11 – How to grow your art business as an introvert
Introvert

Nikki and Laura discuss the challenges that introverts face in developing their art business and offer some tips to help.

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Topics discussed

  • What does it mean to be an introvert or extrovert? (0:48)

  • What if you’re both? (1:54)

  • How do you know which you are? (5:00)

  • How does being one or the other impact your art business? (7:03)

  • Laura shares a story about performance painting (7:36)

  • Nikki shares her story about drawing in public (9:05)

  • Marketing your art as an introvert (10:06)

  • Tips for getting comfortable sharing online or in a podcast (12:04)

  • Books about introverts (14.47)

  • Three main takeaways (16:49)

Laura

0:07
Hi, this is Laura

Nikki

0:08
And this is Nikki, with the Startist Society, inspiring you to stop getting in your own way, and start building an art biz and life that you love.

Laura

0:17
We are artists who believe strongly in the power of community, accountability, following your intuition, taking small actionable steps and breaking down the barriers of fear and procrastination that keep you stuck.

Nikki

0:31
Follow along with us on our creative business journey as we encourage you on yours. Laura, what are we talking about today?

Laura

0:42
Today we’re talking about the challenges that introverts face in developing their art businesses.

Nikki

0:48
Okay, so people always talk about being one or the other. But what does it really mean to be an introvert or an extrovert?

Laura

0:56
Well, traditionally, an introvert is often thought of kind of a quiet, reserved and thoughtful individual, they don’t seek out special attention or social engagements, because those events can really leave them feeling exhausted and drained. An extrovert, however, is someone that’s said to have a personality type that’s social and outgoing, basically, the life of the party. And extroverts enjoy being around other people. And they tend to focus on the outside world, while introverts are the opposite, and they prefer solitude, and tend to focus on their own thoughts.

Nikki

1:30
Okay, so I get those definitions. But to me, and a lot of the stuff that I’ve read about it, I really think that being an introvert doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re shy and don’t like to be around people. It’s more about how you get your energy. So for example, I consider myself an outgoing introvert.

Laura

1:51
Is that an oxymoron?

Nikki

1:54
It might… wait, what did you call me? It might be. So that surprises a lot of people actually. Because I’m not shy. I can talk to anybody about anything. Sometimes things people don’t really want to talk about. But I make friends really easily. And I enjoy talking to people. But then I have to go home and have some alone time to recharge. So as a kid, I spent a lot of my time reading and drawing. Actually, I was very shy when I was young. I don’t know when I got out of it. But I spent a lot of time drawing and reading, which are both very solitary things. And I’ve been working at home alone for the last, I don’t know, 17 years. And I’m not tired of it. Yeah, I mean, I, I love being around other people. I love talking to other people, but I really need that that down time, that alone time to recharge. And to me that’s, that’s what makes me more of an introvert.

Laura

2:58
Got it. So it’s sort of a mix between the two, what would you call that?

Nikki

3:02
Well, so I like the term outgoing introvert for me. But I’ve also heard the terms, omnivert, and ambivert, which is…

Laura

3:11
Can you say that three times fast ?

Nikki

3:12
I really can’t. Ambivert is hard to say, like ambidextrous, where you can write or draw with both hands, ambivert, where you kind of switch between introvert and extrovert, which is really kind of what I do. I love personality tests, and I’ve taken Myers-Briggs like 1000 times. I don’t know why, maybe because I’m obsessive.

Laura

3:34
You think the results are gonna change?

Nikki

3:37
Well, they do! Because a lot of times -mwhat you know, one of the key factors is it tells you whether you’re an introvert or an extrovert, and every time I take it, I’m one or the other. I’m an ENFP, or an INTP. And the other ones don’t change but whether an extrovert or introvert does change. So, yeah. So what about you, Laura?

Laura

3:59
Well, I also tend to walk that line. I tend to be independent minded, and I really love, like you, my alone time. But when I was little, I grew up in musical theater and performance troops. And I was a competitive piano player and vocalist, I was a competitive gymnast. I lead singing in front of 1000 people in my church for 10 years, every single weekend.

