Let’s say that your mate brings in $60,000 annually from his or her job and you bring in $1000 annually from your art. Given that that disparity is likely to put a strain on your relationship, what can you do to reduce that strain? You can’t just snap your fingers and force the world to buy more of your art. So what can you do? Here are three things you might try; I’ll present three more next week!

1. Openly talk about it. Rather than keep this simmering issue beneath the surface, rather than trade charges and counter-charges, and rather than enter into a dynamic where your mate complains and you defend yourself, organize a frank chat in which you both get to safely express your thoughts and feelings. This means setting some ground rules, for example that you won’t interrupt the other person and that each of you gets ample time to talk. It also means coming into the chat with some love and compassion and not just talking points.

2. Paint a positive long-term picture. Of course you can’t guarantee future sales. But you can explain that you’re interested in growing your business and your audience, that you are more than willing to take any necessary steps that will help improve your sales, and that you don’t see yourself as either a hobbyist or a dilettante but rather as a professional, working artist with prospects. Show that you have targeted goals and the artist’s equivalent of a business plan.

3. Reinforce the idea that this isn’t a fairness issue. Your mate might argue that it isn’t “fair” that you aren’t “pulling your weight” and you might counter that it isn’t “fair” that it’s so hard to make a living from making art. You might both endlessly cycle this no-win argument about “fairness.” Rather, try to get agreement that this isn’t about fairness but rather about certain real world realities that you are happy to try to problem-solve with your mate.

More next week!

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