Sunday, May 4, 2008

new class at MCC

Hi. It's been a while. I'm teaching a new class this summer about the business of art, called, of course, 'Banquet for the Starving Artist'. So, I've been spending a lot more time, reading and brainstorming ways to help artists.

I read a very good article in Art Calendar magazine by Jack White where he lists 12 ways artists hurt their own careers. It's called "12 Reasons Artists Fail". It's a very good article, although I agree with about 90% of it - I copied it for all of my students.

He lists: 1. No one can find you. 2. Lack of artistic focus. 3. Distractions. 4. Lack of business knowledge. 5. Jealousy. 6. Pricing. 7. No Goals. 8. Attitude. 9. The art doesn't 'connect'. 10. Failure to produce. 11. Not having fun. 12. Artistic Suicide. I think it's very good, practical advice - Jack, to me, is kind of like the Dr. Phil of the art world. Hey, and they're both from Texas! I say 90% because I think some of it is very generalized, which can be good for a very beginner, but I always believe in exceptions to the rule.

By the way, I can't say enough good about Art Calendar magazine. Anyone trying to make money on their art needs a subscription. Or you can check it out first at Borders.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

no excuses

The point of that letter is really that there are no excuses. There are ways if you find them. If you make excuses you just aren’t making your art a priority. It’s that simple. Maybe you can only spend five minutes on your art each day. It sounds like it’s almost not worth it if that’s all you have to give. But – five minutes a day is almost thirty-one hours in a year. That sounds a bit better, doesn’t it?

I guess we all need to be reminded that life is finite and we should spend our time on worthwhile things. Sure, the laundry does need to be done and some basic housekeeping each day – but don’t let society and the fear of what other people think keep you from doing what is REALLY important to you. We all know how fast a year can go. MAKE the time. Cut out something else. Realize that small steps really DO add up. I had someone say to me once that when they die they don’t want people to talk about how someone could eat off her kitchen floor because it was so clean… she wanted people to remember the kind of person she was and the art she left behind. That says it all to me. It’s our life and we owe it to ourselves to live the life we were meant to live.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Have small kids or other distractions?

I got an email from a woman in South Carolina who asked me this question: “Do you have any advice on creating art while taking care of young children? How do you do it?”

My answer: ‘When my own kids were small they were number one - above my art, but I also realized that kids do get more self sufficient and eventually move away so I needed to have something for myself. Not to mention if I didn't spend any time on my art I wasn't able to give as much to the kids. Not only was it a good example to them to see their mom taking care of herself, but necessary to my own well being.
If you do have help - a supportive partner who also spends time with the kids then by all means make an arrangement so that you can spend some time each week devoted to your art with no distractions.
If you don't have help you're going to have be creative in finding some. Is there another parent of one of your children's friends who you can swap time with? A family member who can baby-sit once a week?

I remember many years ago I came to the realization that IF I was going to make art, it was really up to ME and no one else to make it happen. That thought transformed my life because I could no longer use other people not helping as an excuse.

The most fun and easiest thing to do is set up your house so that you can work while taking care of the kids.
Having a place in your home where you can keep your work set up helps a lot so that you don't have to put away your supplies all the time - I've worked on my kitchen table and then had to clean it off for dinner way too many times. The problem becomes that it's too hard to take it out again to finish a project. I eventually made my living room (I was fortunate enough to have a living room and a family room) into my studio and my dining room into my office. A table set up in a corner of the family room, or dining room will help tremendously. It's much better to have a space of your own - even if it's small. And then have a space for your kids to do art projects of their own with their own supplies. Most kids love to be creative. You can set aside an hour a day (and it could last longer if you're all having fun and depending on your kids ages) to everyone working on their own art project - including you!

Although it might seem at first thought to have a space far away from your main living area might be best because it's the most quiet place - I've found that having my work space near my family was what worked best for me because I was more likely to BE there. I wanted to know what my kids were doing and be there if they needed me. That's just my personal preference. I just got used to working with a lot of noise around me. As a matter of fact, as I sit here and type I've had to get up and let my Shelties in the house twice because they were barking at the neighbor dogs!
Another idea is that if the kids settle down to watch a movie each day there could be some quiet time for you - now, believe me, I'm not suggesting using the TV as a babysitter, but if you do allow some time for them to watch it - this could be a nice window of opportunity. They could look forward to seeing what you've created after the movie is over.

