People don’t buy what you do or why you do it. They buy how it makes them feel.
When I heard Jiwa utter those words on a stage in Denver last year, I had an Aha! moment.
I had previously been sucked in by Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action (Start With Why):
People don’t buy what you do, or how you do it. They buy why you do it.
It’s a powerful message that is hard to disagree with, yet it fell short for many artists, who were paralyzed for months or years over the inability to nail their Why.
Jiwa’s quote adds clarification. People buy how it makes them feel.
©2016 Margaux Lange, Bust Heart Necklaces. Salvaged Barbie doll parts, sterling silver, and hand-pigmented resins, pendant measures 1.5 x 1.25 inches.
People buy your art because it makes them feel something.
To find your purpose (your why), all you have to do is remember the connection you are making with others through your art.
How Your Art Makes People Feel
We’re told so often that art is a form of self-expression that we’ve come to accept it. As I’ve been preaching for years, art – in its most powerful form – is a form of communication.
Your art is incomplete until others experience it. Until they feel. [Tweet this]
You are incomplete as an artist until you make these connections.
Some of the common reactions to art include:
Curiosity: I want to know more.
Peace: I am at home here.
Excitement: This is why I love to look at art!
Pride: I am so lucky to own and to live with this.
Acceptance: That’s nice.
Delight: I love this!
Intellectual: I want to figure this out.
Critical: My kid could have done that.
Befuddled: What the heck?! I don’t get this. (And I don’t want to.)
Dismissive: This isn’t for me.
The people who feel these last three responses aren’t your buyers, but aren’t they better than no response at all?
©Alisha K. Ard, Puddle Playtime. Acrylic on canvas, 7 x 5 inches. Private collection. Used with permission.
How You Make People Feel
You can’t control what people feel or that everyone will have some kind of reaction to your art, but you are completely in charge of how you interact in your relationships.
Your actions can lead people to question your professionalism or they can bolster confidence in you and your work.
If you are nervous, insecure, or intimidated in your dealings, people might begin to think that you don’t know what you’re doing.
On the other hand, if you are articulate, sharp, and knowledgeable, you are more likely to put potential collectors at ease.
Likewise, you earn points when you meet deadlines, respond promptly to requests, and listen to others’ needs.
How does your art make people feel?
How do you make people feel in your dealings with them?