Before the internet, artists were completely dependent on others to show and sell their work. We need to take a moment every now and then to be grateful for having the world at our fingertips. For being able to instantly send images of our art out into the world. For friends around the globe we would never have met 30 years ago.
In this episode, I talk with artist Barbara Muir, who is unabashedly happy about being online. She reminds us of all the good things that happen because we are so connected. Key topics:
To see images, full show notes, and leave a comment, visit https://artbizsuccess.com/muir-online-podcast
Want to make sure you stay connected online and off? Check out The PEOPLE PLAN: A Success Workshop to Establish Strategic Connections for Your Art Biz. https://artbizsuccess.com/peopleplan
In this episode of The Art Biz, I’m joined by Kristen O’Neill, a team member of mine and an accomplished artist who recently created a 30-day daily art lesson challenge for her online followers. But in the end, it may have been more of a challenge for her than it was for the participants. Kristen and I discuss what she hoped to get from this challenge, how she organized it, how much of it was planned ahead, and what her workflow was like—including all of the platforms she used to share the content—and most importantly, what she would do differently if she were to do it again.
Details of Kristen’s 30-Day Art Challenge and what she hoped to get out of it. (1:29)
How Kristen shared the challenge while honoring her email list expectations. (6:10)
Creating and organizing a workflow that worked all month long. (10:42)
The time commitment and unexpected challenges behind the challenge. (16:35)
Lessons learned from the challenges of this challenge. (22:25)
Staying motivated and accountable throughout a challenge. (27:52)
Tracking the participation, success, and results of the challenge. (30:15)
The value of Pinterest for artists. (38:30)
What Kristen would do differently next time. (41:07)
This Week’s Action
Your assignment this week is to consider how you are stretching yourself in and out of the studio these days.
“I’m always looking for different opportunities and ways to reach out to more students and interact with more painters.” — Kristen O’Neill
“It’s really important to honor what you say you’re going to do with your list.” — Kristen O’Neill
“I picked up lessons more quickly than had I done the same amount of work spread over a longer period of time.” — Kristen O’Neill
“If you haven’t figured out your system ahead of time, it’s going to be harder than it needs to be.” — Kristen O’Neill
“Often we spend so much time guessing what is the right way to do something, and we could put that energy into just doing it.” — Kristen O’Neill
About My Guest
Kristen O’Neill paints the essence of landscapes based on real locations, including those from recent collaborations with long-distance hikers. Her Oregon Coast Trail series was featured in a solo exhibition at the Grants Pass Museum of Art.
Kristen graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and now lives in Southern Oregon where she has become passionate about teaching art. She teaches both online and in-person, leads a field trip program that has taught art history to thousands of 5th graders, and is an Artist Mentor for Alyson Stanfield’s community since 2018.
With nobody going anywhere in the spring of 2020, I contacted artist friends Lisa Call and Janice McDonald to see if they wanted to gather regularly to discuss art documentaries. Our little “club,” such as it is, was in business.
To date, we have met 57 times to discuss the art documentaries together. It’s important that we are reminded we’re part of something bigger than ourselves and what goes on behind the closed doors of our studios.
In this solo episode I talk about why we do this as a group, where you can find art documentaries, how we stay organized, why it's important to diversify our selections, and how our conversations work. At the end I mention some of my favorite films.
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed was nominated for an Oscar this year. (1:24)
We need to be reminded that we’re part of a global art world. (2:57)
What art history has taught me. (3:42)
Why do this in a group? (4:52)
Where to find art documentaries. (5:38)
Why Kanopy is our top resource for art documentaries. (7:19)
Our 2 lists for art documentaries. (9:24)
Why diversity is important to us. (11:16)
How our regular conversations work. (13:14)
Good v. Bad documentaries—there is always something to be learned. (15:17)
Some recommended art documentaries to start with. (17:19)
All films are linked on the accompanying post
Four years ago on a beautiful January day in Colorado, I attended an art destruction party. Two artists were slowing down in their production and wanted to ensure that subpar work wasn’t left for family to deal with. Nor did they want their names associated with that work. Although I’ve been imploring artists for decades to get rid of work they think isn’t of the highest quality, it was still difficult to smash that first pot and tear that first watercolor.
In this episode of The Art Biz I talk with Heather K. Powers, an artist and professional organizer. She and I wanted to start a dialogue about planning for your legacy. It’s a tough conversation because it means confronting your mortality. This conversation is especially important for artists, who make things that take up physical space. How do you categorize those things? What kind of records need to be kept? And what, if anything, should be destroyed, reworked, or donated. These are difficult questions and will vary from artist to artist, but it is such an important part of planning your art legacy. My conversation with Heather can help you get started.
First posted: artbizsuccess.com/death-powers-podcast
Normalizing conversations about your death and legacy. (2:10)
Heather’s coaching process includes getting more comfortable talking about death. (6:48)
What do you value in your legacy? How can artists better prepare their legacy for after death? (10:28)
Finding the value of clutter requires understanding and compassion. (15:27)
Destroying the artwork that you don’t want to be known for. (19:19)
Define the value of each level of your work so you can better process it. (24:55)
Tools and resources to help document your art. (32:32)
This Week’s Action
Your assignment this week is to start thinking about your legacy. Eventually you will need to prioritize the tasks necessary, but you can’t do it all at once. Take one of these steps: Sign up for Artwork Archive, update your inventory, finally recycle that work you don’t want to show up under your name, have a conversation with your family about your wishes, or declutter a space.
