Why Some Artists Will Almost Certainly Thrive and Prosper in the New Economy


some artists will almost certainly thriveThere is revolution in the air.

Unless you have spent the last four or so years on Mars you can’t have missed the restless loss of direction of the western world as it has struggled to make sense of the momentous economic catastrophes unraveling all around.

Security, certainty and jobs have been sucked into a wild vortex of global meltdown.

But, it is in shifting times like these that revolutions happen… Rules can be rewritten, systems can be changed. Paradigms shift… Revolutions can create positive new opportunities…

The times they are a changing…

Seth Godin, in a recent post, talked about the fact that the jobs, as we know them, aren’t coming back…

“Job creation is a false idol. The future is about gigs and assets and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects. It will change the fabric of our society along the way. No one is demanding that we like the change, but the sooner we see it and set out to become an irreplaceable linchpin, the faster the pain will fade, as we get down to the work that needs to be (and now can be) done.” – Seth Godin

It’s not about waiting for the old jobs to come back. That isn't going to happen. It is about taking things into your own hands and creating the work that you want to do… and as artists and artisans, we are perfectly positioned to take advantage of this change…

The artists who will thrive and prosper will do these things…

  • They will seek out successful mentors, experts and teachers who will educate them in specific business skills such as marketing and selling
  • They will surround themselves with a community of like-minded others who will inspire them and keep them highly motivated
  • They will continue to read, study and learn all that they can about the business of art
  • They will continue to hone their presentation and closing skills
  • They will create a marketing plan with a time deadline and begin executing it
  • They will pick up the phone and make the necessary phone calls to gallery owners and directors

But revolutions are not always bloodless…

Anyone who has ever laid in bed at night wondering how they were going to feed the kids or pay the mortgage or stop the car from being repossessed knows that a revolution is a terrifying time… I have been there.

Opportunities for change are balanced by loss. Dreams of a new start are often founded from the stomach churning nightmare of disaster. How can we move forward without being paralyzed by fear of what the future holds?

The revolution of the mind starts here…

“When everyone has a laptop and connection to the world, then everyone owns a factory. Instead of coming together physically, we have the ability to come together virtually, to earn attention, to connect labor and resources, to deliver value.” - Seth Godin

Artists and creative people have always had the kind of skills needed to survive in the art world. Self motivation, Pro activity, focus, passion and a burning desire to create something wonderful. These skills now stand you in good stead.

The difference between the past and now is that you don’t need anyone else to sell or promote or make things for you. The tools available today offer the ability to connect and reach all over the world. We are in unprecedented times.

Don’t sit and wait for someone else to create a job for you. Create your OWN.

You CAN break out of the system.

Think laterally.

So how can we push forward? The failing economy has meant that it has become harder for artists to sell some kinds of work.

Buyers cut back on non-essential purchases, meaning that they might not buy a painting they wouldn’t have thought twice about purchasing three years ago.

Art sales are lower in some areas and it may seem like an uphill battle to find a place in the new economy. What can you do?

The answer is to think laterally and find a place where your creative skills and a NEED come together. Look around. What do people or businesses really need {not just want} and how can you help them with that?

When you find the intersection between what you love creating, and a need, then you will have found the sweet spot that will  create opportunity for you. Creating, solving people's problems and getting paid for it. Perfect.

Focus on flexibility and improving your business skills. Understand how things work in business so that you can ride the wave rather than getting swept along by it.

Start to create multiple income streams from your skills all of which can contribute to your household income and offer protection against market fluctuations.

Maybe, in time you will be able to create opportunities for others who are less well equipped for the journey…

Brave New World.

The world is changing and this can be disconcerting and frightening. Every revolution shakes up the system and often what comes after is much better.

The jobs aren’t coming back anytime soon and the shape of the new recovery will not be the same as the old way. It’s not an easy road by any means, but surely it’s time to reform the economic landscape to be more humane.

To work in ways that are FOR people, rather than AGAINST them. You have the creative skills and mindset to be at the forefront of this revolutionary new landscape.

Time to be brave and grasp the opportunity of a new paradigm.

Please let us know how you are managing to take the bull by the horns and create your own way in this brave new world.

