In this podcast, Klee and I discuss five important things that we keep in mind whenever we approach our art career or ANYTHING in life. Find out more about us at www.rafiandklee.com.
Klee and I get asked a lot of questions by artists from all around the world. Just about every day we get a question in our inbox about the personal struggles that some of these amazing creatives are having. Most times we have some kind of insight or experience on the subject, sometimes we don’t.
Listen, no one is an expert at how to deal with your situation, the best any of us can do is give our two cents. We are all just figuring out our own way to make this thing happen. Recently, someone contacted me about marketing their art and having a website. They had signed up for a mentorship program for artists that cost about $2000. Part of me was like “I’m an idiot for talking about this stuff online for free, and the other part of me was like “What could they possibly be giving for that much?”
As it turns out, it’s the same cookie cutter bullshit marketing program that people have been promoting to artists all over the place. Facebook ads, niche marketing, find your audience, targeted marketing, blah blah blah.
An artist contacted me saying:
I am an artist and someone referred you to me. They said that you encourage artists to create their own way and screw what others might say. I just fired —— as an art mentor because he wants me to only market my wall art and nothing else. I can’t do that. I am having good success with selling my art and crafts. I just want to get more into marketing online because so many of my venues got canceled this year because of COVID19.Artist
I responded with:
A lot of those programs have to do with the way a lot of people market products online, which works if you have a niche that you fall into. That way you can do targeted marketing. I think —- does great as a marketing guy and a writer because you can really target your market with books, especially if you are targeting marketing books to artists who want to learn marketing.
I have an issue with this type of marketing because it niches you, which I seriously doubt an artist can be niched for very long. Yet if you are putting yourself out there consistently as a creative you form a following of people who are interested in you and what YOU create. This takes a lot longer, but slowly you create a loyal following. It took me ten years to get where I am, and honestly, I’m not a big deal at all.
The trick is thinking long term and understanding that it will take time.
I don’t really have a mentorship program because I make my money from my art, the videos I share are simply because I wanted to give my perspective and share things I wish someone would have shared with me.
To be honest with you, I’m just figuring it out as I go and sharing whatever I learn. I have a community of people on Patreon that support the video side and support one another.
Please feel free to contact me when you have any specific questions and if I can I will most definitely answer in a video.
She wrote back and this made me a little pissed.
Thank you so much for answering me back! I like the idea of watching your videos. That would work just fine. It is very generous of you to be willing to help other artists without charging money. Thanks!
—- wanted to put me into a very small niche that I didn’t feel I fit into. That may have been ok for me 30 years ago, but I’ve grown as a person and as an artist. I need more than that now. I read his book and it was helpful, but working with him in person is a big NO. He has this attitude that if I don’t do what he wants me to do that I will fail. Then he gets rude and instead of listening to me, he just says, “Suck it up!” Not cool at all. I like people with confidence, but I get the sense that he has TOO much confidence and maybe a bit egotistical.
Should I run more than one website if I want to do more than one thing as he suggests?Artist
Honestly, it doesn’t sound like confidence to me. Truly confident people don’t behave that way, but arrogant people are usually riddled with insecurity underneath a layer of false confidence.
I can’t tell you if it is wrong or right, but I can tell you what I do… again, I don’t officially know what I am doing, but I like making things simple for myself. It would be a pain in the butt to run more than one website. On top of that, I don’t care about marketing a niche. I would much rather have a following that identifies me as a creative. It’s true that if your site is concise, it is easier for people to navigate because they are trained by most websites to just focus on one thing. Most people identify things they experience in the world by labeling someone or something a specific title, for example, “She does nature art.” So a lot of marketing people go in this direction because it is easier to market.
But most people know that if you go to Etsy or Amazon you are going to look for what you want, and most times you look through the various products to find what calls to you.
My website is a behemoth. It has Klee’s jewelry, my art, T-Shirts, Our Music, Stickers, Posters, Made to order artist prints, Short motivational MP3’s for artists, A section for our Patreon following and who knows what else.
We love our website, it is so much more than just a selling platform, it is a maze that contains our story and communicates what we’ve done, who we are, and what we believe in. Some people get lost, but most navigate it just fine.
I’ll be honest, for years I tried to make things as simple as possible on my site, and as it turns out you’ll never be able to make it simple enough for some… and most people know how to navigate a website and don’t get confused if you have more than one item type.
I could follow the status quo of marketing 101 if I wanted to. Honestly, it is super easy to get fast results if you just focus on one thing and that is ALL you are focused on, which is why these marketing courses usually go this route in order to prove themselves to the artist. They get fast but temporary results that are not sustainable for the artist. Artists are dynamic, but promoting yourself as a multifaceted artist takes time; it is for the long road.
