A somewhat ugly truth about your art career success is that it often is less about what you know, and more about whom you know that matters.
Art Career Success Driven by Networking
You can walk on water, you can walk on the moon
You can walk through Memphis wearin' blue suede shoes
When the walkin' is over, at the end of the road
It ain't what you done son, it's who you know
Yeah it's who you know ~ lyrics to Trace Adkins' "It's Who You Know."
An Ugly Truth about Art Careers
A somewhat ugly truth about your art career success is that it often is less about what you know, and more about whom you know that matters. Thus proving the axiom, “Life is not fair.”
Study the art career of any affluent or acclaimed artist and you will find benefactors in the equation. NO ONE is self-made. We all have had help.
True enough, you can make your own luck as a residue of smart, hard work. However, an introduction from the right person to the right person or situation can enhance your prospects beyond anything you can do on your own.
My Story: How Knowing the Right Person Got Me Here
As a young man in my early thirties, I had a mentor who saw me headed for a burn out at a job with no real future. He took me aside to tell me to put in a resume at a company looking for just the right salesperson. He also gave me a recommendation for the job. Of course, I had to prove I had the skills to get the job, which I did. However, I would never have gotten the job without his guidance.
I stayed there five years and tripled my income from when I started. That led to another job where in my first three years I tripled my income again. It should be no surprise I stayed on for fifteen years. That last job was my entry into the art business. You are reading this blog post courtesy of the vision and generosity of a person seeking to help someone like me get a leg up.
From the outside, you would never know that one person had such an powerful effect on my career. He led me to a door I didn’t know existed. He helped me open it with his recommendation. That was the “Who you know” part. My own skills and ambition are what turned opportunity into success. Those traits were my “What you know” contribution to a very successful, prosperous career. Without the “Whom you know part”, my future would have faced a very different outcome.
Unfortunately, Art Career Success Is More Than About the Art
If you think you can generate art career success just because you make the best art, you sadly are deluded. How often do you see artists whose work you deem inferior, but whose career you have to look up to? How does this happen?
It comes down to three things:
- Smart marketing
- Good selling
- Effective networking
Making Great Art with Great Appeal Is Paramount
I will never discount the importance of making great, compelling art. Nevertheless, regarding success, there is more to it than creating great work in the shadows of obscurity. Marketing merely, but importantly, creates awareness and opens the door. Once inside, sales skills get your art bought.
Networking introduces you to people, resources and opportunities you will never have, or even know about if you fail to make use of its power. When marketing, selling and networking are combined and put to good use, you have a potent formula for art career success beyond your imagination.
Waiting to Start Networking Is Not an Option
It is helpful to have a list of potential people for you to know, but not critical. It is more important to get started. My story above is about good fortune as I was aware of a need to change, but didn’t know how to tap the resources at my disposal. You should not be waiting for luck to come your way. Instead start making plans and goals to get introduced to the right people.
If you have a grand plan for the outcome you want from your networking, good for you. If you lack the vision for how networking can help you, you need to do some serious brainstorming to determine your art career outcome.
Get Started Today – Your Future Is Waiting
Begin now, be persistent, helpful, positive and constructive. Learn to reciprocate from a genuine spirit. These attributes will take you far. Search the 500 posts on this blog, and countless others across the internet for help on art marketing and how to sell art.
Do You Want to Learn More about Networking for Artists?
Consider downloading my Art Marketing workshop. A chunk of the four-hour webinar, recorded live with Jason Horejs of Xanadu Gallery, is devoted to ways artists can effectively network their way to success.
Previous Successful Art Careers Posts
- Making Successful Art Careers Happen | Part One
- Successful Art Careers | How to Make Yours Happen | Part Two
- Successful Art Careers | Marketing Art Effectively | Part Three
- Successful Art Careers | Grow Where You Are Planted | Part Four
- Successful Art Careers | The Curse of Thinking Small | Part Five
- Successful Art Careers | Using the Rule of Three | Part Six
- Successful Art Careers | Artistic Courage | Part Seven
- Successful Art Careers | Warm Art Marketing | Part Eight
- Successful Art Careers | Perspective | Part Nine