The Silence Factory: It is a fun place.


by Atim Annette Oton

First published in Calabar Magazine.

Every other day, I have the same discussion with someone: an African, a Caribbean or an African-American person. It goes like this: When will we get it together? They complain about how little progress has been made and how we as black people are not ready and why? I listen, nod and wait until they are done talking. This last month, I have been listening, and listening, more carefully. And quite frankly, the noise has been just too much to bear. I call it noise because we need to stop and really hear ourselves speak. And my one lesson from it is: say something if you have a solution to the problem.

I can begin by looking at black people in Nigeria where I was born; yes, we missed the boat for 20 years (about 1983-2004), but in the last 8 years, we have begun to move forward. Not as fast as we want, expect or are able to drastically see…but we are moving. Sometimes, we forget as a nation and as a people, we are not just young but we have been isolated for about 20 years. With 150 million people, we are more educated than most of Africa, and yes, we need to use this educated populous, and sadly, we have not done so. But, when a people have been isolated, how do they know what they need to change and grow? How do they change when their leadership is not changing too?

For the last 6 years, I have traveled back and forth to Nigeria. I can say as a witness, Nigeria has changed, gotten better and is finally growing its other industries besides oil. That small shift is significant, for a country that only spoke oil, it is the start of a shift in thinking. And it is not too late. We just have to build on this slowing. Just look at China. Another shift is the return of its diaspora. This is not to say that Nigeria cannot be changed without them,  but it is a return of some of the brain drain. Nigeria is experiencing what India experienced finally – a brain gain. Simply, Nigerians stopped complaining and went home…and more importantly, the west got too hard to live in.

Now, a return to the Americas, with the US and New York, in focus.  We have to stop lamenting the losses of Harlem and Bed Stuy. If you did not buy in either places, it’s time to stop. You were and are also part of the problem and could have been part of the solution, if you bought in these neighborhoods. And more importantly, stop crying over spilled milk put your money where you mouth is.

My first response is to look beyond New York, and look at Maryland, Washington DC, and Atlanta, blacks own property and they bought there. If we all remember our history, a good number of blacks came north for work with every intention to return to the south…and they did. The only issue here is their kids did not leave, and have no property where they live. My accountant and lawyer would say, some of us have no estate planning skills.

The other places I hear the noise is about our businesses. I love how many people talk about black businesses but spend their money at Macy’s. And I don’t know how many black owners will tear my ear on this. I hear both sides. Black businesses would do 10 times better if just 25% of our community shopped with us more. But, some of us in business make it difficult. Hey, I am saying it. How many times do we get bad service? But here is the irony, we get treated badly elsewhere and still go back…but when we get it with black businesses, we stop going back. I am just saying.

Yes, black businesses are in a bad state, but so are those who go it alone in business and our community is one that goes it alone. Other communities build businesses as groups of people. We build it alone with very little money and support. I am tired of the reasons we claim are the issues: we do not trust each other, can’t get along and are selfish. Actually, none of that is really true. I mean, how many of us are doing “Susu’s” together? The simple reasons are not having the capital, not having great credit; most of us do not build relationships with banks, and we do not make the effort to do business with one another. Yet, we work harder for others for a pay check.

Today, I was on Lewis Avenue: Bread Stuy, Brownstone Books and Lewis Gallery are all gone. It is not my place to judge or to point fingers, but these were striving businesses in an up-and-coming community in a “rennaisance”. And something happened here. There are lessons to learn and share but we do not do that in our community. One business had tax and health department issues; the other two, I am told via neighborhood gossip (which we are good at doing instead of helping grow the businesses) did not do the marketing needed. I remember a time when local people used to do the marketing by circulating flyers for businesses they loved carry. And word-of-mouth was the way businesses survived. This was the New York I loved. This New York, I am worried about.

