Posts in Career
The Grass Isn't Greener, But Sometimes It's Okay to Check
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I recently interviewed emerging Philadelphia-based designer and digital artist, Jeff Manning, who told me that his advice to his younger self would have been to focus more on competing against himself rather than his peers. This idea really connected with me and got me thinking to the bigger idea of how often we compare ourselves to others - today, in so many more aspects of our lives than our careers. It can be detrimental when taken to the extreme, but sometimes, it can actually be not only useful, but important to do so. When it seems like everyone else is making more sales, having bigger exhibitions, or getting better exposure, it feels difficult to not unfairly or unnecessarily judge ourselves against others and even more significantly, to not let self-doubt or jealousy get the best of us. So instead, let’s take a moment to identify the productive ways we can use comparison to keep us moving forward!

Perhaps you’ve already read Kat’s article about how to price artwork. If so, you’ll remember that looking at other artists who are in the same stage as you and making similar work (in terms of size, materials, and time spent per piece) is a great way to estimate what you can be selling your art for. Pricing has been kept such a mystery in our industry for so long, a trend fostered by perceived competition and scarcity between galleries and artists. But luckily, attitudes on this are finally beginning to shift. Whereas collectors of the past might have been intimidated to make an inquiry at a traditional gallery, today, potential buyers can see prices listed online or even contact artists directly via their websites and social media channels. I encourage you to not only be aware of how your peers are pricing their work, but to also be open to sharing this with other artists if they reach out to you and finally, of keeping tabs on larger trends in the industry. 

Along the same lines, if you are working in the arts either in a full-time role or in addition to your studio practice, get to know your what your colleagues are being paid. Hopefully, you saw the recent salary spreadsheet that was initiated by a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (yay Philly!). It went viral online, with thousands of people who work in museum, gallery, arts administration, and education positions adding their wages to list. Knowing what others make will help you better negotiate your pay and ensure that you are being compensated fairly within your company. This can, of course, be an awkward conversation at first, but again, the more transparent we all are with each other the better off everyone will be in the long run. 

Are you looking to start working with a gallery? I talk more in depth about this in my article “The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying to Galleries”, but one of the tips that I discuss is that part of your research should always include checking out the artists who are already represented by a gallery you’re interested in. Don’t skimp on this one! Compare notes on their resumes and websites to make sure that you’re really a strong fit. It can actually come in handy when it comes time to putting together your application. Through this research, you may notice similarities between the gallery artists and you that you can then mention as evidence to support you joining their roster. 

Let’s say that things have been going well for a while. You’re making sales and showing in quality exhibitions and now you’re wondering what to do in order to take the next step in your career. You might be thinking: ‘How do I show in museums and art fairs? Is an artist residency right for me? What can I do to successfully apply for grant funding? or What’s next?’ This is another time when checking in with other artists is a good idea. It is likely that you may already follow or know someone at the next level and can simply ask, but if you don’t, there are lots of additional resources to tap into like podcasts, books, blogs, workshops, and more. A little bit of networking at the next gallery opening or art event also might help you meet artists who can provide this type of advice.

Finally, comparing can be a simple way to learn something new to add to your art practice. Whether it is a new technique, medium, scale, or material, if something in another artist’s work caught your attention in a way that made you wonder ‘How did they do that?’ it’s probably worth trying to figure it out (or asking them)! It could really bring an interesting perspective or value to your work. Even if it isn’t directly related to what you are making, I’d still encourage you to pursue it as creative experimentation. When you let yourself explore freely, it can spark your imagination in different ways and that could lead to new ideas for your work.

The same holds true with business or marketing as an artist. Don’t feel the need to reinvent the wheel. If you see another artist’s resume or website that is formatted nicely and looks professional, definitely use that as a template. This is especially useful when you’re starting out on social media. We’ve spoken before about how followers really don’t matter in the grand scheme of things. They can help, yes, depending on the kind of work you make and what your goals are as an artist. However, what is more important is honing your voice online, showing great images of your art, and being consistent with your posts. Find some examples of artists who you think are doing this well so that you can use them as a model for your own profiles. Please note that none of the above is recommending that you copy anyone directly! Borrowing from Austin Kleon, who I recently interviewed for Issue 15, you can and should ‘steal like an artist’ but when you use others’ ideas always turn them into something that is your own and give credit where it is due.

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I hope that these tips will help you recognize when comparison can be a beneficial tool, but if you ever find yourself getting negatively affected by looking at what others are doing then please stop. Unfollow or mute those on social media that aren’t serving you or take a break from it completely. Step back from relationships in person that may be putting added stress or pressure on you. Sometimes we don’t realize how profoundly we are being affected and it can grow into unhealthy feelings of anxiety that are hard to manage. Try to spot the signs early and proactively separate yourself from what is causing it. Don’t let anyone else dictate where you should be or make you feel bad about where you currently are in your journey. Always remember that it is exactly that, a journey. Something that takes time, effort, and consistent work! 

I have definitely gotten sucked into these ideas on occasion, thinking that I should be further along in my career than I am, earning a higher salary, or doing more. But then I remember - what is the rush? I think of those who found success later in life, like Jerry Saltz and Lisa Congdon, and realize that I’m exactly where I need to be. I wholeheartedly agree with the artist who I interviewed that I’m the only person that I should be comparing myself to in that regard and if I’ve grown or progressed or learned something new since last year, last month, or even last week then I’m definitely on the right track. If you’re in this creative life for the long haul (like Kat talked about in a recent Art & Cocktails episode!), this is the type of mindset to maintain in order to ensure that you’ll remain focused on your own path for years to come.

Cheers!

-Alicia
@puigypics
alicia@createmagazine.com

Kat & Alicia Interviewed for the THRIVE Talks Podcast!
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We were so honored to be invited to be guests on the THRIVE Talks Podcast hosted by Jamie and Tara of Thrive Art Studio! Here’s a description and link to the episode:

Starting where you are with Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig from Create! Magazine

Do you read Create! Magazine? Today we talk with Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig about the ups and downs of running an independent contemporary art magazine and working in the arts! We loved talking to another creative duo about starting where you are, failure and they offer awesome tips on getting your work featured!

