Guest blogger Corrina Thurston writes about her personal experience in taking risks. She shares how artists can overcome fears and promote themselves and their work.
I’m a typical introvert in a lot of ways. Cold calling (or even calling people I know), setting up appointments, and public speaking all make me anxious. That’s why when it comes to asking people things, like if they’d have interest in me writing a guest blog post for example, I have to overcome my own hesitations and fears in order to reach out.
It doesn’t seem like asking a question should feel like you’re putting yourself out there on the line, but it does. It can feel like you’re risking so much by just reaching out to someone.
But if you want to succeed in your art career, or any career, you can’t let those fears stand in your way.
Fear Of Rejection
We tend to exaggerate things in our minds. In reality, the worst thing that can happen when we ask someone something, is the answer is no. What does that mean? In most cases it means that your life will resume it’s normal pattern and go on as it did before with no change. Not so bad, right?
Rejection is inevitable. I get rejected a couple times each week and it doesn’t dent my armor at all because I know these people are crazy busy, just like me, and they’re looking for something very specific for their needs. Sometimes what I have to offer matches up great with someone else’s needs, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Remember, art in any form is subjective. Not everyone is going to like what you draw, paint, write, play, etc. But some people will, and you need to keep asking in order to find those people. Rejection is not about you and it’s not personal, although it can feel that way. It just means you’re not quite the right fit for whomever you approached.
Fear Of Success
What I’ve found is that I’m equally, if not more afraid, when people say yes.
When someone says no, your life goes on as it was, without change. When someone says yes, it means you have to follow through on whatever you were pitching and the spotlight is on you!
If you were asking a blog if they’d like you to write a guest post, now you actually have to write it and make sure it’s good and actually what they wanted. If you’re asking about a commissioned work, now you have to get your hands dirty and do the work. You have to meet with your client and figure out exactly what they want and work toward that goal, hoping your vision for the final product is the same as theirs. And if you contacted someone about getting some publicity, such as an interview or a feature, you now need to set up at time, make sure you’re prepared for that interaction, and try to show the best side of yourself. Not everything will go as planned, but you have to put yourself out there to try.
All of this can be terrifying for certain people, myself included. That publicity and success is exactly what I crave, and yet it is also what I fear the most.
As you probably noticed by now, being an artist can be a contradictory path to choose. What you want and what you fear are often intermingled.
What Happens When You Stop Hesitating And Ask
As soon as my website was finished being redone this year in July, I began sending out pitches to local media, galleries, artist friends, past clients, etc.
What happened? Well, I got a lot of rejections, which was to be expected, but I also got some acceptances.
Thanks to those acceptances, so far this year I have been interviewed/featured by my state’s biggest news channel, my artwork has been published in three magazines, I have an upcoming interview with the local newspaper, I received a small grant, and I was interviewed on the Artsy Shark website. This publicity has led to local organizations coming to me to help with their marketing artwork, more traffic on my website, more interviews being offered, gallery owners requesting to talk with me, and more commissions than I can fit in my schedule!
What To Do Now?
Whether you’ve been rejected or accepted, you’re not done yet!
Rejections are great practice, and it’s always good to follow up and ask the person or company why they didn’t feel like you were a good fit. Don’t forget to thank them for their time. Not only does this allow you to learn where you might have gone wrong, it will ingratiate you with them and they may end up referring you to someone who is a better fit for what you’re offering. Being kind, patient, and professional always pays off in the end.
The same goes for the acceptances. Don’t forget to send a thank you note when your project or interview is finished thanking that person for their time and their interest in you. Mention politely that if they know anyone else who might be in need of your services, you’d very much appreciate them sending them your way! This way you might be able to build off of this new relationship and gain even more prospects.
Most importantly, don’t stop asking! Just because you got an interview or a commission, doesn’t mean you can sit back and watch the money roll in. You need to keep putting yourself out there and asking other people and organizations if they have need for your services. Business is a numbers game and the more you ask, the more business you’re likely to get.
There’s so much waiting for you out there, but you’ll never know if you don’t ask!