Each thing you do to get your work out there is another step to build your sense of worth about who you are and what you have to offer. Another way to look at the issue of confidence is to begin by faking it. We have all been to interviews or situations where we were being evaluated, and rather than have the sense of self necessary to master the situation, we can get through it by acting as though we are calm and collected, even when we aren’t. When you are asked in a job interview if you can handle the job and if you have doubts about your abilities, what are you going to say? It is the same with your artwork, only the situation is a bit more tricky because you made the work yourself and have a very personal relationship to it. Therefore your approach has to be careful and planned.
Sometimes it is nice to see what it feels like on the other side for just a moment, so here is one exercise I like to do. Wherever you are, dress conservatively and go to a gallery that is the largest you know and preferably the most intimidating. Once you are at the gallery, look around at the artwork there and ask to speak to someone about it. Either a gallery employee or the owner will come out. They have no idea how much money you have, so ask the person approaching you to tell you more about the piece of art you are looking at. What you will hear and see is the selling of an artwork. And since you are perceived as a possible collector, they will do their best to sell you the work. The advantage to this is twofold. On one hand, you get to be the person in power, the collector, and on the other, you can watch as the gallery owner tries to sell your work.
The insight that you can gain here from listening is how they describe the art and what they do to try and sell the work. Pay careful attention because this is how the gallery owner likes to hear about work. You will learn how to describe and talk about art in terms of its value. Be sure to ask questions, such as, “Has the artist sold many of the works in this show?” or, “Why is the work valued at that price?” This can be fun and very educational. It could even start a new career for you as an art buyer for collectors.
However, for the purpose of this chapter, it is also about building confidence and getting out into the world of galleries without having to feel as though you are ready for it.
To learn more about Brainard Carey and his services for artists, or to take a class from him, click here. To join one of his free weekly webinars, click here. To download the workbook mentioned in this series, click here.