Nikki

4:22
Oh my god, that gives me anxiety.

Laura

4:26
So I definitely like my independence, and I must have my quiet time and my alone time, but I do enjoy performing. And I find that I get juice like in the moment from performing and even from teaching, like I get tons of juice, I get energy in that moment. And then like two hours later, I have to go take a nap. I get really exhausted. To me. I think one of the interesting tests to see if someone is an extrovert or an introvert… It’s telling to ask somebody, what is your favorite Friday night activity.

Nikki

5:00
Okay, I like that. So what’s your ideal Friday night? Let’s start with pre-pandemic.

Laura

5:07
Pre-pandemic. Pre-pandemic, my favorite Friday night is probably having an intimate early dinner with one or two close friends in like a hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant or at their house, followed by time at home binge watching a TV show, cuddling with my dog and some herbal tea and chocolate.

Nikki

5:28
Sounds great except for the tea.

Laura

5:31
Right, right. So during a pandemic, I think it’s probably just the same thing without dinner. So Nikki, what is your ideal Friday night look like?

Nikki

5:45
Well, I would say pretty much the same thing, pre pandemic, I would say dinner out with some close friends, either at a restaurant downtown or at somebody’s house with them cooking, because as we discussed, we’re not chefs.

Laura

6:01
No, we’re not. I am really good at doing dishes.

Nikki

6:03
Or, you know, on the exceedingly rare occasion, possibly a date. If I can remember what those are like. But these days, well, even back then more often than not, and moreso now. It’s going to be me either on the couch with a glass of wine or bourbon.

Laura

6:26
Of course, of course, bourbon.

Nikki

6:28
Either on the couch, watching TV, watching a movie and drawing on my iPad or taking a bath.

Laura

6:36
And by the way, we can’t have an episode without you mentioning the word bourbon, right?

Nikki

6:39
Well, no, we can’t break that streak. Can we? I have a reputation to uphold?

Laura

6:48
So basically, not a raging party for you?

Nikki

6:51
No, absolutely not a raging party. In fact, I don’t even think I was up for a raging party when I was in my 20s.

Laura

6:58
Yeah, me neither. Me neither. I get it.

Nikki

7:02
Right.

Laura

7:03
So how does being an introvert extrovert or some combination of the two impact someone’s art business?

Nikki

7:10
Well, let’s see. So, first of all, when it comes to the act of making art, I’m gonna say it’s perfect for an introvert. In fact, I wonder how an extrovert even handles that because so much of making art is being inside your head and alone in the moment in your studio, just connecting with what’s in front of you, and what’s inside you.

Laura

7:33
Mm hmm.

Nikki

7:34
So I don’t even know how an extrovert would do that.

Laura

7:36
Well, let me tell you a little bit about Jonas Girard. So I went to Asheville, maybe five or six years ago on a trip and anybody who has never been to Asheville.

Nikki

7:46
Love Asheville, love it so much.

Laura

7:49
It is the most amazing city. It’s got multiple art districts. It is such a cool place to be. But anyways, I was there and I discovered down in the river district, one of Jonas Girard’s studios. And he is a painter that does a lot of big large-scale abstracts with Golden paint, mind you, I walked in the studio, and I think there was like $8 million worth of Golden paint in one room, and I was very excited.

Nikki

8:14
So it looks like your house.

Laura

8:20
Not quite, I’m not at that level yet.

Nikki

8:22
Okay. Okay.

Laura

8:23
But what was so cool was he had these contraptions he’d built that are like lazy Susans. But they can hold like, a six foot by six foot canvas.

Nikki

8:33
Oh, wow.

Laura

8:33
And he would swirl it in circles and throw paint at it and use these trowels like from Home Depot to to create texture in the paint and what he did was he would have people sometimes come to the studio, and then he would have these live painting sessions out, doing murals around town. And I think he seems to be someone who totally gets juice out of performing in front of a group and having the act of painting be just as much a part of the final product as the actual painting itself.