“Death is a normal part of life, but the more we put off thinking or talking about it the more uncomfortable it becomes.” — Heather K. Powers
“We can take into our own hands what is important to us as a generation and pass it on to the next generation.” — Heather K. Powers
“What do you value in your legacy? And what do you perceive might be of value to others? Those things are often not in alignment.” — Heather K. Powers
“Start early and keep good records. It doesn’t have to be that complicated.” — Heather K. Powers
“When we get rid of work one way or another, we make space for new work to come in.” — Heather K. Powers
About My Guest
With a BFA in Fiber from Savannah College of Art and Design, Heather Powers has had a productive career as a textile designer—collaborating on worldwide projects in various capacities.
In 2010, she launched her design and professional organizing business. Her work as an organizer places her among artists, craftspeople, and collectors, which gives her an intimate understanding of how individuals retain use and live with material culture.
In 2021, Heather graduated with an MFA in Critical Craft. She continues to research textile history, weave, and use natural dye techniques in which her work investigates memory, place, and identity themes through discarded vintage ephemera and materials.
The vast majority of the marketing we do is passive. We send emails, post to social media, and broadcast podcast episodes. Then we wait and hope for positive results.
For better results, activate your marketing by thinking of all the ways you can communicate on a personal level. Yes, active marketing requires more work, but I promise you’ll get better results and enjoy it more.
In this solo episode, I walk you through how you can activate your marketing for 5 art business scenarios.
Grow Your List on-demand learning program at Art Biz Success
Creating a Content Calendar short $30 workshop at Art Biz Success
Create Opportunities on-demand learning program at Art Biz Success
Dancing Deer Baking Company for sending baked goods in he mail
We’ve spent many months worried about inflation and a possible recession that may not ever happen. It would be terrific if we didn’t have to concern ourselves with such things, but the economy affects everyone’s business in one way or another.
Today’s guest on The Art Biz is Elaine Grogan Luttrull of Minerva Financial Arts, a company devoted to building financial literacy and empowerment in creative individuals through education and coaching. We recorded this episode several months ago when the economic landscape seemed a little bleaker than it does now. This is a lesson in economics and how your art business is affected by the larger economy. We define and discuss inflation, recession, the Consumer Price Index, and Gross Domestic Product. We talk about your revenue mix, why selling lower-priced items might not be the way to go right now, bundling, and raising your rates and prices.
Defining inflation and its effect on every aspect of pricing. (1:50)
What exactly is a recession and what role do rising interest rates play? (5:35)
The impact of these economic factors on artists. (12:48)
Combating uncertainty with effective business strategies. (15:32)
Your target client in times of economic uncertainty. (20:05)
Opportunities that are presented in challenging times. (24:16)
Consider potentially terrible ideas to get to the good ones. (33:03)
Seven strategies for artists to use during inflation and recession. (33:04)
This Week’s Action
Your first action for the week is to look at your expenses and see where you might be able to save. I suggest keeping a list of all ongoing subscriptions as well as regular expenses and reviewing it every so often.
Your second action is to check out Elaine’s $15 course on inflation and recession by following the link below.
“Inflation is not always a pleasant topic. It’s scary, it takes up our brain space, and it’s a distraction from what we really need to be doing creatively in our businesses.” — Elaine Luttrull
“All of the strategies we typically think about for coping with the uncertainty of the arts are suddenly being impacted too.” — Elaine Luttrull
“Think carefully. Do your research and talk to peers about how things feel in the art market right now.” — Elaine Luttrull
“When the market is doing interesting things is the moment to really focus on the community aspect.” — Elaine Luttrull
“Anything we can do to reassess and tighten our spending without compromising quality or making our lives harder is a really good strategy right now.” — Elaine Luttrull
“Artists are better than pretty much anyone else at navigating uncertainty, so we’ll navigate all of this as well and keep making really incredible work too.” — Elaine Luttrull
About My Guest
Elaine Grogan Luttrull, CPA-PFS, AFC® (she/her) is the founder of Minerva Financial Arts, a company devoted to building financial literacy and empowerment in creative individuals through education and coaching. Her workshops and presentations have been featured nationally by groups that support the arts, a variety of state and regional arts councils and commissions, and colleges and universities where creative students thrive.
Elaine spent 10 years in academia, teaching at the Columbus College of Art & Design and serving as the Department Head for Business & Entrepreneurship from 2014-2018. Before that, Elaine served as the Director of Financial Analysis for The Juilliard School and in the Transaction Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young in New York. Elaine is the author of Arts & Numbers (Agate, B2 2013), and she contributes regularly to industry guides, including those from the Center for Cultural Innovation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation. She also serves on the boards of the Short North Alliance and Healing Broken Circles.
The sales process is rarely discussed in artist circles. We often think of sales as a single step. Either someone buys your art or they don’t. There’s’ so much more to it. Yet, many of us think of sales as a dirty word, which is a bit ridiculous if we want to grow our businesses and careers. Artists need to adopt a new mindset surrounding sales in order to be successful.
