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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 21 of 22

When to Get Help & Saying No


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 21 of 22

When to Get Help & Saying No


Lesson Info

When to Get Help & Saying No

When you get strategic about work habits or even when you're not, um but especially when you are you realized that you may need help but there are just certain things you don't have time to do because if you're already chunking out and organizing your time and you're still not getting everything done like the thing that I actually I don't find that painful to do but always ends up being the last thing I do is reconcile ing my books in quickbooks I do still defiant bookkeeping I have an accountant and she helps me with my taxes but I still do my own bookkeeping and so it's occurred to me lately maybe I should have somebody come in and do this for me but it has to be somebody I trust to look at my bank account and all kinds of questions there's always going to be things that you realize you're not good at or that you resist doing and those are the best things to turn over to other people and hire other people to do when you can't afford it okay hiring help? How do you know when it's time...

first question you wanna ask yourself is do I have specific teachable tasks I can hand over and this is in the case of hiring an assistant or somebody to come into your studio or home office to work with you or your your shop or whatever um not if you want teo hire a coach to help you with ten time management for example or if you want to hire a sultan to help you with your book keeping this is you obviously want to make sure that if you're hiring a consultant or an accountant that you have stuff to turn over a cz well but really what I'm talking about here is stuff that people are going to maybe come to your studio your office to dio do I have things that I can hand over am I willing to hand anything over for this person to do or do I and I do not trust anyone else you know you have to be able to trust other people to do work for you do I have system set up that will make our working working together flow in other words is there a way my employees or my assistant can or my business partner my business manager can they access my work flow can they help me with getting all of these things done? What aspects of these things can they contribute? Teo do we have a system for communicating and organizing our work together? It's a big one can I afford to pay someone and you'd be surprised how much money that can take um do I have space for them to work in that's going to be comfortable if somebody sitting in my studio all day is that feel ok to me? Am I willing to give up part of my space for somebody else to work? Maybe you're the kind of person who would enjoy it, but these are important things to ask. Do I have planned a time up time to plan my assistance week? In addition to my own, eventually, you can get to the place where if you have enough good systems, that your assistant knows exactly what to dio and is very self directed, but you're going to need to spend a lot of time, at least in the beginning, making sure that you know what you want them to help you with and what's the most strategic stuff for them to help you with, okay, so before we move on, any questions about hiring, help or workflow? Yes, so you are talking a little bit about, like to keep the emails, maybe for the end of the day, is that a routine, a ritual that you do because it can get so it's, so easy just to get overwhelmed by actually sucked in with this right way? All look att the email on our phone, even if we resist opening up gmail or whatever email system we're on for an entire day, it's, like, you know, if your emails not turned off on your phone like, oh, I have sixteen emails right now or in some cases, you know, forty five and it's three o'clock in the afternoon and you know, you have another forty five minutes before it's your you're like, you have permission to check it it's agonizing sometimes. Well, what if there's something in there that I really need to read? So what I do allow myself to do is sort of check it every hour, and I scan my email and I looked to see if there's any name or subject line that pops out iss feeling urgent, and I have enough ongoing projects that sometimes things are urgent, especially if I've just turned something in and there's a quick turnaround time and I need to make changes. There are also days when I when I don't really worry about it too much and I don't look at my phone very much, but I do allow myself to check in, but I still really try to wait until the end of the day because email can eat all of your time, so I generally check my I check it all day, so if you hear back from me in the middle of the day, it's because I feel like it's either fast enough. For meeting right back to you on my phone right away because my responses or I feel like it's important enough for me to write back to you. I also do a little bit of e mail first thing in the morning, some people preach religiously not to do that. I'm just one of those people who has to get a few emails out of the way in the morning, and then I try to say again, most of them for the end of the day, but it's not like I'm not aware what of what's coming in, and it took me a long time toe have enough self control to not dig into the email until four, four, thirty every day, but but I really like it and it's really working for me, and sometimes I get a glass of wine, sit down and that's a, and my work day is by replying to all of my e mail, and I think another message that sense to the people that are contacting you, it's worth contacting sze, writing back to some people right away, but that you're busy and that you don't have to respond to every email right away. In fact, somedays I wait more than twenty four hours to respond because I really have to think through what I'm going to say and, um obviously you have your own priorities around which females are the most important or with which people are the most important to respond. Teo but I found that sort of doing that at the end of the day I wrap up my day I haven't empty inbox or as empty as I can get it and then I stopped working for the rest of night, so yeah, yeah, christian, you mentioned the phrase end of the day um a good one, yeah, how do you how do you manage that in, like, you know, because sometimes your workflow is going to be there's gonna be a lot of work and there's a lot of things to dio um, other tips or strategies that you've found that have been successful for making it the end of the day and like, sitting down and watching a movie with your yeah with your family or your person um and yeah, that'd be great to hear because its feels like, you know, often you're in the studio until that we are is the morning sometimes christian, you're confiding in me earlier that you you have a job that you love in the art world but aren't making for you is something that happens outside of work, and so whether you're full time or part time ending your workday is really hard when you are only work in the evening on the weekends. And I remember my first art studio was down the street from this education nonprofit where I worked, and I literally would pack up my bag at five o'clock when I left partners in school innovation. And I would put everything in there. And then I would walk paces in dogpatch, the neighborhood dog patch in san francisco, and I would walk down the street to my studio and I would spend until eleven o'clock at night and that I was actually single at the time. So I had no one to go home. Teo s o I was, you know, there's this part of, like, how I ran my life and there are going to be periods of time when you are working at several things in orderto launch something new, but ideally, you want to get to the point where you work in a a number of hours and for every person that's gonna look different. Some people work best starting at ten or eleven in the morning and working until nine or ten at night, and they have family life or a schedule or flexibility that allows them to do that you want to find the hours that work best for you and obviously best for the people in your family are the people that you live with um and that's going to be different for everyone I'm not saying you have to work you know like I do seven thirty or eight in the morning until five thirty or six at night but I do think it's important to figure out a chunk of time and have that be your work time