Listen here.

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It's Not Luck (& Other Reasons Why Creatives Need to be More Vocal About Their Accomplishments)
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You’ve been accepted to a juried show, received a prestigious award, had an incredible review written about your work, or made a major sale. Congrats! It’s one of the best feelings in the world to know that others are supporting what you do. So why are we often hesitant to share the joy that we’re experiencing? Perhaps you’re shy and don’t want a lot of extra attention or think that going on about your accomplishments is boastful. While there is certainly a line between updating your community with exciting things that are happening and oversharing, there are a few key reasons why creatives, and especially women artists, need to be more vocal about their achievements.

I’m sure many of us have fallen into the trap of brushing away compliments. Rather than thanking someone for congratulating us on selling a painting or landing a gallery to represent our work, we’ll come up with an excuse to make the accomplishment sound like less than it is. “Oh, I got lucky” or “It’s not really a big deal” you might say, but that’s not true! Too many of us operate under the strange, outdated notion that it is more polite to negate a compliment than accept it. Even if the circumstances surrounding a particular moment of success seem serendipitous, you likely played an active role in making it happen for yourself. You made great work that was recognized by the juror (or curator, gallery, collector, etc) and you put yourself out there by applying to the opportunity or perhaps through networking and being active online. So stop giving anyone or anything else the credit. It’s not luck, it’s you.

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Always remember that it is important for your peers to know about your achievements. Why? Because you never know who can introduce you to your next, big opportunity and it may only take one new connection to catapult your career to the next level. Success in the arts often occurs like a domino effect, where one person will find your work and from that perhaps another will share it, and then another, and it keeps going from there. It’s almost as if the tastemakers in the industry have ‘FOMO’ and if one magazine or curator is featuring a certain artist, then others feel they should be too. Yes, they want to try and find the ‘next big name’ first, but once one influencer has identified a great new talent, others often follow soon after. You can help this process along for yourself by making sure that your community knows when you’ve been featured in a magazine or exhibition so that they can help share it too and potentially build buzz and momentum.

Making others aware of recent accomplishments also helps with name recognition. I’ll share a story here to help illustrate about a friend who recently went to an awards ceremony in the advertising industry. When his team was honored with their first trophy of the evening, he opted not to join the group onstage and when his colleagues asked why, he cited the same feelings of not needing the attention or wanting to look too proud. But then he realized, it’s not just an opportunity to celebrate with his team, it’s a chance for everyone else in the room to see that they produce high quality work for their clients. If you see the same person going up to accept multiple awards, then you’ll start to remember them and likely associate that person with being great at what they do (and maybe want to work with them in the future!). Therefore, try not to be shy about sharing that you’ve won awards or been given other important recognition. You should want your personal and especially your professional contacts to remember you for all of the great things you’ve done!

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Most importantly, however, you need to be vocalizing your successes because if you don’t then nobody will know about them. It sounds obvious that you need to be your biggest cheerleader, but we often don’t fully realize the consequences of not sharing good news. I once had a boss who started giving me fewer shifts than my two other peers. Confused, I confronted her about what I might be doing wrong or what I could be doing better. She didn’t have anything negative to say. Instead, she simply told me that the other two girls spoke up more often about the projects they were completing on a daily basis or the sales they had made and I didn’t. I was so surprised to hear that I wasn’t actually doing anything wrong. Even though I was selling just as much (or more!), keeping up with all of my work, and often staying late to do a little extra cleaning or to take on additional tasks, this one thing was holding me back.

I also read an article around that time which stated that believing you’ll get recognized just from keeping your head down and working hard unfortunately isn’t true and it’s women who tend to suffer the most from this misconception. With that in mind, it made more sense. As my employer usually worked from home rather than in the office, how was she supposed to differentiate my sales and projects from what the other girls were doing if I didn’t tell her specifically? So now, even if I still sometimes feel a bit reserved about ‘tooting my own horn’, I try to think of it as an integral part of promoting myself and push myself to do it in order to keep my career moving forward instead of stuck in the same place.

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Finally, even though it might feel a bit awkward at first, it’s very likely that your artist community really wants to celebrate your successes with you. There will always be negative people and those who struggle with jealousy, but your core support group will stand by your side. Just like they will be there for you when you’ve been rejected or are having a slow period, they also want to be a part of your high moments, especially if you’re going to pop that champagne ;) Cheers!

Of course, none of this is to say that there aren’t instances where a bit of good fortune plays a part in our lives. Some people have parents or other role models who supported their careers while some don’t and certain cities or countries provide more opportunities for working artists than others. Instead of focusing on things that can’t be changed, however, remember that there are so many examples of people who have overcome difficult circumstances and achieved success anyway, despite their obstacles or limited resources. This is about cherishing exactly those people and those moments. I’ll bet you can think of several examples of when you had to ‘make it work’ too. Be proud of those efforts, show how grateful you are for what you have, and perhaps even try to pay it forward to other artists you know who may need help or guidance.

We all go through highs and lows and it’s a powerful thing that more artists and people in general are being authentic about when they’re not having their best day. We don’t always need to see perfect lattes and curated travel photos. But part of being real is sharing when good things happen too, even when they are little victories. If you’re starting out, having a small show at a local cafe or selling your first work are totally worthy and incredible accomplishments. Share them! Not because it’s bragging or trying to make others think that you’re this great, successful artist (you already are one and don’t need anyone else’s opinion to prove it). Rather, it’s the chance for you to share something that you’re genuinely proud of and that excites you, which your followers and those who support your work will truly appreciate and celebrate too!

