Friday, October 22, 2010


     It’s a one-word answer that artists rarely use.  I know, we are the sensitive types who don’t want to walk on others’ feelings.  But if you want to produce good work, adding “No” to your vocabulary is a must.
     “Time-stealers” come in several categories, and I’ve broken today’s post into the three that torpedo me the most: 

     The Drop-By
     This is usually an art appreciator in some regard; however, they rarely purchase anything and there is no clear purpose to their visit.  To say they are the “art groupie” type sounds a bit vain, but it’s the best description of this type of time-stealer.  They actually get more enjoyment by knowing an artist, than by purchasing the artist’s work.  If you don’t know these folks, don’t worry, you will.  They are masters of their craft.
     Many times, they will bring their friends to meet you during their extended visit.  Kiss your next 2-½ hours good-bye because the DROP-BYS don’t take subtleties or hints at all.  Consider going to lunch or providing a free print to move them on their way; but start working towards the door as soon as they arrive or you might still have them at nightfall.
     I write this hesitantly, because I do welcome sincerely interested art appreciators to my studio at anytime.  They often bring a fresh infusion of encouragement and motivation.  But the Drop-By never calls and never knows when to leave.

     The Hangout
     These guys mistake your art studio for a saddle shop.  They put you down as a stop to be made on a routine basis, and if I owned a saddle shop, they might be good to have around.  But trying to make painting decisions with three of your closest hunting or roping buddies is no way to create good art.  The Hangout generally doesn’t get what you do, or what it takes to do what you do, so clearing your room is going to be uncomfortable and awkward.  Being up front and direct is the best way.  They don’t mean to, but The Hangout gang will suck the life out of your creativity.  Handle it!

     The Favor Gang
     This group works together as a collective.  They don’t realize it, but combined, they are death by a thousand cuts for a producer.  One wants you to do a small painting for his business card; another for his mother’s 34th divorce anniversary…. Did you know the high school in town needs a muralist for “Oklahoma” sets?  The production is next week!  This is where the magic word “NO” comes in. 
     Some of the folks just expect you’ll do it because they know you.  You must have them put some skin in the game or you will resent what they’ve done to your work schedule.  Trade, barter, or give them a reduced price, but freebies will again suck the artistic life from you.

     The truth is, these people are fans and generally appreciate you for your abilities.  And some decorum is necessary, as we all want to be civil in these matters.
     But your time is all you have.  Don’t let trivialities use up this prime time of your artistic life.  Set some ground rules and hold fast.
All content © Mark Kohler Studio.



  1. Amen Brother! I was in my 30's when I realized that I was incapable of saying no. So I began to practice saying it, meaning it, using it. Now I'm an old pro. (altho I am still often trapped by The Hangouts, I just don't open the door to the Drop Ins)

  2. Who wouldn't want to come hang out with you? And by the way, we'll be dropping in on Tuesday, so please open the door!