A Marketing Message from Art Publisher B. Eric Rhoads
A few weeks ago I visited the
grave of Vincent Van Gogh, in the quaint little Northern French village of
Auvers-sur-Oise, as part of our annual art cruise. We were walking the same
streets and trails Van Gogh traveled and painted.
Van Gogh has become the model of the "starving
artist." How many people have told you the life of an artist can't be a
good one because it's such a struggle?
It's a lie.
Though adversity stimulates growth and
life's problems do typically make us better people and artists, the idea that
success in their lifetimes is not possible for artists is simply a lie. In that
same town, artists such as Daubigny, Pissarro, and Corot were great successes,
as were many artists around Normandy and Paris. Yet we hold on to this romantic
notion that we as artists have to struggle.
The Church Van Gogh painted
What lies are holding you back as an
We have all been held back by lies — lies
others have told us, lies we absorb, lies we tell ourselves. You can either
choose to believe them and allow them to affect you, or you can choose to prove
We all cling to the lies we've heard
from family members, friends, teachers, and colleagues, yet those are the very
thoughts that may be keeping you from achieving success. After all, it's a lot
easier to give yourself an excuse for failure when it's common knowledge that an
artist as great as Van Gogh had to struggle all his life.
It's time to bury the lies.
Vincent and Theo buried together
Last night I watched a movie called "Seven Days in Utopia," about a golfer
who could not perform at his peak because of the voices in his head — things he'd
heard from his father, mother, teachers, and friends Those voices unknowingly interfered
with his success. The premise of one scene in the movie was to focus on truths
and to literally bury the lies. The golfer is instructed to write his epitaph, in
order to help clarify his priorities. (I do this in my Marketing Boot Camp
What are the critical voices in your
head saying? Though we each have our own, here are some of the lies you may be
holding on to:
- Artists never really
make a lot of money.
- The life of an artist
is filled with sacrifice.
- Artists are weird.
- Artists are social
- The artists who are
rich had special advantages.
- Success is about who
- No one wants my
- Being successful will
prevent me from painting what I want.
- There is no room for
- The only successful
artists are modern artists.
- I have to put in my
time and can't succeed till I'm older.
- I'm too old to get
- I don't deserve
- My parents were
right, this art thing will never amount to anything.
- I'm an artist because
it's what my parents wanted me to do.
- I could never sell
enough paintings to quit my day job.
- There are so many
artists who deserve success more than me.
What lies are rattling around in your
head? It's time to find out.
Shut yourself in a quiet room and start
writing down everything you know about yourself and your art. Take careful
notice of what creeps into your mind. Now ask yourself which of those thoughts are
lies, which thoughts are limiting you and giving you an excuse for failure. Whether
those lies come from others or are things you've told yourself, it doesn't mean
they should have power over you.
You'll find this exercise to be
cleansing, and you'll find that you've been spending a lot of your time letting
untruths govern your life.
Every single artist I know, including
some of the most successful artists in the world, have to deal with some form
of negative self-talk. The only difference between the successes and failures
is that the successes have learned to push most of it away the second they
realize it's there, and they don't let it affect their performance.
What about you? Find the lies and bury
them. It will change your career and impact your success immediately.
PS: I battle negative thoughts every
day of my life. In fact, it's a constant battle, and sometimes the lies win.
There are things I've avoided because I tell myself I'm not the right fit, not
good enough, not smart enough, not successful enough. In fact, after the first Plein
Air Convention, where I presented Marketing
Boot Camp, I told myself people
wouldn't be interested in a Marketing
Boot Camp II, about how to get into galleries, how to make websites sell
more product, how to build a brand, and how to use social media for success. In
fact, I almost decided not to do it. What swayed me was a call from an artist
who had followed my advice and seen her career transformed. Then and only then
did I stop listening to the lies in my head. This may seem like a silly
exercise, but do whatever it takes to remove negative "truths" that
are really lies that hold you back.