I've never considered myself lucky, but this year, I'm starting to think I am. I've been painting "professionally" meaning I've had corporate clients pay money for my art since 2010. I've never treated art as a full-time job as I never really thought it was possible.
What I've learned in looking back at my career as an artist, is that the more I put my work out there, the more clients I book. The funny thing is, my art sales are not a function of me selling. It's very seldom that I approach a human, in person or on the internet, and ask them, "will you buy this painting?".
That's totally not how I "sell art".
I've been lucky in that people have appreciated my artwork so much that they've asked if I could paint something for their office, home, or whatever. So I've realized that becoming an artist as a profession is about creating luck. It's about creating opportunity by becoming visible.
In order for me to sell art, I need to show the world what I create. The more I do this, it seems, the more work finds me. It's a very interesting that my art business is being built by people asking to buy things from me rather than me trying to sell people things I make. I consider this way of doing business lucky.
People who are lucky, get luckier. It's weird. Just like people with money attract more money. I am being more proactive about creating opportunity, so that I might increase my luckiness. That means building relationships, and sharing my work with the world.
Luck, when it comes to my art sales, seems to be a combination of three things. Awareness, execution, and reputation. I consider myself a kind person. I try my best to treat people well when I interact with them. I try my best to do my best when I make things. I try to make each painting "better" than the last. The notion of making "better art" is really weird, but it's totally a thing. I definitely think my art has improved over the years, and it's because I create intentionally, and deliberately.
One of my friends and mentors is Patrick Thompson. He's someone I've admired for over a decade. I've watched him grow his design company from startup to award winning company and his work is staggeringly beautiful. He is a collector of mine, but also a champion, as he's also commissioned my work for his design clients. He's also indirectly supported my craft throughout the years as his clients have appreciated my art and when they inquire, he's been kind enough to provide referrals.
I thank him profusely every time I get a project by referral, and last time I thanked him he said to me something to the effect of "if you weren't good at what you do, or weren't a nice guy, I wouldn't refer the business." That is what got me thinking about luck and how it's created (for me as an artist).
Luck is the combination of being a nice person (be someone who is enjoyable to work with), producing high quality work, and having exposure to an audience. Without any one of these components, I don't think I would be so lucky.
I'm very grateful when someone emails or texts me with a project, and am surprised every time it happens. Without any direct selling, I get at least one mural project every year. I'm really lucky.
Now if I were to be more proactive, and value myself as an artist the way Patrick Thompson and others do, I could probably get more work. So that's precisely what I am slash will do. And it seems to be working already. I complimented an interior designer today on LinkedIn and invited her to connect, and she replied with "so glad you reached out, I want to get a quote for a mural project for X company".
I really don't like self promotion, but I need to get over that. That's the biggest reason why I'm not a full-time artist. I've been neglecting the third component of getting lucky.
I consistently create art that people appreciate, and I'm a nice person to those I interact with, but I don't put my artwork in front of enough people. I'm going to be more proactive in this way, and become prolific as an artist to get my work in front of as many eyes as possible. I will share what I do more broadly, and I will create more opportunity. I'll get luckier every month, and every year, because I will work to make it happen.