This month, I begin a small experiment called “The Silence Factory: It is a fun place.” It is a place where I retreat to see and look at things. But it is a place I will come out of often to voice my thoughts and observations. So, I declared on Facebook:

“This is the week of SILENCE…time to be quiet and just LISTEN, time to be REFLECTIVE and GROW new ideas. Time to work on existing projects and FINISH. Join me in the SILENCE FACTORY. IT IS A FUN PLACE.”

I think black people across the world need to go into the SILENCE FACTORY. It’s time to stop talking and do the work that is needed. I spent sometime with my brother who said to me – if you want this thing, you must do the work for it. It is not easy work, it is not quick, it will take time. I hear you loud and clear. I am listening.

Today, I look at China, and remember the days when we all used to laugh at them. Now, who is laughing at us? The lesson here is simple…Work your hardest, do the work well, ask for help, pay for the help, collaborate, partner and stop the noise, you are wasting time. But most importantly, come to the table ready. We need our best and brightest. And bring down the NOISE.

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The Head Game: 6 Ways to Break the What Ifs to do Life’s Work


by Atim Annette Oton

Most people wonder why I seem to move ahead and succeed in what I plan or intend. My simple response is that my head game is extremely focused and inline with my life, goals and objectives, and I am on a mission to fulfill my dream. Additionally, I think positively and actually think less about the problems and issues. So when I meet designers and artists who tell me they don’t know where they are going, I often ask about their head game. Head game is about change and I have come up with 6 ways to break the what ifs and actually accomplish doing your life’s work as an artist and a designer.

Solution:

SolutionWordPuzzleBreaking What If’s and doing work as a designer comes with insight. How did I get here? For me, channeling a positive head game all starts with assessing and analyzing any problem or issues for a solution. Simply, in most things I do, I let solutions be my focus. In order to do so, I have always planned and usually executed alone or with a team of people. It comes from my upbringing living with a journalist and an educator but I was also educated in this way. In this vain, I ask for help and have built a team of advisers who I can consult with when I need feedback.

Responsibility:

The-Moment-You-Take-Responsibility1-300x176The hardest part of the process of art and design is how I enter any idea. I begin by taking responsibility for an idea that I conceive, the process and the end result. Most importantly, I see the beginning, middle and end of all ideas. I find that some artists and designers see or look at the beginning or middle.

Taking-Personal-Responsibility-001-Personal-Responsibility-ChrisMower.com_
Risk versus Fear:

fear

In all things, I take risk and fight fear. As a designer and entrepreneur, my goals are to get things done and spend less time on the issues. In order to do so, I make sure that I never get stuck, and just keep moving with purpose. And like designer Dyson who created the vacuum who made over 2000 changes, I look for another option when I hit a roadblock.

Invisible Luggage (Burden):

emotional-baggage

My head game is very much aware of the invisible luggage I carry with me when I start a project or work on a project in unfamiliar territory. So, I throw away my invisible luggage/baggage every time I work on a project as it will hold me down. Each of us has one, and for some of us, it’s the fear of failure, not having money and not trusting your instincts or ideas. This luggage holds you for doing anything or moving ahead.

Playstage versus Work stage:

dreamIn order to place myself in the right head game in a design process, I begin by writing my ideas down so I can “remove” them from my head. I really believe the notion that if it stays inside my head, it means I am not working on it. Putting it on paper makes it real and I can draw it out, write about it and question it. In my head, it’s not really real as I change it and not really deal with it. I call it being in my head – my play stage and when it’s out of my head, it has become my  work stage And this shift means I own it and take responsibility for it.

Feedback:

feedbackOne of the most important processes in design is Feedback. I often see many designers and artists avoid this stage. They try to do it by asking novices and not the peers or mentors. I am a feedback loop, as I share my work with others for feedback all the time. It gives me insight and allows me to work more realistically. My feedback comes from a team of people who I assemble before, during and after a project.

word-cloud-giving-feedbackMost people who are successful have a good head game. They can develop ideas, work on them, complete and analyze them. Artists and designers who are unable to keep a good head game are in crisis and you can see it in their work. Life is short, live it with passion and purpose and keep your head game conquering your fears.

