The Needs of an Artist

Everything we do, we do as an attempt to meet a NEED.

What could those needs be?


In essence, your Needs equal your Life Force, it’s what you want in your life.

It’s what you want in your Art and Creativity.

When you think of your painting, or music, or words, what is the Need behind your Art?

When your brush hits the canvas, or you strum your strings, what is it you are truly needing?

Could it be:

The list is long, and energetic.  We can’t actually grasp “contribution” with our hands, but we can grasp the actions we take to achieve them.

That’s where Strategy comes in.  Strategy is what you do to meet your Need.

So, what the heck am I talking about?

Allow me to introduce you to something that will revolutionize not only your Art, but your Creative Life.

Non-Violent Communication, or NVC.


Two weekends ago, I sat in a large studio in midtown Manhattan with 50 other people for a NVC Discovery Weekend.

“NVC shows us a way of being very honest, without any criticism, insults, or put-downs, and without an intellectual diagnosis implying wrongness.”
Creator, Marshall Rosenberg

No insults, put-downs, or wrongness….oh wow, I know those!

The irony of the location of the workshop was not lost on me.  I was actually sitting in a studio I had auditioned in many times.

When I took a bathroom break, I walked by a room that was being set up with a clipboard outside that read,

Les Miserable Tour

Many memories returned, of standing here in this same hallway with my audition book, wearing my best outfits, hair and makeup done just right….all to walk into the room to dance or sing my guts out.

And for the first time, I had a new question for myself,
What were MY needs?

Or the even better question,
Were my needs being MET in my audition process?

The answer that returned, was a big NO.

Are YOUR needs being met in your Creative Process?

To walk down these hallways as a coach instead of a performer was slightly odd, and yet, incredible.  As I saw singers arrive for their auditions, I felt like I actually understood them better.

I felt like I actually understood MYSELF better, the past “me”  standing outside the audition room with my heart in my throat.

I definitely had strategies to meet those needs for my auditions, but I wasn’t fully aware WHAT my needs were.

I was shooting in the dark, and judging myself in the process. If I couldn’t relax and ground before going in to sing, I just decided something was wrong with me.  And while there were so many auditions I felt like I nailed and did fantastic, those really big “make it or break it” moments seemed so out of my control.  I would feel the pressure, and go out of my body, not singing or dancing at the level I was capable of.

Sound familiar?
Do you feel like you are banging your head against the wall in your Art right now and not seeing the results you want?

Here’s a lifeline:
There are 10,000 ways to meet a need once it’s been identified. And the way to identify your Need is through something we Creatives have easier access to than others….our Feelings.

The process breaks down like this:
1) Observation: take a pause for a second, coming out of self judgement and actually observe what is going on for you in the moment
2) Feeling: Identify what you are actually feeling.  This could be anxious, overwhelmed, frustrated, or hopeless
3) Need: Identify the Need that is not being met
4) Request: Make a request of yourself or another to meet this need


A body in judgement feels very different than a body in connection.

A body in connection…YOUR body in connection is going to produce Art that resonates, collaborations that thrive, and an audience that returns again and again.

So, why wouldn’t you want to know what your needs are?

There has been a negative connotation around Needs, especially around the Arts.  Nobody likes to hear, “you are SO needy!”  Or we can attach a judgement on our needs that by having them we are actually weak.

But, I’m offering a new way to look at this.  If your Needs are actually the impulses of life, we are then connecting with what we are honestly longing for.

Imagine creating your Art from there.
Imagine how inspiring THAT energy will be for your audience.

Let me ask you, do you want to be the author of your life?

Take a look today at your Creative Process, the work you are putting out to the world, and ask,
Does this meet my Needs?

If not, look at your dissatisfactions and make decisions based on your Needs, based on your life energy. Imagine making decisions and implementing strategies that are non-harming to you, and free of judgement. No more beating yourself up!

Doesn’t that feel better?

We have enough challenges as Creatives in these turbulent times. Imagine a way to increase your ability to live with choice, meaning, and connection.

Isn’t that why you became an Artist in the first place?

So, consider this an introduction.

And, to help you in the process, here is the free NVC official Needs List: CLICK HERE

I have this sheet with me at all times, and it has been a lifesaver for me AND my clients.

Try it…next time you are feeling frustrated in your Art.  Grab the Needs sheet, identify what isn’t being met, and connect with a new strategy.

You may be surprised at what you find, and what you create.


Be curious.  In curiosity, you may actually get what you want.

Your Marker Map

I’m drowning in a pool…..and I can’t swim.

This is how it can feel sometimes, right?

We have so much on our plate as Creatives.  Not only producing our work, but the marketing, the pricing, the collaborations, and relationship building.  And then what about research and education….and having fun??

Didn’t you get into this field because you LOVE it?