My guest on this episode of The Art Biz is Miriam Schulman, artist and founder of the Inspiration Place, where she helps other artists learn how to profit from their passion or become better artists. Miriam is the author of Artpreneur: The Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Sustainable Living from Your Creativity. In this conversation, Miriam and I review her Artpreneur Sales Playbook and 10-step sales process.
Miriam’s struggle with sales, despite her background in finance. (3:30)
The evolution from general sales and marketing to effective art sales. (6:56)
Curating your valuable contacts list. (9:05)
The importance of mindset in sales success. (12:30)
Developing a confident belief in the value of your art. (14:47)
The first 5 steps of selling your art. (21:05)
Body language, previewing the process, and establishing the decision maker. (27:37)
Sell with stories, not facts, and selling happy endings. (33:10)
Overcoming objections with the right language. (40:07)
Close the sale by asking for it. (42:45)
This Week’s Action
This week’s action has two parts. Part 1 is to download the free chapter of Artpreneur at schulmanart.com/believe.
Part 2 is to write out Miriam’s 10 steps in the sales process and post them somewhere so you’re reminded that it is a process. You need to be invested in the steps of the process in order for it to work.
“Once I started making the connection between sales in general and selling for art and understood that there wasn't a difference, I became a student of marketing and sales, and that has made all the difference.” — Miriam Schulman
“Marketing 101 is investing in human relationships.” — Miriam Schulman
“My art, going out into people’s homes, became ambassadors for me.” — Miriam Schulman
“Mindset is everything. Mindset trumps talent.” — Miriam Schulman
“Overcoming objections is about having compassion for the buyer and knowing where they are coming from.” — Miriam Schulman
About My Guest
Miriam Schulman is an artist and founder of The Inspiration Place, where she helps other artists learn how to profit from their passion or become better artists. She’s helped thousands of artists around the world develop their skill sets and create more time and freedom to do what they love. Her art and story have been featured in major publications including Forbes, The New York Times, Art of Man, Art Journaling magazine, What Women Create as well as featured on NBC’s “Parenthood” and the Amazon series “Hunters” with Al Pacino. Schulman’s forthcoming book with HarperCollins Leadership Artpreneur is scheduled to be released on January 31, 2023.
First posted: ArtBizSuccess.com/sales-schulman-podcast
Your Decision Filter: 8 Considerations for Making Decisions for Your Art Business
With host Alyson Stanfield
Read the “almost” full transcript, see featured artists, and leave a comment:
~ 8 CONSIDERATIONS ~
How Human Design has helped me make decisions. (15:07)
~ MENTIONED ~
Please join me in the Art Biz Accelerator coaching group and community: https://artbizaccelerator.com
Human Design resource: https://jovianarchive.com
~ ABOUT ~
Alyson Stanfield is the host of the Art Biz Podcast, founder of Art Biz Success, leader of the Art Biz Connection community of artists, and author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio: The Artist’s No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.
There are so many ways you can sell your art and so many different avenues for earning money from your talents. I’ve highlighted a wide variety of options for earning money from your art on The Art Biz podcast, but today’s conversation is a first. I’m joined by Katie Hunt, the founder of Proof to Product, to learn more about wholesaling. She has helped thousands of brands get their products on the shelves of large retailers like Target, Nordstrom, The Container Store, and Starbucks, as well as independent boutiques around the world.
In this episode, Katie shares basic basic information about wholesaling your art. What is it? Who is it for? Who is it not for? What’s the difference between wholesaling and retailing? Where does licensing fit in? Katie is a wealth of information, and generously gives four considerations for wholesaling. And stay with me to the end of our conversation, where Katie reveals the four things she takes into account when making business decisions.
Key differences between wholesaling and retailing. (4:20)
The importance of selling in larger quantities at a lower price in wholesale. (6:53)
How is licensing different than wholesaling? (12:20)
What type of artists are a good fit for wholesaling? (13:41)
Focusing on one revenue stream at a time — before wholesaling. (17:58)
Foundational checkpoint number one — Is your product line strong? (20:20)
Are your sales tools in place? (26:20)
Outreach and marketing — detailing your artwork and your terms and conditions. (29:18)
Step number four — solidifying your operations and systems. (31:07)
Handling criticism and rejection when wholesaling. (32:38)
Paper Camp and other resources for artists considering wholesale. (35:52)
4 considerations Katie bases every decision on. (40:50)
This Week’s Assignment
This week’s assignment has 2 options. Option 1 is to review Katie’s 4 considerations for wholesaling to decide whether or not it’s a direction you want to go. If you want to see those again in a list, visit this episode at artbizpodcast.com. Katie’s format is so straightforward and she is clear that wholesaling isn’t right for everyone. If you know that wholesaling isn’t for you, go for option 2, which is to write out her list of considerations for making business decisions and keep it nearby. Adjust it to your needs and revisit it often to stay on track.