I think as artists, it’s all about taking our awesome imagination and just going for it. Getting our work out there and thinking about ways to get it in front of new people and people who already follow you. There isn’t an art collector store, there are just people. You have to give people the opportunity to find you… have fun with it and quit thinking that these idiots that call themselves “marketing experts” because they are good at marketing a “marketing course” to people who desperately think they don’t know anything about marketing are right about anything… they’re just as confused as you are about selling art. That’s why they try to force everyone to fit the niche marketing route.
I, on the other hand, am not a good marketing person. I would rather be called an artist than simply identified as a niche artist. This statement makes a lot of artists who follow the marketing doctrine of “focus on one thing” very upset with me. But art is NOT a product and artists are NOT just salespeople selling a product.
I think artists that are truly successful pave their own way and don’t allow some jerk to pretend that they are better than them at marketing (because they are marketing to artists who are desperately seeking a way to market their art which is an easy target market).
Pave your own way, do your own thing, not the shit that EVERYONE is already doing.
For example, one of our awesome Rogue Artist Family On Patreon is doing a facebook live and showing her art! So Awesome! If you want to join us in supporting her putting herself out there during a pandemic go to:
The live streams are on FB in the Tish Johannon Creations FB group @ Join the group to be able to join in https://www.facebook.com/groups/tishjohannoncreations
7/30 @7:00 EST is for her paintings – 8/6 @7:00 EST is for all her crochet work
Recently I designed a t-shirt that says “ARTROVERTS UNITE! We’re here! We’re uncomfortable! We want to go home and create something.”
If you had asked me a few years ago when I started selling art, what it takes to be a successful artist… my answer would have been simple: the ability to produce good art.
I imagined that my artistic life would consist solely of me working in my studio, producing strokes of genius.
Art collectors would magically appear (poof) to buy art and leave. I would rarely have to leave my studio, and I would never have to go out into the “real” world. I would never again have to go to any social gathering I didn’t want to go to. This belief was clearly absurd, but I had all kinds of silly ideas in my brain jar of what being an artist was.
Now, almost a decade into it, I realize the subject of what it takes to be successful as an artist is much more intricate. It’s not just about producing art, although that is a BIG part of it. It’s about putting yourself out there again and again. Falling on your face and accepting rejection as part of the process.
Had I known all these years, my fear would have either gotten the better of me, or I would have blazed my own trail long ago. I would have become an ARTROVERT.
I love making art. I love being in my studio. Creativity is what keeps me from losing my shit, makes my life meaningful, and encourages me to jump out of bed in the morning even when the world seems to be amid a crap-storm.
The thing I didn’t understand when I first started was how much being an artist would require me to stretch myself. Or maybe I knew, which is why for most of my life, I didn’t pursue an art career. I stayed comfortably in the shallow end.
I had a friend that used to tell me that even our dream jobs will have roles we don’t like but which we accept so we can do the parts we love.
To be an artist, we have to accept the discomfort of being perpetually vulnerable, having no financial security, and being rejected often.
This involves putting yourself out there in front of the world… Which can be terrifying.
So How did you do it Rafi? How did you get over your fear?
I decided to take it step by step and not try to eat the entire enchilada all at once. I realized it wasn’t all or nothing, I could do it in chunks. I knew those chunks were going to hit on some major comfort zones. I also stopped comparing myself to where other artists were at in their careers.
Being an ARTROVERT is all about accepting the fact that it is OK that you don’t want to be social, and not punishing yourself for it. It means that you trust in communicating with your art and don’t concern yourself so much with how people see you.
You’re an artist, you are weird, and awkward sometimes, and that is OK. Artroverts love their studio, they love creating, and they love their quiet time. An artrovert also understands that if you are not putting yourself out there, you are not communicating your art with the world… so you show up.
To be an artist, it is quite simple. Create art, put it out there, and persist through the bullshit of your own mind or other people. Keep creating, keep showing up, and through that experience, you will let your weird artistic personality shine into the world along with your art.
Be unapologetically awkward, be creative, be an ARTROVERT.
Listen to our podcast below, where Klee and I talk about being ARTROVERTS.
And Here is A Quick Message From Some Random Sponsor (sorry 🙂 not sorry)
Today Klee and I were talking about the art stock market on our podcast. That’s the name we coined for the big-ticket commodities art market that you see blasted all over the news and in documentaries. Considering the amount of press that gets focused on large art auctions and big-name galleries, it’s easy to think that you are not actually an artist until you’ve somehow made it there.