-Alicia
alicia@createmagazine.com
@puigypics

How I Got Over My Imposter Syndrome
Photo by Emily Grace Photography

Photo by Emily Grace Photography

By Ekaterina Popova

When I first started putting myself out there with both my own artwork and in the early stages of Create! Magazine, I had to overcome a ton of fears and limiting beliefs about my place in the art world. Eventually, I realized that it simply takes time to get used to selling my paintings and launching a creative business. It’s uncomfortable at first, often feels unnatural, and you may even feel like a fraud in the process. But after your first few sales or other successes, you will start getting into the swing of things.

Though imposter syndrome may never entirely go away, we learn to build confidence by doing our work and sharing it with the world. The truth is, if you live with the mentality that humans are created as equals, then you will believe that we each have the absolute right to pursue our passion, put ourselves out there, and make a life and career we love. A lot of what holds us back is not a lack of time, money, or materials, but our feelings of unworthiness. Some of my biggest obstacles in the early stages of my career were being scared of silly, made-up problems, such as “what if this is the last good painting I make or sell?”, “what if all this money goes away?” (spoiler alert: with that mentality, it definitely will) and “what if something bad happens as a result of my success?” I even worried about not ‘looking like’ an artist (what does that even mean?).

Of course, I still have my share of anxieties and insecurities when taking risks and putting myself out there, but by continuing to pursue my dreams despite my fears, I’m learning that it’s usually much less scary than I initially imagine. There is more than enough room for all of us creatives to find success and our place in this industry. The only way to fight fear of doubt or disapproval is by staring it straight in the eye and doing it anyway. Share your artwork, submit that application, or write a grant proposal that terrifies you (or at least makes you a little uncomfortable). In so many instances, we’re the only ones who think that an opportunity, show, job, or gallery is ‘out of our league’ when it’s actually not. Show up exactly as you are right now, not when a fancy critic approves of you, when you get signed by a gallery, or when someone buys your work. Show up exactly as you are at this moment in time and be proud of what you do and who you are.

When I first started selling my art, it was priced ridiculously low. It was almost embarrassing how cheap I made my paintings, but I kept going and pushing myself. After each sale, I would slowly increase my prices, feel more like a professional, and upgrade my artist profile. Nobody can do this for you. Take your time and grow at a pace that feels natural, but I urge you to never wait for anyone’s permission or approval. You are the only person responsible for elevating yourself and lifting yourself higher in your life and career. I had to learn this the hard way.

Several years ago on a trip to Miami during Art Basel Week, I had one of my favorite experiences that illustrates the lies of imposter syndrome. I was completely broke. At this point in time, I had already left my day job but was in the process of rebranding the magazine after a business partnership breakup. With about $80 to my name, and a hefty credit card bill to top things off, I packed my bags and headed to the airport.

I was fortunate enough to be nominated by my mentor Bridgette Mayer for an exhibition at Art Miami Fairs. I was honored to be included, but literally had to scrape together every last penny I had in order to travel. The exhibition was sponsored by Diamonds Unleashed and I was invited to come to their cocktail party before the fair. Insecurities about my outfit, a few extra pounds induced by stress, and my lack of money, felt like rocks in the pit of my stomach. But I mustered up the courage to go and used my last few dollars to Uber to the event. Even though I did not feel ready or good enough, I knew that for me to climb out of the current pit that I was in, I had to start showing up for myself and become the person that I wanted to be.

When I arrived at the party, it was even more extravagant than I imagined. I surveyed the scene of this large, oceanview apartment complete with white leather couches, an impressive collection of contemporary art, and trays of champagne floating around the room. I was sure I didn’t belong. Much to my relief, however, the attendees were some of the friendliest people I had ever met. I began chatting with designers, art dealers, artists, and art collectors who were all brought together through this organization for their love of art. Nobody cared that I didn’t wear a designer dress or that I was an emerging artist trying to make things work. They just wanted to see my paintings and hear my story. I will never regret stepping out of my comfort zone to attend this event.

Of course, not every situation in life will go this smoothly, but it’s important to remember that even intimidating individuals, who appear to have everything you don’t, had to start somewhere too and would never have arrived at where they are now if they didn’t face their demons head-on. It’s often our own insecurities that prevent us from putting ourselves into situations that can help us the most. I got so much confidence from the simple fact that I could have a conversation with a famous art dealer that evening.

If you are worried about all the things you are not, or all the skills you don’t yet have, I urge you to take a moment and see yourself for everything you are. Ask yourself, what have you accomplished so far? What are you most proud of? Where do you want to go next? Don’t leave any room for doubts and negativity, especially when it comes to your art. Imagine the person who needs to experience what you create in yourself and don’t deprive them of that joy. Say yes to showing up and sharing your gift and watch the magic unfold in your life.

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you may like our podcast, Art & Cocktails. You can listen to it for free on iTunes, Spotify and more.

Good Vibes Only: Negativity in the Art World and How to Fight it
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The more we put ourselves out there, the more people will share their opinions of us and our work - both good and bad. It’s amazing to have people express interest in your art on social media and especially in person. We hope that you appreciate the encouragement, internalize that you are deserving of the positive support, and enjoy returning the compliments as much as Kat and I do! But as they say, it’s not always sunshine and roses. It’s likely that you’ve encountered negativity in the art world and it can be difficult to be at your best when the attitude of others doesn’t match your own. I’ve broken down a few common situations below to identify and overcome these unnecessary sources of drama!

Ignoring the ‘Starving Artist’ stereotype

“So what are you going to do with that?” was a question that I would often get from people when I told them that I was studying towards a BFA (and when I was in grad school for my MA in Art History too!). My response was almost always met with a look best described as halfway between puzzled and concerned. After working in the arts for the past ten years, however, I feel more empowered in this field now more than ever. For example, while there is still tons of progress to be made, we are seeing more women and people of color taking charge and making their way into the roles and institutions that had previously been out of reach. Choosing to pursue a creative career shouldn’t feel like it limits your options. From exhibiting nationally and abroad, working for galleries and art fairs to museums and non-profits, starting a business, writing a book, and more, it isn’t what can an artist do...it’s what can’t we do?

