Define Your Boundaries

by Owen Garratt | The Art of Being an Artist

I I’m astounded at how few people take the 30 seconds necessary to clarify in their own minds what’s acceptable to them and what isn’t.  We all have vague likes and dislikes, but very few have coldly reasoned out in advance to what standards they’ll hold for themselves and their environment.

Figurine Pose - StopHere’s a partial list of things I won’t get involved in, in no particular order:

  • Gay porn art (don’t read into that more than there is, it’s just not my, er, bag)
  • Drug culture art
  • Being a prospect’s or client’s doormat
  • Obligatory wedding attendance – if I don’t want to go, I’m not going
  • Anybody’s drama
  • Helping somebody move
  • Helping anyone who don’t have their act together
  • Yardwork
  • Shoveling the driveway
  • Tuna Casserole
  • Changing That Damn Cat’s litter box – (I have a finely tuned gag reflex)

Here’s the thing: if you don’t decide what your values are, then you’re at the mercy of your whims, and more insidiously, at the whims of everybody else who thinks they can pull you into whatever crisis they’re dealing with at the moment.

There’s no need to be an arsehole about it, but I refuse to live my life dealing with any sort of drama.

None.  Not one iota.  Bugger all.

Now looking at my list, there’s a sort of inclination to picture me with my heels dug in, the arms crossed, and a big scowl on my face, and I take pains not to unnecessarily aggravate anyone (although I’m willing to if I need to) – we take the “Sorry, we’re just too busy/we’re regretfully able to attend/planning a backache for that day” route.

Oddly enough, just as I was writing this, The Colonel phoned to tell me about a potential client who just called the gallery to book an appointment to frame his “nude photos of himself – they’re magnificent and (he states) he’s very open to compliments”.

After the Colonel and The Groovy Framing Elves ™ had their guffaws, they got kind of worried and called me (it happened to be during a window where I’ll answer unscheduled calls) for my 2 bits.

I asked the following questions:

  • Is it illegal? If so, call the cops – immediately.
  • Does it make you or any of the staff uncomfortable?
  • Is it business you want?
  • In your best guess, is this the kind of thing you’d want to keep our better clients from knowing?
  • If you decide to book the appointment, do you want me to be on the premises?

These are the kind of questions that answer themselves, aren’t they?

So even though this situation was unique, we still had some criteria that we went through to decide where the line was.

Your line may be different, in fact, I really have no right to tell you where your line should be…that’s what freedom means; we get to decide for ourselves.

But I do offer that your decisions should be based on sound, rational reasoning, based on your goals and values.

Also, if you don’t have a set of standards in your life, both for you AND the people in your circle, you’ll never have any solid base to grow from – you’ll always be reacting to circumstance instead of crafting your life.

  • If you hate people coming to your studio, then don’t have people in your studio.
  • If you hate being interrupted on the phone while you’re working, then shut the phone off.
  • If you don’t like doing portrait work, then don’t do portrait work.
  • If you don’t like clients standing over your shoulder, then don’t let them.

It’s important to realize that just because you prefer to avoid certain things in your life doesn’t mean that we automatically get to avoid responsibility for them.

Getting back to my list, I want to make it perfectly clear that we have probably the nicest yard on the subdivision, we never have snow piled up in the driveway, and That Damn Cat’s box is perpetually minty-fresh.

When I say I’m not willing to do yard work doesn’t mean that I‘m lazy and so am willing to live in squalor.  I just plain hate it and have osteoarthritis in my lower spine –but I love having a beautiful yard. How’s this work? Easy. I figured out a way to not do yard work ever again.

  • I called a lawn cutting service
  • I gave away my lawnmower

That was easy!  True, I had to kind of sell The Colonel on spending cash for something we’re perfectly capable of handling ourselves, but I class this is the same league as hiring out our housecleaning.  Just because we can sure doesn’t mean we have to.

And the clincher is that the yard is WAY nicer and healthier than if it was left strictly up to me. Less stress and guilt of procrastination, a nicer yard, more time to do better stuff.

Besides, we’re artists!  People practically expect us to have some eccentricities!

And hey!  Since you’re here, check out The Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!

 Check out the Fast Start Art Marketing Primer!

“Just a note to say thanks to Owen for his courses. It has already changed my whole concept of marketing my work and makes me actually feel in control of my future. Thanks Owen!”

Tony Alderman
Durham, NC

“I’ve gotten great value out of this course. It really speaks to the artist in a no B.S. way that clears the mental clutter, and gets you to pay attention to what you really need to get the ball rolling.”

Fay Wyles
San Clemente, CA

“It was light-hearted, it had charm and humour and kept me engaged the whole time!  I loved it!”

Suzi Campbell
Melbourne, Australia

“The first or second lesson got my money back in multiples already. So brilliant…you shook me!”

Marta Spendowska
Domino, OK

“Owen’s course literally saved me from a slippery path that I would probably have never recovered from.”

Gregg Arnold
Kingman, AZ

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(without having to be dead!)

What's the Number One Most Important Thing about Selling Art and Being an Artist?!

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Enter your name and email below to see the controversial video!

“Why Do You Need This?!” A sign of the times, but we need to make sure you’re a real person and not some sort of spambot.

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