The one in which I confess I LIKE Thomas Kinkade…

Thomas Kinkade, one of the most prolific and successful artist in modern history is dead and right now I would like to stand up and confess that I like his work…

I think somehow it reminds me of the Christmas cards of my childhood featuring cosily lit victorian coaching inns generously sprinkled with silver glitter, a prancing coach and four pulling up outside bringing laughing travellers home for the holidays. The light eminating from inside the Inn beckoning you in to curl up by the fireside with a large dog and a hearty Pickwickian Christmas dinner. A glimpse of a warm friendly interior. A safely comforting feel.

No doubt millions of others got the same sense of cosy safety in an increasingly insane world. An idealised and beautiful landscape where nothing went wrong. Kinkade managed to hit the perfect emotional spot with millions of people, an estimated 1 in 20 American homes owning one of his images. If Kinkade’s work makes people feel a spot of calm or happiness where is the harm in that? He knew his audience perfectly and knew what made them feel good.

But I shouldnt need to “confess” to this should I ?. What is so terrible about liking the work of a popular artist? Why do I neel nervous about typing this?

Who says which art I should like ?

Art dictatorship and the taste police.

I also confess I have a softspot for artists who get up the nose of the art establishment… Despite his immense popularity in the eyes of his millions of fans Kinkade attracted an enormous amount of vitriol from the “taste police” in the art world.

The sheer hatred unleashed on him {and other “not-proper-artists”} by art critics is shocking to read. It reminds me of school kids bitching about and bullying the unpopular kid behind the bike sheds. Many of those same critics are now writing articles praising Kinkades understanding of art marketing and subtly reversing away from their previous nastiness in the light of his death.

Kincade appeared to be able to laugh off the criticisms but it seems sad that his brother believes his losing battle with alcohol was probably precipitated by the constant attacks by the art establishment on him and his work which he took more to heart than he showed.

Scottish artist Jack Vettriano attracts similar criticism. Here he is described in The Guardian newspaper.

“Vettriano is not even an artist. He just happens to be popular, with “ordinary people” who buy reproductions of his pseudo-1930s scenes of high-heeled women and monkey-suited men, and celebrities who fork out for the originals of these toneless, textureless, brainless slick corpses of paintings. “

I don’t personally love Vettrianos work enough to want to own it. However, I will defend to the death the right of anyone to be able to buy it without being made to feel like a brain dead idiot with the style and taste of a wombat.

Can the internet democratise art?

The art establishment has had everything it’s own way for a long long time. This has created a dictatorship where people are afraid to be seen to like the “wrong” art. Fledgling interest in collecting art can be paralyzed by the fear of making a “mistake”. Art galleries become intimidating “no-go” areas for fear of being made to look ignorant.

This increases the perception of art as being something “not for us” by many people and this can’t be a good thing for the majority of artists when more people need to be encouraged to buy art. The massive majority of potential new art buyers are outside the New York art scene and even the gallery system itself.

However, the good news is that with the increasing prevelance of art on the internet, collectors can find the kind of art that they like and the falsely dictated notions of “good” or “bad” taste in art are becoming fast outmoded.

There is a movement towards a democratisation of the art world. People can look online and find the kind of art that appeals to them rather than what they are told they CAN like by a sneering critic. They can then safely buy the art online without being judged or made to feel uncomfortable.

Viva la Revolución!

So it is time to be proud of the art you like… no matter if it is “critic approved” or not. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can and can’t like…

So… Just for the record I LOVE LOVE LOVE the work of Vladimir Tretchikoff, famous for his popular prints of exotic beauties which graced every UK front room in the 1960s and 70’s. – dismissed with scorn in his time and now viewed as modern classics.

Wayne Hemingway, in his book Just Above The Mantelpiece says of Tretchikoff  “He achieved everything that Andy Warhol stated he wanted to do but could never achieve because of his coolness.” The line between the two artists is very fine.

I also have a soft spot for Bob Ross and his fabulous “happy little clouds” and Norman Rockwell – once described as Kitsch – now viewed as classic American art.

The Last Word

The last word should go to art critic Louis Leroy describing a painting of a sunrise over water…

“A preliminary drawing for a wallpaper pattern is more highly finished than this seascape,”

The artist he was pouring scorn on was one Claude Monet

Hmmm…

 

Which artists do you like that you “aren’t supposed to” ? Stand proud and share with us in the comments.

 

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Art School Lessons – How To Navigate The Dip

The art college foundation course I attended was run by a crazy & wonderful sculptor called Keith.

Keith had the looks and scariness factor of an old tattooed biker. He didn’t give two hoots for authority or “the rules” and did things his way.