It took me quite some time to arrive at the realization that my possibilities were not limited by what others think artists are capable of. While it can be disheartening that not everyone will be 100% supportive of your goals, you don’t need anyone else’s permission to follow your passion. When you put yourself in the mindset that anything can happen, things can surprise you in the best way!

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Minding your Ps and Qs

When Kat and I went to Miami in December 2018, what really stood out to us was the incredible variety of art that we saw (at over ten fairs!). This is one of the things that we appreciate most about this industry: the art world IS big enough that everyone can find their place in it. Not everyone will be represented by blue chip galleries or exhibit in museums, but you do not need to do either of those things to find supportive collectors and share your work with people from around the world. With this in mind, push yourself to be a savvy networker: keep business cards with you, have a memorable elevator pitch ready to go, and don’t be afraid to speak up about your accomplishments.

Here’s an example:

Kat and I stopped at a booth to admire a piece we liked. A man walking by paused next to us to introduce himself as the creator of the work, explain a bit about it, and as he was on his way to do something else just quickly ended the conversation by saying: “Thanks so much for looking at my work. Here’s my card. Please keep in touch!” Keep your business interactions professional and polite, which will ensure that you leave a great impression.

The art world is great for making new connections and finding your niche, but be very careful about burning bridges. It is so unfortunate that for as much good as social media has done for artists, it has also given some people the false notion that they should use it to criticize others. Whether it’s posting disrespectful comments or even trying to preface a remark with “I don’t mean to be negative but…”, engaging in that kind of behavior online will guarantee that the other person will not want to work with you. What if down the road they are the link to a big opportunity that you would have loved to be a part of?

I’m sure you’ve also seen the comments that start off with “sorry to be the one to say this but…”, as if this excuses poor behavior. They’re never from someone who writes criticism as their profession. Rather, it is a cheap way of putting aside guilt when they know that the second half of what they’re going to say is unnecessary and negative. It is highly unlikely that any person with a valid reason for being critical of something would apologize for it.

The same holds true with overreacting to not being selected for a gallery or exhibition. We know that it is disappointing and frustrating, especially if you’ve applied more than once. We’ve been there! You send your best work and hope that it will be picked, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I actually discuss rejection in much more depth both in our first book ‘The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips for Emerging Artists’ as well as on the Art & Cocktails podcast, but my best advice is to stay positive, try to be gracious, and move on. Something better is coming!

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Developing a thick skin

I strongly believe that artists should support artists rather than get sucked into competing with or comparing yourself to others and it is especially disappointing that even today, you still see women who think it’s okay to put down other women (why?!). Remember that everyone is on their own path and even if another artist is finding success that doesn’t mean that you never will. Jealousy will only distract you so keep working hard and be patient that your time will come when it’s meant to. It’s also important to bear in mind that people rarely post about the hard times and struggles that they go through. If all you see are sales and exhibitions, it may seem like an artist achieved ‘overnight success’ when in reality they had to put in blood, sweat, tears and years of effort!

Negative feedback or unsolicited advice (not actual constructive criticism) can feel annoying at best and devastating at worst. As your initial reaction might be defensive, first ask yourself if it is even worth it to continue a discussion with this person. If you still feel the need to respond do so concisely and politely, but don’t expect anything in return. It will be up to you to tune them out, delete their comments or even block them. Kat shared a quote with me a while back that really resonated with me that was something along the lines of “nobody doing more than you will criticize you, only someone doing less.” The people who go out of their way to bring you down are simply dealing with their own feelings of insecurity. While it’s unfortunate that they have to take it out on you, focus instead on the awesome people who are genuinely there to encourage you and what you do!

Kat and I are so happy that the community of readers of both Create! Magazine and The Smartist Guide is a positive place for artists to share, connect, grow, learn, support, and inspire or be inspired by one another. We know this isn’t always how it is and that it can be difficult not to let the fear of facing negativity interfere with or stop you from putting yourself out there. But if it is your dream to be an artist, we encourage you to do it anyway!


Cheers!
Alicia

alicia@createmagazine.com
@puigypics


How to Price Your Art: 3 Quick Tips to Start Selling Today!
Photo by LeszekCzerwonka/iStock / Getty Images

Photo by LeszekCzerwonka/iStock / Getty Images

By Ekaterina Popova

One of the questions that I get most frequently from emerging artists is “how do I price my work?”. The confusion surrounding this topic is entirely understandable because there is no exact science or formula for doing so. However, over the past decade, I have collected a few tips that will help you figure out what to charge your collectors and get started with selling your beautiful art.

1. Research your market.

Because there is no exact formula, you will have to do some research. Most importantly, visit a few galleries in person that show work by emerging artists that have a similar amount of experience or are at the same point in their career as you. Take notes on various sizes, mediums and subject matter to see the average prices in the market. If you don’t have access to galleries that you can visit in person at the moment, take some time online and look at websites like Saatchi, Artspace and other similar platforms to see prices for work that relates to your own. The great thing about the internet is that you can type in any topic you need help with and get millions of results. Of course, some art that you come across will be too cheap or too expensive, so average out the prices until you are comfortable with the one you can use for your work.

2. Include the cost of your materials.

It would be almost impossible to calculate exactly how much paint, clay or charcoal you use to produce one piece of work, but keep in mind roughly how much you are spending on supplies to make sure that your prices take these expenses into account. The cost of materials is especially important to consider when you are just starting out and your rates may be relatively low already. Also, don't forget to include the costs of shipping supplies such as bubble wrap and tape, which can add up quickly.

3. Keep track of time.

While I think it’s important to know how much time you are spending in the studio, I wouldn’t necessarily use it as the only pricing point for your work. Some artists spend long, tedious hours on each piece, while others make a ton of work but only select a few final pieces out of the batch. Neither process is wrong or right, just different, and this is why pricing can often feel so complicated. I suggest finding a number that you feel confident presenting to potential clients after researching galleries, calculating materials and keeping your working hours in mind.