It got me thinking about the way that people perceive the art world in general. When you think about it, what people call the art market in the media, is only about 1% of the actual art market. There is no mention of the everyday people that make up the art market, the real art market, the real world.
The real art world is made up of one-on-one interactions, and I think we forget that sometimes in this media blasted quick paced world. It’s not about how much money the art sold for, or how wealthy the collector is, or how much prestige the sale brought the artist. Honestly, the corporate companies I worked for would print out prestige in the form of “You did real good.” certificates, and I would put them in cheap frames and hang them on my wall as a symbol of how important I was. I feel like we miss the point when we confuse success with awards and accolades. You can add them to your resume, but I feel like we’ve lost the point of what it is all about.
It’s about the friendships developed, and the relationships we establish as artists, with the people that connect with us through the art we create. It’s about the creative process and the astonishing ability to face rejection every day and share your art with the world. It is about the collector who proudly displays your artwork on their wall, or wears it on their body, or listens to it in their car. It is about that connection that would not have been possible if that individual artist did not break through the barriers of fear and share their creations with the world. It would not have been possible without the vast amount of humans out there who buy art because of the value it has to them, not because it has market value.
As an artist who had to make his own way, I have trained myself to see the world quite differently than I used to. Where I once had hopelessness in an impossible art career system, I now see the opportunities, the misdirections to be avoided, and the hope for everyone to pursue their creative spirit.
I think it is easy to forget in this world that is so focused on money and success, that we artists create because of the love of creation. We create to express ourselves and bring back a childlike sense of imagination, wonder, and feeling into our world. Creations that can remind us all to pause and appreciate.
Just food for thought.
I also wanted to announce that my book is fully funded! Thank you all so much! The Rogue Artist’s Survival Guide is becoming a reality. I am going quiet for a couple of weeks on social media and YouTube as I finish up the book and do some final edits. You can still pre-order the book at https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-rogue-artist-s-survival-guide-by-rafi-perez
When I was born, I was so surprised that I didn’t even talk for a whole year and a half. During that time, no one knew the creativity that was waiting to burst out from my drooling tiny lump of a body. The truth was set free the day I discovered markers and scribbled my art on every surface I could find.
If you want to be creative, do it. Forget the prejudice that creativity is saved for the select few. We are all creative, it’s just a matter of understanding where creativity comes from. We are ALL born with it… It’s definitely not Maybelline.
Honestly, if you’re not feeling creative, the simple fact is that you unlearned creativity, by following rules and being well behaved. No, I’m not saying you have to be an anarchist, but I remember my grade school teacher telling me that I couldn’t draw on or in my folders and notebooks. In my mind I was like “You don’t own these, they’re mine, I can do what I want.” If I hadn’t had that mentality I wouldn’t have gotten so much practice drawing and sketching while my teacher droned on about stuff I wouldn’t remember years later.
Listen, before you complain, I had a lot of teachers who were passionate and had my attention during class… I love those teachers and their classes were memorable, but I also had some crappy teachers who shouldn’t be allowed to mold the minds of young children into the mush they were shoveling.
Creativity can be learned or unlearned, but no matter what, you were born creative. In 1968, Dr. Land tested the creativity of 1,600 children. He re-tested the same children at 10 years of age and again at 15. The results were astounding.
- Test results amongst 5 year olds: 98 percent creative
- Test results amongst 10 year olds: 30 percent creative
- Test results amongst 15 year olds: 12 percent creative
- Same test given to 280,000 adults: 2 percent creative
“What we have concluded,” Land wrote, “is that non-creative behavior is learned.”
The creative adult is the child who survived the trials of conformity.
What I gather from this, is that the more you follow the rules, the less creative you become. Luckily, you can just as easily decide to blaze your own trail and ignite your creativity fuse again.
A good way to do that is experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination, going outside comfort zones, starting a project you are not sure you can do, and doing vs thinking about doing.
Also, think in a divergent way. Someone hands you a phone, think about all the different ways you can use the phone that are not what it was meant for. I put my phone on airplane mode and threw it up in the air. WORST Transformer EVER.
Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact — everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.
Also, remember not to take yourself too seriously as a creative. In my opinion a real artist doesn’t need anyone to take them seriously. When I get asked “how did you become so creative?” I usually respond with “I ate a lot of paste as a kid.”
Create what you want, write what you want to read, build what you want to use, cook what you want to eat and share it with the world. If the world responds positively — cool. If not, who cares? At least you’re doing what you enjoy and you are showing yourself what a creative genius you actually are.