Nikki

9:05
So that’s interesting, because I’ve actually done a couple of live painting event type things. But it’s totally different because I drew all over my car, like many years ago, and I did it, I set up at – we have an art and music festival here in Paducah every spring and I set up a booth where I was drawing on my car, and people could come up and talk to me and watch me but the only way I could do it was to focus in on what I was doing and not do it as this big, outgoing expression. It was me focusing in on what I was doing, and people could watch and I could stop and have a conversation. But it wasn’t the same kind of outgoing performance. You know what I mean? It was kind of focusing in and tuning people out.

Laura

9:56
Right? You weren’t you weren’t sort of making it a collaborative experience, it was more people watching you get in the zone and in the flow of your own thing?

Nikki

10:03
Right? Absolutely.

Laura

10:06
So, so that’s making art. But then there’s the whole other area of marketing your art. And marketing your art seems to be so difficult as an introvert.

Nikki

10:19
It really, really is. So I know that there’s a lot of people, there’s a lot of people that we’ve talked to specifically in our Facebook group who have trouble sharing their work on social media. As an introvert, or as someone who’s just not quite comfortable putting themselves out there yet. I know that for me, I have no problem sharing my work online, on my website, on Facebook, Instagram, whatever. But actually contacting an art director directly? Or even more, putting my face on camera.

Laura

10:55
It’s terrifying.

Nikki

10:56
Yeah, how do people do that? I see the people that I admire in the in the art world who are doing really, really well and, you know, making the career for themselves that they really want. The common denominator is they’re all talking to the camera, they’re talking directly to the people that they want to connect with. And I want to connect with people too, obviously. I mean, I’m not just making art for it to sit alone in my studio, I want to share it with people. But how do you get past that?

Laura

11:27
I know, my introvert self totally freaks out about that. And I’m only now getting comfortable with our own voices on this podcast.

Nikki

11:38
Now I’m more comfortable with it than you are because you do all the editing, which means you have to listen to us like 87 times.

Laura

11:47
I do listen to us a lot. So I guess it’s helping me get used to hearing my own voice outside of my head. But that is like a whole thing. And then adding video to that is a whole other level.

Nikki

11:59
It’s terrifying. So okay, so as self professed introverts, how do we get around that issue?

Laura

12:04
It’s really difficult. And some of it, I think, is practice. It’s just, it’s just doing it once doing it twice. And then by the 20th time you’ve done it, it’s not as big of a deal anymore. But another thing I’ve heard someone do, and this sounds kind of goofy. I haven’t actually done this myself yet. But when I start putting video out there, maybe I will. And it’s to put a picture next to your phone or your camera. Like if you’re filming an online class, for example, of your best friend or your dog. Or if you’re a cat person, maybe your cat, somebody that’s really close to you and that you’re comfortable with. And then you talk to the camera like you’re talking to that person, like your best friend.

Nikki

12:45
Or you could just bypass that whole step and just have a glass of wine or a shot of something like…

Both

12:54
Bourbon!

Nikki

12:58
Well, that that helps us when we’re doing this podcast.

Laura

13:01
It kind of does.

Nikki

13:02
It kinda does.

Laura

13:03
We have a little set before each episode just to loosen up a bit.

Nikki

13:07
So one of our role models that we really admire when we were talking about doing this podcast is Laura Horn, who’s an artist out of Australia. And she and her husband do a podcast together and she talks.

Laura

13:21
It’s great.

Nikki

13:22
It is, it’s really great. Listen to Laura Horn Art. And she talked about the fact that to get used to the weird thing of just talking to yourself, she’ll go around the house, kind of narrating her day looking in the mirror and talking about what she’s doing and just practicing saying everything out loud. So that’s something that we can certainly try, right?

Laura

13:46
So I could practice narrating, “Now I’m getting ready to brush my teeth with some Colgate Optic White.” And what would you be narrating, Nikki?

Nikki

13:58
Oh, well, “Now I am doing a splash of black walnut bitters into my bourbon, and then a syrup-soaked dark cherry.”