If the price of your work is too high, you might resist promoting your work and shy away from selling. If it’s too low, you may feel depleted or even resentful towards your buyer. Test out your happy medium and then commit to it for a year to get yourself established. Remember that in order to be professional and respectful in both your buyer and gallery relationships, stay very consistent with your pricing so that no one feels cheated.

Next, come up with prices for all the types of work that you do. Vary the rates for each size (i.e., larger = more $) and consider selling different mediums at different price points. For example, my 9 x 12 inch watercolors are $300, while my large oil paintings start at $1,300. I highly suggest having a consistent price point for every size and type of work you create. Put all of this information into a document that you can easily reference when discussing with customers or a gallery.

I truly hope that you enjoyed this article and found it useful. For additional pricing tips, I also recommend this article from Saatchi.

For more general art career advice, you can also check out our book ‘The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips for Emerging Artists’. If you are looking for a place to sell your work, we are currently in the process of launching a new gallery and curated platform called PxP Contemporary. Learn more and find out all of the details about how to submit here.

Happy Selling!

Kat

Are you making the one mistake that is keeping your art from being featured?
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We’ve seen it happen time and again and artists have asked us about this when considering what to submit to our magazine or new gallery, PxP Contemporary. Think that including images from multiple series of works will double or triple your chances of being selected for that juried show, publication or gallery you’ve dreamed of showing with? Well, unfortunately, that’s not likely the case. I know that it’s tempting to want to show off the range of your style and creative ability, but here’s why this isn’t the time to do so.

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  • Demonstrate to the juror that you’ve taken time to really develop an idea, push yourself and stick to it! When you focus on one subject for a while, you get a much better idea of what works and what doesn’t and this helps you build your creative voice. Always keep in mind that submitting your work is like a leaving a first impression. If you have pieces from two bodies of work it can give off the vibe that you don’t quite know who you are yet as an artist or that you’re not confident enough in either series to commit to it fully. I’ll borrow from Kat here and say that you should always be sharing work that excites you! Which paintings, drawings, sculptures, or (insert whatever incredible work you create here) are you most excited about right now? Those are what you should be submitting!

  • Sometimes, it’s purely practical. For publications especially, it is difficult to consider an artist if we wouldn’t be able to put together a consistent spread with their work. Each book, journal, or magazine will have a distinct aesthetic so make it easy for them to know that you are the right fit and to feature your work. The same applies to a gallery, which has to make sure that your work could fill their space and look professional. They are also looking out for their collectors, who come to them specifically for their curatorial expertise. Rather than show them everything in the hopes that they end up buying something (with the risk of overwhelming them), a good dealer will work with the client to help them find something they love from a narrower selection based on their interest and budget. Collectors do often want to see a variety of works, but still within the same theme or style.

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  • If you are equally satisfied with several bodies of work at the moment, I’d still recommend only applying with one or at least one at a time. The biggest issue with this is that you’re leaving the curator to fill in the blanks and assuming that they can or will. How is someone who is not familiar with your work supposed to imagine what the rest of a series looks like when they’ve only seen a few pieces from it? You know that a whole group of works exists that are as great as the ones you’ve submitted, but the curator does not. If they have to go through hundreds or even thousands of artist submissions, they won’t always have the time to go looking through your website or Instagram account to see if you’ve made others like the one or two that they did like.

  • If you’ve recently started a new body of work that you’re wondering if you should start putting out there, make sure it’s ready. Do you have enough works from this series completed and photographed? If not, what’s the rush? There will be more opportunities to apply to. You can keep submitting from an earlier series for now if you want and if there is no restriction from the organization on how recent the work must be or simply allow yourself the time to fully dive into this great new idea.

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Of course, none of this is to say that you have to stick to the same thing forever. No, on the contrary, because it would be hard to have repeat collectors if your work never develops. Your gallery, if you have one, and your collectors simply want to see you continue to grow and will support you along the way!

If you’re making abstract sculptures, but have always wanted to try painting cats, go ahead! One of the greatest things about being an artist is having the freedom to experiment with your creativity. Ultimately, you have to DO YOU. But when it comes time to apply to that next exhibition opportunity, I hope you’ll consider the above and give yourself the best chance of being selected!

As always, both Kat and I are happy to answer any art career questions you have so please feel free to reach out to us: info@createmagazine.com or alicia@createmagazine.com and if you liked this article, check out the Art & Cocktails podcast or our new book The Smartist Guide for more tips.

Cheers and I wish you luck in applying to our current call for Issue 15 curated by Paradigm Gallery! Submit here.

-Alicia


Sell and Market Your Work in 5 Simple Steps

By Ekaterina Popova

When I first committed to my art career, there was a lot of mystery and confusion about how to make sales as an artist. I waited for a gallery to do it for me and truly thought I didn’t have the permission to do it on my own. In fact, I didn’t even think it was possible to sell paintings directly. I was miserable, waiting for some magical opportunity or an art dealer to come knocking on my door.

As you can imagine, no one ever came and I had to figure it out on my own. Through a series of life lessons, investing in additional education and personal development, I discovered that I do not have to wait for anyone to make me qualified to promote my own art. Regardless of whether I have a gallery or not, people may be interested in collecting my work.

As scary as it was putting myself out there, I learned a few simple things about what it takes to make direct sales to collectors online and through exhibitions. Even though I work with a gallery now, I still use these tools to support myself and advance my art career.

When I was just starting out, I truly believed that having an art gallery would eliminate my struggles and somehow would outsource all the sales and marketing for me. I imagined that having a gallery would allow me to paint in a far away cabin in the woods and never have to worry about any other part of my art career. This is far from the truth, but that’s definitely not a bad thing. Over the years of doing it solo, I took back a lot of power and independence when it comes to selling my art, and this has relieved a lot of the pressure of finding a gallery to represent my work. Even if things don’t work out with a gallery, I know I have what it takes to do it on my own.