On our first day (all wet behind the ears, nervous 17 and 18 year olds) he announced that for the first month of our course we would do absolutely nothing but life drawing. Cold fear struck our hearts. None of us could draw very well, having only just barely negotiated A level art.

For the next month we continuously drew models clothed, unclothed, walking, running, dancing to The Firebird and on one memorable occasion, suspended naked from the ceiling by clingfilm whilst some discombobulated and blushing men with clipboards from the local council attempted to measure the wall.

There were frustrations, dramas and tears but by the end of the month everyone had got a great grasp of drawing.

What Keith had done, with his rough hewn wisdom, was forced us all kicking and screaming through “The Dip”

Navigating The Dip

Learning a new form of art or a new technique starts out as exciting  fun. Then it gets harder and more serious until it hits a low point where it is no fun at all and you wonder if you will ever master it or manage to make it work. It’s frustrating and depressing. You cant see yourself ever getting better at it.

This is what Seth Godin calls The Dip.

Recognising you are in The Dip is half the battle.

Godin says that there are only three ways to deal with The Dip.

  • Get stuck in it
  • Quit it
  • Cross it

Harsh but true…

Masters of their craft struggled across to the other side

How do the people who are masters of their art get to be there? Did they wake up one morning with the knowledge of how to sculpt a perfect body in marble or paint a stunning portait in oils?

No, they struggled through the mental and spiritual wilderness that is The Dip, always keeping the goal in the forefront of their focus. The Dip is there to weed out the uncommitted. When you cross to the other side you are joining the masters of their craft who REALLY wanted to master it.

The Dip is powerful. The bigger the barrier the greater the reward for crossing it.

And maybe sometimes, quitting is the right option. If you realise something really isn’t for you then maybe it is time to stop struggling and find something you do REALLY want to commit to. The Dip can make you realise where you truly want to focus your energy.

Your Navigational Map

There are some tools that will be useful as you struggle across your own personal Dip

  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses. If one way over just doesn’t work for you, take a step back and see if there is another way you can achieve it more suited to your ways of working.
  • Cross with friends. It may be easier to cross in a team if you can find alllies who are attempting to learn the same thing and who can help you when you fall. Joining a group or class to learn may really help.
  • Study failure. Look at the people who didnt make it. Why did they fail? Study what stopped them and then you can attempt to avoid making the same mistakes.
  • Just RECOGNISE that The Dip is there and focus on getting through it. It’s not forever and you will emerge on the far side with your newly fought for skills.

So, next time you are expanding your creative repertoire, recognise The Dip and use these strategies to help yourself across it.

I’m truly grateful that Keith & my old art school helped me to recognise that The Dip was there to struggle across and the bold would make it to the far side….

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The Japanese Secret That Will Help You Achieve Your Creative Goals.

Do you ever feel just OVERWHELMED by what you are trying to achieve?

I’m currently trying to learn a new and complex creative skill which will take my art in a radically different direction over the next few years. At the moment I am in “depressing beginners phase” where each piece of work is “wrong” in some way, knowledge is guarded and hard to find and it feels like I will never be able to climb the precipitous learning curve to achieve the sweet upper slopes of mastery before retirement age. Great!

However, one thought keeps me going. The Japanese concept of KAIZEN or “continuous improvement”.

Kaizen – 改善

Kaizen – Japanese for “improvement”, or “change for the better” refers to philosophy or manufacturing practices that focus upon a continuous, never ending commitment to consistently increase the quality of products in every aspect of the business – every single day.
 

Sounds pretty dry and business oriented eh? But basically it means “getting better at stuff every day and not stopping getting better at stuff every day”

Well, that’s my take on it and Kaizen is not just for business. It is important in all aspects of life…

If you have heard of Kaizen before, like me you may have thought that it was originally an age old Japanese concept. Well interestingly, I just discovered that Kaizen was actually introduced to the Japanese by an American quality-control expert called Dr W Edwards Deming. He was brought to Japan after the second world war to try and help rebuild the war ravaged industry of the country. After the war, inflation, shortages and unemployment in all areas of Japan seemed overwhelming but by introducting the concept of Kaizen and continuous improvement every day, the Japanese people were able to overcome seemingly insurmountable problems to pull themselves out of the mire and become economically prosperous in a relatively short space of time.

Kaizen, creativity and your big plan…

When creating, it is easy to become overwhelmed by the scale of a task.

  • Perhaps you want to create monumental sculptures.
  • Maybe you want to create art works with collaboration on a global scale.
  • Possibly you want to learn a new and difficult creative skill.
  • Maybe you want to earn a living from your art in the next few years.

