Hey there, my friend, and welcome to my first blog post in 2020. Can you believe it? Oh my gosh. We made it. I'm really glad that you're here and I'm so excited about all that this year has for you, for me, for everybody that's walking in God's Kingdom.
It's going to be an incredible year and I just wanted to start off this year with a little series. You're going to be noticing “a thread” moving through the blog posts and podcast this January. I’m really trying to help you get started, get on the right path and get on a focused on everything that God has for you.
In this post, I really want to jump into this whole concept of taking yourself seriously as a Christian artist and asking yourself, “is this a year I’m finally going to do that thing I’ve been talking about or am I going to keep going around the same old bush, doing the same old thing, expecting different results?”
You know, a lot of artists do just that… talk and hope but never act.
I've done that in different seasons of my life too. I would wonder why I was getting the same results I'd been getting and yet my actions didn't change. It can be frustrating.
I know you this to be the year that you start taking yourself seriously and really embracing everything God has for you as a Christian artist. So in this blog post, I've got a few tips I hope are going to be helpful in that regard.
Think about it. If everybody wants different results and if everybody wants to take themselves seriously, living the life that God called them to live - that abundant, incredible creative flow, Kingdom-oriented, abundance, experiencing life - then why aren't they doing it? Why are they able to live that life, execute on those dreams and really take themselves seriously?
Well, there are several reasons. This isn't an exhaustive list, but let's start with this one: Some artists just don't believe they can.
Some Christian Artists Don’t Believe They Can
Maybe they've been told their whole life, “you can't do it, you're not good enough, you're not this enough, you're not that enough.” They simply have a belief system - a core belief - that they can't do it.
Maybe they have never done something significant in the past. Maybe they've tried things and failed. And maybe that failure has paralyzed them to the point where they're just unable to move forward.
Maybe you can relate to that, too. I know a lot of Christian artists do.
Some Artists Don’t Think They Are Worthy
Many others struggle with another common roadblock, not believing they're worthy to succeed. Think about that for a second. Maybe it's the way they grew up, the relationships that they've had, or the experiences they've walked through in their life. Maybe they struggle with their thoughts about God and what humility, or even pride is supposed to look like as a Christian. It can be any number of things.
Thoughts and fears like these can lead this person to reject taking any credit for anything in their life and worse yet, not wanting to enjoy anything in their lives either. Unfortunately, they have this underlying lie that's churning inside of them all the time saying, “You’re not worthy to succeed. You're not supposed to succeed. You're supposed to let everybody else go first.” Ultimately, the person who listens to and believes this lie ends up completely paralyzed emotionally, spiritually and creatively.
Many Christians Don’t Understand How Change Happens
Thirdly, there's a lot of artists out there that believe a lie about how change is supposed to happen in their life. I teach a lot about this concept in my books and mentoring program and call it “mailbox mentality”. You know how this works. We wait, hope and beg (because that seems spiritual) and then just sit back and tell God, "Okay, you do it. I'm waiting on you." And when it doesn’t happen in our timing, we switch to another common strategy that includes working, sweating and striving on our own.
You know what, my friend, that's not how the Kingdom works. We align with God’s Kingdom when we embrace who God's called us to be and step out in faith by cooperating and co-laboring with the Holy Spirit. If you have a fundamental misunderstanding about how change happens - that somehow it's all up to God and has nothing to do with you - then you're going to be waiting a long time and probably be very frustrated.
It’s Not About You… It’s About the Kingdom
Finally, many Christian artists struggle with is the idea of taking themselves seriously and consequently are never able to make forward progress in their life. A lot of artists in this place feel completely alone in their church, in their family, and maybe even in their local area. They don't know anybody else that understands what it means to be an artist, much less be an artist who loves Jesus and is intent upon pursuing the power of the Kingdom in their life. That “aloneness” can feel overwhelming, stifling and paralyzing.
But here’s the good news! Taking yourself seriously isn’t about you at all! It’s about what God’s put inside you! It’s about His Kingdom flowing through you. As you do that, your ability to accept yourself and God’s design on your life increases. You start to step into a divine flow!
For many artists - maybe even you - that's why you're reading this post today. You want to take God’s call on your life seriously and you want that flow. Not only that, but you want to be a part of a community of other artists who really “get” you and understand what it means to be an artist, to love Jesus, and to pursue everything God has for you.
The great news is that you’re in the right place and 2020 can be YOUR year! 2020 (and this new decade) can absolutely be the time that you start to take yourself seriously and pursue everything that God has for you.
Regardless of what you’ve believed in the past, this is a new year! The very fact that you're reading this post right now proves that you want everything that God has for you as an artist and that is so exciting.
