Tuesday, February 13, 2018

3 Skills that Take Artists Farther than Talent

Lotty Schamroth Conservatory, Long Island, NY

Talent is a wonderful gift. I believe everyone excels in some area. It’s outwardly obvious in some people like athletes, actors and artists. While talent is quieter in mathematicians, literary types and scientists. But everyone has a special area of interest where they shine. 
You might be the most talented glass artist in the world. But if you’re creating art alone in a closet, you’ll never be recognized for your incredible work beyond your front door. If you’re content creating for yourself, hurray for you. Carry on. Enjoy! 

But if you crave a wider audience for your creations, it takes more than talent to be successful in today’s marketplace. You must bring the whole package.

1. Soft Skills

Soft skills are your personality in action. They’re the dynamic energy and presence you bring to the room. 

Are you happy, friendly and outgoing? Do you engage others with the intention of making them feel comfortable? Do you include everyone? Do you treat everyone, from the trash collector to the CEO, with the same courtesy and respect? Do you openly smile and offer a hand shake? These traits make you a person, more than just a contact, co-worker or hired help. 

Soft skills will take your farther than anything else. This is not to say you don’t need to know your craft and your business, you do. But your ability to engage, get along and communicate with others is paramount. How you treat others, how you work with others and how you handle unexpected problems all contribute to becoming a valuable, sought after artist. 

No one wants to work with a prima donna artist for long. Sure, she’s entertaining for a while, but the unpredictability is exhausting and unprofessional. 

If you’re shy, you can develop a stronger presence. Start with eye contact and a sincere smile.    

2. Patience and Perseverance

You may not know this, but my glass roots are grounded in stained glass. This year I celebrate 30 years of glass crafting. My husband and I owned and operated two art glass studios for 20 years. At that time, we sold 500 different pattern book titles in our stores. I wanted to be a pattern book author, so I approached a publisher. I was rejected because my drawings were immature.  

At first, I was disappointed, then angry. And then I was driven to prove to myself I had what it took to be published, and to sell. It took a few years before I tried again, this time with a different publisher. My first book, Tropical Teasers came out in 1999. I was basking in the glow of my first title when a customer told me, anyone can be a flash in the pan. Over the next 12 years I went on to publish 14 books. This flash is still sizzling! 

The biggest dream killer is stagnant waters. 

I make a plan, then outline the steps needed to accomplish my objective. I try to make tiny steps toward my goal every week. Any forward momentum is better than no progress at all. When I’m overwhelmed and frustrated that nothing is getting done, I make a list of recently completed projects. I’m always amazed how much actually has been accomplished. Don’t give up. The journey is part of the adventure. 

3. Self-Promotion 

Don’t run away screaming. This is not an evil topic and it’s easier to implement a strategy than you think. 

Invest time in an artist website. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive to be effective. There are free hosts that work well. Simple, clean, and clear is powerful. The point is to be easily accessible. Include an artist’s bio with your picture, contact info, pictures of your artwork, and any other relevant information. Make the site as unique and colorful as you are.  

Have professional quality pictures taken of your art. Or invest in a camera, photo cube, and lights to take your own. Quality images sell your art. This is not the place to skimp. 
Participate in one or two social media venues. Think quality over quantity. You’ll be more effective and enjoy the conversation more if you keep a tight rein on your online commitment. Contribute to topics, share ideas, help others when possible. 

Get out there. It’s not easy to promote ourselves or our art. We’re artists not salespeople. But it’s important to be able to sell when appropriate. Put yourself in a position that makes you comfortable to talk about your art. 

I was invited to be a guest on a local cable show. It terrified me. I went anyway, not knowing what to expect. It was a cheesy late-night show no one watched. It would be good experience if I was ever asked to be on a “real” show. Just before I went on stage my legs froze from the knees down. I couldn’t feel my feet. I was afraid I’d topple over like a bowling pin. I always thought that was just a stage fright myth. Nope. It really happens.

This is what I learned. It’s the host’s show. It’s all about the host, and 15 seconds about them talking about you. They only ask you questions about what you’re passionate about. For me it’s glass. I can talk about glass all day, comfortably and confidently. That was easy. If you’re slow to reply or stumble the host jumps in because dead air is lethal. And as we now know, it’s all about them. 

The take away here is this: a very scary situation is not scary at all if you’re sharing your expertise and your love of your art. This is how I prime myself for public speaking engagements. I remind myself I’m talking about glass. That’s easy and fun. Take chances and put yourself out there. 

I’ve been interviewed on live TV several times since. My legs don’t freeze anymore.    
You got this!

Follow my blog for more tips and tricks! 

Let’s get together and fuse glass!
Upcoming Classes and Webinars

Glass Craft and Bead Expo 2018
April 4 – 8, 2018
Las Vegas, NV

It’s time to get excited about the Glass Craft and Bead Expo, coming up in April. I’m offering old favorites and one new class titled, Fire and Ice. Seats are going fast so make your plans now to join me for a week of friendship, fusing and fun.

FR-18 - Breaking Through – Making Exhibition Quality Artwork
SA-22 - Fire & Ice, Hot Techniques for Cool Projects
SU-01 - Fusing Art Design!

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with old friends and meeting new glass fans. I hope to see you in class. 

Upscale Fusing Webinar
April 24, 2018

Incorporating pattern and texture to elevate and refine your fusing style are the focus of this in-depth webinar. Join me and learn how to tastefully blend various cutting-edge techniques to add dimension and volume to your work. With the pro's secrets revealed, you'll be on the fast-track to developing winning combinations that’ll get your work noticed!

Inspiration! Confidence! Knowledge!
Advanced Glass Fusing 4-Day, Hands-on Workshop
May 8-11, 2018
Join me for this impactful workshop held in my private studio.
Wesley Chapel, Florida, 4-Day, Hands-on, Class size is limited.

Exceed your expectations! In this intense, 4-day workshop you’ll utilize the many advanced techniques today’s successful glass artists are using to elevate their work from craft to fine art. This all-new program is ideal for ambitious glass fusers ready to go bigger and explore more in-depth kiln forming techniques. 

Something new! Check out my new writer’s blog.
Writer – Instructor – Artist

Relationships fascinate me, and so I have a new blog dedicated to the weird and wonderful ways we interact with each other.

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