“There are so many ways we can sell our art, and each one requires a different foundation.” — Katie Hunt
“With wholesale, we’re talking about a very different system of the sales process, the marketing process, even the fulfillment process.” — Katie Hunt
“Artists don’t have to wholesale everything they make. They can create a special segment of their product line that is for wholesale.” — Katie Hunt
“Before you take the plunge into wholesaling, you need to know you have an audience.” — Katie Hunt
“The more we experience with the pitching process and putting ourselves, our art and our talents out there, the stronger we become.” — Katie Hunt
About My Guest
Katie Hunt is the founder of Proof to Product, the host of a podcast with the same title, and a business strategist who supports product-based business owners. She has helped thousands of brands get their products on the shelves of large retailers like Target, Nordstrom, The Container Store, and Starbucks, as well as independent boutiques around the world. Katie’s work has been featured in Forbes, New York Times, Entrepreneur as well as dozens of business podcasts. She brings experience, education and a love of learning into her programs. Her strengths lie in connecting people & bringing ideas to life – brainstorming, making a plan and implementing.
This episode is a solo episode in which Alyson Stanfield, of Art Biz Success, reveals the details of the new Art Biz Accelerator program.
It was recorded during an info session for members of the Art Biz Connection community and includes:
First posted: https://artbizsuccess.com/podcast-accelerator
A video, complete with slides and the PDF download of all the information is available at artbizaccelerator.com right now.
And if you’re listening to this later in the year, chances are good that much will still be applicable.
Putting Artists First in Curatorial Projects with Melissa Messina
Today’s conversation on The Art Biz is packed with tips and insider info. In my conversation with independent curator Melissa Messina, we discuss what an independent curator does, how Melissa finds and works with artists, and what happens during a studio visit to an artist she is (or might be) working with. You won’t want to miss the insights she shares about common mistakes she sees artists making, as well as how to correct them. Above all, Melissa shares the empowering reminder that the artist is at the center of all a curator, a museum, or a gallery does.
“I think that curator gene has always been in me.” (1:55)
Melissa’s work as an independent curator. (5:32)
How does a curator find their artists? (9:00)
The importance of your network. (14:37)
Insights from the details of Melissa’s standard project. (18:46)
Scheduling projects and finding funding with fellowships. (23:55)
Curating an artist's estate is the joy of Melissa’s life. (26:53)
What piquesMelissa’s interest in the artists she encounters? (32:01)
The cities, websites, publications, and galleries where Melissa looks for artists. (35:00)
Working with galleries as an independent curator. (38:04)
The role that studio visits play in a curator-artist relationship. (40:54)
What curators are looking for from a studio visit. (48:51)
Correcting the mistakes that too many artists make. (50:54)
This Week’s Assignment
Research my guest Melissa Messina and start following her on social media. Then start researching independent curators in your area and start following them. Consider inviting them into your studio for a low-stress visit—and don’t forget to offer them a drink.
“I’m constantly making calculations to see where an exhibition or project might percolate out of my experiences and relationships.” — Melissa Messina
“Your network is everything.” — Melissa Messina
“There are some really good artists with bad attitudes, and I would much rather give the opportunity to someone who is a joy to work with.” — Melissa Messina
“I think artists would do better to let go of their expectations in a studio visit.” — Melissa Messina
“Without the artist and their work, there wouldn’t be anything for us to do.” — Melissa Messina
About My Guest
Melissa Messina is a nationally recognized arts professional who has developed thought-provoking exhibitions, dynamic site-responsive projects and engaging educational public programming both independently and in leadership positions at museums and non-profit arts organizations. For 20 years, her work with regional, national, and international artists has been presented in the U.S. in Atlanta, Kansas City, Miami, New York, New Orleans, Richmond, Savannah, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Bermuda, France, and Hong Kong. She has lectured extensively and published widely, and her research has been funded by Creative Time and The Andy Warhol Foundation, as well as by fellowships at Emory University’s Stuart A. Rose Library, Atlanta, GA, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR.
In addition to serving select public and private clients, she is the curator of the Mildred Thompson Estate. She has also recently served as guest curator at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Spelman College Museum of Fine Art, the Visual Arts Center of Richmond, and the New Orleans Museum of Art, and was the co-curator of the 2018 and 2020 Bermuda Biennials. In 2017, she co-created Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today, an intergenerational exhibition highlighting 21 Black female abstract practitioners that traveled from Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City to The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.
Alyson Stanfield walks you through her thoughts on reviewing your year.
There are 3 reasons to bother reviewing your year: (1) To honor life, (2) to remind yourself of what you have accomplished, and (3) to prepare for the New Year. Look at the year holistically in terms of personal, art, learning, and business.
Your written account of the year will be something you can return to in the future as a reminder of what you accomplished, what you experienced, what you learned, who and what you encountered, and more.
The Artist's Annual Review
Today’s conversation is a first. In this episode of The Art Biz I talk with Rebecca Welz, an artist who claims she’s not all that interested in the art business. But Rebecca, with her many accomplishments, still had plenty of wisdom to share. Our discussion centers around how she sees her art as part of the continuum, and how she encourages her students at Pratt Institute to think holistically about their careers. We discuss meditation, biomimicry, her projects in Guyana and Guatemala with her students, why she’s uninterested in the art business, and what she thinks artists would benefit from focusing on instead.
“It’s like drawing in space.” Rebecca’s sculpture and gallery representation. (2:44)
Teaching art students and exploring the unknown through meditation. (6:22)
Thinking is the most important part of the creative process. (11:15)
Finding art inspiration in Guyana and Guatemala. (17:04)
Biomimicry—innovation inspired by nature. (22:10)
The importance of experiencing inspiration from cultures outside your own. (25:35)
Taking a holistic approach to your art. (31:13)
Rebecca isn’t all that interested in the art business. Here’s why. (36:24)
This Week’s Assignment
Consider how your work is connected to forces outside itself. How is it connected to art history and to other artists? Think of all the people who make your art possible. Who made your supplies? Not the companies, but the people behind the companies. Who gathered natural pigments or precious metals? Who mixed the paints, spun the yarn, stretched the canvas, stocked the paper, or assembled the camera?