Need to get your head game together, and if you are interested in making a shift to enjoying the creative process, I will be hosting a series of webinars in October, please email me at atim@blackdesignews.com

Enjoying the Creative Process: A Lifetime Process


by Atim Annette Oton

joy2Several of my last postings have focused on the perils of artists and designers;so this week, I begin exploring the process of creativity that blossoms in the hands of success. My good friend Patricia would say that New York’s sun affected my mood this morning so, alas, the positive mode.

Last year, I was counseling two designers, one in the beginning and the other in the mid point of their careers. Guess, who was happy? One would have expected the “young” one to be. I was not surprised, more amused that the young one did not see possibilities only issues that were having. What did the older one have? And why was she coming to me? The secret ingredient: Joy in herself and work; curiosity about things, an openness to learn, and an interest in trying new things. She was curious to know if I could make her design more vibrant, willing to see what she did not know and open to examine her processes. Bingo. These are some of secret sauces of artists and designers.

The Joy of Creativity, Art and Design:

joy

Imagine the feeling the sun shining on a cold morning in New York, or spending the day on a beach in the Caribbean, that’s joy. So what is it in design or art? Some artists and designers say that it is that once in a lifetime commission or project, that big break or show. Maybe. I beg to differ because that one thing just last a short time. What about the rest of your life?

Joy in art or design is about doing work you love or are passionate about with purpose. It is the work that you imagined you would be doing for most of your career and life. The work that you rise up to do very early, the work you create and make change the world. It excites, nurtures and satisfies your soul. You cannot imagine doing anything else. Been there? I have periodically in my career.

It’s my life mission..to enjoy the work I do and to be in the obis of joy and creativity. The joy of art or design is an awesome place, it’s a place of nirvana, the best of you – fully functional, and most creative people dream about it. I have experienced it so many times, I often wonder why most creative people don’t. It is when there is a convergence of the right project, the right people, and you at your best. I have experienced it even at work. Much thanks to Tony Whitfield for some of those moments at Parsons. And most especially thanks to my mother at Calabar Imports. Work equals joy, it’s just that simple. But you must be working your joy.

Curiosity: 

curiosity-is-the-spark

The mark of a talented artist or designer is their curiosity, their intrinsic interest in people, things and the world. These creative types are the ones you see at the newest exhibitions talking to the artist or curator. They are curious about how things work, ask a lot of questions and even do research before and after, actually follow-up with people. Curiosity is sometimes built in to some people. It begins as a thought and an idea and evolves into an action. It is part of the creative process…to look beyond yourself and take an interest in someone else’s work. To be curious is an art, a way of being and an approach to life and work.

Openness:
Openness
Some artists and designers who I counsel tell me that there are open. They make a statement of saying they are. I smile because they are not. Openness is a vital quality that separates the doers from the talkers. Openness is about supporting a fellow artist or designer who evolves a new idea in your own backyard. Openness lets you work with such diverse people and not the same old cliche you went to school with. Its about trying new things, taking a risk and being prepared to learn something new.
openness2
The irony of openness for artists and designers who are considered creative is that some of them are not open. You can see it in their work…they are still doing the same work they did 10 years ago; you see it in the collaborations they set up…the remain working with the same people. Very few surprise you, I even see it in the exhibitions they participate in, they are with the same old crew. Imagine if they step out their element and a new group or new viewer saw their work.

Openness requires flexibility, dynamic thinking and engagement. Do you know how many times I hear artists or designers tell me how open they are but they are the first to refuse to try new ideas, methods, or make any changes? Openness breeds transparency, authenticity, creativity, and collaboration.