I also believe it proves God set you up. How you might ask?
You see, God's got something incredible for you. He ordered your steps to be reading this at this time, and you're here by divine appointment. The only thing you have to do is say “yes” and start walking.
You Are Not Alone!
Here's my promise to you.
If you'll walk with me this year, pursue God and pursue your calling as an artist this year I promise, you're going to start to see some incredible breakthrough in your life. Your story is going to change, big time!
How do I know? Because I hear it all the time from artists who are in my Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program or listen to the podcast or read my books. Artists that start taking life seriously. Artists who are no longer living on autopilot, but have really started pursuing the Kingdom and their calling as an artist.
Make 2020 your breakthrough year! I’ll be here every step of the way and I can't wait to hear your story!
Connect with our free Facebook Group, Thriving Christian Artists.
Listen to The Thriving Christian Artist Podcast
Looking for free resources to grow as a Christian artist spiritually, creatively and in business?
Here's 6 great places available now:
✅ The Thriving Christian Artist Podcast: https://www.matttommeymentoring.com/podcast.html
✅ Matt Tommey Mentoring Blog:
✅ Free Video Teaching Inside the TCA Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.10156221585711805&type=3
✅ YouVersion Bible App Devotionals from Matt Tommey: https://www.bible.com/search/plans?q=matt%20tommey
*✅ Start Thriving Now Mini-Course:
*✅ Your Artistic Journey Assessment:
*Only for those artists who are NOT in the Created to Thrive Artist Mentoring Program.
I recently had the great pleasure to sit down for a wonderful conversation with my friend, Libby John who hosts the "Art & Faith Conversations" podcast. We talked about my new book, Created to Thrive along with alot of the back story that has brought me to where I am today as an artist.
Listen to the podcast here or by searching "Art & Faith Conversations" under Podcasts on iTunes or Stitcher.
Starting Mid-May, 2018, you can connect with me via my new podcast, "The Thriving Christian Artist". It's for artists who want to bust through roadblocks that have held them back for years, create the art they love and live the life the they know God created them to live as an artist in His Kingdom.
During each season of the podcast, I'll be sharing encouraging teaching and inspiration from my own journey as an artist plus interviews with both emerging and established artists in every creative medium who are thriving artistically, spiritually and in their business.
You can listen, subscribe and review my podcast via iTunes, Stitcher, GooglePlay or my website www.MattTommeyMentoring.com/podcast
I’ve encountered many artists over the years who really struggle with stepping into thriving because they don’t understand one foundational concept: convergence. Thriving isn’t simply doing one or two things well, but rather doing the right things well at the same time, over time. Although that might seem like a juggling act – and it can feel that way some times – it’s not as out of reach as you think.
Here’s what typically happens with artists. They get two out of the three areas but forgetting that third, continue to struggle. For example, artists who are great artistically and have a strong spiritual connection end up having only a hobby or ministry because they don’t pursue the development of their art business. Artists who are great artistically and have a strong business sense often flourish in the marketplace with their sales but sometimes lack a deep spiritual connection and sense of life in their art practice. Then there’s artists who are deeply connected spiritually and have built a business but their artwork is lacking, leading to immature work and frustration.
For artists who want to pursue their art in the marketplace in the context of their relationship with God, thriving happens when they are growing artistically, spiritually and in their businesses. Each feeds the other and provides momentum for the journey. This place of convergence is what I call your “sweet spot” and it should be a goal for every artist who wants to thrive spiritually, artistically and financially.
This place of convergence is the focus of my artist mentoring program, Created to Thrive. For more information on how to be a part, visit www.matttommeymentoring.com/artist-mentoring
I was talking to a friend the other day who happens to be quite an accomplished artist and a real spiritual father to many creatives around the world. We were chatting about our mutual passion to help artists thrive and, knowing I work with many hobbyist and emerging artists, posed the following question:
"How do you tell someone who is mediocre and not really called (or ready) to make his living with his art (simply because it will never sell) that perhaps God gave you the passion for art just to enjoy and glorify Him with, but it is not your calling to make it your financial sustenance?"
It's a great question and I'm sure the reason no one talks much about it is because it can be a really sensitive issue for the artist... No one wants to have that hard conversation with an artist who's thinking they are ready to take on the world when in reality, they are still stumbling around with the basics. And then sometimes, there are those really hard cases that almost seem like the American Idol auditions where someone thinks they are God's gift to art when in reality, there's not much there but desire and belief.
As I've thought about it, I hope these ideas will help you navigate your own artistic calling and season in that journey.