Who are the people supporting your efforts?
“Meditation gives me a lot of peace and equanimity and helps me deal with being a human on the planet.” — Rebecca Welz
“Good artwork comes from that place of the unknown.” — Rebecca Welz
“I can’t just focus on my art career because there are so many other things that I’m interested in.” — Rebecca Welz
“How are you tapping into your own continuum and how’s that working for you?” — Rebecca Welz
About My Guest
Rebecca Welz makes steel sculptures inspired by natural wonders and ecological processes that combine to give us biodiversity. She is represented by June Kelly Gallery in New York City, where she has had numerous solo exhibitions. She has also shown at Grace Borgenicht Gallery and Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, also in New York.
Rebecca’s sculptures have been in solo and group exhibitions in venues such as the Oakland Museum of California, the Heckscher Museum of Art (Huntington, NY), Butters Gallery (Portland, OR), the SciArt Center (Easton, PA), the Cherrystone Gallery (Wellfleet, MA), and Sculpturesite Gallery (San Francisco, CA). Her work can also be found in private and corporate collections, including those of Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, Merck, Prudential Life Insurance Corporation, and Sabre Corporation.
Not too long ago, artists didn’t have to worry about things like their brands. But in an increasingly competitive market, and the noisy online space, we will do better when we know where we fit. Your art is created in the studio, while your brand is created in the minds of viewers, buyers, collectors, gallerists, and curators.
When you know your brand, you know how you want to be perceived in the eyes of others. Your brand helps you make decisions. If opportunities aren’t aligned with your brand, you say no. My guest for this episode of The Art Biz is Alexandra Squire. She has a clear, intentional artist brand, and knew from the get-go what she wanted her business and career to look like. She hired professionals to help her pull together a branded identity to present her work to the world, and it has paid off. Alexandra and I talk about her decisions, marketing, and how she finds time for her painting and business while raising three young girls.
Alexandra’s long and winding road to becoming an artist. (3:25)
“I looked at myself as a brand.” (7:09)
Marketing yourself effectively. (11:26)
Hiring professional help for your photography. (14:03)
Your brand exists in the eye of the viewer. (18:42)
Making the trade offs that pay off. (22:16)
The moment when you identify your artist brand. (26:20)
How Alexandra shows and sells her work. (28:15)
Keeping an artist’s schedule while raising a family. (33:38)
This Week’s Assignment
Consider your artist brand. In particular, think about and even write in your journal about this one question: How do you want to be perceived in the minds of others? If you want to take it to the next step, consider whether your social media, newsletter, website, marketing material, and exhibition venues are aligned with how you want to be perceived.
“I decided from the beginning I wanted to be a certain type of artist.” — Alexandra Squire
“You have to present yourself in a certain way, and that’s how people will view you.” — Alexandra Squire
“I turned down a bunch of opportunities that I felt didn’t best reflect my brand.” — Alexandra Squire
About My Guest
Alexandra Squire is an abstract painter defined by the pairing of vibrant colors and muted tones to create simple yet deceivingly complex works. She focuses on blending and layering to make pieces that are rich in color and depth with unexpected palettes. Her paintings serve as a metaphor for life in that they depict the multitude of ways in which our experiences meld together. Alexandra’s work has been exhibited nationally, and her paintings are a part of private and corporate collections throughout the United States.
Anyone can open up a gallery—real or virtual—and start selling art. I mean anyone. You don’t have to hold a degree or pass a test. You don’t have to have ethics or morals or know anything at all about art. But I am impressed by what UGallery is doing and the services they have been providing artists and clients since 2006. Everything about them feels different.
On this episode of The Art Biz, I’m joined by Alex Farkas, founder of UGallery.com. Their business model is different from others in that online space. They know art. They curate the work so there aren’t thousands of random artists competing for eyeballs. UGallery is paid on commission, so they only make money if art sells.They invest in marketing to help sell more art. They are looking for relationships with their artists and nurture their artists to help them sell better online. The focus of UGallery is on painting, but you should listen to their story even if you are not a painter because you need to know that there are people and companies out there who are on your side and doing things the right way.
This Week’s Assignment
About My Guest
Alex Farkas is the Gallery Director of UGallery. His love of art traces back to his hometown, Jerome, a tiny arts community in northern Arizona. Alex grew up creating sculptures in his uncle's woodworking studio and learning about the art business in his mother's gallery. He co-founded UGallery in 2006 with the goal of helping emerging artists connect with patrons. As one of the first ever online art galleries, UGallery significantly improved the opportunities available for artists. The gallery has been featured in the New York Times, Vogue, and Art in America. He currently lives, and UGallery is based, in San Francisco.
The photographer Sally Mann has said that it never occurred to her to look outside of her home, family, and immediate vicinity to find inspiration. So many artists feel they need to travel to exotic locations to find their inspiration, never exploring what is right in front of them or what they encounter in their daily lives.
