Your Work Doesn’t Speak for Itself

It was only after that decision that people started seeing things through my eyes. They started comprehending the value of art – the effects of color, the harmonizing of life through good design, the pleasure a painting or sculpture could bring . . .

Loving ‘painting’ with’ my pastels

I’m a stone carver, painter, author and book designer— among other things — and I used to say, “I hate marketing!”

I thought the very idea of marketing was disgusting. I thought you had to be a sleaze-bag in order to do it. It was too hypey, something beneath me, and that it was a waste of valuable carving, painting, or writing time.

I felt ashamed and embarrassed if I talked about myself
or my artwork or books in front of people.

The old ingrained conditioning I had as a girl — little girls should be seen and not heard, and preferably not even seen — would kick in, and I’d become a stiff, mute plank. Paralyzed with terror of being punished for even being visible. And worse —

I had this deep belief that ‘my work should speak for itself.’

I held my head high, arrogantly proud that I wasn’t dipping my pure, unsullied fingers into the ugly morass of selling!

But surprise-surprise! In conversations with people, I found out, much to my horror, that they had no idea what my work was saying at all!

My work was mute! The artwork wasn’t saying a thing to them!

Some people immediately ‘got it,’ but most did not.

Upon realizing that, my heart plummeted to the bottom of the sea. I became discouraged and end-myself-depressed. I wanted desperately to give up. But this stubborn streak inside of me just wouldn’t give up.

I learned how to use EFT/tapping to erase that garbage from my mind.

I decided to be fearless and find out how to talk about my artwork.

It was only after that decision that people started seeing things through my eyes. They started comprehending the value of art – the effects of color, the harmonizing of life through good design, the pleasure a painting or sculpture could bring.

I finally relented. I began taking marketing lessons.

I slowly learned that people actually liked it when I talked about myself! They loved to hear about how much I love the stone — all different kinds — and the zany adventures I’ve had when I went to carve in Italy, Canada, New Zealand and all over the USA.

I began to talk about what it feels like to carve — the actual physical sensations in my hands and arms, how powerful, exciting, scary and pleasing all of that is, all at the same time –

… the amazing sounds the various tools make on the different kinds of stone; how, being fairly small compared to some of the behemoth carving men I know, I struggle with the sheer weight of the stone; how much harder it is to carve a small piece than a bigger one –

… how different kinds of stone have vastly different personalities, sounds, colors, grains, fissures, strength or fragility –

… how some kinds of stone will quite literally eat your tools up in one swallow if you’re not careful; or how the tools almost dance out of your hands with other kinds of stone –

… what satisfaction carving brings me; how each piece evokes emotions; how so many wonderful, different ideas and thoughts come to my mind as I get into the zone as I carve –

I realized that marketing is just bringing your work
to the marketplace, and enjoying talking about it with others.

It’s just putting your work on a table in the bazaar, or in a booth at the fair, or featuring it in your store.

Making it available for people to SEE it, be aware of it, understand its value. See if it fits for them and their lives.

In a funny twist, I suddenly thought, if you make things
and don’t serve people with what you make, what use is it?

It came to me that, maybe my art wasn’t selling all that much because I felt so empty inside that I needed to hoard it, not allow it to go out into the world. I was ‘eating’ it with my eyes, and it fed my soul. I thought.

Do you do that? Do you selfishly hoard your art or other creative work? Why? Does your work sit on a shelf somewhere and gather dust while the people it could help or bring pleasure to are deprived of it? What a shame!

If it feeds you energetically, it will certainly feed others.

Once I started allowing my work to go out into the world, the most amazing thing happened — the emptiness inside of me filled up. I got more out of someone having and enjoying my art than I ever did by holding onto it.

I no longer hate marketing!

Truth: I don’t enjoy all the behind the scenes details I have to do to make my work publicly available, but — when I think of someone going without something I make that would help them heal, or improve their life, or bring beauty to their world, all of a sudden I feel grateful that I can market my work, especially on such a huge global scale.

So now I’m no longer shy about talking about my work with people.

That’s the essence of marketing — having conversations.

Being in conversation means getting to know people, what they love, what they need and want and Dream of … and how you can serve them with the products and services you create with your gifts, talents, knowledge, skills and expertise.

Being in conversation and finding out about people means that, even if your work isn’t a fit for them, you can still keep an eye out for that product or service that is a fit — and then let them know about it. How they love you when you do that!!!

Marketing — conversations, making friends, serving others,
allowing others to serve us — actually builds community.

That’s how we can all keep on keeping on — by realizing that it’s never about money — it’s about the value of what we do. And that our unique talents and gifts weren’t given to us to keep for ourselves, but to serve others, to brighten their lives, as well as own own.


Your Work Doesn’t Speak for Itself
Image: Painting with My Pastels
© Angela Treat Lyon 2021
Text: © Angela Treat Lyon 2023


Thanks for reading — I hope you enjoyed it, and I hope that you maybe got goosed a wee bit to taking action on marketing that work you do!

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