Life coach, finance coach, relationship coach. Specialty coaching has exploded over the past decade, and the arts have seen an influx of coaches as well. In an area that is so new to many of us, it's hard to know if someone is worth working with, and what to expect from the coaching process. That is why I wanted to share with all of you a little bit about my experience working with coaches.
First off, let me just say this: I never thought I would work with a coach. I'm an artist. I make work. I went to grad school, I felt like I had paid my dues and it seemed cheesy to work with someone in this way. That is what I told myself until I saw that an artist - one whom I respected - had worked with a coach. Then I thought about how much my mentors have meant to me, and how much I learned from them. I love learning, and I consider myself a life-long student, so why was I so opposed to going this route? I decided I would give it a try and see where it took me.
Let's start with the basic question: what is a coach? Coaches help you navigate an area where you want to improve, and where they have specific expertise. Think of an athlete who wants to become faster. They work with a coach who has been able to improve the speed of other athletes. Similarly, an art coach is someone who works with artists to help them work toward a certain outcome. Frequently coaches will also help with the mental and/or emotional side of things as well. Consider the idea, "If you believe it, you can achieve it". You have to think you are capable of doing a thing before you can do it. A coach acts as a mentor to help you get to the next point along your journey.
"What can an art coach help me do?" Well, this really depends on what you want to do. What are your goals as an artist? Many times a coach will start off your work together by helping you figure this out. The best starting question Gallerist & Art Coach Bridgette Mayer asked me when I worked with her was, "How do you define success. REALLY define it?" It's such a simple question but I hadn't really given it that much thought. It's easy for an artist to say, "Well, uh, income and representation". But is that really how I define success? Time ended up being one of my top priorities, as well as healthy relationships with my family and art community. Once I recognized this, I could move forward while keeping those priorities at the top of my list.
Keep in mind there are different types of art coaches. Some of them may be best suited to help you understand business and finances. Others dive into your emotions surrounding your work or help you strengthen your marketing or "brand". Think about what you want to learn about or improve upon as you look for a coach. Make sure that your coach has a practice area that overlaps with your goals.
Another thing is how much a coach costs. Working one-on-one can be costly yet extremely helpful. A good way to see if you are a match with someone is to check out their other content or a class they offer before you make the big leap to one-on-one coaching. I'm psyched to see that Bridgette did something a little different and you can check out her online Art MBA coaching for a monthly fee. It's cool because it's affordable (it starts at $19.99) and if you have ever wanted to work with a finance coach or gallerist but it was too expensive, this is a good way to check it out.
I ended up choosing to work with Bridgette because her practice area was grounded in mindset, the gallery world, and finances. I realized I had mindset blocks around gallery representation and also saw myself as "not very good" at understanding finances. I had always stayed away from the business side of things. I had a multitude of "reasons" for doing this - ranging from the idea of "selling out", to honestly just being afraid of dealing with it. Bridgette helped me to start to understand and deal with these issues. By dealing with that, it also helped me think about selling my work and therefore to feel confident about working with a gallery.
Bridgette would help me set goals and hold me accountable for our next meeting. I hate not holding up my end of something or not finishing a project or task. Knowing that I would be meeting with Bridgette to talk about something I committed to doing really helped me get it done. The painful part of digging into my finances and my mindset around money wasn't as bad when someone was on my side, helping me and being supportive.
Coaching may not be for everyone, but if you are at a point where things haven't gone the way you want for a while, or where you feel stuck, coaching could be a great way to move forward. Having a trusted fresh point of view is always helpful.
I hope my experience helps some of you out there get to where you want to be, doing what you are meant to do! You can check out Bridgette's Art MBA program online here!
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