As an artist, you pour your heart and soul into every creation, investing countless hours into “perfecting” your piece of work. However, we all know the journey doesn't end here – you now need to share it with the world. At least you do if you want to be a working artist.
But for many artists, the thought of pitching their art can be terrifying. There’s that old chestnut – the fear of rejection – alongside plenty of self-doubt. Trust me, I get it. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a creative soul that doesn’t.
The greatest problem with having these feelings is that it often holds us back from taking any ACTION. And without action, we can’t go anywhere. So we have to determine when to put the brush down (either literally or figuratively) and take that leap of trust.
Progress, not perfection. Perfectionism kills art.
Overcoming your fear of pitching is absolutely vital for growth and success as a licensed artist. That doesn’t mean the fear goes away, but you do need to find a way to move through it. To “fake it” till you make it, as they say.
Here are some strategies to help you conquer the fear and embrace the art of pitching your work:
1) Shift Your Perspective
Instead of viewing pitching as a daunting task, it can be useful to reframe it as an exciting opportunity.
Fun science fact: Excitement and fear share the same physiological reaction. Adrenaline courses through the body in the same way. The difference is how the mind interprets the experience. That’s some food for thought!
Think of pitching as a chance to connect with others who share your passion for art. You're not just selling a product; you're sharing a piece of yourself and your creative journey.
2) Believe in Your Work
Confidence in your art is crucial. When you believe in your work, others are more likely to see its value as well. I think we all know people (in any industry) that are way more “talk” than they are talented. But the crazy thing is, it often gets them somewhere.
Why? Confidence talks. When people believe so strongly in themselves, other people tend to latch on as well. It’s contagious.
No one expects you to change who you are overnight but here’s a prime place to “fake it till you make it.”
3) Personalize Your Outreach
The key to a great pitch email – one that will grab an art director or agent’s attention – is making it personal to them. Don’t copy and paste the same email to everyone. Really take the time to learn about their company and find a couple of key things that you genuinely love about the company and/or their artists. This can really humanize the pitching experience.
Don’t shy away from infusing your personality because they really do want to get to know the real you. Likewise, every time your nerves get in the way, remind yourself that they too are a “real” person who gets up every morning and goes to work because they love art. You’re not too dissimilar.
4) Know Your Story
Something we artists know well is that every artwork has a story behind it.
People connect with narratives, so share the inspiration, process, and emotions tied to your creation. A compelling story can make your pitch more engaging and relatable. While shifting your mind away from the fear.
A prime example here is the fact that many stores now print the artist's story or inspiration on the packaging of a product. You may have seen this already but if not, start to look out for it. It will inspire some ideas.
5) Embrace Constructive Feedback
Feedback, whether positive or negative, can be a valuable tool for growth. Constructive criticism can help you improve your pitch and/or your artwork. Remember, it's not a reflection of your worth as an artist, but an opportunity to simply refine your approach. We all have to start somewhere.
But, let’s also remember that art is subjective. So listen to feedback with an open mind and, if you still can’t find anything constructive or helpful there, move on.
6) Focus on Value
Think about the unique value that your art brings to the lives of potential buyers. Whether it's beauty, inspiration, or a thought-provoking message, place your focus on how your art can enrich someone's experience.
This helps to take the focus off YOU and place it on how you can help others. Mental health research has shown that helping others can actually reduce our stress and improve our happiness.
7) Rejection Is Not Failure
Rejection is a natural part of any creative journey – in any creative career. Remember that even well-established artists faced rejection at some point. There are many famous stories out there.
Remember not everyone has the same taste, You love chocolate ice cream and I love vanilla, but that doesn’t mean that either flavor is bad.
Each 'no' brings you closer to a 'yes.' Use rejection as motivation to refine your outreach and keep pushing forward.
8) Celebrate Your Successes
The struggles always make the wins so much more delicious! So, when you secure a contract, celebrate your achievement! Acknowledge your growth and what it took to get there. You deserve this moment!
Overcoming the fear of pitching your art is truly a combination of mindset, preparation, and practice. But remember, we all have to start somewhere. And that’s very often at the ground level.
For many artists, the business side is not something they ever sought out, and they’d rather have nothing to do with it. But to run your art business – at least at first – there’s some comfort zone stretching that’s required.
Embrace this process as a chance to grow, connect, and share your passion with the world. Remember that art has the power to touch lives and make a difference. With perseverance and a little confidence, you can master the art of pitching and open up a rewarding artistic future.