There is no single success formula that works for every artist, but every artist needs some sense of order in their business and life so that they’re ready to respond to opportunities that come along. My guest for this episode is Maria Brito, award-winning New York-based contemporary art advisor, curator and the bestselling author of How Creativity Rules The World. A Harvard graduate, originally from Venezuela, Brito has been selected by Complex Magazine as one of the 20 Power Players in the Art World. She has also been named by ARTnews as one of the visionaries who gets to shape the art world.
Maria has worked to demystify the art world for people who might be otherwise intimidated to enter a gallery, and is an advocate for democratizing the art world for artists and collectors who might be interested in buying art but are not ready to spend tens of thousands of dollars. Maria shares how she works with artists, galleries, and collectors and why she thinks there has never been a better time to be an artist. You won’t want to miss her tips about Instagram and why you can’t afford to ignore this valuable platform.
Maria’s career was born from what is missing in the art world. (2:35)
Democratizing and demystifying the art world. (6:29)
Making your own rules when using the free marketing tools of Instagram. (12:32)
There is more than one right way to be an artist. (16:06)
Maria’s daily interactions with artists. (19:20)
How does Maria decide which artist offerings to pursue? (24:22)
The role that a curated Instagram feed plays in discovering artists. (30:24)
Additional online details that attract Maria to an artist. (35:27)
Curiosity and the original artist's mind. (46:36)
“One of the things that helped me succeed was that I was so interested in portraying artists in a different light.” — Maria Brito
“We have to acknowledge that, for the most part, these buckets of technology have definitely helped us democratize and streamline and find clients and find collectors that otherwise would be impossible.” — Maria Brito
“There hasn’t been a better time in history to be an artist.” — Maria Brito
Being able to have control over how you present your message is just a gift.” — Maria Brito
“Artists have to treat their Instagram account as their own gallery.” — Maria Brito
“The point of being curious is to find more opportunities.” — Maria Brito
Maria Brito is an award-winning New York-based contemporary art advisor, curator and the bestselling author of How Creativity Rules The World. A Harvard graduate, originally from Venezuela, Brito has been selected by Complex Magazine as one of the 20 Power Players in the Art World she was named by ARTnews as one of the visionaries who gets to shape the art world. She has written for publications such as Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Elle, Forbes, Artnet, Cultured Magazine, Departures, and more. In 2019, she launched “Jumpstart”, an online program on creativity that has been taken by over 1000 people ranging from artists to entrepreneurs.
There’s always plenty to be learned from artists who have been making a go of it for decades. Just think about how much has changed in 30 years! In this episode of The Art Biz, my guest is Willie Cole, a self-described perceptual engineer with an impressive list of collaborations under his belt and even more in the works. Together we talk about the faith he has in his work as a result of being consistent throughout the years. And why he says work is a bad word and prefers to approach his studio in the spirit of play.
We discussed his art and why he challenges people to perceive recognizable objects, like shoes and musical instruments, in new ways. You’ll hear how one of his Instagram posts — where he mocked up his art as if to appear on the cover of Vogue — led to collaborations with major fashion brands. Such opportunities continue coming his way, which might be the result of his faith in his practice. Spoiler: Visualizing success plays a role.
Willie calls himself a perceptual engineer, but what exactly does that mean? (3:12)
The importance (if any) of showing the materials Willie uses to create his work, including 75 cut-up guitars. (5:35)
“Planning makes it feel too much like a job.” How Willie approaches his work instead. (11:02)
A peek inside Willie’s studio. (13:58)
Work is a bad word, but play can make your business better every day. (15:55)
Staying in a playful mindset in every stage of production. (19:15)
The value of improvisation and the value of not knowing everything. (21:08)
Willie feels like the luckiest business person in America. (23:40)
The business-minded people that makeup Willie’s team and insights into his collaborations. (25:36)
Propelling yourself forward in spite of your fears. (35:24)
The difference between fashion industry collaborations and gallery relationships. (37:51)
The music on Willie’s current playlist and what is coming up next in his work. (40:28)
“Play is play, and the opposite of play, I guess, would be work.” — Willie Cole
“It becomes work rather than play when it becomes a money-making business.” — Willie Cole
“Knowing has limitations because once you find something, you only see it as that.” — Willie Cole
“I feel like the luckiest business person in America.” — Willie Cole
“When passion marries intention and it can be monetized, it’s work but it’s also just joy.” — Willie Cole
“To proceed with confidence and fearlessness, I have to believe that opportunities connect.” — Willie Cole
“Connections open up so many doors, they keep the fear way behind me.” — Willie Cole
Willie Cole calls himself a perceptual engineer. Whether he is using the symbolism of a steam iron or the shapes of high fashion shoes and recognizable musical instruments, he challenges how we look at things. While he has had solo exhibitions at esteemed institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art, Miami Art Museum, and Montclair Art Museum, Willie embraces nontraditional avenues for his work, such as collaborations with major fashion brands. He is represented by Alexander and Bonin Gallery in New York, Maus Contemporary Gallery (Alabama), Gavlak Gallery (Los Angeles/Florida), and Kavi Gupta Gallery (Chicago). Willie lives and works in New Jersey.