How do you decide which set backs mean stop while for others, you persevere? My name is Carrie and here on Artist Strong I help artists like you refine your skill and develop your unique artist voice. Today is Part 4 of a series that gives you background on building and growing this community space.
One thing that has yet to change for me as Artist Strong has grown: it doesn’t matter how many GOOD emails I get from our community: just one negative email can still strip my sense of accomplishment away. It’s some of the residual perfectionism I still battle, reminding me I’ve done something wrong and therefore, the niggling questions in the back of my mind is: how much else have I done “wrong?”
Thankfully I don’t always feel that way. And good comes from those moments: this whole series is born from one of those emails. And THAT is what today is really about: a sampling of the many obstacles I’ve faced with the business and personally in the past and how I’ve tried to use them as fuel to serve the Artist Strong community.
One of the earliest obstacles I came across was the need to rename my blog. I had blogged for several years under the name Artist Think, but I found out I couldn’t trademark the name. I decided to rename the company and hire someone to develop my logo and branding imagery.
Choosing a new name was SO hard! I talk about this in another article I’ll link below this video. In the end, however, it became a huge rallying point for our community and one of you lovely humans helped me choose Artist Strong.
Another obstacle of sorts is the number of sign ups I get when I promote my programs. Each time I run a program, I have sign ups. This is GREAT. But if you do any of the math on what I’m making with recent sign up numbers in Part 3 you’d realize there’s no way for me to yet take a salary.
I am, however, slowly beginning to cover my yearly costs of Artist Strong and this is a huge win. And that’s because of all of you wonderful people who see value in the programs I offer and invest in them AND/or support me via Patreon.
Each time I offer a program I’m so hopeful the number of sign ups will increase. And they do. But it’s never by the numbers I hope for, so I feel a sense of loss. I can’t stay in that place for very long though because I do have amazing students to show up for and serve. All it takes for me is hear about ONE “aha” moment and I’m all fired up again. That’s inspiration and fuel for me.
I saw Gary Vaynerchuk speak a few months ago and a big takeaway I had was his statement: “You gotta have patience.” And, you do. This is especially important in the online world of heavy curation and the appearance of people “getting ahead” or having quick wins.
I wonder how many creatives give up on their success too soon? I also wonder how many start aiming for some big goal and expect it to happen much sooner than is realistic to expect…
THAT is why I share some of this with you today. I don’t feel like I have “big wins.” I haven’t been “discovered.” For the past 3 years I’ve worked really, really hard to build a trustworthy space that is only NOW starting to cover costs and gain traction. And guess what: I’m damn proud of it all, too 🙂
Part of this journey would not be possible without the help of my husband Joseph. We met in Dubai and both of us had full time jobs. After we married his job transferred us to Muscat and that became my opportunity to really focus on Artist Strong.
Today our circumstances are different. My husband is going back to school for his masters. And that adds a whole new layer of experience: we no longer have the consistent income we once did. I put pressure on myself to achieve and briefly considered going back to a part time or full time job, in addition to my work with Artist Strong.
And of course, there were many other kinds of obstacles in between: a random health problem for me popping up making me cut out dairy and gluten from my diet, my Dad’s passing, our move from Oman to Canada, my residency application to live in Canada with my husband, the long wait while we wonder which university and where, and then the move from British Columbia to Ontario.
Some days I felt like no matter how hard I worked I wasn’t “winning.” And that not yet profiting meant I was a failure. I still feel uncomfortable telling you this, as if I’m admitting some “Terrible” secret, or that it’s somehow stains our community, so clearly I have some more work to do around this. But you all keep me going.
I’d see one of you have a huge leap in your skill, or hear someone talk about their first gallery show and my heart felt (and feels!) full. I receive constant reminders that I’m doing the right work. It isn’t easy, secure, or fast, but I know it’s right. SO here I am, serving.
Doing this work is about constantly experimenting. I am an artist scientist finding the best recipes for student success. It also means I have to test a lot of hypotheses. And that takes time. As Gary Vee says, “You gotta have patience.”
I’m sure this isn’t the best advice for everyone, but for me I know there is no such thing as giving up. Artist Strong may look very different in the years to come but I’m showing up. I’m sticking with it.
There will always be people ahead of us who make us wonder “when will I get there?” and emails from people who make unfair assumptions about who you are, and what you do. The real success is to let it all roll off of your shoulders, roll up your sleeves, and get painting.
Be Creatively Courageous: What is one area of your creative life where you can exercise your patience muscles? Let’s talk about it in the comments below.
Perseverance is a constant challenge for me, but you are an inspiration! !!
Jt <3 I appreciate your kind words. And perseverance, grit, is a muscle you can build. A little bit of stretch at a time <3 I'm cheering you on!
I like that…a muscle. Thanks Carrie!
Thanks for your transparency Carrie I’m new to your online materials and help. I find it very helpful in my journey as an artist, in dealing with patience I thought that I had it until I found out the level of patience it’s going to take for me to reach a higher level with my drawing skill.
Reggie I’m glad the resources here are helping you on your journey. I totally understand what you mean about growing and stretching – patience is one of things I’m constantly re-learning because of this journey.
Carrie – you are an inspiration! Allowing it to be slow and continuing to go with the flow is difficult for me as well. I’m sorry for your struggle – know that you are not alone and however big a difference you think you are making, it is tenfold that – I promise.
I have mde incredible strides in my drawing and my perspective of my art since completing Better Drawing Bootcamp – I’m learning to embrace that I have to take my time and go much more slowly than I would like to be able to improve and get faster – ironic how that applies to other areas of life as well 🙂 I am actually getting excited thinking about going through the course materials again – after I “complete” one or more of my assessment drawings.
As always, thank you for all you do Carrie. Your sacrifices are not in vain. You make a huge difference in the lives you touch.
Sunni your words mean a LOT to me. I’m so blessed people like you believe in the work that I do and find benefit in it. <3 I hope you share those drawings from Bootcamp as you complete them. Warmest wishes to you.
Carrie, I resonated with this particular article so much that I wanted to respond. I have so many wonderful artist friends who have given up…some due to not having places to show their art and some due to not being able to sell their art. There have been so many times when I too, have been discouraged….the loss of a daughter, the recent diagnosis of my husband with a heart condition….and many many moves over the years. Moving always makes us start all over again but it can be so disrupting as well. What I can share is that for some of us, there is a spirit of courageousness; a spirit of not allowing anything or anyone to daunt the belief that we have something to say as artists that has importance. So my dear, “keep on keeping on”. HURRAH for you and thanks so very much for encouraging other creative people through your writings!
Gloria, thank you so much for taking the time to respond and share your experience. There are so many obstacles that show up in our lives that can stop us from doing the things we love, or from aiming for the goals we wish to reach. I love how you said “there is a spirit of courageousness; a spirit of not allowing anything or anyone to daunt the belief that we have something to say as artists that has importance…” AMEN. Thank you for sharing. And yes, may we ALL keep on keeping on. Because the work we do is important and valuable. <3
I think every artists knows this feeling. I actually think many give up because they expect success sooner than it is realistic to expect. Thanks for cheering us on! Your work is so important and helps so many artists! 🙂 I like your last sentence! “The real success is to let it all roll off of your shoulders, roll up your sleeves, and get painting.” – So true!
I hope more artists realize this is a normal part of our journey, not a sign of failure, or that we should give up. Thank you Katharina for your kind words and for taking the time to share your thoughts.
What if you haven’t made the decision to pursue art school yet do to life issues, but the idea keeps coming back even years later while other career ideas and choices are simultaneously happening?
You don’t need art school to make time for your art interests <3