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This Post Has 37 Comments

  1. Nick Venturella

    Gary, I really enjoyed this post. In my opinion, you’re right on with your thoughts, and that Seth Godin is a wise man. I work with creative solopreneurs to help them marketing themselves better toward more sales of their creative offering…I would love to have you write a guest post on my site along a similar thought line as this post.

    Keep up the great work.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hi Nick. I would certainly like to write a guest post on your site. Looking forward to working with you. And thanks for your comments.

      1. Suzy

        Ecomnoies are in dire straits, but I can count on this!

    2. sutulov

      It all makes perfect sense, the shifting of times… But don’t forget why we got to this point in the first place. We may blame a financial default; we may address a series of systemic failures and come up with halfway solutions such is the case for America and Europe who are starting to behave chronically ill. In the case of art, the symptoms are more illustrative in the measure it became each day gravely none-transcendental. The change ahead of us is of monumental proportions; this is not only about new opportunities or reconsiderations. The art world requires, demands a new level of enthusiasm, a capability of astonishment; outside the sphere of speculation and redundancy.

      I feel all strength to join in and jump in the same boat, a navigational device where all previous buffoonery must fly out the window. Time is running out and a sense of urgency is crossing frontiers; not only geographical ones, but cultural ones where the banality of art fairs, biennales, art events in general are incapable of bringing forward the strength of identity, a sense of belonging, the predicament of permanent public installations where real people have a chance to converge and eventually transcend into a new form, the rebirth of culture.

      1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

        Thanks for your very interesting and well-put comments. You are right about a lot of things here. You speak of the banality of art fairs, biennales, art events in general being incapable of bringing forward the strength of identity, a sense of belonging. I have felt this for a long time time now but your verbalizing of it makes it painfully real to me as I write this. We do need a reawakening, a rebirth, a new direction in the arts. But who will bring it?

  2. Sheff's Corner

    “-They will seek out successful mentors, experts and teachers who will educate them in specific business skills such as marketing and selling
    -They will surround themselves with a community of like-minded others who will inspire them and keep them highly motivated…”

    Great insight. The struggling economy provides us with a great opportunity to define ourselves as artists. I am one of the small business guys really excited about opportunities that present themselves, not only nationally, but globally as well.

    Broadly speaking, it’s as if the collapse put many creative talents on equal ground. Many businesses and clients have to cut back, causing them to consider lower costing alternatives.

    Bigger, well known agencies have to cut back on staff or offer lower wages for the same services talented individuals can offer. Tough economic times like the one we’re in now should be every creative person’s dream.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Thanks so much for your comments. Now, more than ever, we should be speaking the words of our dreams, of who you want to be, not the words of fear and failure. Look at this financial crisis as a blessing rather than a curse, an opportunity rather than a problem, a challenge rather than an obstacle, a time to win rather than a time to lose. And be glad when things are difficult because difficulty is the dividing line between winners (you) and losers (your competitors). Think of difficulty and struggle as the training ground of champions.

  3. Pingback: Surviving and thriving in the arts - Digital Marketing Coach | GrowLoop | Nick Venturella

  4. Judith MacKay England UK

    I love what you have to say and look forward to hearing more from you.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hello Judith. Thanks for your comments. I look forward to hearing from you more in the future. Thanks again.

  5. juartychick

    OMG how wonderful that I am linked to you Gary. You are such an inspirational speaker.

    I gave up a teaching job to follow an art career. I don’t have an art degree but I have confidence in my own abilities. I run a small B&B with my husband, who is a part time post man. The great thing is the time I have for my art. I am very productive and never short of ideas.

    I find that people buy your art when they are engaged with you. So I surround myself with people who love art and want to create it themselves, in turn they come to my art classes, workshops and bring their friends to my art exhibitions.

    This year we are putting our energy into promoting an art experience, where beginners or those who need a refresher course or want to try something new without the cost of buying everything then finding it’s not for them, can come along to our B&B work in a well-equipped studio and have tuition and encouragement tailored to their needs.

    The area we have chosen to live is perfect for inspirational walks and teaming with wildlife, but is a short journey away from a city centre too which makes it perfectly placed for people to harvest images to start the development of their artwork.