and then allow yourself to have a life outside of that because ultimately while you may go through periods where you are working literally fourteen to seventeen hours a day or more um what happens if you do that too much you'll totally burn out like it's not gonna be fun anymore you're going to be exhausted you're going to get sick and we all go through periods where that's a short term solution tio the amount of work we have I'd be lying to you if I said I never worked at night of course ideo but for the most part I try to wrap up my day dinner with my partner have you know watching netflix um read a book whatever stay off of email to the extent possible um and that's just what I've learned is healthy for me at this time in my life um and because I'm in a relationship and I want teo that relationship to grow and flourish and that's not gonna happen if I'm working all the time so um so I think, you know, to the extent you can set hours for yourself and have boundaries and have some sort of like closure rituals around work and make sure you have things to do outside of the studio are working on your business, that you make plans with friends and force yourself to get out and enjoy yourself because that's so important. Speaking of which, the next thing we're going to get into, I talk in our ink about this idea of work life balance, and actually, since I wrote the book, I've changed my mind about it because I think balances that great thing to aspire to like, feeling this sense that you have both a rich working life and our rich life outside of work, where you feel fulfilled in your relationships, in your amount of relaxation you have and the amount of time you had to get re fuelled and inspired. But when you are creative entrepreneur, I am not entirely convinced that this balance actually exists. I do think it's good to aspire to, but I also think we are wired toe work really hard, especially when we're doing something we love and that's not necessarily a bad thing, so it is still important to take care of yourself and always aspired to have some sense of balance um I don't want to lose your mind so balanced does it exist? As I mentioned, I'm not sure that it does exactly in this very perfect, even way like on a scale that you would have equal amount of work time to relax station time. Um, but, um, I think it's important to always aspire to, at minimum, important to take regular breaks. I talked earlier about this system that I used for working in chunks that forces me to take breaks, I have less back pain, I have less what do you call it? Like hand pain from what the work I do on the computer, even with my pens or brushes, taking breaks is important in ways that you don't even think about. Um, and as we were just discussing and christian was asking about taking evenings or portions of the day off, get out and walk literally like physical activity. Being sedentary is not good for your health anyway, I'm not have been wearing it for last two days, very where if it bit it's, not an ad for fit, but but what if it does is it counts your steps right? And supposedly, no matter how athletic you are, you should be walking at least ten thousand stuff today, and so I aspired to walk ten thousand steps a day and I get it most days now I'm much better than I was before I worked for a bit but really forces me to get up and walk and be conscious of my movement. There are days when I have so much to do that's due tomorrow that, um that I literally am sitting at my dining room table or at the desk in my studio and, you know, I pick up my phone and I sync it to my fitbit and it says that I've walked literally eighteen hundred steps the entire day think about it like that is not very many and it said those are the days that I feel actually had the least energy and feel the most aches and pains how many of you from sitting here for two days are a little shaky and tired, right? Moving around gives you more energy this is not normal natural wayto work okay, so, um planned vacations where you do not work even if it's a staycation I know that's really hard. I tried that in january and I was only mildly successful and get good at saying now, which we're gonna we're gonna launch into okay why on earth would you want to turn down an opportunity might feel crazy to you now that you would ever turn down an opportunity some of you are probably your minds are spinning with dream opportunities that you hope come to you and when I first started, I actually still my mind still spends with opportunities that I that I hope come to me and, um there wasn't a lot and so I couldn't have imagined a time when I would have to build the skill in figuring out what was right for me and what was wrong for me. But the truth is that even before I was busy, I was getting opportunities that I probably should have said no to and that's part of why we developed this list of core values, right? And I'm getting you to think about what's important to you in your art making and in your art business because those are the kinds of internal compass is that you're going to use to help you decide what opportunities to say yes to and what to say no to so you already have too much on your plate, so obviously gotta gauge do I have time for this thing and that you may not have time? Not because you have a lot of other art opportunities, but because you're working or your kids are out of school for the summer or whatever, so make sure you have time you already feel overwhelmed you want to drive yourself into the ground and if you're already feeling stressed out it's probably not a good idea to take on something new, even if it sounds exciting the opportunity doesn't resonate aesthetically or conceptually with your work so that residence is really important um and trust your gut about, you know, ask a lot of questions of the person who's offering you the opportunity but um make sure that, um once you've asked all those questions that you're trusting your gut about whether or not because you got well usually tell you if it's a good opportunity or not again it's not aligned with your core values what are some other reasons that you might say no to an opportunity that maybe I haven't listed here? Colleen um maybe the person that you're trying to communicate isn't entirely responsive and so you can kind of see you get some red flags early on some people they come at you so excited they want to do this or they want you to do this with them are they they want to collaborate and then you write back and then you don't hear anything for a while or maybe the communication is really broken that's something to pay attention to and you might think twice any other anything else? Yeah um when people are asking you to work for free yes that's a great one when people are asking you to for work for free, there are some cases where you might want to do that and we'll talk about that very thing in a moment okay, so the great news that saying no is actually saying yes and betsy referred to this earlier in the last segment this whole idea that when you say no to something, you are actually saying yes to something else and that might be less stress that might be more time in your schedule with your kids that might be more hours in the day evening to sleep um and if we begin to think of turning politely and professionally down of course always an opportunity um that it is actually a way to preserve to say yes to something that we do want instead it makes it so much easier. This is a something I've been trying to practise in my life for the for the for the last two years saying no politely and professionally is important you of course want to reply promptly even when you have to decline an opportunity it's like that thie idea that you want to let the person know that you're grateful that they've that you're honored that they have contacted you on. Do you want to do that in his genuine away as possible? Because you never know if you might want to work with them again even if they worked for a publisher our company wouldn't currently be interested in working with or a gallery they might sunday work somewhere else, so always treat your professional relationships with courtesy and respect because the art an illustration. Worlds are very small, and you never know where you might encounter someone somewhere again, even if you don't know them, the explicit about your desire to work together again in the future. If that is genuine, if it's not, then you can just thank them and tell them the timing isn't right or whatever. Um, be polite and gracious by thanking them.