So, you find yourself binge watching Gilmore Girls  on Netflix for a whole weekend and in the corner sits your:

Unfinished script or novel
Half painted canvas
Memory card that needs to be uploaded to your Hard Drive
Website ideas
Book full of songs to be learned

And while it may feel good at the outset when you watch the first episode, once it’s all over you are right back where you started and no closer to receiving the acclaim you desire with your Art.

The reason?


I get it!  We’ve all been there.  Just like my client, Nadine.

Nadine is forming this amazing Non for Profit aimed to empower teenage girls through art and dance.  However, in order to launch this project, she needs to line up funding, sponsors and donors.  And to do this, she needs to be able to lay out the program and also be able to speak about the program clearly and succinctly.

She came to our coaching call saying,

Nikol, I feel like I’m in a pool and all the things I need to think about are these little rings all around me….and I can’t swim!


I began by saying,

First of all, the water is warm, like bath water.  Secondly, you are now sitting very comfortably in a float, with a cooling drink.  Now, from HERE, what do you see?

I took Nadine out of a threatening situation and gave her a safe vantage point where she could actually LOOK at all the elements that were important to her.

What happened next was magical.

Not only did Nadine then clearly share all she was seeing, she was able to clearly lay out a full format for her program, and when I reflected it back to her, her eyes widened.

She actually had all she needed already….it was just obstructed by the Overwhelm.

When she got off the phone, she smiled widely at me and said,

Nikol, I’m out of the pool now and I know exactly what I need to do next.

And this all happened within 30 minutes.  Imagine making a shift that quickly.

What could that mean for your Art?
What could that mean for your Career?


So, in order to make the shift, let’s begin with what actually occurs in Overwhelm.

1) Things pile up in our life
2) We can’t see. Our sight becomes affected because ALL we see is the pile, and nothing else.  Our view narrows.
3) We believe the only answer is to shut down and stop all action
4) We then disconnect from the situation we believe is causing the Overwhelm
5) In disconnecting from the situation, we actually disconnect from ourselves and what is really going on underneath

And this cycle repeats again and again, and keeps us from achieving our Dreams.

So, what can you DO?

You can:
1) Get it out of your head.  When things are swirling constantly in our heads, you can feel like you are on a loop and going crazy.
2) Translate ALL that is around the issue that is giving you Overwhelm
3) Give your Overwhelm a Voice
4) Come into the Observer, releasing attachment to your current state and identification.

Have you ever heard yourself say,
I AM Overwhelmed?

When we make these kind of “I AM” statements, we are believing we are fixed and unchanging, and the situation is fixed and unchanging.  We have identified with our state.

But here’s the good news…..change is a constant.  Your emotions rise and fall, and your state changes throughout the day.  You are becoming and changing in every moment.

You may be experiencing Overwhelm, but it is only a piece of your experience and not the totality of who you are as a glorious Artist.

And as an Artist, guess what you have readily available to you?


So, let’s grab some markers and a blank sheet of paper.

Ready to play?

The way to shift your Overwhelm quickly is through a really fun tool called a Mind Map. And this is what I used with Nadine and with all my clients.

According to Wikipedia:
“A Mind Map is a diagram used to visually organize information.  A  mind map is hierarchical and shows relationships among pieces of the whole.  It is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words, and parts of words are added.  Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.”

The Mind Map was first popularized by British popular psychology author and TV personality Tony Buzan, but has been traced back as far as the 3rd century by a noted thinker visualizing concepts of Aristotle.

Clearly it works.

Buzan brought this term to the general public with a series he hosted on the BBC TV back in the early 1970’s called Use Your Head, promoting the concept of a tree-like structure and “radial thinking”.

Buzan was really highlighting the concept of non-linear thinking.  Which, as Creatives and Artists, we can all relate to, right?

This is a gift of the Creative Process…..non-lineation.  So, why not use it to address our Overwhelm?

Why not Use Your Head to free up the resistance that is stopping you? And do it in a fun and Creative Way?

So, grab those markers, and that blank sheet of paper, and in the middle of the page, write down that thing that overwhelms you, or that project that you so deeply want to complete.

Try these guidelines:

1) Start in the center with your project or the cause of your overwhelm
2) Use images, symbols, codes, and dimensions throughout your mind map
3) Don’t edit, and let everything come out onto the paper
4) Develop your own personal style

This is a great opportunity.

It is actually WHERE we shut down that we have the opportunity to learn.  We’ve made something HUGE and it just needs to be broken down, into small manageable pieces, so we can actually SEE it.

The mind map is a visual tool that allows the swirl of your mind and the blindness that occurs to calm, and for you to actually gain understanding.  You will be able to lessen your anxiety and create one step moving forward.

Because, just like Nadine…you actually have ALL you need within.  You’ve just lost sight of it.

So, grab your markers.

What do you SEE?

Post your Answers and Mind Maps Below!