Will You Dare To Be Early?

by seanlow on May 25, 2016

One of my favorite Henry Ford lines: “If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

Yes, you get tasked every day to create for clients. For your creative business to move them with your art. If you are lucky enough, you are busy doing great work for respectful, appreciative clients. Awesome.

But what comes next?

Are you willing to push past your own comfort zone? Can you imagine a place where your art transcends its medium and you are willing to evolve your structure because of it?

Steve Jobs was famous for being proprietary about everything. He wanted to control all facets of Apple, from production to software.  In 2015, Apple made over 6 Billion (yes, billion) Dollars from its App Store. That is from software written by other people. And how fun would your device be without apps? Do you really think IEverything would be what it became without apps? Call it whatever you want, maturity, wisdom, intuition, but Steve Jobs willingness to change his worldview, ahem, changed the world.

Sure, you have to be up on the latest and greatest in your world. So not what I am talking about. I am talking about your willingness to take your structure beyond itself.

I love photography because of how technology has upended every aspect of a professional photographer’s world. Twenty years ago, if you wanted to remember anything of significance you needed a book. The album business existed as a way to organize the memory of the day (wedding, rite of passage, significant life event) as much as it was beautiful in its own right.

Fast forward to today. What is the point of an album when image organization on-line is ubiquitous and very low cost? Albums themselves have to be primarily art; meaning organization is important but the visual story is what is being sold. How many photographers miss the opportunity talk about the story of the album?  Their ability to create this story and their need to be paid to do so?

What if you are the photographer that counts on The Shot? Are you willing to stake your claim to the shot? Will you ignore the album altogether and say my work belongs on your wall? Will you bet the farm on your ability to prove the value of The Shot?  For most of your clients there has been an investment in some sort of visual art in their home. Why not your work?

Invisible walls we build put us in the box where faster horses becomes the goal. “No one will pay me for a fine art print.” “I will lose all of my clients if I dare to be paid as a designer and not just a [caterer, florist, stylist, etc.]” Fear is there, of course. Most of it though is the golden handcuffs of success. People that love what you and your creative business do for them today and are comfortable. They know how you work and respect you.  Will they love the next version? Even if it is better for what they want?  Can you evolve and truly say to your core clients: “I built this for you.”

The world is shifting underneath you. Opportunity is there if you seek it out. The confluence of technology, communication and the willingness to experience everything as our story is a designer’s holy grail. Design is not about any one thing or one creation, it is about the ability to be the universal thread in a client’s life. We are that because your designs made it so.

Now, you can choose not to believe this and be successful in your corner of the world. We will always need credible talent in every nook and cranny of creative business. Talent is always welcome. However, for those of you who wish to dare, are willing to shift your worldview, your app store awaits.

Is your print worth $10,000? Only if you say it is. Only if you truly believe it and only if you are willing live in its value and recreate your creative business around that value.

Nothing ever happens overnight. However, if you see a radical future for yourself, your art and your creative business, be early. Then never leave.



by seanlow on May 20, 2016

The price of success is conviction. You have to leap. You have to crash. You have to get back up. You have to stand in your own shadow. You have to leap again. And again. And again.

If failure terrifies you, owning a creative business is not for you.

You, your art and your creative business will be exposed. Daily. Clients will say things to you and your employees you would not wish on your worst enemy. They will try to break your spirit, the essence of your integrity in all that you seek to create. They will tell you how your job is fun. Employees will believe they are you without their name on the door. You will be bullied, humiliated, debased, misunderstood, ignored and vilified. You will feel like everyone is against your success and the world is a zero sum game (I win, you lose and vice-versa). We are all colleagues until there is blood in the water. Then we are all sharks.

Except you are in the business of creating joy. Art drives your business, not the other way around. Art changes the world and you are the person, the business to make that happen. We live in a time where hate has a growing voice. Art reveals hate’s ugliness and ultimate self-limitation. Art matters. Your work as an artist and creative business owner demands gravitas. You might have fun creating joy but there is nothing “fun” about it.  Conviction.

You cannot see through to the other side. Nobody can. The only thing that you can do is to walk the path you choose with intention and integrity. Confidence comes in actually walking the path, not knowing where it will take you.

Other endeavors can be buttoned up, protected, contracted for. Creative business demands that you be exposed. You are tasked with, ahem, creating what heretofore has never existed. To create, you have to invest in the relationship. It is personal. Inherent in the relationship is the idea that you see what others around you cannot. You must be the guide and walk with a firm hand regardless of circumstance. Conviction.

You, your art and your creative business do not exist to be someone’s friend or colleague. Your art and creative business has to have a purpose greater than the thing. It will never ever be about the couch and always about what the couch evokes.

Conviction has to be hard. You have to be challenged. If you, your art and your creative business were not, you would never discover the courage you never knew you had. Courage is the knowledge that you actually know better and the willingness to act in that knowledge.

So please do not wing it. The path, your path for your art and your creative business, is only there if you define it with resolve, not just because that is the way it is. Work tirelessly to understand the purpose of each step of your creative business, resolute in the step’s necessity and place. Everything must exist for a reason. To those who wish to shake you from your center, you have to be able to appreciate the value of your own faith in the path you have created and your unending desire to walk it. Gravitas, conviction and faith all require hard, painful, testing choices. Success is the willingness to walk towards these choices and not run away. Running is its own demise.

It is your art, your vision, your gift. Live there.


Only Fools Answer Dumb Questions

May 3, 2016

We have been trained to listen well, respect what clients say, answer their questions. Especially if you are trying to make a sale. Sometimes, sometimes you have clients who actually understand the why, how and what of your creative business and value the process you take to create the art you do. Most often, though, […]

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Consider The Source

April 26, 2016

I am basically tone deaf. I love joking with my kids about how awesome of a singer I am. They laugh every time because of how silly it is. I literally thought my son was using his own creation when he talked about his head voice and his chest voice. And I am a better […]

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Verbal Tics and My Top Three Pet Peeves For Creative Business Speak

April 19, 2016

Everything matters in creative business. How you dress. How you talk. Where you go (hey it is a digital world). And, yes, how you write (even in a digital world). However they happen, we all get into ruts. We answer questions the same way. Get into the same arguments with clients. Find ourselves in a […]

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Clearing The Pipes

April 4, 2016

Until you know exactly what it feels like to be true to your art and the essence of your creative business, no change will be effective. You have to strip away the gunk in the pipes before you can talk about what water needs to flow through it. The gunk are all those things that […]

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Add A Zero

March 10, 2016

What does it mean to be fearless? To be confident in your gifts as an artist? Capable of transforming those who commission you and your creative business to do just that? Add a zero. What happens then? For most of you, the narrative of impossibility takes over. “I could never get that much.” My clients […]

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It’s Not About You. Or Is It?

March 1, 2016

As he is wont to do, Seth Godin wrote a great post a few days ago about what triggers trust. I love the two issues he sees: The trustworthy person or organization that fails to understand or take action on the symbols and mysteries that actually lead to trust, and as a result, fails to make […]

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The Power of Story

February 25, 2016

Bill Baker defines storytelling as “an exchange of meaning shared from one person to another for a purpose.” “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” Hemingway’s (supposedly) shortest story. It means something to you because of your life experience and what you imagine it to be. For most, it speaks of tragedy. Some, however, may just […]

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From Fertilizer Comes Flowers

February 17, 2016

Overcoming adversity is the testament every successful person on the planet shares. Until you get knocked down, you have no idea what it is to get back up. Such is the beauty of life. However, that is not my focus today. Instead, I am writing about when the new version of you, your art and […]

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