By Julia Rymer

Photo by Andrew Han, Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Last year, I had one of my best years ever for my creative business. My work was featured in eight shows across the U.S., including one solo exhibition, and was chosen to be part of a corporate collection in Denver. I was flying high!

I thought the momentum would just keep going, but there were major bumps along the way. They included everything from the ending of gallery relationships to unexpected expenses. It was, in the end, a year of ups and downs.

This year has been a similar experience of ups and downs, highs and lows. I was the artist-in-residence at the Children’s Museum of Denver, which was an incredible experience, but my work has been rejected from many major juried shows this year. At the same time, I am learning new skills in fiber art, which I plan to integrate into my creative work in the near future.

Why am I telling you this? Because ups and downs are part of the creative journey, even mine. On paper, I look super successful, but in reality, I have had as many wins as I have had losses. It has taken me a long time to recognize this as part of the path I walk, circuitously, from a to b. Bumps in the road are not a reason to quit; they are an opportunity to learn and explore.

artboss began as a way for Jessica and I to share our knowledge of building a creative business with our fellow creatives. We won’t tell you that it will be easy or that you don’t have to work hard; there are no “four-hour work weeks” here. (Besides, if you love your creative endeavors, why would you only do it for four hours a week?!) We provide tools to help you weather the storms and enjoy the sunny skies as they come.

Q: So what do I do when my creative path is particularly roller-coaster-ish?

A: I do the work.

Q: What is the work?

A: It is using the tools that I have to move my career forward.

I go back to what I need to do to get my work out there.

In our workshops and coaching sessions, artboss focuses on tools that specifically help with building your creative business. We also offer you a chance to talk back to your inner critic and recognize success. Here are some suggestions for weathering your creative ups and downs.

  • First, celebrate those wins. Write them down. They can be as small or as big as you want, but remind yourself of your accomplishments and what is working in your creative career.
  • Assess what is working and what is not. What is boosting your business? What seems like a waste of time? Take an inventory of your marketing and business strategies, and start delegating your time to those endeavors that actually bring results. Consider new strategies you have not tried before.
  • Make a plan. Once you have assessed the accomplishments and identified your challenges, develop a strategy for the future. What are your next steps?

Not sure how to make a plan? Consider the following.

1) Communication: Does your communication reflect the uniqueness of who you are and what you do?

Can you clearly explain your work or services – and why they are different than others in your industry? Take a look at your communication and rewrite it as needed. If it is out of date and is not showcasing what makes what you do special, it is time to re-evaluate.

Action: Does your “elevator pitch” need updating, or does it reflect what is unique about you and your work? If not, time to rework it.

2) Branding and Marketing: There are so many ways to brand and market your work and services.

Are you writing a regular email newsletter? Do you post on social, and which channels? Is your website up-to-date? Would a direct mail campaign be helpful? Look at all of these and more. If you are not doing some, try them. You want to reach potential customers many ways. If you are already doing some, evaluate what has worked in the past, and think about why.

Action: Go through your marketing channels – website, newsletter, blog, social, etc. – and update and/or try something new.

3) Social Media Strategy: The social media landscape is changing all the time, so you need to have a strategy that can handle the constant shifts.

Good photography, compelling content and updated profiles help with this, but you also need to research what has connected with followers in the past, and/or develop some new themes and ideas to work from for an extended campaign.

Action: Plan a campaign with a goal in mind and a specific “call-to-action,” like building your following or increasing sales.

4) Networking: Getting to know others in your industry and beyond helps build your name and get your work out there.

Research where your work could fit in your region and beyond, and start applying for new opportunities. Think beyond the same thing that has worked before, or recreating the creative career of someone you admire, and forge your own path down a new road.

Action: Is there someone you would like to work with? Reach out to them or get an introduction. Attend some networking events – alone – so you are forced to meet new people.

Oftentimes, hitting a bump in the road simply means you need to shift course and go where the opportunities are. This may take some time to figure out, but it is worth it. And it is all part of the journey. You’ve got this, artbosses.

Want to learn more about how artboss can help you?


Need some targeted guidance? We offer “two-on-one” coaching services. Click here for details.

Are you in the Denver metro area? Attend our upcoming one-day workshop called “Be an Artboss” at the Curtis Center for the Arts in Greenwood Village, CO on August 24th. We will cover all of the above and more. Register here.