Working with a gallery has been wonderful so far, but I think part of why this is the case is having the understanding and respect for what they do and how they can potentially elevate my image. I also love to approach galleries as a partnership instead of expecting them to “do something for me” and continue to market and push my work to help sales. This creates a healthy relationship and multiplies the efforts, so both parties win! So don’t be like the past me and think of it as “giving up” if it is your ultimate dream to be represented by a great gallery. You can still work toward that goal and market your work until that happens. Chances are, you are much more likely to get noticed if you are putting yourself out there and sending a message to the world that you are ready to be seen and your art is for sale.

Here are five tips that transformed my mindset around selling and promoting my art. Stop waiting for permission and come up with a plan to inspire new collectors and make some sales:

1. People want to buy art. Help them!

A simple trick that changed everything for me is actually announcing that work is for sale. This is silly, and I write and talk about this all the time, but often when it comes to online marketing you need to nudge your potential collector in the right direction.

Create an album on Facebook that says “available work” and send a newsletter announcing any new collections, limited edition prints or work you recently got back from a show! Be excited and give your audience a way to contact you. Be sure to only post work for sale that you are TRULY proud of. If something in your gut tells you that are not quite there yet, and need to polish up your skills, don’t rush in. Take the time you need to develop a strong body of work and then start selling with confidence.

A caption such as “work available for sale, dm or email for details” or something along those lines makes a huge difference! This is obvious, but if you are represented by a gallery and only sell work through them, direct your buyer towards the gallery and you both win! Remember that people want to buy art and you are not being annoying by giving them that joy. People shop for expensive shoes, purses, and cars. Art brings a lot more meaningful pleasure to a collector than a lot of any other items might. Don’t deprive a potential collector!

2. You are the CEO of your art career. Invest in your business!

Creating a small budget to pay for affordable advertisements on Facebook and Instagram ($10-$50) per post is a fabulous way to push out your work to new collectors that are not in your immediate network. Invest a few dollars each month to grow your audience through ads, reputable Instagram shoutouts, and other creative ways of advertising to get great results. Do a little research on ads and how to find your target audience by doing a quick Google search. Instagram has an “automatic” audience feature to explore as well.

Other ways to invest into your are career include taking additional workshops (both art and business or anything else you want to gain skills in), applying to juried exhibitions and publications, reading educational literature, and of course, using any free resources online. You have to be willing to trust in your dream and invest in your future. This also sends a message to the world that you are serious about your art career. It doesn’t have to cost a lot, but don’t skimp on developing your future!

3. Have a commerce platform ready before you announce your sale.

Whether it’s selling on Etsy, getting paid via PayPal directly, having an e-commerce platform such as Shopify or a page on Squarespace, make sure you set up your shop and test it out for seamless customer experience. If you are shipping originals, your shop structure will be very simple. Just make sure you calculate your shipping cost both domestic and international. Invest into a simple scale (you can get one for under $30 on Amazon), order shipping supplies in bulk to save money and pass on the shipping cost to your buyer, especially if it’s a larger work. I offer free shipping on small works and works on paper. If you are stuck on how to pack artwork, check out this article on Saatchi that I frequently use as a guide for my own shipments. Pricing your art can be challenging, but you just have to get started and stay consistent. Look around at local galleries that show artists at your career level and get an idea for what your type of work is sold for. Just pick a number for each size of work based on the material you create and stick to that price consistently for at least a year.

4. Be great to work with.

Whether you are represented by a gallery or not, be a great person to work with. Offer payment plans to potential clients who may not be able to pay full price right away, be courteous, and respond to messages or questions. I think being a great partner to your gallery can multiply your success, but even if you are on your own, your collector will remember you and will be more likely to add more pieces to their collection in the future. I consider this a win-win, because if they loved buying from you - they will recommend you to a friend and do the marketing for you.

I remember even during my first few art sales, I got a compliment from an older gentleman collector who happened to be a lawyer. He told me how impressed he was with my professionalism, quick replies, and having a seamless sales process. Mind you, this was in 2012 where I was using a simple e-mail invoice and he was sending me a paper check. Do the best you can with what you have and it will pay off!

5. Fix your mindset around marketing and selling.

A lot of us learned to associate selling with sleazy and pushy businessmen portrayed as villains in Hollywood films. This can obviously be the case, but when it comes to your approach to selling and promoting yourself, you can truly make it your own. People will only respond to you if you are true to your work and yourself and develop a way of sharing what you create that works for you and FEELS GOOD. Don’t try to use marketing techniques that feel weird or inauthentic. Share your story and be excited about a work of art that makes you proud. Buying and collecting art is an intimate and personal process. Be confident, follow up, but don’t be offended or take things personally if they don’t go the way you hoped. Like any relationship, you are looking for a good fit, and you want both you and the buyer to be happy with the outcome.

As you continue to grow and develop your craft, your audience and circle of collectors will grow. Sometimes it takes years to get there, and that is ok. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have someone truly LOVE the piece they get from me than be pressured into purchase something they aren’t 100% excited about.

Marketing and sales are amazing as long as you learn ways to make them fun and deeply fulfilling experiences for yourself.

Remember that your priority will always be in the studio. Making art comes first, but it’s a really amazing time to use marketing to take your power back and enjoy the freedom of being an artist without having to ask anyone’s permission or approval.

Cheers!

P.S. if you are just starting out and need some basic art career tips like applying to galleries and marketing on Instagram Alicia Puig and I recently wrote a book called The Smartist Guide which can help!

Get noticed on Instagram!
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You may have heard that a lot of galleries, curators and writers now discover new artists that they end up representing, exhibiting or interviewing via Instagram. It’s pretty incredible that social media has created such a simple platform for sharing art worldwide. That being said, there are so many talented artists showing their work on Instagram these days that it can seem like a competition for followers and impossible to get noticed. But neither of these are true. Make sure your feed stands out for all of the right reasons!

