A “Formula” for Success

Enjoying a much needed rain during Arts in the Park, Aberdeen SD.  I’ve been telling all the farmers, “if you want it to rain, just host an art fair…..”

Greetings friends and fans….

Whew, the last few weeks have been a whirlwind of festivals and prep work for festivals, but my first three shows of the season are under my belt and I’m feeling good about the coming months….. (with of course a few notable setbacks that I’m not going to address here.)  I’m back on the road this weekend for the Independence Day holiday, celebrating July fourth in Mandan ND at their Arts in the Park.  Then it’s on to the Brookings Summer Arts Festival, and Festival in the Park in Spearfish, SD.  Hope to see some friends there!!

My last seven days have been consumed with thoughts about the notion of a ‘Formula for Success’, and how this idea my apply to an artist with a short attention span….

About a week ago, Sheldon and I took in a concert at The Aquarium in Fargo; a small venue with a reputation for booking notable local bands; some shitty, but also some enormously talented national acts like The Heartless Bastards and Ryan Bingham.  On Thursday night, we saw the band Electric Six (along with three opening acts that played before them).

Immediately I was mesmerized by their lead singer, and the effortless way in which he ‘owned’ the stage.  Even though he’d undoubtedly performed this routine before, every narrative between each song seemed fresh and new.  It was clear that the lead singer was a born entertainer, and right away I noted that he reminded me of another favorite, Country Dick Montana from the Beat Farmers.  These men are Entertainers with a capital E.

Each has a formula for success and they play their parts flawlessly.

I noticed early on in the show that every song by Electric Six sounds a little bit the same.  It’s funny how some bands can get away with using the same simple formula to create multiple appealing songs.  In fact, most successful bands that we hear on popular radio have simply found a formula that works for them and repeated it a bunch of times.  They’ve cracked the code.

Since watching Electric Six at The Aquarium, I have spent a great deal of time wondering about my formula success.   I’m not a person who can convincingly deliver memorized lines.  Everything I do comes with a degree of authenticity.  I can’t really see myself creating the same type of artwork over and over; I get bored easily and I wouldn’t be content repeating even the most enjoyable of tasks if I had to do them every day.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a formula to success that could work for me, and I am sort of on a mission to find it now.  In the seven days since I was first inspired by Electric Six, here is what I’ve figured out so far.

Step 1:  Learn Things..

Since I don’t have a clue about anything yet, I decided to start where I usually go when I need to learn something new…. podcasts.

I found a few podcasts by working artists, and started to gather tips that were consistently mentioned or ideas that sounded interesting for someone like me.  Some seeds that have been planted: set up a schedule, stay organized, and create an environment that inspires the work I want to create.  These sounded like no brainers, and some of this stuff I’ve been meaning to implement anyway, so I got to work ‘creating an inspiring environment’ today.


I painted my studio walls white, and am in the process of adding additional lighting and more functional furniture.  It’s pretty dark and dreary down here in the hole………

Step 2:  Create an Inspiring Environment that I can’t wait to work in.

My studio is in a basement with an open floor plan.  When my brother and I moved to this house like 8 years ago, I was in awe at the amount of space that I had for work and storage, and I was certain I would never fill it.  Well…. it’s only a few short years later and I am already wanting to build garden sheds for storing my art booth items; I’m wondering what part of the basement should be office space, how much room needs to be open for hunters to camp out in the fall, and where to put the items we’ve listed on eBay (they should NOT be anywhere near where I am painting………)

I have been meaning to ‘get organized’ for years – I’m simply really bad at it.  I would rather do literally anything other than tidy up or clean.

But, every so often, I get into little Suzy Homemaker mode, and I actually want to spend time making our living space more functional or cute…. the caveat is that I have to do it all for basically free.  During high school and in college, I used to really enjoy doing interior design work, and I spent a great deal of time personalizing whatever space I was in to make it feel like my own.  I haven’t done that to the house that my brother and I moved into in 2010; I haven’t decorated Sheldon’s house, nor any other house in over 10 years.

Last weekend Sheldon and I were shopping at Home Depot, and I saw a deep red rug, very rich in color.  It caught my eye, and even though it was just a material thing that doesn’t matter in life, I found myself really drawn to that rug.  I just liked it, and the rug seems to have awakened something inside of me.  I feel like I want to decorate now, and I’m starting with my studio….


Step 3:  Be Consistent.

Be consistent in updating content on the website.  This has been a constant in any podcast that I’ve listened to in the last few days.  I need to be better about keeping people informed on the work that I do, and work on growing my fan base and online following.


Loca (Stinker McButt) LOVES the new shelf under this window that she’s not had access to before….

Most Importantly……….  Enjoy it All.

‘Be present in the moment.’  For the last two days my brother has been cooking meals for me.  He sets out condiments and puts aside a clean plate with silverware; often times he tells me a detail about each condiment or ingredient so I can know what I’m getting myself into before trying something new.  He’s a great brother and he looks out for me where he can.  Today I told him that he has a happier sister when he keeps her fed.  We joke around together, and I am thankful to have him around.

When I was working up in Jamestown, I felt really inspired by my studio space and my surroundings.  I have always HATED white walls, but while in Jamestown I realized what a difference white walls make in a studio, along with proper lighting.  My current studio space just isn’t working, and some changes need to be made.

So, I’m taking a few days off to rearrange.  I painted my studio corner white tonight and added additional lighting.  Furniture will be rearranged tomorrow, with some new items being added that were found at clean up week this year, and some office furniture that I haven’t used since the last house we lived in will be repurposed in a functional way.

I’m sure when I get this project completed, I’ll wonder why I didn’t start on it years ago.  The answer is simple; I thought I would be moving (and I still hope that happens soon).  I thought that this was just a landing place while I help my brother get his life going after he suffered a traumatic brain injury, and I assumed I wouldn’t be here long.  Well, it’s 8 years later and here I still am, so like it or not I might as well ‘bloom where I’m planted’ as cousin Marilyn says.

Things are moving slowly, but they’re looking up.  I may find my formula for success after all!


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