Trying, and Trying again:

keep_trying_by_jelisa1188-d3phrek

Designers and artists who enjoy the creative process believe in the concept of trying so much so that they do not sleep when they have an idea. They work at it, try many possibilities until the get to the place they need. One of the most successful designers, James Dyson became better after failure (see http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20130312-failure-is-the-best-medicine). Imagine working on over 5000 changes and modifications just to improve a product. So, when I hear designers or artists give up after 5 trials, I shake my head and think, you really are not a designer who is on track to succeed. Another good read is here.

Joy, curiosity, openness and trial options are four key components that form the basis of the art and design process; they make artists and designers successful and quite frankly, happy. So many times, I see the opposite so I think it was high time to highlight positives. Need more inspiration and if you are interested in making a shift to enjoying the creative process, I will be hosting a series of webinars in October, please email me at atim@blackdesignews.com

 

The Artist’s and Designer’s Cover-up: Fronting, Stuck, Hiding and Running Away


by Atim Annette Oton

My last 13 years of working with artists and designers have revealed some deep and critical issues about how they handle themselves in crisis or make critical decisions. What it shows are four destructive paths that form the basis of self sabotage and result in failure, so when I began to write this blog, I reflected on the notes I kept over the last 2 years. Here are 5 deadly excerpts that I have experienced since consulting some of them in the last 5 years from the crash of 2008:

Scenario 1: Designer tells all her friends to have insurance but has none, then loses day job, gets sick and is in coma. 

Scenario 2: Artists quits his job, has no plan, but exhibitions and grants. A year later, he is broke, and borrows money from friend to pay rent. And all his friends think he is doing well.

Scenario 3: Designer is overworked, he gets sick, goes to hospital, checks himself out and dies. No insurance and has too many clients at Christmas season.

Scenario 4: Artist has steady stream of income until 2008 when economy crashed. She is still working the same plan and getting 20% of income. She has not invented or created a new income stream. Still hoping for pre-2008 times.

Scenario 5: Designer on Facebook. Life is sunny. Or so it seems. Behind the smiles and postings…but the reality is that the designer just lost space and business due to family crisis.

2013 has been a year of realness and if you are not dealing in truth and reality as a designer or an artist, it is giving you hard knocks and showing you that fake facades do not work in the real world. Simply, if your foundation is weak, it has and is crumbling. The five scenarios above are real stories of this year. Each demonstrate lessons of how artists and designers get stuck, hide from the truth, pretend everything is okay or run away from dealing with issues. Each is deadly and result in failure.

Stuck:

I love art but…I have lost my voice…I don’t know where to begin.- Erica Meade

Scenario 4: Artist has steady stream of income until 2008 when economy crashed. She is still working the same plan and getting 20% of income. She has not invented or created a new income stream. Still hoping for pre-2008 times.

stuckSome artists and designers are experiencing a mental block, a place of non-movement, and a place I defined as stuck. This has left them frustrated, inadequate and angry. How they came to this place is not just their fault but it is part of a life process as a creative person. When you are stuck, you exhibit the following characteristics: avoid people, situations and tasks, have bad habits, criticize others, procrastinate, seek perfectionism and are negative about things.

If you are stuck, you end up not doing anything, your work stays the same, you do not finish projects and it can take a long time to get out of this state without help. A few artists talk about how they deal with being stuck, they call it getting in a creative rut:

“I read poetry… Rumi, Neruda, Rilke, and my own poetry, to remind myself of my own art. The words help me to see shapes, colors, form, which then inspire me to write, paint and create.” — Arica Hilton, Poet/Artist

“If I get into a creative rut, I take a long bath, light a candle, and listen to soft music followed by a nice long slumber. After a restful night’s sleep, I often wake to a morning of refreshing ideas!” — Dee Alexander, vocalist

Hiding:

What are you hiding? No one ever asks that. – Sarah Vowell

Onstage, there’s no hiding; you either can or can’t act. There’s no second take. Anna Friel

Scenario 2: Artists quits his job, has no plan, but exhibitions and grants. A year later, he is broke, and borrows money from friend to pay rent. And all his friends think he is doing well.

hidingWhen artists and designers are not ready to deal with the world, they hide away from it. Hiding keeps an artist safe but it makes them obsolete unlike a working artist who is always around doing shows, producing work and networking. Hiding keeps you away from opportunity and people really forget about you. Imagine being asked to be on a panel at a funeral? Yes, that happened to an artist I know. So, when you hide away as a creative person, you make it easy for yourself to be a non working artist and not to be seen.