Whatever your big plan, utilizing Kaizen in your beliefs will help you achieve it.

In order to succeed you must have a long term focus. The beliefs you hold control your decisions and therefore your future. If you can hold on to the belief that you can constantly improve every day, each step forward takes you nearer your goal.

Persistance, trial and error and the zillions of tiny improvements you make along the way are what success is built on in the end.

Monitor your progress

At the end of each day, in order to monitor progress, ask yourself three questions…

  • What did I learn today?
  • What did I enjoy?
  • What/where/how did I improve?

The answers will allow you to take charge of your progress and to enjoy the fact that you are constantly moving forward, even when it seems little progress is being made. You will get there in the end.

I will leave the final word to my hero Thomas Edison

“I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward”

 

Have you used Kaizen to improve your work or achieve a goal? Do you think it will work for you? Let us know in the comments.

Post image by Nimbu under creative commons licence

 

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The Art of Collaboration – How can letting go help you grow?

Defined by Merriam Webster, to Collaborate means: to work jointly with others or together especially in an intellectual endeavor.

Collaboration in art takes the idea to a new level. It is the opportunity for artists to contribute to one piece or to a multitude of pieces in a particular project that may or may not have the same theme. Sound confusing? It can be if there is not some kind of leadership involved; someone to grab the reins so to speak. However, once a group of artists decides on a project there is no stopping the energy that builds when these groups get together; when one idea is presented often times many new ideas spring from this one.

I have involved myself in several collaborative efforts—most notably through mail art groups. These groups can be local, national and international. Usually one person comes up with an idea and posts their Call to Art–artists from all over contribute a piece to the group. Sometimes the art is returned but more often than not, it is gone for good. I actually like that part because now my art is in the hands of another who may love the piece or discover something in it that I didn’t. The act of sharing is vital to collaborative art and you must be able to let go. Artists can get so stuck in doing things their own way – especially when one works alone in a studio, but don’t we learn more by be inspired by others? This is what collaborative art projects truly are…an opportunity to share and learn in the presence of like-minded individuals.

One project that made a huge impression on me was the 1001 Journals project. The website explains it best, “The 1000 Journals Project is an ongoing collaborative experiment attempting to follow 1000 journals throughout their travels. The goal is to provide a method for interaction and shared creativity among friends and strangers.” These journals traveled all over the world and individuals wrote, illustrated, painted and collaged their art inside it. Then they sent it on to the next person. Most of the journals were returned back to the individual who began the project. Some did not. Launched in 2000, “The project officially launched in August of 2000, with the release of the first 100 journals in San Francisco. I gave them to friends, and left them at bars, cafes, and on park benches. Shortly thereafter, people began emailing me, asking if they could participate. So I started sending journals to folks, allowing them to share with friends, or strangers. It’s been a roller coaster ever since.” This is a timeless story told through art where individuals unselfishly shared their talent, and many times their soul.

A Northern California collaborative art group, Kunstanke embarked on an artistic journey inspired by the works of the 17th century artist, Claude Lorrain. A book containing his drawings was cut up and the drawings in the book were distributed among the artists. The artists were to combine the original book page and their art to recreate the image into something new. It was a composition of sorts with the new and the old. 45 pieces were completed. While there were actually more, the group felt that not all of the images succeeded and it came down to this number. The final pieces went into an exhibit where “The result is a diverse and nuanced conversation about ideas, subject matter and materials.” For more about this project please visit the Kunstanke web site.

And just today I came across a collaborative project by the online publisher, Society6. The final project will be a limited edition Zine called “Us and Them”. The rules are simple…create an inspired piece using the theme Us and Them and set the image up as a print on Society6. Society6 will curate the collection and notify the artists if their piece has been selected for the limited edition Zine.

An enjoyable aspect of the idea of collaborative art is the freedom of expression and free flowing ideas that are conveyed. Anyone can start a project, anyone can join a project. And you do not need to be an artist to join. The 1001 Journals project was less about art and more about expression. The last collaborative art project I started consisted of three 11×14 pieces of white paper sent out with a list of instructions. Draw anything, anywhere on the 11×14 sheet then send it off to the next person. The 10th person should return the completed sheet back to my address where I will scan it and have it made into a poster. I love the idea. However, it’s been three years and I haven’t gotten it back. This may be one of those times where we learn to let go.

Copyright 2011 Jan Weiss

Artist Bio – Jan Weiss

Jan Weiss, a northern California native is a freelance writer and artist specializing in home decor. With a strong background in art publishing and art trends, Jan shares this knowledge with the trade as well as individual artists.

