Artists are worthy of more. You who contribute so much to our intellectual, spiritual, and creative lives shouldn't have to live leftover budgets. But that's exactly what happens.
It starts at the top with arts organizations and agencies, and then it filters down into all aspects of the art economy.
Mind you, the organizations and agencies aren’t cheap with the patrons and board members with the big bank accounts. They are cheap with the artists, without whom their passionate interest would not exist.
Artists, in turn, grow to feel they are not worthy of more.
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Frugality Isn't Bad
Don’t get me wrong. Frugality isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it can be good.
I don’t believe in spending for spending’s sake or in extravagance.
But frugality becomes detrimental when it feeds the notion that we are not worthy of more.
Many of my clients develop this sense of unworthiness that is perpetuated by the very organizations that were created to serve them.
I confess that I behaved similarly in the past.
For years I have been writing about how artists can show that their work has value. But I continued to allow the organizers who hired me for workshops to do things “on the cheap,” and I was doing the same with the workshops and events I organized myself.
How can I save money? was my modus operandi.
My first workshop, in 2003, was held at an office building that a friend managed. I recall my parents (!) picking up and delivering boxed lunches to the group.
At a much later workshop, I ran my team ragged making coffee all day long—trekking repeatedly to the kitchen on the other end of the building. Coffee! Because I didn’t pay for a venue that had food service. And because I didn't charge enough to offer these services.
I began attending “nice” conferences for marketing, mindset, and software. These conferences were set up with white tablecloths, fresh flowers, music, sophisticated audio-visual systems, and bright spaces.
I realized that the people and companies that were producing these conferences would have never treated their guests as cheaply as artists are treated.
So I modeled what they are doing, and this is what my guests experience when they come to the workshops I host.
If I ask you to embrace an abundance mindset, as I do, you need to be treated like you already have on— and that you deserve it.
I decided back in 2013 to take over my own workshops and adopt a new mantra: How can I provide the best value while showing my artist-guests that they and the work they do are valued. And I charged more for this experience.
Are you Out of Alignment?
People who look for quality tend to look for it in every aspect of their lives.
You can’t advocate cheap materials, products, and services from one side of your mouth and ask for high-dollar sales from the other side. These are conflicting messages to the Universe and to your potential collectors.
I know an artist who makes beautiful handmade, high-end furniture. My husband and I were having dinner with him and his wife, and they began ranting about their daughter who had purchased a $25 toilet paper holder. $25! They couldn’t believe she spent so much money on a toilet paper holder.
Now I really have no idea that the toilet paper holder was or wasn’t worth $25.
All I know is what I asked him next: You do understand that the people you want to buy your furniture probably pay more than $25 for their toilet paper holders? Your mindset—that you shouldn’t spend a little extra for things you appreciate—is out of alignment with what you want people to spend on your work.
Your Penny-Pinching Can Hurt Art Sales and Opportunities
You must remember that you are not your ideal art buyer or collector. You can’t ask, “What would I pay for this?”
If you come from a less-than-abundant place, it’s time to do some work on your money mindset.
Consider these questions.
- How do others treat you at your art organization meetings, in your booth, or online?
- How do you treat yourself? Do you look for quality or do you buy what’s least expensive? Do you settle for what is worn down and broken even though you could do better work with new tools?
- How do you treat your art? Are you using the best materials so that you can show the highest value? Are you investing in excellent photography or learning how to improve your own photo abilities?
- How do you treat others? Do you share generously or do you keep the good stuff to yourself – afraid that there isn’t enough to go around? And the corollary to that … Do you place a high enough value on your time and expertise? Or are you giving everything away and keeping nothing for yourself. This is being frugal with yourself and your value.
Let’s start treating each other (and ourselves) like we are as worthy of abundance as our patrons.
Related: How to Feel More Abundant
This post was originally published on August 31, 2017, and has been updated with the very useful comments intact.