I would say that being PRESENT for your kids while you are sharing your day is the best thing you can do. Pay a lot of attention to them while you play, take them out, make meals - just every day stuff, and listen to them. They will be a lot more likely to understand YOUR needs if you give them some undisrupted time. And they won't be trying to get your attention every minute of the day if they feel they've already HAD your attention.’

If you don’t have small children, but other people or animals that take a lot of your attention, aging parents for example, you can use some of those same ideas or principles.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Just make some art

So, let’s talk about DOING the art. “I’m so busy and tired when I get home from work that I don’t have time!” If that’s your excuse for not doing what you want, it is just that – an excuse. Unless you are stuck in prison (the kind where you don’t even get a pad of paper or a pen to use) – you have some time. But people sometimes put themselves in their own prisons and really think they can’t do what they want. But I bet you can.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

think like a professional

Besides keeping a positive attitude you need to think like a professional. I once heard someone say that if you want something you need to start acting like you already have it. That’s great advice. Imagine yourself doing what you want and see if there is some of that behavior you can do right now. Even if you’re working at a job you’re not particularly crazy about. Even if you have no extra money to spend on your art. Even if it’s very hard to imagine. It’s your life. If you feel like an artist, you are an artist. Being an artist isn’t about selling. Yes, the selling and making money will come if you make it happen, but you can still ‘be’ an artist just by believing you are one and then acting like it.

I somehow just got this image of someone ‘acting’ like an artist wearing a beret and saying pretentious things. I don’t mean lying to yourself or anyone else. Be honest. Maybe you feel like the truth is ‘I wish I could be an artist because I like to draw and paint, but I’ve never had any training or sold anything because I’m not that good.’ But is the REAL truth ‘I’m an artist. I haven’t sold anything yet, because, until recently, I haven’t taken it seriously enough.’?

When I say ‘acting like an artist’ let’s start with the basics – making art. DO the art you want to do, have a business card made so people can contact you, tell someone what you do, take some free moments to look up art shows online, enter an art show, have slides made of your work. The list goes on and on. You get the point.

Go to my site: - you'll be able to get to my site soon by going to:

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Is someone you know making you feel discouraged?

Undoubtedly you know someone in your life who thinks artists are just ‘playing’. Trust me, I know these people. When you say you want to be an artist – or that you are an artist they will immediately find ways for you to feel like that’s not a real job. This is where you really have to decide how to handle these people. Not only how to handle them (or hopefully get away from them), but how to NOT let their negative attitude get to you. We all come across negative people and sometimes - although I recommend avoiding them - you can't. Maybe they're part of the family or someone you just met. It can be a challenge to be proud of what you do when faced with negativity, but you can do it. I've found that quick, short answers are best because you don't want to argue or engage in conversation with these kind of people - you just want to shut them up. Have a sense of humor and realize when someone is negative - it usually has to do with THEM and nothing to do with you. Try quoting something positive you've heard someone say about your work and your dreams. For example: "Well, it's all in how you look at it. I've heard people say I'm going to be very successful someday." Or "Well, I feel the best way to succeed is to do what you're good at." or "I feel positive about my future." Smile, then drop the subject or walk away if you can.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

more on promoting yourself - advertising

Advertising in newspapers, magazines, etc. is very costly. I believe our lives are so complicated nowadays, there are so many events to go to, so much to do, see, and read about that paying for an ad is mostly a waste. Not many people actually read them. What people DO read however are short, to the point articles on a front page with a colored photo. So, great – how do you get that accomplished? It will probably be easier than you think.

Start with creating something newsworthy. What’s newsworthy? Well, this is where your brainstorming skills come in. Has anything new happened? Have you gotten into a National show? Are you having a local show and giving part of the profits to a good charity? Do you have a new business or a new website? Are you teaming up with another artist? Are you being featured in a local gallery, teaching a new class? Don’t be shy. What are you doing that people should know about?

What people don’t always realize is that newspapers are looking for ideas. When you present an idea to a reporter or editor they usually want to write about it. Or better yet – YOU write about it in a press release and send it to them. This takes pressure off of them but still fills the newspaper. The easiest way is to email it and this is really the preferred way nowadays. But because they are very busy and under daily deadlines they often overlook a press release so you have to remind them without being obnoxious. This can be tricky. You don’t want to get arrested on stalking charges. When I worked at my office job my boss taught me one important thing when we were calling companies and trying to find people. He said “make friends with the gatekeeper.” – meaning the secretary or whoever answers the phone. So, go ahead and call as a follow-up and it's usually appreciated.

I keep forgetting to mention in these blogs - go to my website to see my art - Thanks! ; )