Before I became a creative and more specifically an artist, I was a corporate. I worked for the telephone company and its many incarnations through the years. I left in 1992 to become “something”, anything other than what I was. I hated being a corporate.
So how come for at least five years after I left that world behind, my answer to the question “What do you do?” would be “I used to work for the telephone company.” I so identified with that version of what I had been that I couldn’t quite figure out who I was in the present moment.
4 x 4 Oil on Gessobord
Which brings me to today’s topic
In response to the question “What do you do?”
- Do you say you’re an artist and then fumble and stumble for words to describe what kind of artist you are?
- Do you secretly feel you’re not really an artist and have a bit/lot of an imposter syndrome? So you talk about what you used to do or what you might do.
- Or are you my least favorite new acquaintance that uses 10,000 words when 10 would have nailed it?
Today’s Nitty-Gritty Nugget:
Be prepared!(Have your elevator pitch ready for delivery)
I’m not talking about a stiff delivery read off a cue card. Be clear on your chosen field as an artist and what type of art you do. Above all be genuine, this is not a time to fake it until you make it. This would also be an excellent time to have your business card or postcard ready at hand with your website and/or online shop listed, and for goodness sakes don’t fumble through your purse for it…..awkward moment.
For me I want to include two things (OK maybe three things, if this writing gig pans out):- Artist
- President of a national art organization
My response to “What do you do?” might go something like this:
“I’m a still life artist and I work primarily in oil and pastel. I volunteer my time as National President for the fabulous Colored Pencil Society of America, and I just launched a hot new blog about selling art online.”
Thoughts of the telephone company and my life as a corporate are far behind.
4 x 4 Oil on Gessobord
Hang Me on Your Wall
1. Get off the fence and put both feet on the ground. You are either something you used to be or you are an artist.
2. Get clear on what kind of artist you are. (If you say painter, someone will think “house painter” or “tole painter”, I guarantee it.) Are you an abstract artist, mixed media, illustrator, etc.? Do you mostly do figurative work, landscape, portraits or still life?
3. Do you volunteer your time in an arts organization? Are you on the board of your local arts council? Do you work with kids?
4. Tell them you sell your work! Most non-creative types don’t get that artists make a living.
5. Practice on your friends or make a video of yourself until you aren’t snickering anymore.
6. Try it out the next time you meet someone new and they ask the question “What do you do?”