You are Now Both the Artist and the Gatekeeper (Clint Watson)

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You are Now Both the Artist and the Gatekeeper

And brutal honesty is required in both roles

"An oil painting of an artist in her studio pondering the artwork on her easel" - generated by OpenAi's DALL-E

Quality is, in many respects, the most important element you need to consider when you turn your art into a product you intend to market and sell. High quality work puts a huge tailwind behind all of your other marketing efforts. To put it bluntly, if you're just plain better than the other guy, you usually win.

In the current "Sovereign Artist Era", an era with no gatekeepers, quality is even more important than in the past. Since there are now no gatekeepers, you are essentially competing with everyone in the world.

Think about that for a moment. You're competing with the most skilled, most driven artists from every corner of earth. In addition, you aren't protected from competition by a trademark, or a patent, or a gallery's endorsement. It's just you vs everyone else. So, yes, it's easier than ever for you to get your work in front of people, but it's easier for every other artist too. So you must bring real skill to the table, because collectors too can now connect with any artist and often they will want to purchase from the best ones they can find.

In the past, because artists generally had to get past some kind of gatekeeper to get their art in front of the public, it was important to encourage artists to learn to ignore the feelings of self doubt about their art. The gatekeepers controlled what the collecting world was allowed to see and they acted as curators, so it was in their best interest to see as much as possible, regardless of the insecurities of an individual artist.

But, in a world with no gatekeepers, in a world where everyone wants to share and sell their art online, in a world where everyone expects to be able to easily sell their art, the opposite has become important. In this modern age, perhaps it's now important to reintroduce ourselves to a little self doubt. We must all learn to be more discerning about our own art and its potential market-readiness.

I read somewhere that the way writers deal with this duality is to "write like a baby and edit like a bastard." The idea is that, while you are writing you should not allow yourself to criticize anything, and you should banish all self doubt and simply create. But later, generally in another session on another day, when you are editing your own work, you become a "bastard" about everything. You are hard on yourself. You send the work back for more polishing. You poke holes in the plot. You become a grammar nazi.

In this day and age visual artists need to apply the same maxim. Perhaps "paint like a baby, curate like a bastard."

Before posting your latest artwork, which may have been a ton of fun to paint, become the gatekeeper. Become the gallery director. Become a curator. Pretend you are paying rent on an expensive gallery location and ask yourself "could I realistically sell this piece?" "Is this up to snuff?"

Writers have to learn to kill their darlings and the most successful visual artists do the same thing, sometimes even burning finished canvases that they know aren't good enough.

In short, we must each now be both the artist and gatekeeper. And we must be honest with ourselves in both roles.

Until next time, please remember that Fortune Favors the Bold Brush.


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Clint Watson

BoldBrush & FASO Founder / Art Fanatic

PS - Instagram has recently made a lot of changes to how their algorithm works and it has frustrated artists, and plenty of non-artists. Our Saturday editions have been sharing with paid Sovereign Artist Club members what to do about that and what to post so that they can continue to get their art in front of potential customers. If you're not yet a full paid Sovereign Artist Club member and are interested in this, consider joining the Sovereign Artist Club.

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