Tuesday, September 29, 2015

About being an artist // Running your creative business and embracing who you are // 5 tips for the introvert

My work is obviously very visual and most people would think since my work gets a lot of exposure, I would adore the spotlight too. Nothing could be further from the truth though. I love to be by myself, on my own, but I have always known even as a kid, I had to push my boundaries to accomplish what I wanted to do in life and step out of that comfort zone. I am an introvert, that might come as a surprise. But sometimes things that are not necessary you are part of running a business.

To actually make a living as an artist it means I have to get together with clients, meet up with new people, network. I have never felt very comfortable in groups, let alone have financial negotiations with giant companies... It can be exhausting. But since I was a little girl, I always knew I had to do things I didn't like to get some place I would love to be. I pushed myself to sing on a stage, because I knew it would terrify me, and trust me, I am not a good singer. I have skills but singing is not one of them... I would always say yes to new things to get me out of my comfort zone. So yes, I do these interviews and yes, I welcome in a camera crew for a little 'day of an artist' shoot in the studio. I guess the friction also is a form of inspiration, reflecting on what I am doing. Without any tension being creative is hard. It is a love/hate relationship with that part of my creative career.

I know lot's of creative people, designers, architects, dancers, musicians that are passionate and great in what they do but really struggle to put their skills out there since part of their business is reaching out to potential clients. Here are 5 tips for all introverts that try to run there own business.

1 // Don't try to be an extravert
Being an introvert is good enough. Embrace who you are. Except the fact that you use your energy slightly different than your extravert friends. Surround yourself with people that understand your needs. Embrace your needs and don't feel bad about spending time alone to recharge. Trying to be someone you are not will exhaust you. Take your boundaries seriously. Think about what gives and takes your energy and find your personal balance.

2 // Meetings with clients
I like working together with people, but spontaneous meetings are not my thing. Find a way of working together that suits you best. Preparation is key. For me that means taking a step back and writing down all essentials. Researching the topic, finances, listing questions and then get a face to face. Preparation will get the introvert a long way. If I can not do any research or have a get together without a proper preparation my mind will drift off and never get to the point. In meetings other people will comment and I would never get my point across.

3 // Talking about finished projects & doing interviews
Introverts need some time to let things sink in. Take time to prepare yourself and be loyal to yourself. You will be much happier about the outcome. I once had an interview and was completely unprepared. I asked for the list of questions to prepare myself but never got them. Once we sat together and started the interview and the camera was rolling every question seemed completely irrelevant to who I was and what I created so the answers, oh dear god the answers…. I talked about all random things popping up in my head, i felt pressured to say some certain things and finished my interview with a speech about how awesome seed is. That was not a good interview!

4 // Personalize your workspace
Usually introverts are more sensitive for their surroundings so make a list of what you need in your direct work environment. I start each day with a clean slate, with a clean and empty desk. And since I have my own home studio I can surround myself with things I love, artwork that inspires me, photo's of loved ones. If I am researching I use the living room where I can create a mess of magazines, sketches and moodboards. That way my desk will always be organized. Create your own little bubble you feel comfortable in, where you can recharge your battery.

5 // I will get back to you on that
Introverts might have a little difficulty responding to a certain situation in the moment. While extraverts try to get an answer at the spot. When I visit trade shows and meet up with new potential clients there are so many things to discuss. Can we work together? Where can we see your portfolio, can you do this and that for us? What does it cost? I try to keep a first meeting a little superficial before making promises I can not keep. Negotiating finances and bringing structure in planning new projects needs a little maturing, having a good thought things before answering is more for filling than a quick agreement. Also your business partners will get the impression you take them seriously when you spend some time researching the matter. Just say: "I will get back to you on that."