I never studied business in school, and writing artist's statements always made me feel stressed. Maybe you can relate! Creative types are stereotypically numbers-phobic, art schooling often doesn't include business coursework (for some wacky reason), and trying to define who you are and what you're all about can feel like a lot of pressure.
At the intersection of my small business and art interests lies a collection of questions, most of which boil down to:
What's your story? What's your 'why'?
If you're an entrepreneur who wants to invent a handy tool, these questions are easier to answer. You have a business plan, you've created a product that solves a problem, and hopefully you know why you went through all that trouble. For an artist, though-- Yikes! I'm making pretty pictures, not multi-tools!
Still, it's important to understand ourselves as creatives, and it's important to understand what we're communicating to others. That makes us feel more at home in our creative brains, and it empowers us to connect with the community that will invest in our work.
Of course when I have to go back and ask myself why I painted a giant humpback whale into a scroll painting of colossus-women on a whim, I get a little discombobulated. When I have to figure out the market for my whale-colossus-ladies, the confusion multiplies. I'm prone to analysis-paralysis in both my art and fiction writing.
If the business side of art-making has to feel uncomfortable, though, I might as well be uncomfortable while expanding my business know-how, right? That feels better than letting fear and doubt keep us from learning.
One of the most helpful efforts I've made toward figuring out my story and my 'why' has been list-making and a bit of free-writing. I usually target a tough question, turn my Judgment Brain off, and write as much as I can to answer the question stream-of-consciousness style. It's a great way to get unfiltered thoughts out on paper so you can analyze the nuggets of truth later.
If you're a creative entrepreneur or artist, try writing these questions down and giving yourself a few minutes to answer each one.
Don't worry about being organized, writing in a particular tone, or contradicting yourself. Just write what comes to mind. Complete sentences? Not necessary. When you're done, reflect on your answers and look for common themes. You just might find your audience or a new way to explain the story behind your creative business. It might even help you in your Adventures in Personal Branding, when you try to figure out how to present yourself online.
- What do you love to do?
- What do you imagine you could love to do in the future?
- Who are you creating for? (Yourself? Young women? People who feel isolated?)
- How did you get started?
- Why do you keep creating when life gets hard/busy?
- What inspires you to create?
- Why do you use your preferred materials?
- What experiences, anxieties, and traits make you want to create? Why are you so personally invested? (It's not enough to say you want to make a difference or that you care. WHY?)
We don't need to have it all figured out right now. Heck-- our answers might change next week. Still, I think you'll find there's something new and beneficial to discover if you take the time to reflect on these questions and your relationship with the creative work you're putting out into the world.