Choosing to Live Excuse-Free

If you haven’t read my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, you might not have come across my philosophy of no-excuses art marketing.

If you have read the book, it never hurts to be reminded of its tenets.

Jeannie Browning says the “I’m An Introvert” excuse from I’d Rather Be in the Studio really spoke to her.
Jeannie Browning says the “I’m An Introvert” excuse from I’d Rather Be in the Studio really spoke to her.

The framework of my book is based on 8 excuses I hear most frequently from artists about why they aren’t promoting their art.

  1. There aren’t enough hours in the day to do it all.
  2. My art speaks for itself.
  3. I have no idea where to begin.
  4. I don’t want to bother people.
  5. I don’t live in an art town.
  6. I’m an introvert.
  7. I’m not rich.
  8. I’d rather be in the studio!

Do any of those sound familiar to you?

Then there are additional excuses that I’ve encountered from artists. Have you caught yourself saying or thinking any of these?

  1. I’m not ready. I need to take more classes.
  2. Other artists are better.
  3. I need to wait until I retire.
  4. I need to wait until the kids are grown.
  5. The economy is bad.

Excuses Are Lies

You believe your excuses to be true, but only because you want them to be true.

If the excuses were lies, you might conclude that you’d have to put yourself out there in a big way and share your art with the world. That’s scary to a lot of people!

But excuses for not promoting your art are lies. Everyone is busy, has limited funds, must raise their children, or doesn’t know where to begin. But an artist who wants a brilliant career finds a way to make it happen. I see it time after time: artists with severe limitations finding their way.

If you’re not making it happen in your life, someone else is taking your place on the podium of success. Why are you giving up that position?

Choose Excuse-Free

If you are using any of the above excuses as reason for inaction, stop it!

You have a choice. You can accept full responsibility for your life and do the work required to get you where you want to be, or you can continue to lie to yourself.

Find a way to do the former. Choose to live excuse-free.

What excuses are you using for not sharing your art with the world?
What lies are you telling yourself?


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36 thoughts on “Choosing to Live Excuse-Free”

  1. Alyson, I love it when you go “Tough Love”.
    So many of the excuses I hear artists make (myself included) are really no more than clever ways of rationalizing why we haven’t met our own goals. It’s a way of letting ourselves off the hook rather that facing the ugly truth that we haven’t really been following through and following up where we should be.
    It’s so much easier to make excuses or sit around and complain, right?
    WRONG–even *that* takes time and energy. So, why not use that energy in a way that actually works to our advantage?
    As we say in France: “Chapeau!” A really great blog post!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Kesha: “Tough Love” is it, huh? I do wear it well.
      I actually find most of the excuses I hear are around not even starting. There are no goals because . . . (insert excuse here).

  2. That was a great read. I am guilty of # 9 and # 10 (specially #10) and an added personal favorite: “Everybody can make this. Why should they want to pay for what I made”.
    One day I will be brave enough to promote my work. Just not yet. I first have to make better pieces (and yes, that would be another excuse).
    Great post though. A real eye opener.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Renée: How appropriate that you responded with an excuse of your own. Now stop that! 😉

  3. Sheesh…you don’t even know me! How did you know all the excuses I’ve made??? I’ve got another one….I’ll concentrate on my art after my aging parents are gone and no longer need me to care for them. That really does take time, but in my heart, I know I could find more time in the studio if I really make the effort. The odd thing is, I truly enjoy it once I get started. I don’t know why it’s so hard to start unless it is lack of confidence.

    1. Paula, I also care for and live with my parents to care for Dad with Alzheimer’s (late stage) and about a year ago I started back painting seriously … creating on a little desk in my bedroom. The result is it has given me a source of stress relief, self-esteem, more courage and …. importantly … a knowing that I am productive and a creative soul that takes her nourishment and growth seriously. Now, I paint daily even when I have doubts. I have had 2 paintings accepted into two Gallery Exhibitions locally. Since I am “tied down” here 7 days a week I make it my job to find creative ways to get my art seen. It is slow…. I am sometimes jealous of those who can do more than I …but, I will accept my personal realities and still be creative on “how to” promote/sale my work. Good luck Paula as you begin your art making today!

    2. Alyson Stanfield

      Pat: Thank you for sharing your experience with Paula. I LOVE that about my blog community. You all are such great support for one another!

    3. And …. Thank you, Alyson for being here for all of us. Your blog is one of the most important mail I open each morning with my first cup of coffee. In case you are not aware of the importance of that for those of more “housebound”. Thanks again….

    4. Alyson Stanfield

      Paula: Yes, I should add “aging parents” to #12 because I know of a lot of people in the same boat as you. Be sure to take care of yourself and your desires before it’s too late.

  4. Agreed! Excuses are ways of holding ourselves back, whether out of fear, self-doubt, stupidity or laziness. I’m currently reading a book called The War of Art, by Steven Pressfield, a great read and very inspiring – correctly accusing the reader or artist of all the ways that we keep ourselves from creating and doing our work – dramatizing, procrastinating, self-doubt, etc. Marketing our art is part of doing our work, and if we neglect this – no matter what excuse we allow ourselves to use – we’re in fact not doing our work.
    I’m guilty of number 1, 4 and 10, and also the “everyone can make this” excuse, like Rénee. I am very guilty of procrastinating my marketing and letting myself feel ‘validated’ by doing commissions for people – doing what I know they ‘want’, instead of doing and making what I LOVE and then marketing this to potential buyers.
    Thank you, Alyson, for all the encouragement you give to artists like me!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Janet: I’m glad you brought of Pressfield’s book. A very good read.
      And that marketing is part of your work. Why? Because it takes your work out of the studio and into the world. It’s how you share your gifts.

