When I was working on growing my business with my art for the first time after college as a writer and choreographer, I kept running into the problem of what I now refer to as “the big gap”: that space between the beginning of my artistic career and when I could actually see results, which felt like an endless vortex I might never get out of.
Even after adjusting my perspective to focus on specific themes that helped me focus my time and energy solely on my art, I didn’t know when I might see the day when I would get paid as much as I needed to take my business to the next level of growth. I was stressed about this, because I didn’t know how I was going to rise above where I was in that moment.
That was when I began to develop “comparisonitis”: I started comparing myself and my progress to every other artist around me, including those who had “made it big” and those who hadn’t made as much progress as me. This did wonders for my perfectionist alter-ego, which loved to stay in a state of paralysis for as long as possible.
I felt stuck in this state, knowing what I wanted to accomplish in my career as a performer, but not feeling like I would ever get past working a “day job” to support myself. Then one day I was walking through Soho in New York City with my friend Kohl, who was an actor and had just shot his first big film with Steve Martin and Heather Graham. He was very excited about it, and I was very excited for him. As we were walking and talking we ran into a friend of his from his acting class.
This guy was upbeat and super friendly, and really happy to have run into my friend. The first words out of his mouth were, “Oh man, you’re not gonna believe this- I got my first pilot! I’m so excited about the cast, it’s such a great group. I have a really good feeling that with this cast the show is going to get picked up!” They spent a few moments catching up with each other, congratulating each other on their wins, and then my friend introduced me. The guy stuck out his hand immediately and said, “I’m sorry I didn’t mean to be rude! I’m Bradley.” Bradley Cooper, that is. He had just been cast in the pilot for Alias with Jennifer Garner, the show that launched his career.
We talked for about 15 minutes, and I remember him saying to my friend, “dude, you just have no idea when all the hard work is gonna pay off. I’m just so grateful to have this opportunity. That’s all I know. I have so much to learn, but I’m down for the ride. And if this doesn’t work out, I’ll go back to doing whatever I have to do until the next thing comes along.”
I knew in that moment that I didn’t have to worry one bit about whether I was going to get out of the vortex I felt I was in, because I wasn’t in a vortex at all. I was simply building the quality career I knew I wanted to create for myself. I maybe didn’t want to be an a-list actor, but I did want to work with the best of the best, and create work that is meaningful to my life and my purpose as an artist.
As I worked on building my career I think back to that moment time and again. As I began to work with entrepreneurs, I saw the same pattern- you have to work really hard for what feels like no reward for a certain amount of time, which is different for everyone. But those who know what they are working toward- their why, their offer, who they are offering their work to and what they want to accomplish in a short amount of time- know they are going to see inevitable results.
We can never predict what those results are going to be exactly, but as artists and business owners that is the least important part to focus on. The part to focus on is our level of performance around how we hone our craft and how we craft our businesses based on where we are, in this very moment.
With that shift in perspective, comparisonitis took a back seat to the work I had in front of me that I knew was serving an incredible purpose for my life, my art and the growth of my business. I ignored everything but that, and before I knew it I was having the same kind of “wow!” moments that both my friend Kohl and Bradley Cooper had that day.
The same is true for our businesses with our art. Their is a craft involved in creating a business that is sustainable and lasting, and learning those tools is essential to knowing how to put them into practice. The problem is that artists aren’t always taught those tools, so we need to find them on our own and then incorporate them into our approach to our businesses. This process requires skills, and repetition of those skills over and over to see what works best. The 14 Day Art Biz Challenge is designed to help hone the skills that are guaranteed to help build a solid foundation for your business with your art, regardless of your artistic discipline.
I believe artists are hardwired to run the best businesses in the world. Help me prove my belief by taking action and sharing a theme that is integral to your art in the comments below or share a visual on Instagram using #artistsinbusiness and tag me: @alexisfedorpics!