Weiss has just completed her first eBook for artists, titled: The Coexistence of Art and Money; interested buyers can find this book as well as her art through several on-line galleries such as Artist Rising, Image Kind and Etsy.  Jan’s style is a mixed of collage, digital creations and abstract landscapes that will appeal to the hospitality buyer. She lives with her husband, cat and dog in the Bay Area and enjoys organic gardening, cooking, reading and making stuff.

You can find Jan at
www.theartplanet.com
www.etsy.co
You can buy Jan’s beautiful work here

Have you worked on a collaborative project or in a group? How did it work out? Please tell us in the comments…

Post image by Jan Weiss

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Are you a “Real Artist” If You Have A Day Job?

How do you define being a “successful artist”?

Many artists definition of success rest solely on being able to support themselves entirely from their artistic endeavours without having to do any other work to make ends meet.

However, is this a realistic view of success?

The majority of artists will, in reality, have other work too as part of the rich pattern of their everyday life…

This, contrary to what some people say is NO BAD THING!

The truth is, successful artists often have lots of strings to their bow

Just because you have another job doesnt mean you are not a “real ” or successful artist. In fact, working in other areas separate from your art can have distinct advantages…

  • Having a defined and confined time for you creative work can focus your art and make you achieve more in the shorter space of time that you have to work in. Faced with unlimited time it’s easy to take your eye off the ball and lose focus.
  • >

  • Our economy is changing {see my recent post – The Revolution Will Not Be Televised} In this new and shifting economic landscape, having multiple income streams is a very important survival strategy which will enable you to surf the vagueries of the art market.

  • If you are combining raising a family with your art, you may not be able to spend 100% of your time creating but may be able to find a balance which works for you.

  • Your “day job” may provide inspiration which feeds into your art and helps to fire your creativity.

We really need to change and widen the definition of SUCCESS in the art world…

The down side…

As in all things there can be a down side…

The common problem with other strands of work, comes when the “day job” takes over and hurts your creative energy leaving you too tired to do anything else.

Many years ago, when I worked in advertising agencies, my job was pretty creative but I was expected to start at 8am and leave at 8pm or later – After a sweaty commute on a crowded tube I had barely enough energy left to eat, let alone create. Life was pared down to a bleak cycle of getup-commute-work-commute-eat-sleep. In that situation it is really easy to make yourself ill by trying to draw out more energy than is “in the bank”

Like everything, it is important to find the balance between work and art which is sustainable and right for you. This can take a long time to get right.

If you are struggling with this balance at the moment, keep taking small steps to getting yourself into the right situation and position. Don’t give up. Creating may be difficult at the moment but if you keep fighting for it you will get there in the end…

Artists on Twitter say…

I wanted to find out how artists combine the spheres of work and creativity so I threw the question open to my friends on Twitter. The replies that I received were positive proof of the fact that it is possible and also very normal to be a “real artist” and juggle other commitments and income streams too.

Many many thanks to everyone who replied. I hope you find their thoughts enlightening and reassuring.

My question…

Artists. Do you have a “day job” too? Please tell me what u do. Do you love or loathe it? Does it help or hinder yr art? For a post..

And the answers from artists around the world…

 

For 3 days a week I work as a research consultant on education/technology projects – the geekiness offsets/informs my art 🙂

@iamcreative

http://letcreativitybegin.co.uk

 

I’m studying an MA in Art, and find it difficult to find work alongside this. I’m freelancing for a website and doing bar work.

@MelanieK__

 

I have a day job as mgr at an accessories boutique. I love it but it eats up a lot of time. I do all the creative stuff there

Himself & I share studio space in our petite apt. It gets messy….

@mizelissa

http://msalzmanart.wordpress.com/

 

I do, I work in Human Resoures, don’t love it, it helps financially but hinders taking time away from creativity

@pulpsushi
http://www.pulpsushi.com

 

I used to be a software engineer manager. It consumed my life and made me sick after too many long hours. Almost no art made.

@violentbloom

www.trollop.com

 

Programming || depends on the day – a zen-ish like is the average || ++ discipline, supplies$, – steals time to work

@babaheath

http://www.windyhilldesign.org/theheathergarden/

 

Hey. Got a day job. LOATHE it. Totally. Work in accounting. Go figure.

@thefadderly
http://fadderly.blogspot.com/

 

Other job: web designer. Sort of a neutral effect on my art; doesn’t take away creativity, but doesn’t contribute either.