My last blog, Succeeding an Artist and Designer, defined some of artists and designers bad habits; and one of them was networking. When you are not working, it’s best to do meet people. Hiding in your studio does not grow your circle or make you grow. And during slow times, a creative person makes Personal Development be a priority.

Pretending/Fronting: 

Scenario 5: Designer on Facebook. Life is sunny. Or so it seems. Behind the smiles and postings…but the reality is that the designer just lost space and business due to family crisis.

pretending_to_me_okay

This year, I watched an artist and designer spend the time everyday posting happy things and positive motivational words and images on Facebook but the irony is that these two people were in crisis. I know that Facebook is not the place where people are really Real but to watch these postings was painful as I knew the truth behind the facade, there were having so many issues. One lost his work space, and the other her apartment. I feel your pain, but if some of your contacts knew what was going on, maybe they could of helped in some way.

Pretending that everything is alright has become the status quo for artists and designers these last five years. To deal with themselves, some are creating a fake facade of reality. I know, I have had to tell about 6 artists and designers to post on their pages that they are looking for a job and in less than a week, all of them got a job or gig.

Running Away:

Early this month, I got an early morning call from an artist who was experiencing a problem and in that conversation, I dared to ask the question: when you face an issue, what do you normally do? She said, I run away. Yes, a grown-up said that. I should have been shocked but since I spent 6 years at Parsons with creative students, I had seen and experienced this before. My role was to go find that runaway student even if it meant going into bathrooms to find them.
running

Running away is the easiest thing that creative people do, it’s like hiding except it is more destructive. It means you avoid dealing with things and postpone the issue. A designer I was working with told me they avoided some issue for five years, and when I asked what was the end result, she said, “well, I can no longer work with those clients anymore”. What was the issue? She could not deliver her designs on time and she gained a reputation. So, I asked, What did you learn from it? She said, I just moved on to the next clients. I responded, you lost money. Business is about repeat business.

running-away-

To move away from the Artist’s and Designer’s Cover-up, I have 4 innovative concepts for artists and designers: Paradigm Shift, Truth and Reality, Taking Stock and Getting Help, Mining Your Resources and Setting a Path.

Paradigm Shift:
paradigm

2008 marked a huge Paradigm Shift, a new way of being, working and thinking. Some creative people got it, but a lot missed it. It was a huge change and redefined how things worked. Forget the financial crisis, 2008 marked a point where ideas and beliefs shifted dramatically. It was a point to see things differently, to try a new perspective and work differently. Not just a place to think outside the box but a place and point to remove the box. Imagine that. Edward Glassman, PhD writes that “a paradigm shift changes your belief structure and your perspective so you see things differently and creatively”.

paradigm2

If Cubism and Dada changed the attitude and thinking of artists and debunking the realm of possibilities an art work could depict, imagine what could have happened for artists in 2008 if something new emerged? There was an upheaval, a radial change; and even five years later, I am looking to artists and designers to create that new space and thinking. And they should start with their work and themselves.

