Artist Myth #1: If I were a brilliant artist, I wouldn’t have to market

Too many myths surround the artist’s life. Non-artists imagine us living in garrets, brooding but brilliant subsisting on crumbs devoted to our art like monks. This doesn’t describe any artist I know! The most harmful myths surrounding artists are the myths that we ourselves believe are true. One example, which I hear often when I coach artists, is some version of:

If I were a good enough artist, I wouldn’t have to market my work or if I were a brilliant enough novelist, I wouldn’t have to look for an agent.

If you had a friend who had just graduated medical school and he said to you: If I were a good enough doctor, I wouldn’t have to look for a job, you’d think he’d lost his marbles.

But somehow artists and writers can mistakenly believe the myth that if the work is “good enough” they wouldn’t have to be doing the dirty work of marketing.

I fall prey to this myself and I use it to beat myself up when I’m not getting as many acceptances as I’d like. It takes the form of: If my writing were good enough, I wouldn’t even have to send it out, publishers would be knocking at my door. Ha!

The truth is, brilliant work or mediocre work takes the same energy to market.

The “success” or public acclaim an artwork receives doesn’t always equate with quality. Sometimes it’s luck or being at the right place at the right time or just plain bad taste.

So, what’s the lesson here for you this weekend?

Even if your work were brilliant you’d have to market it as hard and as much as if the work were awful. The upside? Assume your work is brilliant! And then tell the world about it. What next step in your marketing can you take this weekend? Write that first bad draft of your next grant application? Send out another short story? Sign up to give an Artist Talk? Devote two uninterrupted hours to making your marketing calendar for the rest of 2013? Whatever you do, take the next step. Because you never know. Your timing may be just perfect.