I’m often prattling on about design or technique, but forming a business around what you do requires being smart as well – and it’s a choice we can all make as well as a skill we can all fine-tune.
But this is the basic, no-nonsense, generic kind of smart.
Smart people are sensitive and understanding, empathising with peers and customers by having an affinity and rapport with their life/work situations. Remember that old saying – ‘there, but for the grace of God, go I’?
Acts of kindness and empathy are vastly underrated.
Smart people have a set of goals, something to aim for and work towards. I mean, how simple’s that?
It could be as basic as five or so points written on a piece of paper and pinned somewhere highly visible – and while that’s smart, smart people will continually make decisions to help them achieve those goals. Clever.
Goals help set direction, but also inspire consistency, proficiency, and professionalism.
Smart people are also aware of situations and understand how to make the most of them.
It may be an opportunity to promote yourself and your brand, or it may be a chance to network and meet new people. Pushing yourself forward is not always easy, but if a golden opportunity knocks on your door, make the most of it – that’s what smart people do, and it often pays dividends.
Sometimes we have to go to the mountain, the mountain doesn’t come to us.
So get those business cards, printed, refresh and update your website regularly, have some flyers made about yourself and what you do and what you offer – and make sure to have them with you. Or train yourself to go up to strangers and introduce yourself to them – they may be exhibition organisers, gallery curators, politicians, or magazine editors. Who knows where those conversations may lead?
Smart people look to their peers to see what they do.
So far so good.
And one of the ultimate things smart people do is to have a universal, crystal-clear narrative. What does that mean?
What do you say to people when they ask what you do? Splutter and um and ah? That’s what I used to do, but I’ve taught myself to tell a story about my work and to make it interesting. I still find it hard to talk about myself – but I blunder on and just keep it simple.
And telling a good story includes your writing – things like your Artist Statements, both about yourself and the work you produce, magazine articles, your blog, and social media posts.
Words are so powerful and irresistible. Paint pictures with words, and make them work for you so you can sing from the rooftops about your creations – but keep that narrative consistent and clear.
Smart people know how to make words work for them.
Considering the medium of textile art, our words should caress and seduce the senses of each and every reader – over and over, again and again.
So smart people are really people who are forward-thinking, kind, opportunistic, and great storytellers.
Make that smart person you.