When it comes to art marketing, there can be a lot of confusion about what works, what doesn't and where to start. Whether you're a seasoned, experienced artist who's been creating for many years or a hobbyist just trying to take it to the next level, knowing how to sell your art is of primo importance!
Art Marketing is about the "Special Factor"
I've had the privilege of creating sculpture both part-time and full-time for almost 25 years. After moving to Asheville, North Carolina in 2009, I opened a studio in the River Arts District and began selling my work full-time. Like a lot of artists, I did the typical things like running around to craft shows, selling wholesale to shops and "hoping" for customers. For me - and remember, everyone's different - that kind of selling drove me crazy! Shows were fickle, my work didn't sell great in stores or galleries because I wasn't there to talk about it and the hope strategy... well, let's just say that doesn't work. Hope is not a viable strategy for how to sell your art.
Thankfully, because of my background in marketing and the fact that I am a people person, I recognized early on in my full-time art career that people pay top dollar for 2 things: special and connection. What does that mean, you ask?
First of all, people are willing to pay a premium for things they feel are out of the ordinary, unique or special, especially if they align with their values. Now keep in mind, we're not talking about your average Wal-mart shopper here. I'm talking about people who are genuinely interested in your art and have the means to pay for it. When your work and your reputation is seen as something to be noticed, something to be valued, not ordinary or run-of-the-mill, all of a sudden, people start to take notice. That's what happened to me. I create sculpture primarily for luxury mountain homes and I love it. One of the things I did to help leverage the "special factor" of my work was to make a decision to install all my own work (when possible) and ask if I could take pictures once installed. Consequently, I have tons of gorgeous images of my work in multi-million dollar homes. Now, when prospective buyers are considering my work, they immediately see "Wow, this guy's work is special... look at who's buying his work." It lets my customers know that I'm someone to be collected and considered worthy of a significant investment.
Art Marketing is about Authentic Connection
The other huge concept I employ in my business naturally, because I enjoy building relationships with people, is connection. I've found over the years that people who are making a significant investment in a piece of art want more than just a commoditized retail experience. They want a relationship. By and large, whether it's buying my work or the work of friends of mine who are painters, sculptors, ceramicists, jewelers or whatever, clients who are serious about purchasing hand-made, original art really enjoy building relationships with the artists from whom they purchase. It's fun for them and for us to get to know them, what they like, what they like about our work and deepen that relationship over time through multiple purchases and referrals to their friends.
I have a studio here in Asheville's River Arts District which is open 6 days a week to the public. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to hear one of my clients coming through the door with a friend or out of town visitor saying something like "Oh, this is the guy I was telling you about..." All of a sudden, they've become my marketing department and a genuine friend.
This same kind of connection is very important even if you're selling through strategic partners like interior designers or gallery / shop owners. Take time to go visit them, learn what sells in their stores, understand their clientele and then work to make them look great! I have a friend up who has a beautiful furniture store in a very wealthy area and she has a trunk show for me every couple of years. That one relationships has produced more than any other relationship in my art career simply because every time I go to that area, I stop by and say hello. I send flowers after a referral. I treat her customers very well. Yes, you guessed it: I'm building connection.
3 Tips for Your Art Marketing
If you're wanting to employ the special factor and connection into your art marketing strategy, I'd recommend starting with the following:
Art Marketing is Much More Than Selling
Listen, marketing your art and yourself is much more than simply learning how to sell your art. It's about creating an image that reflects your uniqueness in the niche you're targeting and then working to build authentic connections within that niche of clients, partners and prospects. Learn to do that well and you'll never struggle to sell your artwork. If you don't, you'll be reduced to doing what everyone else does, shlepping around your stuff to every art or craft show that will let you in, wondering who's going to buy your widget this time. You can thrive if you'll focus on the special factor and on building connection.
My absolute favorite marketing video that exemplifies this way of selling is below called "A Tour Guide to the Two Plants: NEO & Traditional." Do yourself a favor and watch it. Then comment below to let me know your thoughts. Also, for more strategies on how to sell your art, check out my artist mentorship program called "Created to Thrive". Tons of teaching videos, activities and a private Facebook community as well as live q/a sessions with me to help you thrive as an artist.
I hope you're full of faith and expectation for an incredible 2018!
To help you along that journey, I wanted to share a simple tool that I use in my Created to Thrive mentoring program called "What's Working, What's Not & What's Next".
It's a simple 5-page PDF that will help you evaluate where you are and where you want to go this year. Consider this my new year's gift to you! I'm praying this year will be your best year ever! Just download it here and then let me know how you're using it by commenting below.
Matt Tommey is a world-class sculptor, speaker and author who is passionate about helping artists to thrive spiritually, financially and creatively.