Truth and Reality:

truthToo many artists and designers are refusing to face the truth of what is happening to them. Life has dynamically changed and when I counsel them, I do a session on truth- how to tell the truth about what is going on with themselves, their work and relationships – personal and business. The truth shall set you free is a key statement of this session. It frees you to be yourself, the real you. That freedom lets you redefine things more clearly and straightforwardly.

reality-d-citylife

If you are honest with yourself as an artist or designer, you stop covering up the truth from yourself. If you have not exhibited work in a year, then, you are not a working artist. Let’s be real, working artists create work and exhibit or sell it. Art is their main gig and not the hobby, so they work on developing, nurturing and growing it even with a full-time job. I am a watcher of artists and designers and when I meet one, my first question usually is – where did you exhibit or show recently? Or, what new work are you making?

reality

The reality of telling yourself the truth makes you responsible, less insecure and engage in changing things in your life and career as a creative person. I often say, be real with yourself and you can solve anything. I make creative people do a reality check – from analyzing how many times they are showing work, selling work, making new work and even networking. The list is enormous because, quite frankly, a real creative person is running a business and not playing the old stereotype of the starving artist.

Taking Stock and Getting Help:

Getting-Help

It takes about three meetings with artists and designers who are stuck, fronting, hiding or running away to real get to the essence of what is going on. Why? Creative people are the most creative about lying to themselves and others. I have to dig deeper, and since I know what they can hide, I keep digging. They make the sessions I have with them interesting. It does take a creative mind to come up with layers of excuses and to bury things. I call this process, taking stock. It is the gathering of all the issues, problems and seeing what is working and not working.

help

Taking stock is about taking a moment, to evaluate and measure where you are in life. It’s a vital check in. I often advice creative people to do it every season. And in New York, there are four seasons, so four times to see where things are. It is a way of knowing what you have done so far, what you need to do and a way of creating a list for the future. And after you have taken stock, I often tell artists and designers to get help if they need it at this point.

help_keyboardGetting help is simple. If you know you need to do taxes, you will see an accountant. So, why is it that when you are stuck, running away or fronting, you avoid talking to someone? I am bold to tell creative people that they need therapy. Talking to someone that can unwind them from their stuck stage is a strategy I use. Help comes in all forms, and most creative people wait until they are almost a foot in the grave before they actually reach out. I usually get the emergency call to help, so these days, I am blogging to say to all creative people, it’s much easier to help you earlier. Simply, I can solve the problem faster and suggest options.

Mining Your Resources and Setting a Path
career-change1Sometimes, I cannot believe how many artists and designers do not use their own resources: contacts and networks, funds and brains. Yes, I dare say it – brains. So many have stopped thinking creatively. They have stopped connecting the dots and are working in silos. The creative sector is about relationships, collaboration and partnerships. It has never been about the solitary artist or designer. That’s a myth.

As a designer and business person, I have “mined” my resources. It is how I have moved from place to place and built my career and business. I can see that physically from where I sit in my store. My broker is a person I knew well enough to ask her to get me a space on Franklin Avenue at a reasonable rate because I wanted to build a business on that avenue after the fire I experienced.

The main message I give to artists and designers is to change, you have to create and set a path. I call it setting goals and objectives that you can implement. Yes, you must define where you want to go in your career and life. Some artists and designers created a path 20 years ago, since 2008, its time to dust that plan off and create a new path. What worked 20 years ago does not necessary work today and tomorrow.

The Artist’s and Designer’s Cover-up: Fronting, Stuck, Hiding and Running Away is a place of fear and marks a path to failure. Changing this notion is a process and some artists and designers understand there are in trouble, while others are afraid to admit there is a problem. If you are interested in making a shift, I will be hosting a series of webinars in October, please email me at atim@blackdesignews.com

Succeeding as an Artist and Designer: Breaking through Failure


by Atim Annette Oton

sucess

For the last 13 years, I have spent time counselling artists and designers about moving the careers to the next level. A good number of them have been emerging and established, but they have common threads when it comes to failure. Carolyn Edlund wrote the best list on how to fail as an artist (I include designers to this too).  I keep it in mind when I counsel artists and designers as it rings so true and really defines what they do to themselves.

