A New Year’s Resolution for Artists
An empowering New Year’s resolution for artists serious about advancing their career is to take control and create your own opportunities rather than believing success is all about luck. Read on to find out how you can start 2018 with confidence.
Are you waiting for your lucky break?
Have you ever seen an artist achieve something you have always dreamed of and thought, “How lucky is that?” But was it luck? Dictionaries define luck as “chance or fortune.” If you believe being lucky means randomly being favoured by chance rather than being affected by skill or merit, this implies you don’t have any control over outcomes. I prefer the more empowering definition that “luck is the point where preparation and opportunity meet.”
Where do opportunities come from?
Opportunities usually appear as a result of some action. No one is going to knock on your studio door and discover you if your artwork has never been shared with the world. Every artist has to begin somewhere to get the momentum started. Usually this process is born in the sharing of artwork with family and friends and, as confidence builds, exhibiting in the wider community. With the technology available today, artists can even start in a virtual way by sharing their creations through social networking pages or by setting up a website.
Opportunities will generate as a direct result of all these ever-expanding actions. People will see your work and may directly provide you with an opportunity (such as buying a piece), or they may refer you to someone else who gives you information that takes you on a path to unexpected opportunities (such as informing you of new galleries or exhibitions). One opportunity often leads to another. Sometimes patience is needed, as a period of time may lapse between taking a particular action and an opportunity coming from it. You may initially attribute this opportunity to sheer luck, until you make the association between it and the original groundwork you laid. It’s this preparation that leads to lucky breaks.
You won’t even recognise opportunities that show up if you feel you aren’t good enough to move beyond your present situation or if you are closed-minded about possibilities. Opportunities are everywhere but may not be in the form you expect. Don’t limit yourself with preconceived ideas about the kind of opportunities you are looking for. Unexpected adventures can be stepping stones to the things you ultimately want. They may take you the long, scenic route rather than the quickest, most direct route, but as long as you are having fun along the way, does it matter? To open your eyes to possibilities, you must believe you are as worthy as anyone else to achieve what you want. Practice recognising how lucky you already are by appreciating your health, the people you love, your freedom to pursue artistic passion, and all the wonderful things life has to offer.
Be prepared for opportunities
You may recognise an opportunity but realise you are not in a position to take advantage of it right now as you are not adequately prepared. This gives you clues as to the work that still needs to be done on yourself and your business. Maybe you need a particular qualification for a desired art school posting, a revamped artist’s statement and CV for submissions to galleries, or high-resolution images of artwork ready for press releases. Rather than feeling bad about any missed opportunities, learn from them, and prepare yourself for future ones. Remember, luck is the point where preparation and opportunity meet.
Act on opportunities
When an opportunity presents itself, this alone will not translate into good luck unless you follow up with some action to take advantage of it before it disappears. If you are prepared, you will be able to meet the challenge. By acting quickly, even if that just means researching the viability of the opportunity, some energy will be generated around this action that makes you powerful. The longer you wait to act, the more likely your enthusiasm will dwindle as self-doubt creeps in and you have second thoughts.
Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from taking action. Sometimes opportunities aren’t easy to convert into desired outcomes, and you may need to work at them. Just have courage and put your doubts aside, take some action, and be persistent if necessary. Sometimes the opportunity you go after doesn’t come to anything. That’s okay. You cannot control every variable, especially other people’s decisions, but you can control your own actions. Sometimes just making a decision and taking action creates a ripple effect that can have unplanned but pleasing results.
Create your own opportunities
You don’t have to just be reactive and wait for opportunities to come; you can be proactive and create your own. After establishing confidence in yourself and your artwork, you will be able to see where your unique skills would be valued. If you believe you can contribute something to an organisation or individual, approach them with your suggestion. Most organisations are open to new ideas and welcome people with an innovative approach. By being proactive, you can create your own luck. That’s how I have managed to be artist in residence in some of the world’s most amazing tropical locations.
The whole concept of luck has a mysterious quality about it. When it arrives, the form it takes and who it favours can appear random, inexplicable and unpredictable. To the outside observer, whether someone is lucky or unlucky seems to be attributable to fate. But those who have had a “lucky break” will know that factors far less mysterious than chance or fortune had a lot to do with it. It’s often a case of learning to recognise opportunities, doing the work to prepare yourself for them, being brave enough to seize them when they do come along as well as taking the initiative to actually create opportunities. You may find the more you work at it; the luckier you get. If you are doing nothing but just waiting for a lucky break, it will never come.
Start 2018 by asking yourself the following questions and making a resolution to deliberately create your own opportunities.
1). Have you been waiting for your lucky break?
2). What things do you feel others are lucky to be, do or have that you want?
3). How can you start preparing yourself to be ready for these opportunities?
4). What skills or experience do you already have to offer?
5). What opportunities would you like to create for yourself?
6). Devise a plan to create your own lucky break.
Adapted from Chapter 19 of Survival Guide for Artists: How to Thrive in the Creative Arts.
Elena Parashko is an award winning Australian artist, writer and teacher. Her artwork is held in private and corporate collections and galleries throughout Australia and overseas.
As a trained teacher with a Bachelor of Education and Masters in Adult Education, Elena is a regular international tutor of art in Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Hamilton Island, The Maldives and Italy.
Elena is a writer for Leisure Painter magazine in the UK and Professional Artist magazine in the USA. She has also published the book, Survival Guide for Artists: How to Thrive in the Creative Arts. Available via her website, this is an empowering book for all creative people wanting to live the life of their dreams.