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Is Fear Running Your Art Business?


Most every artist deals with some level of fear, manifesting itself in a variety of ways. Fear often drives behavior, most of which is destructive to your art business.


Go Confidently


Some of these are:

  • Fear that your work isn't good enough. Can you even call yourself an artist?
  • Fear of failing as an artist.
  • Fear that your prices are too high – or too low. So you waffle on price, or have a sale, or just stress because you aren't sure if price is even your problem.
  • Fear of competition. You might do shows that are below your level, just to make sure you get in. You might not even want to be in the marketplace. Sometimes, seeing what everyone else is making causes anxiety.
  • Fear of being ripped off. Will your copyrights on your work be infringed? You may not even want to show your art online.
  • Fear of losing business. How to keep those customers who have bought from you. Do you need something new? More of the same?
  • Fear of dealing with customers. You want to follow up, but don't feel comfortable bothering people who have shown interest in your work. The words "closing the sale" are excruciating.
  • Fear of being rejected. By anyone, really. It hurts.

These all boil down to one basic fear, though. Fear of taking a risk.

Everything you have ever wanted is on the other side of fear. ~ George Addair

It's risky to expose your art publicly, and to criticism. It's risky to open your heart and share your passion and hear the word "No" in reply.

Going into that uncomfortable place – doing it anyway, when there is something to lose, is actually where you have the most to gain. Because other people understand those fears. They have many of the same fears, even if they are secretly held. And they want you to succeed.

When you choose to consciously take a risk, you expand your comfort zone each time. Throwing yourself and your work out there to let "the net appear" helps diminish and overcome those natural fears.

In many environments such as guild meetings, art salons and online discussion groups, artists bring up these topics, and inevitably they spur conversations that focus on compassion and support. Seek out those communities where others believe in you. Surround yourself with positive and uplifting voices.

Overcoming fear is a process, and it may never be totally conquered. But each time you allow yourself to risk, you take a little bit of that fear and replace it with confidence. Take that confidence, and step forward with your art business.

It's not about winning or losing, it's having the guts to show up and be seen when there are no predictions of outcome. ~ Brené Brown

Carolyn EdlundThis article is courtesy of
Carolyn Edlund, founder of Artsy Shark, is a business writer, speaker and consultant for artists. She is the Executive Director of the Arts Business Institute, presenting at art business workshops throughout the United States. Carolyn works with artists every day in strategy sessions designed to help them structure their businesses, set and reach their goals. Find out more about scheduling your own business consultation with Carolyn here: window