1. Be Open to Change – Be open to wherever you see change happen in your creative career. For example, you may switch to an entirely new discipline and hop from pottery to puppetry! Some changes in your career may not be as dramatic (and may not be related to your choice of medium), but a change is inevitable, so be ready for it.
2. Seek Help: When you’re stuck in a rut, asking for help can be your greatest asset. If you haven’t worked with a mentor, creative coach, or business professional, maybe it’s time to make a few phone calls and see how to resolve whatever you need help with. They may even be the cause of the change needed to move your career forward.
3. Find Community: Building relationships with other creatives in your community is important. From artists outside of your medium, to people in larger organizations and other professional business contacts, making connections to others in the creative field is crucial to your overall success. Relationship building also includes clients and collectors who buy your art.
P.S. Sometimes finding community means you’re the one reaching out to someone to start to build a relationship. But don’t let the word “networking” scare you. Think of it as building authentic creative friendships and relationships instead.
4. Learn to Be a Beginner: Always be open to learning more, trying something new, and allowing yourself to be bad at something you’ve just started. You can’t learn a foreign language without saying a few phrases wrong, and you can’t learn to play the piano without missing a few of the notes along the way. Having childlike wonder, curiosity, and being open to possibilities will allow you access to more skills, learning, and opportunities.
5. Target your Opportunities – Find ways to leverage your weaknesses. This can mean hiring someone to help or paying for services or spending some time learning a new skill. Even being able to identify what you are not good at is a good place to start to move in the right direction. Know both your strengths and weaknesses.
6. Bust Blocks: Oftentimes, there is a creative ebb and flow to making art. An effective artist should be able to forge ahead even when the rejection letters pile up and the collectors stop calling. Slow times and career plateaus are natural in careers and happen to everyone. Nurture your creativity, prevent creative blocks as best as you can, and be strategic about what challenges present to you.
Sometimes blocks are outside ourselves. External blocks can be due to creative trends happening or wider economic impacts. Learn to control what you can and work with the challenges you can’t control.
7. Shut the Critic Up: We all have an inner critic. Sometimes that inner critic won’t stop judging the work, the process, or deciding the art you made isn’t good enough. This critic is ruthless. Being able to turn off that little voice of judgment is a powerful skill. There is a time and place to critique (not criticize) the work, but usually our inner critics speak up at inappropriate times and when we least need it to throw in its two cents. Learn to dial down that voice, and dial up the creative support.