I’m going to let you in on a little secret. This little bit of information has helped me tremendously in my own art career and I know it will help you too.
Become synonymous with your craft.
I’m going to say that again so it sinks in. In fact, I’m just going to type it out in all caps.
BECOME SYNONYMOUS WITH YOUR CRAFT.
This should be one of your ultimate goals and I’ll tell you why. First, think of the names of some of your closest friends and how you refer to them or better yet, how you would introduce them to somebody. There is a good chance you add a title to their name. Sometimes it’s an official title like “George the architect” and other times it’s a little less official such as “George the cokehead (or wife beater).” You may not even realize that you do this or that people are doing it with you. I think it’s a default behavior we fall victim to because we all love associations so much. Becoming synonymous with something has been out of your control for the most part, but now that you are aware of it you can decide what to be synonymous with and take advantage of it. Ideally, you want to get to the point in which the people you know think of you anytime your craft (art, design, photography, etc) is mentioned and vice versa.
If you have dreams of becoming a professional artist it will be easier as soon as people begin to know you as “Jill the artist” and not “Jill the housecleaner”. Here’s why. As long as people associate you with house cleaning (or serving coffee or whatever you do as a day job) they won’t think of you when they hear about an opportunity that will help out your art career. Here’s an example from my own life. I never listen to the radio. My cousin, however, was listening to the radio while driving to work when an ad came on asking for artists to submit work for a chance at getting their art on a TV show. My cousin instantly thought of me. As it turned out I emailed my submission and was chosen. The company paid me to use my work in a pilot they were filming. They even paid for my gas so I could drive the artwork to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, the show wasn’t picked up, but I still got paid and a lot of people (cast and crew) saw my work. If my cousin thought of me as “Jeff the skateboard hoodlum” he might have called somebody else he knows that’s an artist. This is just one of many opportunities that have come my way because of being synonymous with what I do.
Ok, so how do you get rid of that unwanted title people have chosen to add to your name? It’s easy. Start referring to yourself with the title you want. Get business cards that state exactly what you want to be known as. When I first got business cards they said “Jeff Claassen – fine artist”.
Another thing you can do if you’re not already is start living up to the title. I know there are some artists out there that hide the fact for some reason. I’m not suggesting you go yell it from the rooftops (unless that’s what you want to do), but it’s good to start talking about it. When people call you and you’re in the middle of painting don’t just tell them you can’t talk because you’re busy. Tell them you’re in the middle of painting and you’ll call them back later. When people ask how you’re doing or what you did last weekend tell them it was a great weekend because you were able to get a lot of work done on one of the paintings you’ve been trying to finish.
You can even take it a step further. I have a friend that’s a realtor and literally asked me to think of him if anybody I knew mentioned they were looking to buy a house. It worked too. Whenever I hear, “we’re looking for a house” I think of him and say, “Call my friend John.”