In this episode of The Art Biz I talk with Sara Lee Hughes, an artist who is deep into a body of narrative paintings with recognizable imagery that is steeped in her personal story—going so far as to include her self-portraits in many of them. We talk about making such personal work and whether there is a market for such work. Sara Lee says her ultimate intention is that she gets under your skin. That when viewing her paintings, you start to question your actions and might find yourself reflecting on the encounter weeks later. We discuss the genesis of this body of work, how she is looking at her art in terms of the long game rather than seeking quick gratification, how she keeps her ideas, and how she has created a discipline that balances motherhood with her studio practice.
Waiting, Father Daughter Dance, and other pieces inspired by Sara Lee’s life. (1:55)
The family letters that have helped Sara Lee navigate her true self. (6:57)
Sara Lee’s 12-ft superhero cape and what it represents. (9:05)
Painting from experiences results in sincerity. (11:15)
Asking yourself questions can lead to your next inspiration. (14:55)
Sara Lee’s decision to use her own face in her paintings. (18:19)
The value of painting the part of your history that isn’t talked about. (21:32)
There are parts of your story that anyone can relate to. (25:17)
Using a list—rather than a sketchbook—to keep your ideas. (27:04)
Does personal work sell? (30:20)
The evolution of Sara Lee’s approach to her art business. (32:39)
Finding time for the most important work. (34:32)
“These tossed-off sketches are seeds for the work that I’ve done in the last five years.” — Sara Lee
“When I paint from my own experience, there’s a sincerity in my paintings.” — Sara Lee
“All of my work is my personal experience, so who better to use than myself? — Sara Lee
“My intention is to resonate with you through the works that have inspired me to be an artist.” — Sara Lee
About My Guest
Sara Lee is a narrative painter living and working in Lockhart, Texas. Her representational narratives are influenced by growing up in the south during the 1970’s and 80’s with divorced parents and operate as metaphors for discovery, other-ness, identity, connection, balance and truth. As a body of work, they highlight moments, memories and ideas that mark a journey of navigation through the differences between her gay father, straight mother and the socio-cultural norms of the era and those proceeding. In her work she is most interested in exploring and sharing the connection she had with her father before his death of AIDS, the profound guidance it had on her life, and how this personal experience fits into our country’s broader social and cultural heritage.
Sara Lee studied classical drawing and painting at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she earned a certificate in painting and printmaking. She earned her MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Sustaining herself through scenic painting and teaching, her work brought her back to Lockhart, Texas where she has lived since 2008.
There is no denying the importance of video these days. Whether you're chasing the Instagram algorithm for reels, streaming live on YouTube, or pulling together a video bio for your website, it's more valuable than ever to make good videos. My guest on The Art Biz is Zach Wolfson, a filmmaker who has seen all kinds of artists' videos—the good, the bad, and the cringy. He has joined me to discuss four of the most common mistakes he sees artists making with their videos, and he also shares simple tips that will greatly improve your videos with just a little bit of tweaking. It’s definitely worth the effort because, as he says, it is so important to leave behind a legacy that extends beyond your artwork.
Zach’s career in filmmaking led to teaching artists how to make mini art videos. (1:50)
Horizontal or vertical filming—which does Zach prefer? (5:50)
Mistakes artists make when editing transitions in videos. (7:38)
Overproducing filters, text, and other distracting elements. (10:52)
Slowing down to capture the perfect shots. (13:53)
The best POV in your art films. (17:52)
Tips for overcoming your fear of the camera. (20:15)
Does Zach recommend time-lapse videos? (23:34)
The importance of sharing your story in your videos. (27:31)
Leaving the legacy of your art through videos. (32:55)
“Too many elements can be overwhelming for both you when making the video as well as for the people watching it.”— Zach
“Just record for longer than you think you should. Your future self will thank you for it.” — Zach
“Your videos themselves don’t need to be art because your art is art.” — Zach
“If you can find ways to include yourself in your videos, it will attach you more to your art so people can connect with you.” — Zach
“Let us into your world and be able to see you in the context of your space.” — Zach
“People aren’t following you because of how well crafted your videos are. They’re following you because of your art.” — Zach
About My Guest
Zach Wolfson is a filmmaker who helps artists make simple art videos to market their art. He is dedicated to empowering artists, and believes everyone can make “mini” art videos that document your journey with ease and joy.
Zach’s greatest passion has always been working directly with artists. He has shared the stories of dozens of artists through his video series, Beyond the Gallery, and taught hundreds more through his blog, in-person training, and now inside his membership community, Ready to Record.
In addition to his work with artists, Zach has made videos sharing human-centered stories for galleries, museums, and companies that include Adobe, Discovery, and Sony.
Artists crave validation by others. You want your work to be appreciated. Being validated by others helps build confidence and shows us we’re on the right path. But are you looking for validation in the right places?
In this solo episode of The Art Biz, I address validation and earning credibility—where you are probably seeking it, where you might want to look for it instead, and what it really means about your art. Ultimately, validation only comes from within, and others are more likely to pay attention knowing that you value your own work. I want to help you realize the various ways it is possible to earn credibility for your art, many of which you will see that you are already doing.
