We all know the fable about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise won the race with steady progress while the cheeky rabbit learned a hard lesson. Despite this message many of us want to be the hare. It seems patient and steady progress is not sexy enough. Quick and brash makes the cash! Not that you and I ever think that way of course. That would be a sorry state to live in. But what if I said we could have the best of both worlds? A bit of tortoise and bit of hare if you know what I mean.
In the artist’s world you can fake it for a while, but quality of work and persistence through tough times will take care of the long term success stories. For the artist who feels like the tortoise with the finish line nowhere in sight the journey can get frustrating indeed. Is there anything sadder than an artist under the financial cosh? Filled with self-doubt? Sure there is. Those that give up are the truly sad ones.
So how can an artist enjoy the best of both worlds? We do not have to sell out to commerce, but we can share a good living. We can use our skills in creativity to make us smart entrepreneurs too. We can study our art and try new methods. The result is almost always a quick growth in skill and results both in quality of work and in business. This I do confirm from personal experience as well as observing it in other artists.
I have spoken about making rapid progress in technical skills. I can assure you that rapid progress in business is possible too if you devote time to it. Once momentum takes over you can take your foot off the accelerator a bit, but you may be enjoying the ride and find it gets easier.
The tortoise becomes the hare and all is good with the world. Until the hare stops for a snooze one day. In art the equivalent would be getting stuck in a rut producing similar paintings, because they sold well. Until demand drops off and the artist does not take steps to keep it fresh. This is when we get left behind and one day disillusion may set in. Avoid this it all costs. Feed the soul with new learning. Learn from other artists. Steal like an artist. Look at what makes you energised and pursue that like it is your last day. Take moments to reflect. Meditate on your life as an artist from time to time. This is a moment of energising and renewal.
One day it’s the tortoise and the next it is the hare. Get the balance right and enjoy the ride. It’s the only one we have.