@smlacy

http://smlacyart.com/

 

Hi Helen, working as a pt teaching assistant + artist gives security of regular £s + people to talk to 🙂

@JaneCarlisleArt

http://www.braemoor.co.uk/ajc/

 

My day job is tattooing. It helps. And yes, I love it!

@justteejay
http://www.whitetigertattoo.com

 

Policy Writing pays the bills and buys my art/photography supplies!

@AkrotiriArt

http://www.redbubble.com/people/akrotiri

 

Art is my day job, and I fully expect to be paid accordingly for this. Still waiting for the world to realise this!!!

@Blackbird1976

http://www.helendblackbird.co.uk

 

Web strategy/editing. Like it. Hinders only b/c it takes most of my day. I steal time to write. Early am, train, late night…

@petercrowell

http://www.lifeismaking.com/

 

It helps…. IF I make the choice to let it be a steppingstone rather than a stumbling block.

@zahndrew

www.zahndrew.com

 

My ‘day job’ is tattooing, I love it and I think they help each other.

@BiueStarr

http://www.blue-starr.com

 

I work for the FAA as an electronics technician. I love it but it does hurt my art and energies because it’s often like 2 jobs

@parachutepromis

http://www.parachutepromise.com

 

I’m an art teacher for a secondary school.. I love it. I feel like it encourages my own creativity! I do get tired, though…

@ArtistThink

http://www.artistthink.com

 

I hope you find these artists inspirational. They are absolutely REAL ARTISTS finding their own balance.

Do you work alongside your art? Please share the work you do with us in the comments below…

 

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised | How Can Artists Survive & Thrive in the New Economy?

How can artists and creatives survive in the current whirlwind of economic meltdown?

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Lessons in selling art from my weird obsession with camper vans.

I think I’m having a midlife crisis! Over the past few weeks I have developed an unhealthy and possibly slightly weird obsession with getting a camper van.

It all started with a retro turquoise VW camper which one of my favourite galleries uses to advertise their business. It is parked outside with the gallery name on and gives out a jaunty air of summer happiness.

Since seeing this vintage Volkswagen beauty, my campervan obsession spread like wildfire through 70’s Scooby Doo style Toyota Hiace motorhomes, VW T25’s and the “clearly named by a lunatic” Mazda Bongo. I can be found on the Internet at 4am comparing mileage or in the corner of a carpark pawing at camper bodywork and interrogating the owners on miles per gallon economy.

To be honest it’s all got a bit sad…

 

Mr Artonomy has taken on a resigned look and has taken to disowning me when I dash off to look at my latest find. He has more sense than to get in the way of one of my obsessions.

But where he sees a rusty money pit and possible dangerous descent into being a middle aged couple with a flask of tea, I see a life of wild adventure on the open road. I see Friday night spontaneous escape. Sleep under the stars cushioned from the elements by German efficiency. I see waking up on a beach to the roar of the ocean and running joyfully across the sand with my tousel haired children for an early morning dip. I see festivals and sun. I see magical childhood memories being made and I WANT A CAMPERVAN.

So “what on earth has this got to do with selling my art you sad middle aged woman” I hear you cry.

 

Well it’s all to do with “features” versus “benefits” which is an important marketing concept to get your head around and one which very much applies when you are selling your art in a gallery or online.

What I would ACTUALLY physically be buying (features) would be a rusty old van which drinks petrol like a fish, has a weird tent instead of a roof, contains more Formica than is natural and probably has an onboard potty.

However, what I am REALLY BUYING IN MY HEAD (benefits) is a romantic notion of freedom, escape and being at one with nature.

Painting the picture in your collectors head.

 

If a camper van sales man comes up to me at this point and starts telling me about engine size I won’t be too interested in an immediate sale, but if he paints a picture to me of the free and magical campervan lifestyle in my head and how his vehicle will help me achieve it I will be handing over my hard earned cash to him quicker than you can say “split screen VW”

And that, my friends, is the secret of selling anything, be it sprockets, cars, t shirts, jewellery or paintings. You have to discover the deep personal magical inner desires of the buyer and show how your painting can meet that desire.

Collectors  buying an escape.

 

A great example of this is the gallery I talked about who own the gorgeous blue campervan that started this whole blooming thing off. They are located in a beautiful Welsh seaside town and sell a lovely selection of work, a lot of which is based around the sea or countryside. Their customers aren’t just buying a painting. They are buying a memory of being relaxed on holiday, of picnics on the beach, pub lunches, an escape from work and getting on better with their husband. The bottom line is they buy the painting to capture this feeling and FEEL BETTER ABOUT THEMSELVES. They are buying an escape.