  5. I bought your book and have been hard at work following your advice ever since. My only excuse was “I don’t know the right people” but I was determined to overcome that.
    One thing I did was paint a portrait of the Queen to present to the Town Council. I was so busy (working through the night to meet the deadline busy) that I didn’t manage to promote the event myself hoping that the town council would do that successfully. (Another lesson learned.) It was reported nicely in the local paper:
    Just now I am preparing for a county wide Open Studio event. I am lucky to live in an area with a very active organisation promoting the Arts. I decided to throw a Studio Party with a buffet lunch on the first Sunday, so I am not in the studio today – I am baking.
    I did a promo event in a local cafe with a slide show on my laptop, and discovered that I am getting a reputation as a good artist.
    There will be an exhibition in the winter, in connection with the Open Studio Event at a prestigious venue in Carlisle. So I need to get back into the studio to work on new paintings to submit (only jpegs thank goodness) as soon as September 21st.
    I’m not very far through your book yet. I have been working hard on each suggestion. Organisation took a while! Then I asked for advice from a successful salesman to improve my website and got advice to carry my art round with me. As I have been doing some ACEOs that will be easy to do. I ordered some handbag sized frames!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Wow, Jen! You’ve made amazing progress! Congratulations on all you have accomplished.

  6. Appreciate how you encourage artists to shift from passive (excuses) to proactive (action). This shift seems like it’s never over as we cycle back to the same excuses or make up new ones… Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Julia: That’s my MO, as you know. I just advise artists as I would anyone running a business. Artists need to know what’s required when you try to make money from something you love.

  7. Not wanting to bother people has been an overriding theme in my whole life. Nevertheless, I send out an email update every other Tuesday. No one has unsubscribed.
    We’ve all heard the saying, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. You may be rolling your eyes, but it’s true. I’m still working on incorporating this into my life.
    I am grateful to you, Alyson, for loving us artists enough to tell us the truth.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Kristine: Thank you for your kindness.
      My coach would go so far as to say that it’s probably not worth it if you don’t feel a little afraid. Right? If it’s safe, we won’t grow.

  8. number 4 & 8 are my excuses…but for as much as i hate bothering people i still do…i just feel slightly guilt about it! and i push myself to get out there in person and on-line every day, which is not easy for me, but i do it as well.
    but for the most part i figure, if i can do it with all i have going on in my life (single mom of two girls, 4 animals, a home to care for, a 9-5 job and a boyfriend), anyone else can do it as well. my business may not be able to support me financially yet, but each year i do a little bit better! and once my girls are out of the house in 2 years, i’ll be able to devote much more time to my art.
    there’s never a perfect time to start…ever…you just push yourself to do it!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Kathryn: As I say in my book, you’re not bothering people if you’re sharing something they’re interested in.

  9. What about money as an excuse not to show? I take digital pictures and transform them with the computer (all “free” now that I own the equipment.) I’ve determined to get Gallery Representation, so I need 15-20 pieces ready-to-hang from a single series ( or so I’ve been told) before I approach galleries. I’ve also determined that matte-canvas prints, 24-40 inches look gorgeous, and this is the output I want to use. Which leaves me with a number that looks like a lot, roughly 42-times my current checking balance. So, right now, its a no go. I am saving though, and at my current rate of savings it looks like mid-February, assuming no unexpected expenses.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Beth: That’s the “I’m not rich” excuse. Do something else! Matte it differently, frame it differently, hang it differently. I know this is your ideal, but you need to get the work out there in the meantime.

  10. It’s not just Artists. I’ve spoken to many people who have dreams but are too scared to follow them. Building walls of excuses. Good message and one we all need to remind ourselves of!
    You have one life, choose to live it!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Cathy: Yes! It’s definitely not just artists, but that’s who I write for.
      Thank you for reminding us that we are not alone.

  11. Great post Alyson. Something we all struggle with. My husband (the artist) and I have noticed that the “economy” excuse is easily adopted as well. Although I know it has affected a lot of people, we chose not to engage in that. Another artist told him that in slower times it is a great time to practice, learn, grow, and save good paintings because eventually there will be someone to buy it, so that is the attitude he has taken. As a result, the last few years have been his best years financially and career-wise so far.

  12. Hi Alyson,
    What a great post, Alyson! I’m guilty of #4, #6 and #7! It’s been a year long process to work on these. I can’t change #6, but there are ways I can use my introversion, that’s to my advantage and keep forging ahead! You’re a fabulous resource and I’m so happy that you’re in the business you’re in and offer workshops and a book that works! 🙂

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Indigene: Exactly! Being an introvert doesn’t have to be a negative or an excuse. It can mean that you connect to people differently but, perhaps, on a deeper level.

  13. My excuse is a version of #7. I’m a photographer and not having enough money to either buy supplies or equipment seems to be an ongoing problem. Matting and framing for shows is costly. However, I haven’t gone broke yet and if I can get more sales, the cost will go down.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Donna: I’m concerned about this. Beth mentions it above, too. There has to be a way to do something less expensive. (though I do understand that software and hardware are über pricey for togs)
      When Faith Ringgold found how expensive it was to ship paintings, she rolled them up and had them hang loosely on the wall. Soon, her “Story Quilts” were born – what she gained fame for.
      Limitations can be your best friend if you learn how to use them to your advantage. Then your art isn’t like everyone else’s.

  14. That last excuse cracks me up “The economy is bad”. My sculptural and pottery work started selling like crazy at the 2008 crash. Economy Bad = people see what’s important => ART!

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