Creating An Artist's Statement: Mission

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(2 Minute Read)

Last week we kicked off our month long focus on creating an Artist’s Statement. As mentioned, I take the unique approach of thinking of this as any arts organization would with a focus on your Mission, Values and Vision rather than just a general description of your work.

A mission statement lays out clearly and concisely what you’re looking to accomplish with your creative business. It gives you and your target audience a starting place to clearly understand your brand and allows for you to immediately identify your unique value, separating you from your competition.

It is typically between one to three sentences and is meant to capture the essence of your purpose. It also should have an actionable component working towards your tangible objective.

As a starting place, listing out words, general ideas and goals could be a great way to begin to breakdown your eventual mission. Free-associate based on what your art is, what you think your art may have the power to accomplish whether based in a point of view of the current world or just the power of storytelling and all of what is unique to YOU and YOUR talent.

From there take a look at similarities, action words and themes that resonate. While this isn’t meant to be a direct marketing tool per se, there’s nothing wrong with action and bold ideas as part of your mission.

Finally, if you’re a comic or a poet, your mission and overall Artist’s Statement can include style that is representative of you and your total brand.

Take some time to craft and draft using all your free associated thoughts. It might take some time and that’s a-ok. Your continued efforts on the rest of your work will inform your statement overall.

For what it’s worth, my favorite example of a mission statement came from a workshop with the previous executive director of the Kennedy Center, Michael Kaisner, who suggested that as far as he can see it, every arts organization could have a pretty solid go with the following mission statement:

“Good art, well marketed.”

While I don’t think that’s the best example for individual creatives who probably need to find even more specificity, I’ve always loved the simple idea of making kickass work and making sure everyone knew about it. Your mission with a bit more individual focus could be just as succinct and actionable.

Before even getting to an Artist’s Statement, one of the first questions I ask our creatives is what purpose their serving with their art. It’s a hard one to answer but I think it’s important to identify for all the reasons above and to help keep you motivated in times of adversity which can be often...

Next week we’ll dig into one of my favorite pieces of the building of an Artist’s Statement: what you value as part of your business as a creative entrepreneur.

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

Creating an Artist's Statement

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(1 Minute Read)

One key piece of our work that I’m particularly proud of is helping creatives identify their unique values as artists. More often than not, we undervalue our potential strong points of views as artists because we’re afraid of limiting ourselves. We just want the work. It can feel like if we narrow our focus, we’ll miss out on jobs and subsequently money / ultimate success. Especially at the outset of a creative’s career, having a focus and strong point of view can actually help you find your “in” even quicker. 

When you think about it, that makes sense for *any* business. It would be a bad idea for little Mallory to expand beyond her lemonade stand and start selling homemade soft drinks and coffee if she hadn’t yet broken in and created a brand that folks trusted.

An Artist’s Statement allows you to lay out succinctly the purpose, value and future of your creative business. It allows you to put thought into why you’re doing what you’re doing given all the difficulties you are already aware of and it can pave the way for helping you to better understand how to market yourself and grow an overall brand.

I like to take an Artist’s Statement a step further than the norm which is typically just a “description of your work” and approach it with the same structure of most organizations’ “statements” through the lens of Mission - Values - Vision.

Your Artist’s Statement can take time to form itself. It doesn’t need outright answers and decisions in a matter of moments. If you have given yourself the goal of trying to narrow in on your artistic purpose and your product’s point of view, you could really need this patience and compassion. And just like your plan, it can and should morph as your business develops.

Over the course of the next few weeks we will explore each component of your Artist’s Statement (Mission - Values - Vision) and try to understand the process for creating each of those pieces. 

In the immediate, I would simply begin to think through the purpose of your work, what you value as a creative entrepreneur from an artistic *and* business standpoint and where you want your business to go.


Next week we’ll look at building the Mission of your venture!

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

7 Days Is A Lot Of Time

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(2 Minute Read)

While our work is about working towards professional goals and understanding industry standards, at the outset we always spend a great deal of time trying to understand how that happens from a time management, structural perspective. To start with, simply identifying how many hours a week you have to dedicate to your work can be very revealing. And in order to do that, map out what a general week looks like. By the time you’re finished, you’ll probably be shocked by how much time you have over a span of 7 days.


I rarely get to play good cop in the work because accountability or the lack thereof is such a major piece of why most creatives fall off the wagon. It can seem like days just fly by and before you know it, 3 weeks have past and very little has been accomplished. And then the self doubt, worry and frustration all creep in often putting us in a deeper state of lack of productivity. 

