for the future.

I feel that I need to remind you that this process we are undertaking is a journey. Many of the obstacles that we need to overcome will be hard fought battles. Learning to take 100% responsibility for your career is one of those battles. That is why I want to closeout with what has become known as an unofficial mantra of the Marine Corps. It is: improvise, adapt and overcome

Feel free to use this mantra as you approach the obstacles you face that try to keep you from taking 100% responsibility for your career. Remember, you have everything you need at your disposal to become successful. You just may have to improvise, adapt and overcome! The key to the mantra being that you WILL overcome.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Introduction to The Empowered Artist

The Empowered Artist is now available on iTunes.

Below is a transcript of the introduction to "The Empowered Artist." Enjoy.

Hello & welcome to “The Empowered Artist.” My name is Brian Crawford & I would like to thank you for joining me as part of your day as you seek “inspiration for your creative journey!”

I am so glad that you have decided to join me today as we begin a journey that I believe will help each of us become more successful artists. This journey, after all, will help us reach new heights in our art careers.

Success is what we are after. We will accept nothing less.

This blog/podcast is intended to help you reach your full potential as an artist.

How do we intend to make you more successful as an artist?

How do we intend to help you reach your full potential?

Let’s begin by acknowledging that there are many facets to being an artist and having an art career. There are topics that range from art instruction, materials, marketing, studio time, galleries, pricing, etc. There is just so much that can & should be addressed.

With that being said, I want to first tell you what this blog/podcast won’t be about…

First, this blog/podcast will in no way be providing art lessons or tips on how to directly improve your paintings, drawings or sculptures. We will not talk about what brushes or canvas to buy; how to apply paint; or what materials work best for a given application. I am making an assumption that most everyone who listens in on this blog/podcast will already have a basic understanding of how to create art. Whether you are a painter, a sculptor or printmaker, I am assuming that you have achieved at least a general appreciation of all that goes into the creation process. That’s not to say that our work cannot be improved upon, because let’s face it … success as an artist IS a journey it is not a destination. Some of us are a little farther along in that journey, but no matter where we are, we should always be striving to improve upon our craft. There will always be some new way in which we can make our work just a little bit better. We are never finished learning how to make art.

Now, if you feel that you do need to have actual art instruction. That’s fine as well. I hope you will continue enjoying this blog/podcast as I feel it will also help you immensely on your journey as an artist. But do go out and enroll in an art class at your local community college or university. There are plenty of good instructors in the college ranks, or if you prefer, you can take private lessons. Read books and magazines. Do whatever you feel necessary to help you become a more accomplished artist. Whatever you do, don’t stop learning. Continue to advance your knowledge; your technique; your craft. It will serve you well if you are always striving to perfect your art.

As you do this, surround your self with like minded people; other artists who will support and encourage you as you continue on this journey. You will need their positive thoughts and words of encouragement if you desire to be successful.

Second, this blog/podcast will not delve much into the marketing aspect of art, although I believe every artist desperately needs to learn how to market their art. Let’s face facts, your art will not sell itself & like it our not, you are its best advocate so you must learn to talk about your art and you must learn the business side as well. It is crucial to your success.

Now, I realize that when you dreamed of becoming an artist, the business aspect was the last thing on your mind. I also know that academia does not really prepare one for the real world of art either. It seems that most artists simply think that “if they make it or create it, the buyers will come.” That is SO not what happens in the real world. You must realize that you are in the business of being an artist. You are, in effect, an entrepreneur which means there is a lot more to do than just creating your art. Marketing your art is difficult, but if you learn how to do it, it is SO rewarding.

My blogs/podcasts will touch upon the marketing and business side of art from time to time, but if you want more in-depth information on marketing I would highly recommend Alyson Stanfield of She is extremely knowledgeable in the area of marketing yourself as an artist. She has a podcast available on iTunes that I would recommend as it is also one of the podcasts that I listen to. I would also recommend picking up her book, “I’d Rather Be in the Studio.” It is chock full of information that will help you succeed in the area of selling yourself & your art.

Now that I’ve told you what this blog/podcast will not be about, let’s move on to what this blog/podcast WILL be about.

This blog/podcast will be about getting the most out of your self as an artist. It will be about nurturing those things that help you create & getting past those little things that seem to nag at you & stand in your way of creating truly great art. All of those “little things,” of course, tend to exist deep inside each of us and they tend to be the biggest obstacles in our way.

Here is a brief list of some of the topics that we will be covering each week as we start on this journey:

We will be talking about our desire to create; where that desire comes from & what you can do to nurture it.

We will be talking about how art and the process of creation is a deeply spiritual matter. How the very act of creating can bring you closer to God.

We will talk about ourselves & how one’s self-image is of the upmost importance if you truly want to be successful as an artist.

We will talk about maintaining a positive attitude, or about how you can create a positive self-image that will help you reach new levels in the creative process. You can’t sell your art if you don’t believe in yourself, but you will have little problem finding people to champion your art if you do.

We will talk about daily affirmation & how it can be used to help reframe how you see yourself as an artist.

We will talk about overcoming procrastination. Where procrastination really comes from & what you can do to get past it.

We will talk about creating definite plans of action.

We will talk about how goals are of utmost importance if you want to succeed. Success comes to those who plan.

We will talk about overcoming fear in the creative process.

We will talk about the importance of surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals who are interested in achieving the same type of success you are.

We will talk about how essential positivity is in your life as an artist. There is no time to brood around as a tortured artist if you truly want to be successful.

So, as you can plainly tell. This blog/podcast is about making you into a successful artist from the inside-out. I believe that a well-rounded positive outlook in all areas of your life will benefit your artwork tremendously.

I also want to give you an idea of what to expect in the format of these weekly blogs/podcasts. The format itself will be relatively static. I envision bringing you words of inspiration and encouragement for five to ten minutes each week. Each week will bring a different topic like I mentioned earlier. It is my hope that the topics will continually build on one another week after week in order to give you a more rounded idea of what it takes to be a successful artist. From time to time, I hope to also bring you interviews with different artists on how they have become more successful in their careers. As the audience for this blog/podcast grows, I would also like to start spending some time each week at the end of the blog/podcast answering questions from you in order that I might offer some personal tips to specific obstacles that you may be facing in your career.

Well, that is about it for now. I hope that you have enjoyed this brief intro into “The Empowered Artist.” I hope as the weeks go by you will continue to listen in and benefit from what we have to offer. Just so you know, I imagine that I will be getting as much benefit from these blogs/podcasts as you will.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Again, thank you for joining me today. It has been a real pleasure sharing this time with you. Remember, we are on this journey together as fellow artists. God bless you & may your art be empowered today!