So when you are considering where or how to sell your paintings, remember the magical dialogue that will go on in your buyers heads. Try to imagine what it will be and promote your work accordingly.

Me? I’m off to check AutoTrader for a pre-loved VW.

Let me know what you think in the comments…

Image by Barkaw under Creative Commons licence

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Kissing Lots of Frogs | Coping With & Reducing Knockbacks From Art Venues

“You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince”

This is one of my favourite sayings. It’s one I got from my Mum who would console me with it whenever I had my heart broken by some pasty faced spotty no-hoper boy as a teenager. It always makes me smile…

I love the sentiment behind the saying… Basically, don’t expect to score the bullseye with your first shot. Be prepared for the knock backs that come as a part of life and just keep going… You will find the right person/thing/place in the end…

This is extremely relevant to your life as an artist. You have to consistently keep putting your work out there in different venues so that people can get to see how fab it is. This means that as an artist you need to keep approaching others with a view to getting them to show your work, whether it be a gallery, a cafe where your work would look good, a shop, an exhibition curator or an art fair manager.

The likelyhood is that many of the approaches you make to galleries, sales outlets or agents will result in rejection.

This can be really hard to cope with mentally. It’s really important that you don’t let this knock your confidence in your work or drag you down, preventing you trying again in the future.

How can you deal mentally with these knockbacks and also improve your strike rate so they happen less frequently?

Remember, you need to kiss a lot of frogs!

 

You have to keep in mind that this is just the way stuff is.

Rejection by an art venue is not necessarily a personal indictment of your work.

  • Your work may not be the right kind of work for the venue .
  • They may not be taking any new artists on at the moment.
  • They may be oversubscribed.
  • They may be overwhelmed.
  • They may have finished exhibiting art for the season.
  • They may just be too busy to take a look…

It can even be something totally random that you have no control over.

  • They may be hacked off with artists because their wife ran off with one.
  • They may have a personal and irrational hatred of the medium which you work in.
  • They may be in financial trouble and unable to take on anything.

All these problems/reasons/issues are theirs, not yours.

Finding representation and venues takes time and patience and probably a lot of false starts.

You may need to kiss 50 frogs to find 1 prince

 

So it’s really vitally important that you don’t take the knockbacks to heart. Realise that there can be a million reasons that someone doesn’t get back to you or says no. 99% of those reasons will have nothing to do with the quality of your work.

You just need to shrug it off, be proud that you tried and move on to the next opportunity.

You need to kiss the RIGHT frogs!

 

There are however, some simple things to help you in your quest to find the prince and they are as follows.

The number one thing that you can do to help yourself is KISS THE RIGHT FROGS!

It’s no good going around kissing common or garden frogs. You need to kiss the ones that have a CHANCE of turning into a prince…

When looking for a gallery or venue for your work, the crucial thing is to do your research and find the ones who are a good fit for your work. There is no point in trying to get a gallery that specialises in modern urban abstract art to look at your work if you produce delicate landscape watercolours. That is a waste of everyones time and will result in a confidence sapping knockback. Instead, focus on the galleries and venues that are right for your work.

How to FIND the right frogs.

 

Visit as many galleries or art venues where you would like to see your work as possible.

  • Get yourself on their mailing list and visit the exhibitions they put on.
  • Familiarise yourself with the kind of artists and genres they exhibit or work with.
  • Chat to the owners {without trying to sell anything or mentioning your work} and get a feel for the ideals of the venue.
  • Do you get on with the owner/manager/curator too? This is really important if you are going to have a commercial relationship with them.

Once you have got a feel for a group of galleries you will begin to understand the kind of artists each one works with.

You will then be able to narrow down your focus to a few venues that are a good fit for your work. There is no point wasting your time {or the venue owners} if your work isn’t a good fit. You want to find places that you can have a good relationship with.

Get to KNOW the frogs better before you kiss ’em…

 

Once you have a possible shortlist of a few “good fit” venues, it is time to approach the owners.
Rather than going in “all-guns-blazing” trying to sell your stuff to them, you really need to concentrate on building a relationship first.

This strategy takes time but will result in good relationships which can help you move your art career forward {and you will probably get to meet some nice people too – bonus}.

You can do this by visiting exhibitions they are currently showing, chatting to the owners and generally getting involved without being pushy.
Only when you have established a relationship is it a good time to broach the subject of your work and that you would like to show it with them.

…And pucker up

 

At this point a good professional approach can work wonders.