Laura

14:13
Sounds fancy.

Nikki

14:14
Oh it’s fancy. I don’t mess around. It’s fancy.

Laura

14:17
“Now I’m getting ready to pick up the mail from the mailbox.” We lead really exciting lives.

Nikki

14:24
Oh, “my dog has shredded bubble wrap on the studio floor again”.

Laura

14:32
So yeah, we could practice that, we could work on that.

Nikki

14:34
Let’s work on that. In the meantime, let’s talk about some other things that might be really helpful for people as they’re trying to figure out how to put themselves out there as introverts.

Laura

14:47
So I think there’s some great books that are available as resources. One of those is called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. And this book is great. It’s been out on the New York Times bestseller list for something like seven years now. I listened to the Audible version of it, and I really liked it. But it was really about how a lot of people think the most valuable person in the room is the loudest person who’s talking the most. It sort of gives proof that that’s not the case, that really the introverts are the ones that have that power and significance. So it’s really a great, read and a great booster to our confidence. I think.

Nikki

15:27
Nice. We’ll have to check it out. And I have to admit that I just purchased yet another book. Because of course I did.

Laura

15:37
Yes, of course.

Nikki

15:38
It actually just arrived yesterday, so I haven’t read it yet, but I’m fascinated by the title. It’s The Art of Shouting Quietly: A guide to Self Promotion for Introverts and Other Quiet Souls.

Laura

15:51
Awesome. Except are you a quiet soul?

Nikki

15:53
I have to admit, I am not a quiet soul. I am loud. I am a loud introvert. I mean, yeah, I may be an oxymoron. I may be a contradiction of all sorts. But yeah, so this one actually looks really good. It’s a workbook. And I’m looking forward to getting into it. And I’ll share what I think about it in our Facebook group.

Laura

16:20
Oh, that’d be great.

Nikki

16:21
Yeah, yeah. So yeah, Self Promotion for Introverts and Other Quiet or Not So Quiet Souls.

Laura

16:28
And we’ll put links to this in the show notes so everybody can see where they can get copies.

Nikki

16:32
Definitely. Okay, so Laura, what are our key takeaways here?

Laura

16:37
So I think we have three key takeaways from today’s episode.

Nikki

16:40
Don’t we always have three key takeaways?

Laura

16:41
Sometimes it’s two, sometimes it might be four. But today, we’ve got three.

Nikki

16:46
All right, let’s go for it.

Laura

16:49
So number one, it’s definitely possible to have a successful art business if you’re an introvert, you just may have to work a little bit harder to put yourself out there.

Nikki

17:00
Right. So what we can do is to slowly find ways to interact more with your followers and fans on social media. Show your face every once in a while. We’re working on that. As you know, from one of our previous episodes, my word of the year this year is courage. So I’m going to do my best to take that 10 seconds of courage that it’s going to take to put my face on video. To submit my artwork to art directors, which is another thing that I’ve also promised to do when we talked about our challenges. And in fact, I’ve just started the 100 days of submitting my art.

Laura

17:39
Awesome.

Nikki

17:40
So yeah, so I’m going to have to take that courage and put myself out there.

Laura

17:45
And then the third and final takeaway is allow yourself time to re-energize after big social events, marketing launches, pushes, so that you can get the juices flowing again.

Nikki

17:58
Yeah, and even if it’s not a big social event, even if it’s just, you know what, I took two minutes and posted something that scares me. And now I need to hibernate for 30 minutes to recover, take that time and don’t feel bad about it.

Laura

18:13
Exactly. So now it’s your turn. We’d love to hear from you. If you’re an introvert, share in the Startist Society Facebook group, the ways that you’re planning to put yourself out there. And if you’re an extrovert, what are some of the challenges that you’re facing in your art business?

Nikki

18:30
Go to startistsociety.com/introvert to check out today’s show notes where we provide a list of books that can help you grow and market your creative business, and just help make you feel better about being an introvert.

Laura

18:42
Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next week.

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