Class Description

"This is an incredibly helpful class for anyone who feels intimidated by all the "giants" in the land of art, and wonders if it's really worth keeping trying to make money from their talent. Lisa breaks everything down into manageable steps, while not dumbing things down. Her manner is very approachable, so that you can imagine yourself doing what she does. Her generous spirit means too that she is sharing really useful stuff - not just some fluff, and keeping all the good ideas for herself!"
 - Janet and Craig Mathewson (CreativeLive Students)

An enthusiastic audience that appreciates your art is waiting for you. Join Lisa Congdon, illustrator, artist, and author of Art, Inc. for Become a Working Artist and learn everything you need to know to make a living as a fine or commercial artist.

In this class, you will find out exactly what it takes to break into the art world and reach new, diverse audiences. Lisa will show you how to:

  • Identify the characteristics that make your style unique
  • Map out the vision and goals that will drive your artistic career 
  • Navigate the fine art market and break in to it
  • Land and negotiate art licensing deals
  • Develop effective techniques for promoting your work
Every artist faces rejection and setbacks on the road to finding an appreciative and paying audience. Become a Working Artist will teach you how to navigate the inevitable disappointments and push through to build a vibrant, rewarding career in art.

Making money as an artist doesn’t have to be far-fetched dream, Lisa Congdon will show you how to make it a reality.  



I was very happy and inspired to be able to attend to this class! It helped me so much to understand which are my goals as an artist and what I need to make to make them happen. Lisa is amazing and I cannot be happier to have been part of this, thank you so much!! I am now more than inspired to create beautiful things and make the tasks I need to make to become the professional artist I aim to be. Thank you Lisa for your wonderful generosity and Creative Live for hosting and creating such a wonderful event!


This course was fantastic! The format was great and Lisa was extremely helpful, knowledgable, and engaging. I was so inspired and loved that she gave very real information and great advice. I came away with a great new plan for my business and a renewed excitement for growth. I would highly recommend this class!

Simply Stated Architecture, PC

Professionally, I am an architect, but I also dabble in some watercolors as well as wood and metal work. When I started my own architectural office, I found good resources for business information were scarce. Most of what I found applied to retail or service businesses that really did not apply to a creative professional. One of the best resources I have found has been my local art guild - The Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I found that the painters, jewelers, potters, fiber artists, and other artists faced much more similar issues to what I was dealing with than the contractors, store owners, financial planners, insurance salesmen, and other business people that I was finding in business groups and classes. Lisa Congdon's class is the first CreativeLive course that I've taken. I had signed up for the CL email recently and Lisa's class just caught my eye. I'm glad that I took the time to sit through the sessions. A few of the segments - such as that on illustration and licensing or fine art - really did not have any practical application to my own situation. But there were items of value in pretty much all of the segments that I could take away to adapt in my own business. For someone just starting off in a creative profession, I'd highly recommend Lisa's course as a roadmap of items to keep in mind and plan for in their business. But by no means should you consider this to be a "beginner only" course. I started my business four years ago and I really wish that I had found something like this course in those first months or first year. But even after four years, I found great value in this course. The information on setting goals, actionable tasks, and the final segment on managing your success were extremely valuable and gave me many items to work into my own business in the coming weeks and months.