Fight Anxiety in the Art Marketplace
4. Not enjoying selling yourself.
Strategy: First, begin to enjoy selling yourself! That is what you are doing, so enjoy it. Have nice things to say about yourself, couched beautifully so that you don’t come off as too arrogant or grandiose. Drop well-crafted nuggets about your successes and accomplishments. Be your own best friend and advocate. Who else will be?
Second, dis-identify from each of your products. You are not your painting and you do not have to die a little death if a given person doesn’t want your painting. You can—and should—announce its merits and advocate for its worth without, however, attaching to the outcome of each interaction. This can sound like, “I truly enjoyed painting this juxtaposition of floating roses on a traditional landscape background. I think it worked well.” Smile; and cherish no expectations.
5. Dealing with people who dismiss you.
Strategy: Simple professionalism. Try not to burn bridges. Try not to act out. Try not to react much at all. If the person who dismisses you is cruel and insulting, protect yourself from that person but also decide whether it is worth your while to respond and get embroiled in a drama. That drama could cost you sleepless nights and days missed in the studio. If the dismissal is just an everyday rejection, one of the zillions we face because we have chosen to create, you merely shrug and practice your “rejection management skills,” which might or might not include a lot of chocolate.
6. Not feeling up to asking.
Strategy: Often we are unwilling to ask—for a gallery show, space in a shop, the name and email address of somebody it would be good for us to contact, a favor from a friend who knows somebody we ought to get to know, and so on—out of anxiety, pride, and, in some cases, because we feel that we ought to be able to reciprocate in some way.
As to the first, anxiety management is the key. As to the second, you need to have a chat and talk yourself down off your high horse by reminding yourself that you in fact need lots of help in life. Third, if you feel that you have no way to reciprocate, remind yourself that a favor does not have to be repaid the same instant it is granted. Just say “thank you” and remember that you owe a good turn.
Marketplace relating requires both practical and psychological skills. Rehearsing is a practical skill; finding the willingness to rehearse is a psychological skill. Knowing who to contact is a practical skill; deciding that you will feel equal to the people you contact is a psychological skill. If you suspect that you are less than well-versed in either regard, make acquiring these two skill sets one of your next resolutions.