I used to lead with the thought that 24 hours was a lot of time! That came from when I was running my theatre company and used to have a matter of hours to finish marketing materials, raise $10,000 or recast a role altogether. I suppose my heart has softened since those fight or flight days but the idea is still the same; we are capable of a lot if we set our minds to it and organize our time accordingly.

I would encourage you to be conservative when working through your calendar to find your available work time. Just because a window is open doesn’t mean it should be filled with business. You may need time for you, your family, friends, the gym and other interests. I am *not* a believer in nonstop work. So if you find that about 25 hours seem to be available to you, I’d safely assume you have 12-15 hours a week to continue to grow your creative business. But look...

even 12-15 hours a week is sizable when you consider the amount of time you may be currently dedicating to your effort. And - if we’re looking at this through the scope of a week rather than a day, that gives you the ability to reprioritize and create a plan to make sure you’re accomplishing what you would like to with a 7 day span of time. Lots can come up in a week (sickness, extra work, apartment flooding, whateverrr) but our goal is to not let you off the hook, right?

Our 5 year plans breakout to weekly micro goals for all of the above reasons. Creating bite sized pieces that are tangible and easily accomplishable within a 7 day span of time is meant to be encouraging. There should be no shame in maybe realizing that your use of time isn’t what it could be. Time management and effective workflow is a skill to cultivate in and of itself.

And quite honestly, the work *actually* begins by identifying what it is you need to accomplish based on your goals and how you have compartmentalized the various facets of your business but that’s for another time :) In this moment, look at the week ahead and take charge of the time you DO have.

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

What's Next?

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(1.5 Minute Read)

Complacency is risky business. It feeds into the same notion that we often started out with that luck will somehow prevail and our special talent will rise to the top. Complacency is subtle and often creeps in without our even realizing it and when we least expect it. It’s our job to keep a steady foot on the “what’s next?” pedal so that we don’t lose grip of all the good we’ve put into our creative ventures up to this point.

As we know, the arts are made up of jobs that end. Over and over again. In corporate America, you could find a nice steady gig where you start as a team assistant and if you wanted, over the course of however many years, you could climb your way up to a senior position all the while building a healthy 401K, savings and expected pay raises. We don’t have that luxury. So as soon as we make some progress, it’s our responsibility to ask ourselves how we can use it to get to what’s next.

Very rarely do I work with artists who say that they would be more than happy if their art wasn’t their primary source of income and that they’d be down to run two jobs at once in order to keep their passion afloat. And if you are someone who’s a-ok with that set up, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you. Truly. However - for those of us who are looking for more regularity and stability, we must keep pushing.

The “what’s next?” proposition can be actionable, too. It’s not just a question that zooms around taking us out of the present. It’s actually feasible for you to develop a system for growing work based on your successes and developing a strategy to “get in the room” based on your understanding of how your industry works. 

Often times it’s when we’re experiencing levels of success that we find ourselves comfortable sitting back. Instead, when you have an opportunity, large or small, create a strategy for building off of it. This could come in the form of key relationships, marketing and even more time to spend on your business now that you have a job. Work begets work!

Most artists I work with don’t seem to have a sense outside of the cursory knowledge that’s fed to us as to how to find a workaround to get in the room. It’s why I use the word “strategy” so much. Artist’s Strategy may provide tangible tools but so much of the work is cultivating a sense of how to move strategically through your career on the backend. One easy way to develop that sixth sense is to simply ask questions and on your hunt for what’s next, trying to understand more about how your industry operates and if there is a more streamlined approach is a very easy way to grow opportunities.

All in all, we are very rarely in a position to not worry about what’s next. Ironically, what business is? Most are always looking for customer growth or their next sale. The only major difference is that our businesses seem to have constant full out end dates. Unless we make sure we don’t.

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

Give Like Your Business Depends On It

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(2 Minute Read)

I’m often asked about my number one key piece of advice for creative entrepreneurs, and while it’s obviously (you guessed it) to create some sort of plan, my usual second is to give often and freely. Give advice. Give gifts. Give time. Give shared resources. Give of yourself. We know the running joke that most artists think of themselves and while that may be true for some of us, besides just wanting to cultivate a sense of selflessness in general, there are actually two big reasons to give as much as you can.

But before we look at those reasons, I need to cover a sensitive topic that comes up a lot around the notion of networking or giving to receive as it pertains to our businesses. I fully understand that taking actions with some sort of expectation in return can feel manipulative and dishonest. It can go against our values and unfortunately in the creative sector, a lot of our contacts are fairly personal so it can hit close to home. But - without regularity of giving beyond yourself, you can find yourself in the exact situation you wanted most to avoid which is seeming like you only *want* things from folks when you need something. And as you work more on the overall structure of your business, you will find yourself needing to engage more and more of who you know in order to grow. 