  • Quality photography for artwork: We know, we say this all the time! As Instagram is a visual platform, it makes sense that all of your images should be high quality. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to spend hours to get a perfectly lit shot of your studio or an artfully messy image of your palette and brushes. Focus on clean, cropped photos of your work that can easily be reposted. Make it easy for others to share your work.

  • Along those lines, while it is fun to mix up the type of images that you share, like detail shots, an installation view and works in progress or even your cat, make sure you regularly show finished pieces (perhaps one of every three to five posts depending on how much work you have and how quickly you create new pieces). I came across a really incredible painting that I wanted to share on Create! Magazine’s Instagram so I went to look up the artist’s profile. I scrolled and scrolled, but could not only not find the painting I wanted, I couldn’t even find one single image of a nicely photographed, completed work cropped to the edges. Needless to say, I unfortunately wasn’t able to share this artist’s work.

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  • Use the right hashtags: We discuss hashtags in more depth in our new book “The Smartist Guide” but the general rule is to be relevant to your work while not being too general or your posts will get lost in the mass of images. So if you make sculptures you could use #sculpture, but that has over 10 million posts and #sculptures has over 1 million. Instead you could try #sculptureart (200,000+) or #sculpture_art (9,000+).

  • It might be your goal to get reposted by a larger influencer account like an art blog, magazine, or curator. DM-ing them to ask for a feature isn’t professional and probably won’t work, nor does random tagging unless they specifically request it. Our magazine has specific guidelines that are easily accessible on our website for how to apply for features and it is likely these other platforms do too. Pay attention to them! Often, these accounts will post simple directions like using a certain hashtag on your posts. We look through #createmagazine regularly and love seeing the great images that the artists in our community share with us. Kat also mentioned recently on an Art & Cocktails podcast episode that Instagram doesn’t allow us to sort through all the messages that are sent to us. With the volume of DM’s we receive, after a day or two it is hard to go back and find specific ones even if it was an artist that we liked. Do the math - if we get even 1 message per day that’s 365 artists per year asking for a feature (it’s actually more)! Emailing is much more effective and we receive far fewer requests that way.

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  • While I can’t speak on behalf of other publications or curators, I personally don’t care what an artist’s follower count is. If I like the work, I will happily reach out for an interview or repost the work whether they have 50, 500, or 50,000 followers. There’s no need to play games by following a bunch of accounts hoping that some will follow you back and then unfollowing them a few days later. People definitely notice (I do) and will remember you in a negative light.

  • Make connections with other artists, curators, galleries, and arts publications that you genuinely like. This way you can meaningfully engage with their posts. For example, if you leave a particularly nice or interesting comment on a post, it is likely that they’ll click through to your page. It pays off to be a friendly follower ;)

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  • Don’t feel pressured to post new content all of the time. It’s likely that only a fraction of your followers will see any given post so if one has performed particularly well feel free to share it again a while later. Especially as you get more new followers, it is a great idea to keep putting your best work out there - you never know when a new writer or curator will end up on your feed!

  • When you do inevitably get your work shared, you can definitely repost it on your profile to be proud of your accomplishment and it’s also good practice to leave a comment thanking them for the feature. Hopefully one shared work will cause a chain reaction leading to more! That happened to Kat last year with a piece she didn’t expect and early in my career as well with a completely different type of work than what I usually made. Be patient and consistent with your posts and it will happen to you too.

Above all, none of this is important if you aren’t yet happy with your work or don’t have finished pieces to show. Put the time in your studio to get to the point where you have a really strong body of work to post about first and then trust us, the rest will follow.

Happy ‘gramming!

-Alicia
@puigypics

If you’d like to hear more about what writers are looking for on Instagram, you can check out the Art & Cocktails episode Kat did with our other magazine contributor Christina Nafziger at createmagazine.com/podcast.

Looking for additional career tips like these for emerging artists? We’re so excited to share our recently launched book, The Smartist Guide, which discusses topics ranging from perfecting your resume and writing the perfect pitch to a gallery you’d like to represent you to dealing with rejection and finding the best opportunities to show your work! Learn more here.


How to Submit Your Art
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If you are new to the art world and are having trouble figuring out how to submit work to juried shows, publications, art blogs and more, fear not! I have compiled a quick list of tips that I noticed from the curatorial end. I share simple advice to help you increase your chances of getting accepted to that dream opportunity!

For those of you looking to step it up and take the photos yourself, I’m sharing my camera and light studio that I use from Amazon. Keep in mind that you will also need a tripod, but it doesn’t have to be super expensive.

Cheers!

Kat

Money Mindset for Artists
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I believe that all artists can be financially successful and achieve the level of success they are looking for. It will require focus, clarity, writing your vision and tracking. Nothing worthwhile comes easy and this is one of the most important areas that creatives need to focus on. If you know that is it hard and complicated then you probably realize that it is worth it! Go do it!!
— Bridgette Mayer

On this episode of the podcast, we talk all things money! If you are struggling to make art sales, need to take control of your finances, are in debt, or just need a little encouragement in this department, listen up! Our guest today is Bridgette Mayer who is an art dealer, curator, art advisor, author, and entrepreneur. Bridgette shares advice and her own experience overcoming poverty to building a dream career in the arts. Bridgette has helped me transform my finances and I want artists to feel empowered and create a healthy money mindset.

Bridgette Mayer has spent decades cultivating her passion for art, artists, the clients she advises and finding her way to the top of the art world. After suffering an abusive childhood that landed her in foster care homes and on the streets, starving and beat up, Bridgette was adopted by a wonderful family at the age of nine and began her life transformation.

http://bridgettemayer.com/about/

http://www.bridgettemayergallery.com

Sculpture call for art

Leaving Your Day Job (Podcast Episode)
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On this episode Kat shares her experience of becoming self-employed almost three years ago and offers some helpful tips to plan and prepare yourself for being your own boss. 

