7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE ARTISTS
By Elgin Subwaysurfer Bolling
(Apologies to Franklin Covey)
So there I was, reading Franklin Covey's fascinating book, The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, and as usual, my creative mind began to free associate as I went down Covey's list. Although I've done a tongue-in-cheek play on words of the principles, these really are habits of highly successful artists that I've read about,come in contact with, and implemented myself.
1 BE ACTIVE PROFESSIONALLY
When I was a younger artist, I loathed alliances of any kind. "they're not going to steal my clients!""they're not going to steal my ideas!" I said to myself, and I did make decent money. But I was lonely and unfulfilled. As I got older, I realized the power and practicality of aligning myself with other professionals like myself, and being active in organizations. Not only did active participation make me a better artist, but t also created a sense of community in a profession that is solitary. Oh, did I mention that my income did not suffer?
2 BEGIN WITH NO END IN SIGHT
In regards to working, I've found that you create an infinite amount f stress when you're always focussing on the END of the project rather than enjoying the process, the journey. Whenever I forget about clock watching, I get into a creative zone where I become so involved that I get much more work done, with Kessler stress.
3 PUT FIRST THINGS LAST
Most people focus primarily on the thing they do best FIRST rather than working on their weaknesses. That's putting first things first. Try saving the first easy thing for LAST, and you'll find you'll gain more control over the stuff you're bad at.
4 THINK GRIN/GRIN
There's nothing worse than coming out of a. Negotiation or business deal where you're happy but your client isn't, or even worse, when your clients happy, and you aren't! Both scenarios will not get you repeat a referral,or repeat business from that client, and that is what need if you are to make a living as a professional artist.
I would refer to these as GRIN/FROWN scenarios.
In GRIN/GRIN scenarios you seek to walk away from a business meeting where you both are satisfied. To achieve this takes compromise, business savvy, the gift if gab, a d even a little luck, but it can be done, and a client who is Grinning is sure to eel you winning. (their money, that is!)
5 SEEK FIRST TO UNDERSTAND, THEN YOU WILL BE IN DEMAND
I've always been turned off by salespeople and business professionals who just look at e like I'm a dollar sign. These types never ask my opinion, keep firing questions at me, without giving me time to respond, or if I have objections, mentally write me off as not being a potential paycheck. I've found that if I seek to understand my clients needs, objections, fears, and concerns, not only does it make my work with them easier, but they also end up purchasing a lot more from me than they normally would, people haye to be treated like statistical data. Threat them like human beings and you'll be in demand.
As an artist, it's natural to be loose, carefree, and spontaneous. Much if the creative process has that air of unpredictability, it's how we find our muse. Once that muse is found, though, it's time to take off the"artists hat" and put on the "business person hat."
You will never get a project done in a timely fashion for a client unless you prioritize. As a young artist I literally avoided some business projects because I felt they were too "labor intensive" and instead did my "fun"stuff first, vowing I'd get to the hard stuff once relaxed. I remember many a sleepless night burning the proverbial "midnight oil" in an effort to get my "labor intensive "
7 SHARPEN YOUR FLAW
Before Arnold was Governor of California, he was a world champion bodybuilder. Seven times mr Olympia in fact, beating out consistently world class competitors all over the globe. Arnold boasted that he won consistently because he ad no weak parts, which was not just an arrogant boast. In professional bodybuilding, the top competitors are judged, objectively on how well proportioned each particular muscle group is in relationship to the entire body. Although it's true that Arnold's charismatic personality didn't hurt his chances for obtaining victory, objectively, he was found to be "perfectly proportioned"according to competitive standards. However, this wasn't always the case. In a candid interview, Arnold revealed that early in his competitive career,his physical flaw was his calve muscles, which he referred to as weak, and constantly lagged behind the rest of his body in terms of continued growth. To improve, he purposely wore pants cut off that only revealed his weak skinny calves. Doing this forced him to work even harder on their development since he was forced to constantly look at them. Arnold didn't run away from his flaw pretending it didn't exist, but continued to sharpen it working assiduously unlit it was no longer a weakness,but one of his strengths.
As artists we too must not run away from our weaknesses but sharpen them into strengths. I recall early on having terrible line qality when I drew, as was pointed out by a fellow artist I respected. I practiced continuously until I got to the point where I actually became sought after BECAUSE of my great line quality!