So...two big reasons to give freely are:

“Karma”

Figuratively (but also maybe literally - do you!). Either way, as a creative business owner, you want to be known as someone who is generous of spirit and selfless. It creates a powerful sense of the scope of your brand far beyond your talent and gives off a sense of confidence because you aren’t burdened with the fear of not having enough for yourself. And if you are carrying around the fear of giving away the very thing you may need, creating the practice of giving more frequently might allow you to release some of that toxic worry.

Quid Pro Quo...

I’m a big believer in engaging our networks as a way to move forward in nearly every aspect of our careers (personal connections, resources, advice, support and the list goes on and on). Subsequently I’m a big believer in giving as much as I can. Those who know me know that to be true. Many, many people have helped me over the years and I am often more than willing to give back as much as I can. Part of what comes along with that is the very real notion that we then spin a web of generosity. Or - yes - expecting something in return for the favor we gave. While we may need to release a potential sense of disappointment if we don’t receive, we can carry on proudly knowing that we continue to soldier ahead as leaders and not followers.

Now if you want to play in the big leagues, not only can we work to cultivate a sense of generosity and willingness when we’re called upon for a favor, but we can think ahead and give when it’s least expected. Cards, gifts, signs of support, unexpected texts showing thought, whatever floats your boat. Most important is the act. Not only may you operate on a higher, more positive plane in general but you’ll probably see an overall uptick in what becomes available to you professionally.

By the way, you know that look someone gives you when you ask them for a favor and you can see they’re clearly uncomfortable or unsure as to whether or not they should help you out? 99% of the time it’s because they realize they’re not doing enough themselves and are jealous of how proactive and confident you are. Their problem; not yours.

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

Clean Up On Aisle Me

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(2 Minute Read)

A few years ago I developed a habit of cleaning when I lost something. I could be running 20 minutes late and holding 3 bags but if I realized I couldn’t find my keys, I’d stop, put everything down and start to clean up. Inevitably I would find them shortly thereafter. The act of working through my immediate issue methodically and with clear intent somehow makes me less anxious and more aware. I have found the same concept applicable to nearly every aspect of my career.

For most, our go to is to put out fires. And...duh. If you see a fire, you need to tend to it immediately. Thankfully, this is an analogy. We’re probably not going to lose our life if we don’t immediately tend to tomorrow’s audition, that seemingly all important IG post that *must* go up so followers “don’t lose interest”, or even back due rent. By taking a step back when we feel the heat increasing in any one area of our business and finding ways to clean up its surroundings, we will more than likely see quicker, longer lasting results.

I titled this post “Clean Up on Aisle Me” because a) my boyfriend made me an aptly named faux subscription box once with a bunch of unique household cleaning items after I made a comment about what a good business that would be so...loveyouthankyoukudostoyou and b) it feels appropriate for the point I’m trying to make. 

Let’s take Financials and Community Cultivation (networking) as potential examples of finding opportunities to clean up rather than scrambling to solve immediate problems:

Constantly being hit by large debts (rent, purchases, CC payments) that set you back for days at a time every month?

  • Rather than putting yourself on monthly short term spending restrictions for 11 days, imagine if you had a consistent budget, spending and savings system in place that allowed for you to pay for expected and unexpected financial responsibilities? Cleaning up your entire financial structure...excuse me...just starting to clean up your financial structure could save you months of agonizing repetition.

Finding you don’t have an extensive network that allows you to call in favors to get into rooms or find resources for projects?

  • Rather than dismissing the potential of making inroads altogether or just falling deeper into the belief that you are not well enough connected / deserving, imagine finally organizing your professional contacts and making a plan for continual expansion and cultivation on a weekly basis. 


While neither of those “high concept” solutions necessarily feel like they solve the problem at hand in the immediate, they certainly set us up for a more sure footed future. Taking punches to the various facets of your business over and over again can get tiring and puts you at a higher risk of eventually closing up shop all together. The two random examples above are exactly that. Random and singular. Take a moment to think through where things feel like they’re currently falling short. What could you do to clean up all around the issue to protect yourself and your business from a potential larger mess? “Calling all attendants. We need a clean up on aisle me, please.”