  • Choose a good time to approach the owner/curator {not when they are busy/hassled/hungover etc}and suggest that your work may be a good match for them and you would like to show with them.
  • Choose your time wisely or you may undo all the goodwill you have built up so far.
  • Send a polite follow up email chatting about your previous conversations or their exhibitions you have enjoyed to remind them that you are interested in what they do and not just being pushy. Attach a couple of images of your work and a link to your website.

Unfortunately there is no shortcut to the basic fact that you need to build up a good relationship with the venue first. Cold calling with all your artwork in tow seldom works.


But if you follow this approach, the chances of hurtful knockbacks are diminished.

5 quick tips on approaching art venues

 

  • Make sure you always know the name of the person you need to speak to. No sending things to “whom it may concern” You should have already built up a relationship with them.
  • Make sure that your approach is professional. If sending items through the post ensure everything is nicely packaged and presented in a crisp manner.
  • The same applies if sending emails, make sure you address it to the right person. Send from a professional email address {no flowerfairies@hotmail.com – this matters more than you think}. Attach only 2 or 3 jpeg images and make sure they aren’t too large that they will clog up someone’s email.
  • Make sure your website is finished {I get sent so many links to “Under Construction” websites} and professional looking.
  • Make sure you actually LIKE the person you are approaching. Remember you are looking to work commercially with them. If you don’t fit personally this is never a good idea.

So keep your faith and confidence when approaching art venues. With a little prior research and work, much of the uncertainty and damaging rejection can be reduced.

Just make sure you choose your frogs carefully… that way you will find the perfect frog for you and your art. A fabulous frog with POTENTIAL…

Let me know how you get on in the comments…

Image courtesy of Jacki-Dee under Creative Commons Licence

 

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Show It, Don’t Blow It: 7 Tips to Keep the Art Exhibition Blues at Bay

As artists, showing our work can often be a trigger for creative block. In this guest post, artist and blogger at DialogVisual, Cherry Jeffs, offers 7 tips for ensuring that your next exhibition doesn’t cause a dry spell in your art-making!

A few years ago I began showing my art after a long hiatus. Exhibiting my work previously had resulted in long bouts of creative block and I was determined not to let this happen again!

Since lack of self-confidence is frequently at the root of artist’s block, here I share some straightforward strategies I used to boost my morale and make the whole process less stressful and more enjoyable.

If you are new to showing or returning to it after a long break, these 7 tips are a great way to ease yourself painlessly onto the gallery circuit.

1. Control the Show

In his book, Fearless Creating (Tarcher/Putnam, 1995) creativity guru, Eric Maisel warns against ‘impulsive showing’ whereby the artist shows,
‘…without preparing the work or preparing herself, without considering who the right audience might be or what she wants from the experience of showing…’
Maisel advises consciously planning for showing: Deciding to whom we want to show our work, why we want to show it and whether there is anything else the work needs before we do so.
To ease yourself (back) into showing, choose a situation that allows you to determine what work to show, and when and how you you show it. Organising your own show means you can carefully control the whole process.

Pick the most sympathetic environment possible – i.e. somewhere where you feel comfortable and that’s easily accessible so your pals can come and support you!

2. Like a Scout – Be Prepared!

Preparing for your show well in advance, reduces last minute panics! Complete your work well before the start of the exhibition so you have plenty of time to plan how you are going to hang it. Spend some time in the gallery beforehand picturing how to place the work.

Arrive early on the day of the hanging to make the most of the time available.

Hanging the exhibition

3. Spread The Word

If the venue doesn’t provide invitations, get your own printed and distribute them as many widely as possible. This will help make sure you get a great turn out – another morale booster!

Send out some press releases to local media as well. There’s nothing like a live interview to make you feel important 😉

Local Press

4. Feel Good!

Opening night is your night so do everything possible to optimize your morale so that you will shine.

Have your hair cut/styled the day before the exhibition if it helps you feel more confident and wear the kind of clothes that you can forget about as soon as you put them on!

I don’t suggest you wear your track suit with egg stains on but jettison that trendy-but-uncomfortable outfit in favour of something you’ve worn before and you know makes you feel good.

5. Stay Straight

Don’t drink anything alcoholic on the night! It’s tempting to get stuck into the free drinks at the private view but I’ve seen even very experienced artists getting more than a little tipsy with pre-exhibition nerves and its not a pretty sight!

Keeping a clear head whilst all around you lose theirs will give you an advantage when it comes to haggling over the price of your work (yes, it happens) and keep you sweet-talking those prospective buyers all the way to the bank to withdraw some cash 😉

The Private View

6. Separate the Work from the Show

This is the most important tip of all to avoid creative block after a show: You have to mentally separate the making of the work from the exhibiting and selling of it.