Defining validation, self-validation, and credibility. (2:02)
The wrong places to turn for self-validation. (3:40)
The ultimate expression of validation for an artist. (5:15)
Non-social media examples of validation in the art world. (6:43)
The pinnacle of exhibition venues—the art museum. (9:45)
The value of writing about speaking about your work. (10:55)
Seeking validation from the media on a broader level. (11:45)
Achieving a higher level of self validation. (14:08)
Detour travels to communities all over to paint socially impactful murals, but he also works on canvas, and in music, installation and sculpture. How does he do it all, and do it all by himself?
In this episode of The Art Biz, I talked with Detour about his various income streams from prints and murals to corporate sponsorships and grants. He is adamant that he doesn't want to be limited by what he currently knows, so he's always learning how to use new technologies that will help him land complex opportunities. He's not afraid to admit that the best way to approach an artistic problem is probably something he hasn't done before. And Detour is big on collaboration and presenting himself in the most professional light because, as he says, you never know who is watching. Be sure to listen for the questions he asks himself before agreeing to take on new work. This is an inspiring conversation that you won’t want to miss.
Carving out new and alternative paths in the art world. (5:00)
Merging your career skills with your creative opportunities. (9:09)
How Detour found his artist voice while creating interactive art ‘for the people.’ (11:40)
Detour’s active and passive income streams. (17:22)
Planning for sporadic paychecks in advance. (22:15)
How Detour’s MBA has benefitted his artist endeavors. (25:38)
The importance of building relationships with everyone in your artist community. (28:09)
Collaborating with other artists to add value to your work. (32:24)
Questions to ask when considering—or turning down—opportunities. (34:53)
A look at Detour’s typical week. (37:05)
Finding fun and balance in the work of every day. (40:18)
Why is it important to be an artist who helps other artists? (44:44)
“I want to make sure when I’m presented with an opportunity to solve an idea creatively, I’m not limited by what I’m used to doing.” — Detour
“You never know what will work until you throw something out there and it sticks.” — Detour
“When you do art you never know exactly who’s looking at it.” — Detour
“Everything I do in life is related to art making and sharing.” — Detour
Thomas Evans, a.k.a. Detour, is an all-around creative specializing in large scale public art, interactive visuals, portraiture, immersive spaces, and creative directing. His focus is to create work where art and innovation meet. A born collaborator and “military brat,” Detour pulls from every conceivable experience that shapes his landscapes and perspectives. Explaining Detour’s work is no easy task, as ongoing experimentations in visual art, music, and interactive technologies have his practice continually expanding. With his ever-evolving approach to art, Detour’s focus is on expanding customary views of creativity and challenging fine-art paradigms by mixing traditional mediums with new approaches—all the while opening up the creative process from that of a singular artist to one that thrives on multi-layered collaboration and viewer participation.
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.
I can’t resist legal cases about art, from thefts and forgeries to copyright infringement to gallery dealers and so-called experts who end up in front of a judge for defrauding collectors. While most artists will never see the inside of a courtroom, you might be concerned with copyright infringement or receive unsettling news that someone is using your creative work without your permission. Every artist (you) should know the basics for protecting their art. In this episode of The Art Biz, I am joined by Kathryn Goldman, an intellectual property and internet law attorney who helps creative professionals protect their work so they can profit from it. She is the founder of The Creative Law Center website and membership program, which offers understandable information, actionable strategies, and easy to use tools for the development of creative businesses. Our conversation focuses around Kathryn’s Four Step Framework to help you identify, protect, monitor, and enforce your creative rights.
Kathryn is an intellectual property attorney who helps creative professionals protect their copyrights, trademarks and brilliant business ideas. (2:45)
The four step framework that helps artists know what, when and how to take action. (4:45)
Copyright 101- identify the rights that a copyright protects and what is not covered. (7:13)
Protect your artwork with a copyright registration. (12:25)
Filing in small claims court for infringement can result in $15,000 payout. (15:33)
Trademarks are source identifiers that protect against consumer confusion. (18:31)
Keith Haring, Banksy, and other famous artist trademarks. (21:00)
Does an artist need to register a copyright for every single thing they make? (30:35)
Protection is the combination of copyright, trademark, and contract. (33:05)
FARE contracts keep the right to control a piece in the hands of the artist. (35:09)
Artists with a secondary market stand to benefit greatly from a FARE contract. (39:10)
Monitoring your work to determine if it’s been stolen is up to you (and your tribe). (41:30)
How I handled copyright infringement of my writing. (46:24)
The ladder of enforcement offers options for reaction when someone is stealing your work. (49:55)
The recipe for registering your most valuable work is essential. (57:07)
Kathryn’s upcoming programs and workshops. (59:05)
“I like it when artists understand when they need to take action, what action they need to take, and how to do it effectively and efficiently.” — Kathryn Goldman
“The right to control those kinds of changes to the art comes from the copyright.” — Kathryn Goldman
“A lot of working artists have trademarks, especially those who are building a business on licensing their art.” — Kathryn Goldman
“Copyright is not as strong as trademark, and trademark is not as strong as a good contract.” — Kathryn Goldman
“With this combination of tools, I think we really are going to start seeing some interesting things happen with contracts in the art world.” — Kathryn Goldman
“The best infringement protection is going to be your tribe.” — Kathryn Goldman
Kathryn Goldman is an intellectual property and internet law attorney who helps creative professionals protect their work so they can profit from it. She believes sustainable businesses are built on properly protected creative assets. Kathryn runs the Creative Law Center website and membership program. The Creative Law Center provides innovative creatives with the affordable business and legal resources they need when evolving from artist to entrepreneur. The Creative Law Center offers understandable information, actionable strategies, and easy to use tools for the development of creative businesses. Kathryn practices law in Baltimore, Maryland.