    In the past we have tried more generic advertising, but as you say things are changing and we are now going to focus on very specific marketing aimed at leisure artists.

    I find that while I keep talking to folk about being an artist and totally enjoying the art experience myself then commissions keep flowing in. These commissions in turn also inspire me.

    My web pages have changed too and this has been due to being ‘Linked In’ and seeing how others work. This will evolve and become more refined as my skills increase, but I do the work myself and find handing over to other professionals more of a chore. I like to have hands on experience and develop my skills in an on-going way. So when I read your article I thought I must be on the right track for all that this new age is bringing!

    Website: http://www.aftonbandb.co.uk
    B&B Blog: http://www.aftonwaterview.wordpress.com
    Julie’s Art Blog: http://www.juliewinter.wordpress.com
    Julie’s email: julie.winter2@btinternet.com
    B&B email: aftonwatersforme@gmail.com

    The blogs have great stats, and are free!

    Best Wishes to everyone on their journey to becoming a successful artist.

    Kindest Regards Julie H Winter

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hi Julie. Thanks so much for your wonderful ideas and inspiration here. It looks like you have followed your heart and are living the dream. I like the idea that you are providing fully-equipped studios where artists can come and relax and create. Wow. I love that. Best wishes to you. And thanks again for your comments.

    2. Peter Giles

      Great Paintings Julie,
      Your paintings are awesome.
      As your comments I have taken a bit of an turtle approach to art work.
      I may be wrong, but what I am doing to painting and collecting as many paintings as I can, then have the intestinal fortitude to promote them all at once. It’s the gallery approach, that I can’t promote and sell while I’m working on painting. I find it hobbles me.
      My blog http://www.artbooklook.com now takes a bit of time away from the easel as well, but increasing the quality of artbooks is a passion of mine.
      Thanks for your post,
      Inspirational too!

      1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

        Thanks for your comments. It sounds like you are doing what you love and that you have a lot of passion. Keep up the good work and keep us updated. Thanks again.

  6. Andrea Spinelli

    I appreciate your positive attitude, suggestions and encouragement on getting ahead in a period of change like this. I have not yet specifically focused on what to do next, but I feel that new juicy chances are near at hand and I can do more, even though I am lucky enough to still have commissions from galleries.
    I will keep what you say in mind, thank you.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hi Andrea. Thanks for your comments. I would like to suggest that you stay in touch with your galleries and continue to grow deep relationships with the contacts you have. An art career is built by creating one emotionally charged relationship at a time. Thanks again.

  7. sarmistha tarafder

    I have enjoyed your post. It is a Brave New Playing Field and definitely you are a Sharpshooter. When you write about finding “the intersection between what you love creating, and a need, then you will have found the sweet spot that will create opportunity for you. Creating, solving people’s problems and getting paid for it. Perfect.” ….it is precisely what Edison did.
    “I find out what the world needs, then I proceed to invent….” Thomas Alva Edison

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      I am a big believer in doing what you love. Everything will follow that. And when you strike that chord between what people need and what you love then that is the ultimate. Thanks for your comments.

  8. Andrea Theisson

    This is a good thread – we all need to re-think our definition of art. It is life itself! The communication of spirit – the BIG ideas and connections will become more important as people realize it is time to separate the shallow from the serious artists – mind, body and spirit will show. Be authentic, and keep up your skills, explore and thrive! True artists will endure.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hi Andrea. I like your comment that true artists will endure. Being authentic will far outlive the social media craze that is now surrounding us. We will be authentic and true artists long after many of the social media platforms have disappeared. Thanks again for your comments.

  9. Mindful Drawing

    I’ve already commented on this blogpost on LinkedIn saying I loved reading this article. It is so different from people complaining it is a hard time. Although we surely live in economical hard times, there is so much need for change in the air: people start small businesses out of a need for money, happiness and freedom. It is important to see change and to react to it in a positive way and your article just does that. I second Andrea’s thoughts too. Well said, Andrea.
    Many thanks. Paula

