Sunday, October 28, 2007


First of all, before I forget, congratulations to Kaija, Mary, and Ben on the Pay It Forward project! I'll get something fun out to you soon.

I've been thinking a lot lately about scarcity and abundance. And I guess generosity and stinginess also come into play.

Like most things, I think it's all in how you look at it. I have enough. I have a cute house, a nice studio, a great family, wonderful friends, good health, and basically a great, stress-free life. I have more than I need. Until I start comparing myself to someone with a bigger house, nicer car, more income, handsome husband, skinnier body, etc.

In "Creating Affluence," Deepak Chopra says,
"We experience health when our identity of who we are comes from reference to the self. When we identify with objects, whether these are situations, circumstances, people, or things, then we relinquish our energy to the object of reference. As a result, we feel lack of energy and vitality. When our identity comes from the self, then we keep our energy to ourselves."
He's talking specifically here about health, but I think it applies to anything. When you compare yourself to others, you will come up short in some way. That's not to say that you shouldn't strive for more. I believe that we should all grow and change.

It's kind of like that bumper sticker, "Begin Within." Or the Gandhi quote, “we must be the change we wish to see in the world.”

So, maybe it's naive, but I try to apply this to the art world as well. Everyone agrees that it's a very competitive business. But if you approach it with an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity, it all changes. Instead of self-absorbed artists just in it for ourselves, we can all help each other. I think deep down we all want to be helpful in some way.

I've always thought that it's sort of a numbers game - you have to send out 50 proposals to get 2 shows; you have to approach 100 galleries to get representation in 4 of them; you have to have work in several shows before you build up a following, etc. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but I think for most of us it's true. You have to get your work out there and eventually the right people will see it.

There's more to it, of course - you need have good work, be able to talk confidently about it, conduct yourself professionally, etc.

I have to remind myself of this concept of abundance often, though. I think there's a tendency to be self-protective and think, "It's competitive out there. I found this call for entries and I want to keep it for myself. If I let Artist X know about it, he might get in the show instead of me." But if you come at it from abundance, then there's enough for everybody. And if you help your fellow artists and cheer for their successes, they will help you and cheer for you in return.

I ask myself often if what I'm doing is coming out of generosity or stinginess. I have to remind myself what I want to be: Generous.

Gratitude is another concept that's important. Remember to thank those who help you along the way.

So thank you all for reading and for the great comments and encouragement. I'm inspired by all of the talent and generosity of spirit in the artist-blogger community.

Now playing: The Decemberists - Think About Me
via FoxyTunes


Anonymous said...

Great post... and right back at you... you have shared an immense amount of knowledge, experience and resources here on your blog, thank you for all of them, and for your generosity of spirit!

Anonymous said...

that's very true.
thanks for sharing!
good luck.

Mary Richmond said...

Thoughtful post, Deanna. And maybe the more gratitude we experience the more abundance comes our way.

The Idaho Beauty said...

What a great attitude to have! I've noticed myself that the more I pull in the smaller and less interesting I and my work get. The more I open up the more expansive and interesting I and my work become. We always gain in any part of our life by sharing and losing the fear that we will be taken advantage of, will lose out. But I guess it's that survival instinct that trips us up and tries to convince us to keep it all to ourselves.

Sarah said...

What you're saying definitely rings a bell with me! Sometimes I think it can be really hard to share information and knowledge you feel you have worked hard to gain with others you feel perhaps haven't, no one wants to be taken advantage of... But (like you say!) I think it is good to share and be open, and in my experience the response has been a good one, generosity seems to breed generosity :)

S. M. Lacy said...

I just found this blog through art biz coach and I totally agree with you!
I think that thinking of the art world in terms of abundance definitely helps.
easier said than done though! haha
best of luck in your endeavours :)

Unknown said...

this post is so RIGHT ON! wonderful words.

Eero said...

This is a subject I've been thinking a lot about lately. I had a friend who refused to share her winning grant application with a fellow artist who was applying for the next round of the same grant. I believe that there are more than enough opportunities out there for all of us---especially with web access to the world's galleries, art fairs, grants and residencies!

I share whatever opportunities come my way, especially if I sense they apply to another artist I know more than me.

We all need each other's mutual support. The art market is hard enough as it is without being cut throat with each other!

I now have a circle of art friends who remind each other of upcoming deadlines.