Butterflies: Not the Painted Kind!
The above is a link to a wonderful blog post by a friend of mine, L. Diane Johnson. I am reprinting it here with her permission, but not all the formatting will come from my copied portion of her blog. But the link is for you to visit her blog and peruse the rest of her entries. Even sign up for this blog. It will be well worth your time to read. So . . . here is the copy from her text. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Butterflies: Not the Painted Kind!
July 1, 2010
By L Diane Johnson
IF YOU’VE EVER COMMITTED to or been asked to speak in front of a group and had “the butterflies”, you are perfectly normal! Butterflies are good. Stage fright is good. Everything I’ve read by professionals in the field of psychology say, that both of these attributes are normal; actually necessary when confronted with a group. Without these two elements, you’d be dull, look and act uninterested and make those around you feel very uncomfortable. So three cheers for butterflies!
For the professional artist, solo shows seem to be a major trauma to face. I remember my first to the latest show I have been a part of. Some experts say, that if you don’t have some tiny measure of the “willies”, then you may even have a problem. The problem? Not really being prepared to be with/talk with people.
A good place to start is with a small show. If you can participate comfortably in smaller solo or group shows, you just need to work a bit harder to deal with the larger crowds.
People do not believe me when I say I am the quintessential introvert. I am comfortable in crowds but better one-on-one, especially when the center of attention. Nevertheless, once in any group interacting for a few moments, I relax and am just fine. I even end up having a great time. After an event, is when I can get into trouble…reliving, re-evaluating, analyzing and sometimes fretting over an event which is already over! “Did I say something wrong? Did I sound shy or even proud?”, etc. If I had a great time, why do I get depressed and feel so badly after having a fine experience interacting with folks? It really seems silly but this happens. It does not occur as often as it used to. But when it does, I simply let my brain go through it’s gymnastics and it eventually wears off in a day or two.
It’s taken me years, but I still have to work on being in large groups at a solo show in particular. Seemingly, everyone wants a piece of me at the same time. Here is one thing that helps when this happens. When I am the “star” of the show, I try to focus on one person at a time as I speak with them. (Sometimes it’s merely the volume of people that can produce anxiety within me.) It can be brought on by the anticipation of greeting and meeting collectors or talking to other artists. It is sometimes associated with feelings of not knowing what to say. Well of course, I don’t know what I will say…I don’t even know what the questions or comments will be ahead of time! That means I’m putting unnecessary pressure on myself.
What Can You Do?
It’s not fair to yourself to fret over something that has not yet happened.
•Try to relax the day before an event.
•Boost your confidence by reminding yourself that you are the expert at what you do.
•And most of all, remember that the audience is friendly!! They are coming to your show because they want to, not because they have to! Therefore, it’s not a test, but rather, a party.
•Parties are meant to be enjoyed not dreaded. No darts no dragons, just friendly people attending a wonderful show. They are not out to get you, they just want to see and interact with you – the artist of the hour!Trouble Marketing Yourself?
Not good at selling yourself? Don’t like to visit other towns to seek representation? Extend your reach with a physical presence at times to market yourself is a good thing. You may find if you get out in front of people more, the more comfortable you will become. Take your gallery owner to lunch one-on-one. Interact with the staff. The more you communicate with them the more they’ll get to know you; and more apt they will be in telling potential clients not only how great work you do but that you’re a great person too!
Is there Hope for You?
Absolutely. Some artists are extroverted and love the spotlight and crowds. For those of us who have to work at it, here are a couple of books I highly recommend:
Excellent volume! Learn how to sell when it does not come natural, how to “mingle” with people – extremely insightful. This is one of the most “dog-eared” books in my library on this subject.
Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You
Sounds like it may be “psychobabble”, but is a tremendous and practical book for those who find it difficult to socialize easily. This book will show you how absolutely “normal” you are and how being sensitive can be an asset not a liability.
So go for the big shows as well as the little ones. Just as with everything else, preparation is key. Expect to be a bit anxious, full of butterflies and overwhelming, yet all can be overcome! Furthermore, you can have FUN at the show!
Share and Enjoy
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Diane Johnson is a wonderfully giving artist and teacher. I hope you enjoyed this and please do go to her blog and web site. You will read some good stuff, and see many beautiful paintings. Let me know what you think.