THE FAILURE LIST:

  • Believe in the myth of the starving artist

  • Take all of your own portfolio shots (preferably out-of-focus with poor lighting)

  • Write a rambling, vague artist statement that no one can understand so that you appear to be intelligent and unfathomable

  • Wait until the last minute to send in applications

  • Don’t return phone calls

  • Ignore visitors at gallery shows – remain aloof and mysterious!

  • Leave your last blog entry of November, 2008 as your most recent contribution

  • Vastly underprice your work

  • Vastly overprice your work

  • Refuse to volunteer

  • Avoid business or networking events like the plague

  • Don’t take any continuing art or business education classes

  • Neglect to update your website with current work

  • Find excuses why your work won’t sell, and use them often

  • Apologize for your art – say that you are “not really” an artist

  • Who needs marketing?  You’re not a salesperson!

  • Blame others for misunderstanding your work

  • Maintain a messy and disorganized studio

  • Embrace rejection – convince yourself you are a failure

  • Ignore deadlines

  • Procrastinate

  • Give up

  • Source: http://www.artsyshark.com/2010/05/29/how-to-fail-as-an-artist/

If you are an artist or a designer and you do any of these things, there is a reason why you are failing or progressing slowly.

success_through_failure

To succeed as an artist or designer and redefine the typical failure model, I often give advice to artists and designers to take on these 3 things that I call Life’s Themes to Success as a way of living and working: Attitude, Going the Long Haul, Networking and Relationships.

Attitude

attitude

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Raymond Chandler

If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude. – Colin Powell
Most of us start out with a positive attitude and a plan to do our best.- Marilu Henner

Some artists and designers I know have very low self esteem and it shows through the first time I meet them no matter how much they try to hide it. They are either too quiet to sell themselves or just too loud and it makes me realize – the noise means there are not very good at their craft. Attitude defines an artist or designer who is comfortable with themselves, and this is clear by the positive attitude and self-awareness they possess.

The Long Haul

patience (1)

I’m in this for the long haul. I’ve been making music my whole life.  – Lenny Kravitz

My goal is to get another 30 years out of this business, So I need to figure out the fuel to do that. And so far, I think it’s respect and quality and company, not celebrity or box office or stardom. It’s not a sprinter’s approach. It’s more like a long-distance thing. You can stick around a lot longer if you kind of slow play it. – Jason Bateman

patience

I don’t know how many artists and designers think and really believe that success equals fame but I have had so many discussions about this notion with most of them that I counsel. That notion is the starving artist model and does not exist. If you actually know or talk with the “supposedly famous” artist, you will find a successful artist who is working on the Long Haul Model. This artist know fame is fleeting and keeps working harder on everything. He or she never sits on their “fame” and is constantly building on it.

The Long Haul is about process, making or doing good work. It is not a lazy path but a fulfilling one. That artist is always exhibiting new work, developing new ideas and is usually one that galleries or collectors are looking for. They have a stellar work ethic and are very engaged in their work and career. The Long Haul is their plan. They not only have a plan for their career but are open and engaged. They are engaged in their community, either write about art or work in the industry.

Networking and Relationships

networkingwords

Networking is an essential path of building wealth. – Armstrong Williams

Brooklyn is where I primarily developed. I had an opportunity to make records and perform in clubs there, and I started networking with the right people in the right places.  – Busta Rhymes.

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People hire designers or buy work from artists who they are referred to or they know. And a way to be in the loop is to network with people. One of the most interesting things I find is that artists and designers have very few friends or colleagues outside their industry. And if they do, it is usually with people who cannot buy their work or hire them.

Another thing I also notice is that some of them do not really have role models and mentors. So, they build careers without looking at what others have done before them or get very little advice. But more importantly, I am finding a lot of artists and designers who have resources (people and contacts) not using them even to find out what is going on in their industry. Networking and relationships are vital to growing a career. They provide navigational paths.

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