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

Ubiquitous

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(1.5 Minute Read)

Early in my career, someone once described me as  “ubiquitous”. I remember taking umbrage with the label because to me it implied I was brown nosing on some level but as my career continued on, I came to realize it was actually a big compliment. Now before you potentially look up this SAT word, know that it simply means to be seemingly “present, appearing or found everywhere”. When considering ways to expand and cultivate your network, one of the easiest ways is to simply add “ubiquitous” to your overall brand. Added bonus, it doesn’t cost much to make this synonymous with you and what you’re selling.

If those around you perceive you as being “found everywhere”, you are an assumed heavy hitter of sorts. If you’re everywhere it means you’re invited, creating, desired, fun, able, independent and unafraid. 

What’s the easiest way to become ubiquitous? Say “yes”. Say yes to events, say yes to collaborations and put yourself at various industry events at all levels (fringe to commercial). Especially when you’re starting out, becoming a creative labeled as ubiquitous implies that you’re accessible. People will want to work with you because they assume you have your finger in everyone else’s pies. ::insert dirty joke here::

Beyond just attending and participating, the next most obvious way to share this potentially new aspect of your brand is to post and tag! Obvious, right? Not so much. For many of us, we don’t want to bother famous folks from our industry by constantly taking pictures and that might even trickle down to those who we’re sharing an event with but I’ve actually learned a great deal from a friend of mine who isn’t necessarily the most talented person. But they certainly know how to share their every move and subsequently end up in every important room and continue to work. I am in no way saying that appearing at every which event will get you booked but I am saying that it helps. The more you share and tag, the more you’re shared and tagged. Your ubiquitous nature will grow an audience before your eyes.

You might be thinking “ok - so you’re basically saying to get out there” but this actually goes a bit deeper. For personal context, think of that person(s) who you run into at multiple events. Now check their social media platforms. They don’t waste much time do they? They’re constantly forging connections and seem to be floating all over their industry. They are...ubiquitous.


For what it’s worth, this post is directed as much at me as it is for those who also need a reminder of the power of just being present. I am an introvert and very much value my home time but need the reminder that in order for my own business to grow, I have to find continued ways to be found seemingly everywhere.

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy

Are You Willing?

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(2.5 Minute Read)

We work to make room for new artists as best we can and usually start anew with a few creatives every week. However, I’m never overly stressed with the potential of overloading because the question of follow through is always at play. Even once a plan is in place for the work ahead, the two largest factors to consider are:

1. for most, you are managing this enterprise solo.

2. the work asks for pretty much a total structural overhaul of your business and personal life.

You will be expected to manage your finances, layout a strategic marketing plan that is also implemented by you, all the while producing efforts to get your work out there, expanding and cultivating a community, finding ways to improve your product to keep up with your competition and making sure this is all under the umbrella of a time managed workflow system that you’ve embraced and (hopefully) kept up with. Most businesses have at least a CPA, a marketing firm and some administrative support so that this stays manageable especially as the business grows. And while additional staff of some kind can very much be part of your future, you may not be there just yet. So - it’s up to you.

On top of that, while you may see the pathway and realize you have the tools at your disposal to build your empire, a structural overhaul for any entrepreneur but especially a creative one can be tricky to navigate emotionally and psychologically. Why? Because as an entrepreneur we are already making immense sacrifices that often spill over into many aspects of our personal lives. The habits you’ve curated and stuck by at this point are there to keep things “comfortable” and working from a system that will create change in just about every piece of your world can be a scary, overwhelming, uncomfortable process.

So… are you willing?

This is the question that zooms around my brain when I start with any new client. I can tell that most want to be willing but that’s very different than actually being willing. 

The concepts we put forth sound good. Everything seems full of exciting potential within the folder we build for folks but the proof will always be in the pudding. And for many, the realities of the expected work above become more and more real as the work progresses. So do the consequences if you drop the ball once the good work starts. Even as individuals are finding success and seeing the results of their hard work, the question still stays the same. How willing are you to keep up with the major shifts you’ve implemented? 

Part of what makes this difficult to answer is that we weren’t expecting any of this. These expectations are out of the blue. Our options are to either work through our discomfort and break potentially hard habits quickly or we can focus on the importance of the art we’re creating and why we set out to create in the first place. The latter is what has motivated me for 15 years. Well...that and bills.

But seriously...I want you to answer the question. Are you willing?

And, as always, this is never my way or the highway. If you are someone who is satisfied and fulfilled with your current business structure, soldier on! But for those who are looking for more, understanding the scope of the work ahead and really checking in with your willingness to participate fullyiscrucial to its success. If nothing else, knowing the truth can save you money and time if you aren’t.

© 2019 Artist’s Strategy