There are times in business when the best thing to do is to walk away. This might be for a bit - or for a long time - for however long it takes to blossom without our watching and breathing all over it.
That’s a bit of an opening isn’t it?
Because that is EXACTLY how it feels to down tools and go and do something else, frankly horrible.
But I’m not going to use the F-word (failure) because it’s not. Downing tools is actually a clever strategic move.
In the early 00’s I was working as normal in my studio day in and day out for years. The jobs dried up and I was in effect, working for absolutely no reason other than doing what I was put here on this earth to do - making my drawings, paintings and prints.
A few of months with no paid commissions coming in, meant no money to pay my rent. Not good.
So with my heart in my boots, I went to work for a local company as a receptionist. I felt so sad.
I shut my studio and cleared away my paints, I cried alot.
Off I went to work in my new job, unexpectedly I enjoyed it. I met new people, the clients were lovely and it was refreshing to have some time off and do something else.
I’d been in my studio daily for about 4 years full time at this point. What I didn’t realise what that doing all that hard graft, I had laid a solid foundation for my business - I thought by going to work for someone else, it was all over but I COULDN’T HAVE BEEN MORE WRONG.
By taking some other work, I was giving myself some much needed time off, sparking new ideas and learning other precious things. I removed myself from my studio which turned out to be the very best thing I could have done for a while.
I often think of it in flower terms. My analogy is that if you sit, watch and breath over a flower blossoming, you become bored and frustrated. It’s not opening quickly enough - open, open damn you!
In a business where we make and sell things, I believe that its positive to leave time for it to grow solo - on its own. Removing ourselves can sometimes offer us the best route to do this.
Today we have websites and a web presence that can do this for us. We don’t need to be watching it (blossom) day in and day out - we don’t need to be checking the analytics of our web-visitors three or more times a day.
When we sell what we make, it’s good to allow some time to reboot. New ideas gather naturally when we aren’t breathing over it every moment.
Doing my receptionist role grew my personal confidence by working with other people everyday, particularly face-to-face with paying clients.
My next job after my stint there was to open my very own shop. Who knew? I am convinced that would never have happened if I hadn’t stepped away from my studio for a bit.
A whole new chapter came along.
So, if you are struggling to find ideas, are feeling a little tired or simply need more cash, don’t fear failure by walking away, your skills won’t be effected and nobody even need know.
By earning money another way for a bit, we give our minds a break. No-one is removing our websites, the marketing continues without you.
If you are facing a choice such as this, I’m happy to chat you through it. Sometimes it’s great to chat with another maker that’s been around the block a few hundred times.
Sam Barnes has been a practising artist for 25 years. Throughout her career she has had her own gallery, worked with hundreds of artists in making and marketing their own works and exhibited her own extensively. Her work has been successfully published & licensed many times. Sam is passionate about artists, makers and creatives earning a decent living from what they do. Our world needs new and beautiful things and artists deserve liveable incomes. Those two things are possible. Sam writes from her first hand experience and occasionally works 1:1 with others.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Thank you to Nicole Honeywill of unsplash for this lovely photograph.