Over the past two weeks we’ve looked at ten rules for effective marketplace relating. Below are five more—that completes the list!
11. Negotiate. It is part of our repertoire of relationship skills to negotiate but we tend not to use that skill with marketplace players because they intimidate us and because we fear that if we ask for anything the deal will vanish. But if you’re polite, careful in how much you ask for, and not attached to the outcome, you will discover that in virtually every case you will get more than you were first offered. By negotiating you might get a slightly better cut on your split with your gallery owner or maybe just more needed time to finish up your current suite of paintings. Get used to negotiating: politely, carefully, and matter-of-factly.
12. Do not give yourself away. If someone you know in an arts organization asks you to volunteer your time and energy in support of something they are doing, think twice and three times before agreeing. Of course it is great to be of service and being of service is one of our prime meaning-making opportunities. But it one thing to serve by supplying a guest blog post in support of an event and another thing to serve by spending a full year organizing a conference. Be very clear in your own mind what the commitment would amount to, check to see if you are tempted to agree just because so little else of interest in going on in your life, and make sure that you don’t cavalierly give away your time and your energy.
13. Try to make your personal relationships support your art intentions. Let everybody in your house know that you are an artist, in case they somehow don’t know that already, and that you need a certain amount of time and space in which to work and a certain amount of unconditional support from them. Let them know, for example, that for those first two hours of the day they can make their own waffles and pick out their own clothes. Smile as you say these things—but get them said.
14. Prepare simple answers to difficult questions. It is much easier to relate, both to friends and family members and to marketplace players, if you’ve prepared answers to the common questions you’ll be asked, questions like “Why are your paintings so violent?” or “Why can’t I hear your music on the radio?” Say that you’re an independent filmmaker as well as a visual artist. What are you naturally going to be asked? “What’s your film about?” “Who’s in it?” “When will it be coming out?” “Did you have to use your own money to make it?” “How did your last film do?” “Can I get any of your films on Netflix?” And so on. These are obvious questions and, whether their intent is benign or malicious, they really should not surprise you. Just prepare simple answers and use them.
15. Do not unnecessarily burn bridges. If a gallery owner rejects your advances, thank her politely and keep her in mind for the future. She is already one of those important people in your life, a marketplace player who actually bothered to look at something of yours, and it is not at all outside the realm of possibility that she will accept something from you down the road. Even if you have to sever a relationship, sever it but try not to burn it down to the ground. You may well be seeing that face again!
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