  10. Judy Perrin

    I was linked to this via a mutual group member, and it’s astonishing and uplifting to read things like this; not just the blog itself, but people’s reactions and comments to it. I would agree definitely that art is about relationships with other passionate people.
    Having been made redundant only this October from a factory art job and having received only a very small payoff from that job, I have invested my time and effort into building a career for myself in the art and illustration world, and if nothing else, the feeling of almost total freedom is worth it!
    Whilst I agree that art/craft fairs are feeling antiquated to some, remember that under the right circumstances, they are great places to network too. Selling one’s wares at such fairs is great, but in essence, it’s cheap self-advertising and again, a good platform to build relationships from.
    My business coach said to me only a couple of weeks ago “The key to any sales is conversation – don’t go to sell, go to have a conversation with someone.” Once you’ve built up a rapport with a person passionate about what you do, the rest seems to fall into place.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hi Judy and thanks for your comments. I really love what you business coach said about the key to sales was to have conversations with people. Thanks for sharing that with us, as it is a gold nugget for those of us in the trenches. Good luck with your new business venture and keep us updated on your progress. We are all looking forward to hearing from you again.

  11. Marsha Hamby Savage

    Gary, I came to your blog through LinkedIn …. because what you said hit a nerve with me. I just had a meeting at my home with twelve “like-minded” artists to discuss our experiences, what we are trying new, how we can stay true to our art, and a general discussion about the best way to market. Each artist brought their own unique experiences to the table.

    Also, I love the comment above about it being about conversations and relationships. I said this many times, it is not always about “me”, but what is it about the client or customer? We need to listen more than we need to talk! We need to be proactive. And that is what this group will be doing.

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Hi Marsha. I think it’s great that you have an artist group where you can find emotional and practical support. This is so important and will help you keep going in difficult times. Keep us updated in the future and let us know more how your are progressing. Thanks for your comments.

  12. Marylyn Wiedmaier

    Hello Gary~This is some great and inspiring information, Thanks. It is true that the creatives are survivers and can find a way to forge ahead. This past year I have taken my creativity into landscape design that people can install themselves or with some assistance with hardscaping.
    People still enjoy a beautiful place to live since they are spending more time at home. Along with my design plans I create illustrations of how the property and or new gardens will look, These are art pieces that peaple are willing to purchase and frame.
    For me this is a great way to be creative in a variety of ways.
    Marylyn Wiedmaier
    Barefoot Artistry

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Thanks so much for your comments. Let us know how you progress with your plans. thanks again

  13. Scott Branden

    Already doing it Gary! A great article about the new wave of “The Entrepreneur Revolution”!

    The best help I have found to propel my art has come from this accelerator program called The Key Person of Influence accelerator program here: http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com.au and http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com

    For more about my art see http://www.scottbranden.com

    I have a survey here too: Warning! Don’t read this survey if you are not interested in art! Here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/GRV9LTQ

  14. Scott Branden

    Gary, great article about the new wave of “The Entrepreneur Revolution” Gary, thanks for this. Artists need a great sales funnel too, so structuring your sales funnel with a great totally free gift to get prospects involved, then offering a great and useful intro product/artwork to get them more involved that leads to the purchase of a major work, i.e. the core product. Google had some stats on this via their ZMOT or Zero Moment Of Truth article. Essentially they say that a prospect will need 10.4 interactions before a major purchase so this equates to several hours of lead time before a prospect becomes a customer. So what does this mean for the artist? Well you need to design a sales funnel that will offer free stuff with no obligation, offer great intro product/s that you use to build a list, and then have a great core product to give a truly remarkable experience for the art purchaser! Theres more, much more I could say about this but you get the idea. For more about my art see http://www.scottbranden.com

  15. nigel Fletcher

    Your post all makes a lot of sense to me too. And I have read similar texts over the last few days. Everyone is saying is a big sea-change and we should all get on board. We should and most will, but its hard work and very time consuming, I know, no pain no gain, etc, there must be plenty of artists who would love to employ – part time – someone who has loads of marketing savvy and computer skills to help them out for a couple of days a week, while they get on with the other part of the job of making art. And we can still dream of that

    1. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

      Thanks for your comments. I look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

  16. andrea

    Despite everybody feels and talks about winds of change, around here it is business as usual.
    Greetings from the old continent.

  17. Gary Bolyer Fine Art

    Thanks for commenting. I will be looking forward to hearing more from you in the future.

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