Think of it as creating two boxes. In one, put your experience of the process of creating the work; Then mentally seal that box.

Leave the second box ‘empty’ to be filled by the exhibition experience. Whatever this box ends up being filled with, don’t allow its contents to spill over into the first box!

Making the work is making the work, exhibiting it is something else. You’ve enjoyed the experience of making the work so don’t let anything or anyone detract from that.

7. Keep Your Creative Juices Cooking

Spending time in the studio on new work while the exhibition is running keeps you grounded and in the flow; it stops the feeling that your whole artistic life hangs by the one thread that is The Show.

Also consider booking yourself onto an artist’s retreat to reward and replenish yourself after the exhibition comes down.

You could even organise another show shortly after the first one! This provides a second opportunity for selling anything that remains unsold and a chance to correct any glitches that occurred the first time round 🙂

Following these strategies helps to give you a feel-good experience about showing your work and stave off a confidence crisis that can lead to Artist’s Block.

Do leave a comment if you’ve got any tips of your own that you’d like to share.

If it’s too late and the Blight of Block has already Bitten you, you might want to sign up for my Blast Your Blocks e-course starting 16th June!

 

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The Secret of Staying Creative | 11 great ways to beat creative art block

I get blocked sometimes. I’m sure most people in a creative industry do. Sometimes I’m simply not inspired and no matter how much chocolate or caffeine I consume it just isn’t happening. So I ask myself – how can I stay creative? How can I be in the moment all the time or at least avoid this suspension in creative energy? Looking back I need to think about what inspires me instead of what I am feeling when I am simply not feeling anything. What makes it work and makes me tick? What do other artists use for inspiration? The best way to do this is to simply throw out thoughts and ideas and see where this takes me.

     

  1. I will often peruse catalogues and online galleries to see what others are creating. While I am not interested in doing something just like them, I might be hoping this artist’s work will inspire something in me that I forgot about and I will soon be creating.
  2.  

  3. I am learning to take risks. Why just the other day I painted and it was messy and I didn’t know where it was taking me. I am so afraid of ruining a piece that often I will not let it reach the full potential that it has. And…what is the worst that could happen? Will the painting fail? Will people not like it? What’s so bad about this? Just paint it over again and make it better.
  4.  

  5. Work with others. I love to meet up with artists and talk art. Anything about art. I want to hear about their work and what drives them to paint or create what they do. As artists we can get so stuck in our studios – away from other people that we forget about all the life that is happening out there in this great big world. So my advice…open the door and walk through. Make a coffee date with a friend and take notes.
  6.  

  7. Write down what inspires you. Sometimes I will be traveling, on a plane or in a car and something pops into my head so I write it down. Be clear when you write these ideas down because what is perfectly clear right now may be nothing but a hazy thought in a week or two.
  8.  

  9. Use colors you normally wouldn’t use and paint something that you don’t plan to show anyone. This one is fun because it truly is just for fun. Don’t think about selling it or publishing it. Simply enjoy the process and see what you learn.
  10.  

  11. Try a medium you have never used. What about gel medium?
  12.  

  13. Use a substrate you have never tried before then see how much abuse it can take. My advice: wood. It takes a lot of abuse and always forgives me.
  14.  

  15. Go out and pick weeds. Many of my best ideas are discovered while pulling weeds. Doing something mindless frees up brain space to create.
  16.  

  17. Visit a gallery. Nothing gets my creative energy flowing more than going to galleries. Strike up a conversation with the artist or the gallery owner. Ask about your favorite pieces and what inspired the artist. Do not talk about your work—you are in a gallery that is spending money to showcase the work of other artists. Allow that time to learn about someone else.
  18.  

  19. Don’t try to be another artist. Just be yourself. You’re much better that way.
  20.  

  21. Be patient and realize some days are good for art and others are good for other things.

 

© 2011 Jan Weiss

Artist Bio – Jan Weiss

Jan Weiss, a northern California native is a freelance writer and artist specializing in home decor. With a strong background in art publishing and art trends, Jan shares this knowledge with the trade as well as individual artists.

Weiss has just completed her first eBook for artists, titled: The Coexistence of Art and Money; interested buyers can find this book as well as her art through several on-line galleries such as Artist Rising, Image Kind and Etsy.  Jan’s style is a mixed of collage, digital creations and abstract landscapes that will appeal to the hospitality buyer. She lives with her husband, cat and dog in the Bay Area and enjoys organic gardening, cooking, reading and making stuff.

You can find Jan at
www.theartplanet.com
www.etsy.co

Photocredit : Watercolour Girl image by Lorra Elena

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