“There is no set path to becoming a professional artist. The first few years of my career were an evolving, invented hustle. I installed my first art show in a coffee shop: I booked a band, got free drinks for everyone, and promoted the show like it was a bonafide social event. I set up my first “artist studios” inside of retail shops and galleries to gain exposure in exchange for ringing people up. I eagerly drove the three traffic-laden hours to L.A. to exhibit my artwork in a hallway, and after hearing that a gallery owner that had passed through made a comment about one of my paintings, I barged into his gallery to pick his brain. He’s still my mentor six years later.
Here’s my #girlbossmoment: I completed my newest collection of paintings for my upcoming solo show, “Glow With the Flow,” which is going down October 14th from 7 to 9 p.m. at Le Rendez-Vous (221 Datura St #105, West Palm Beach, FL 33401) in partnership with Lola International Artist Agency Miami.
All of this is to say that in creative fields, you can’t wait for someone to “discover” you. You need to create the reality you want for yourself.
Three pieces of advice for aspiring Girlbosses:
1. Choose curiosity over fear.
This idea is stolen from the writer Elizabeth Gilbert. Pursuing creativity and sharing it with the world (or simply with yourself) can be vulnerable and terrifying. Ignore self-doubt. Follow the things you are curious about as a path towards creativity, because you deserve to ride that rewarding wave and the world deserves to hear your unique voice. Make things, make things, make things.
2. Fake it till you make it.
Seriously. When I got started in the art world, I didn’t know shit for shit. It was when I took on this ridiculous brazen attitude, like “Oh, I’m going to be a full-time artist painting exactly what I want? Like, the most impossible career ever? Well okay, here goes nothing,” that I started to grow some legs. You know the swagger you feel when you clandestinely crash an amazing party with your partner in crime? Channel that chutzpah, and throw in a ton of grit and grace. Please note: I didn’t actually believe the confidence I was wearing at the time. That doesn’t matter. It only matters that you go for it with gusto, and the rest will follow.
3. Save it for your shrink (or your best friend).
I know it can be tempting to publicly call out the person who plagiarized your painting, or to bash the haters once you’ve found some success, or to complain on social media about the time your painting got lodged in a U-Haul during delivery and you had to break the painting and the U-Haul to get it out. If you are connected to your brand (or if you are a human being on this planet), STOP IT. You have an opportunity to leave every person you interact with feeling understood or appreciated or inspired. ALWAYS be nice, be gracious, be authentic. This really matters, because people really matter, and you really matter. Those people who you didn’t piss off will help you grow your business.