An artist’s best resource is another artist. And to really know what a real artist’s life looks like on a daily basis, you have to study and talk to those artists. You can read their biographies, watch their videos, and listen to them on podcasts, including this one. In this episode of The Art Biz, I talk with Geoffrey Gorman about what it’s like to be a working artist, an identity he came to later in life and has sustained for nearly two decades. Geoffrey and I discuss his background as a furniture maker, gallery dealer, and artist consultant and how each role has contributed to his life as an artist. He also reveals how he approaches his work, where he finds inspiration, his take on how the art world is changing, and his advice to artists in the rapidly-evolving market.
“You can make something from anything.” The evolution of Geoffrey’s process. (2:35)
Journeying back into the arts after a 30-year break. (8:45)
Geoffrey’s timeline from furniture maker to gallery dealer, artist coach to full-time artist. (11:08)
What does being an artist look like in Geoffrey’s material-driven world? (16:02)
Carving a whale and honoring the passing of time. (23:21)
Tactics for increasing your credibility as an artist. (28:02)
Evolving with the demands of a constantly changing art world. (31:16)
Navigating your relationships with dealers. (36:02)
Feedback worth soliciting as an artist. (38:55)
The importance of connections as a small business owner. (43:00)
How can artists utilize social media to find collectors and curators? (48:00)
A look at where Geoffrey is putting his efforts next. (50:22)
“I realized I had to create this world that I was producing.” — Geoffrey Gorman
“You are the number one expert about your work in the world.” — Geoffrey Gorman
“A lot of old benchmarks are now gone for artists.” — Geoffrey Gorman
“There are so many opportunities for us as artists out there.” — Geoffrey Gorman
“Your best resource is another artist.” — Geoffrey Gorman
Geoffrey Gorman was born in Paris, France, but eventually moved to and grew up on an old horse farm in the countryside near Baltimore, Maryland. The dilapidated architecture and abandoned quarries of his childhood influence and inspire the found material sculptures the artist creates today. Gorman has worked as a contemporary furniture designer, gallery dealer, curator, and art consultant before becoming a full-time professional artist. He has exhibited nationally and internationally, including in China and South Korea. Gorman’s work is in public and private collections, including the Racine Art Museum and the University of Colorado.
If you have ever wanted to shoot the breeze with a gallerist, you will want to pay close attention to this episode of The Art Biz. I’m joined today by Jeremy Tessmer, the gallery director at Sullivan Goss Gallery in Santa Barbara, California. In our conversation, Jeremy shares his views of artist’s professionalism, what he thinks of online platforms, and how he taught himself art history (and why that was important to him).
Jeremy describes Sullivan Goss as an on-ramp for collectors and artists—one that connects their roster of local, regional, national, and international artists. You’ll hear him discuss 3 qualities that he looks for in artists, two of which are non-negotiable, and how he views the artists in his gallery as a family. He says that “dealers should have some sense of responsibility for the well-being of their artists,” and, as you listen to our conversation, you’ll understand why that has become so important to him.
The niche that the Sullivan Goss Gallery fills and Jeremy’s role within it. (2:37)
Sullivan Goss is an on-ramp gallery with the aim of expanding the art world. (7:49)
The different art world need to become more aware of each other. (10:05)
Jeremy’s journey from writer and tech specialist to art gallerist. (14:04)
Is it important for artists to be steeped in art history? (23:34)
Overcoming the anxiety of influence to connect with other artists. (26:21)
The 3 qualities Jeremy looks for in the artists he represents. (33:30)
The responsibility a gallery has for nurturing its artists’ careers. (36:10)
The value of understanding the long game and defining your real interest in an artist’s career. (41:11)
Things an artist should never say or do to gain the attention of a gallerist. (46:18)
Jeremy Tessmer is the Gallery Director and Curator of vintage American art at Sullivan Goss. He has been with the firm almost 20 years, working in every area of the business, including: curation, sales, marketing, and design of everything from exhibition spaces to internal databases and processes. He has special knowledge of the American Modern movement, especially as it occurred on the West Coast. He has also been heavily involved with the gallery’s publication program, helping to produce nineteen books and numerous catalogs, including those on local artists Ray Strong and Hank Pitcher.
The resources you have for art business and career development are endless. In that respect, you are incredibly fortunate compared to artists of the past who had so little to help them make a go of it. And there is a downside. There are so many choices to grow as a professional artist that it’s difficult to decide where to spend your time and money.
How do you decide? How do you know when to invest, and when to save your money?
Let’s pretend you are my coaching client and you’re debating adding something to your calendar. I caution all students and clients to be judicious about adding more to their already full schedules.
This episode is focused on the questions I’d ask to help you decide whether or not a program is right for you. These include ...
What do you want to get from this program?
Is this program a shiny distraction?
Are you in a place to receive the guidance?
Do you respect the presenters, teachers, or leaders?
How is this program different?
Are you willing to devote the time to the lessons and homework?
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