Maybe your artwork is piling up and you just know that you have to make some connections in the art marketplace. Still, you feel paralyzed. Let’s consider the following three obstacles to effective marketplace relating that may be stopping you—and what you can do to handle them.

1. Finding that anxiety gets in the way.

Strategy: Acquiring an anxiety management tool or two. Few people consciously practice anxiety management. Every artist should. The techniques available to you include breathing exercises (one deep cleansing breath can work wonders), brief meditations, guided visualizations (where, for example, you picture yourself relaxed and calm), discharge techniques (for example, getting your pent-up anxiety released through “silent screaming”), personality work (for instance, practicing acting “as if” you feel confident), cognitive restructuring (that is, changing the things you say to yourself and thereby reducing your experience of anxiety), and so on. Really acquire one anxiety management technique that works for you!

2. Not knowing what to say.

Strategy: First, practice what you intend to say. You should be able to say something like the following about your painting, “This is one of a series of paintings I’m doing that emphasizes the horizontal element in landscape.” It doesn’t matter if that is what you are “really” doing in your painting, since what you are really doing is beyond language. By creating a sentence of this sort you are simply trying to provide yourself with something better to do than grunt, mutter, ramble, fumble, and so on.

3. Feeling one-down or one-up to people who hold the power and the purse strings.

Strategy: Inner work on feeling equal. Although it is not easy to do, it is possible to get a grip on your mind and rethink the way you hold marketplace players, reminding yourself that your goal is to feel neither inferior to them nor superior to them but as if you and they were in the art-buying-and-selling enterprise together.

If your tendency is to feel superior, remind yourself, “No smirking!” If your tendency is to feel inferior, remind yourself, “Backbone, please!” Our typical reaction to power is a version of the fight-or-flight syndrome: we want to strike first or we want to run and hide. The less you hold these interactions as threatening, the less your fight-or-flight reflex will kick in and the more equal you’ll manage to feel.

Three more next week!

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