Many of us think negotiation is a dirty word. It has a negative connotation, as if we were asking for things you shouldn’t. We feel that if everything was going well, we shouldn’t have to negotiate. But we’re thinking about negotiation all wrong. It’s not what needs to happen when things go badly—it should be a sign that everything is going very well. With a mental shift and a few go-to scripts, anyone can learn to negotiate confidently.
Someone has stolen your art. Maybe it was just an Instagram post, maybe it was a blog post, or maybe it was something more serious — your art being used as some business’s logo or your art even appearing in the background of a movie or TV show or to sell prints and merchandise. How dare someone steal your artwork?! What do you do next?
If you have ever been “in the zone” or, as the author calls it, “flow” in any activity you know the joy of getting completely absorbed in what you are doing. You lose sense of time, you lose sense of effort. Everything seems to work together. You feel lighter, faster, smarter, more clever. Don’t we all wish we could work in that mindset all the time? But doesn’t it feel like completely unpredictable magic? The author calls this “flow” state an “optimal experience” and breaks down exactly the conditions needed to get into flow in any activity, and maintain it as long as we want.
Talking about our work is hard. Selling our work is even harder. Very often in our art careers we are called to speak about and explain our work—whether it’s lecturing a class, or especially when setting up crowdfunding campaigns — and knowing how to do it effectively can take the squirm out of selling that many of us feel when we have to speak about our art. Resonate is the book that helps you see the patterns in every good presentation and breaks them down into a template you can use to make an audience feel (and do) what you want.
Dream jobs are still jobs, and they still take work, and they’re often just as hard and brutal day to day as any other job we might have. Unfortunately a lot of artists get so wrapped up in how hard it is to establish and maintain a career in art that we burn ourselves out. Once that happens we have no way to recharge because while we have turned our love into our work. Art used to be something that made us feel good about ourselves, feel confident, feel alive. Now it is something that is often a source of anxiety and insecurity. We need a better work and play balance.
Have you found yourself stuck in infinite revisions? Everything started off so well: you were excited about the client, you agreed on terms and signed a contract, and they loved your thumbnails…but suddenly you’re stuck in the artist version of Groundhog Day. Suddenly every time you send a revision, you get more notes. You keep thinking this will be it, but changes keep appearing out of the woodwork. The job drags on and your fee is looking less and less worthwhile. You are stuck in the hamster wheel of art. How do you get yourself out?
Frustration is a funny thing. It’s kind of the ugliest possible child of disappointment and fear. Frustration is linked intimately with our sense of fair and unfair. We don’t get frustrated with something in our path that we feel has the right to be there — it’s the unfair roadblocks that frustrate us. To beat frustration we must be both optimists and pessimists — simultaneously.
This is another book I resisted reading for a while, even after multiple recommendations. But over the years Gilbert’s TED talks and her podcast have won over more and more of my creative friends and I decided to give Big Magic a try. I’m glad I did. It’s the pep talk I think every artist, author, and maker-of-stuff needs from time to time, especially right now. Gilbert has a great way of reframing things you’ve heard a thousand times before (“Failure is good for you” “Everyone has self-doubt” “Fear means you’re doing something right”) in a way that’s incredibly relatable and down-to-earth. This book feels like the cup of tea and warm hug every artist needs right now.
Artists have a funny relationship with their inspiration. It seems like magic, and we treat it as such. We need ideas and usually they are just…poof…there when we need them. But no matter how experienced the artist, no matter how many creative problems they’ve solved before, there’s always a moment of fear before you begin: What if this is the time your creativity fails? What is this is the time everyone finds out you’re a fake, a phony, a shitty artist? We are afraid to look too closely at our muses in fear that they’ll desert us when we need them most.
Anaïs Nin’s early journals focus on her life in Paris in the 30s, with the threat of World War II looming. She was not only central to the world of artists and writers and intellectuals of that (in)famous Paris scene, she was somewhat of their den mother. She was the one to buy Henry Miller a typewriter and get his first book published. All the while she was toiling away at her own novels. She kept the journals as a way to record observations of life she might spin into fiction later, and her notes on the lives of those artists are a treasure trove for anyone struggling with the creative life.