Fulton J. Sheen once said, “Each of us makes his own weather, determines the color of the skies in the emotional universe which he inhabits.” This is a truth that can be applied to just about every aspect of life. You are the author of your own outlook. You create your perspective to a large extent and you have the ability to control the way you move through the world. As an independent artist, it is critical you be aware of the awesome power you hold in your hands to shape the space around you. You are in the driver’s seat maneuvering your career along the road. Be sure you are bringing your own weather along.
Create your own weather? Simply put, you write the story. Take ownership of every aspect of the things around you that affect your career. Put yourself in the center of the right communities and find your way into the gaze of those who can help you reach the next level. Learn how to engage with people in positions of power in a way that creates mutually beneficial and sustaining relationships.
Construct the reality of who you are as an artist. Be in charge of building your identity and maintaining this image that the whole world sees. As an independent business person, you must become a brand. It is you, and you alone who decides what face you put forward to the world. Take careful consideration of this. Once you have identified the right tone for your identity as an artist, learn it by heart and do not waver. Your mark, your brand, your style is your key to unlocking a lasting career.
Along every road, there will be obstacles. Brave storms on your own terms as much as possible. Every move you make as an independent artist is now linked to your very livelihood. Do not be afraid to take control of a situation if it jeopardizes your advancement. Know when to stand up for something, and pick your battles carefully. Be vigilant!
Do not look to the art world for validation or a way of valuing your own worth. Create your own system of values and worth and invite others in. Be your own rainmaker in every nuance of your career. This requires tenacity and a strong belief in the vision you are working toward, but never for a moment think that anyone understands this vision better than you.
Make reasoned decisions in both art and business. If something seems too good to be true, accept that it probably is. Leave yourself open enough that opportunity can get through and seize it without apology when it presents itself. Create opportunity by surrounding yourself with a community of supportive people who understand the importance of holding each other up. Symbiosis is one of the best models nature has to offer.
It is absolutely true that success is only what we make of it. Set reasonable goals for yourself and work hard until you achieve them. Define your version of success and plan to achieve it. In the art world, success can sometimes feel out of reach if we rely on the standard definitions of success. You are one of those unique people in the world striving for a different sort of success. Do not allow the material trappings of society to sway you from the path of your passion. Reinvent the system of success so that it works for you.
As an artist you must create your own context, not just in terms of the work itself, but in a more general sense. You are working with a blank slate in some respects, you choose the palate and the brush strokes. It is perfectly fine to define a context for yourself that does not fit with, or even goes directly against, the current. Art has been a beacon of difference in a sea of sameness for centuries. Embrace your uniqueness and use it to your advantage.
As a self-employed business person—after all this is what you are when you make the decision to be an independent artist---you are the single most important person in your sphere. This does not mean you ought behave in a diva-like manner or believe you are here to show the world what art truly means. Of course not. It simply means that every new path you embark on, every decision you make affects you directly in a very real way. Never forget this.
Make your own weather. Fill your world with favorable skies in the connections you keep, the choices you make, and the way you run your studio. Do not trust your most important asset to someone else’s forecast, rather create the climate in which you will be sure to thrive.