Books to help you:

You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of Wealth by Jen Sincero

Think and Grow Rich: The Original, an Official Publication of The Napoleon Hill Foundation

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin

I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi

Podcast Q&A: Newbie marketing, pricing, creating a body of work and more

On this Q&A episode of Art & Cocktails, Kat answers your questions about how to market yourself when you are still developing your style and voice, creating a cohesive body of work, pricing your art, what to focus on in your art career when you are strapped for time, navigating relationships, whether you need a degree to be an artist (spoiler, the answer is no) and more!

Overcoming Creative Burnout 

By Ekaterina Popova

Header image by Lauren Zaknoun

Creative burnout is real. Have you been struggling to start that new painting, or even show up to the studio? Does the thought of making new work drain you and fill you with dread? I recently went through a very intense burnout, which manifested itself as physical illness, emotional breakdown and just a general inability to work. I was out of commission for nearly two weeks.

You see, I have been running on empty for over two years without fully realizing it. From leaving my day job at a call center in 2016 to juggling my painting career and the magazine, I unknowingly replaced breaks, fun and time off with generating new ideas, networking and more to do's. I forgot what it means to be truly inspired, actually have fun and enjoy simple and free pleasures in life whether or not they contribute to my art practice or career. 

It's easy for creatives to feel guilty about taking breaks because we either feel extremely lucky to be able to do it as our job or are dying to make art after working a demanding day job 40+ hours a week. Art can be an escape, but in some cases, it becomes a burden and we need to give ourselves time to heal and replenish our energy and creativity. 

When art, the love of your life, becomes an impossible task, it's time for a little intervention with yourself. Of course, we want to design our lives in a way that would prevent these breakdowns by following a healthy schedule and practicing saying no, but when a burnout happens, here are some steps to help you get back on your feet and back to the flow of life and creativity. 

Slow down to speed up

When I first started experiencing my setback, I shared the situation with my mentor, Bridgette Mayer, who suggested scheduling time off, even for fun activities. Make your time off just as important as your assignments and projects. Try to incorporate a day a week where you indulge in guilt-free activities such as reading, spending time with loved ones or making art just for you (if you are up for it of course). 

Check your engine

Sometimes we forget that we are living, breathing humans and not machines pumping out ideas, art and inspiration. Even if you exercise and eat well, stress and fatigue may have devastating effects on your overall health. When I was going through my burnout, I felt like I had the flu and could not stop sleeping, even though my medical report was flawless. Make sure you are conscious of your breathing, are sleeping enough and taking the time to laugh and enjoy your day. 

On a recent episode of our podcast Art & Cocktails, I interviewed one of my favorite painters Andrew Salgado, an incredible and prolific figurative artist. Andrew shared that he takes a complete break after each exhibition and travels. Coming from such a successful figure, this made me realize how my nonstop schedule is probably hindering my growth in some ways. 

We simply cannot expect to make good art if we continue to abuse our body and mind. I am guilty of this and am learning to listen when enough is enough, no matter what is expected of me that day. 

Release the pressure

The good news is, if we take care of ourselves and temporarily stop making art, no-one is going to be severely affected. I remember, back when I worked at Macy's, my manager used to tell me on a particularly bad sales day "we are not saving lives, it's just lipstick.", and that little saying stuck with me. No matter what's going on, your health and mental well being are way more important than artwork. Plus your gallery and collector need you just as much as you need them and would totally understand if you needed an extra day, week or month (only you know how much time you need). If you are generally a responsible, reliable and pleasant person to work with, people will understand and will give you grace. Release the fear and take the time that you need to be the best artist and person you can be.

Prioritize

Of course, sometimes we have projects and deadlines that determine the course of our career or if we will be able to pay for our bills that month. Highlight the immediate tasks at hand and complete them as well as you can and practice saying no to anything that comes after. If you have things due in the future but are not pressing at the moment, use this time to recover fully. Don't look at, think about or talk about upcoming deadlines that aren't an emergency and focus on your health as much as possible. If you need help saying no, here is a great resource by Marie Forleo to help you get started, another great book I read on this subject is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.


Say it out loud

Sometimes, we get stuck in our own head and need to someone to give us permission to take the break we desperately need. Calling a friend or someone you trust and expressing your condition can help you view yourself from a third party perspective and give you compassion. If you don't have someone to call, here is your permission slip. You are worthy of feeling your best, no matter how much time you need. 

When you are ready to start creating again, start slow and shorten your workday from what you are used to, in order to not fall back into the trap of overwhelming. Work on multiple projects at a time in bite-size pieces. Set a timer and take a five-minute break for every 30 you work. Make sure to step outside once in a while and breathe. 

Our art is about expressing our true selves, and if we are completely worn out it is difficult to share our passion with others. After my recent experience, I want to still be painting and feeling great when I am in my 80's, therefore I will treat my life and career as a marathon and not a sprint.

Give yourself permission to rest. I promise you and your work will be better for it. I can't wait to see what you create when you come out on the other side!

Share your thoughts below or send us an email at info@createmagazine.com

Like what we do? Support us by subscribing to the print magazine.

Going The Extra Mile: Career Decisions, Networking and Standing Out From The Crowd With Alicia Puig
Alicia reading  Create! Magazine  in Amsterdam

Alicia reading Create! Magazine in Amsterdam

Alicia Puig is an art historian who has worked for several notable galleries, museums, and nonprofit organizations throughout her career and who is very experienced in marketing for the arts and exhibition development. She was a practicing artist for many years, but after starting her first gallery job managing a small exhibition space for student art, she soon realized that she loved helping young artists put together what was often their first professional quality solo show more than creating her own work. Since then, she has continued to seek out new opportunities for creative professionals like herself and has connected many artists to their next exhibitions, published features, or sales.

On this episode, Alicia Puig shares how she figured out her unique career path in the art world and what helped her make the difficult decision about which one of her passions to pursue.

Alicia has been able to carve out a place for herself in the arts by practicing resilience and handling rejection with grace. She shares tips on how to stick out from the crowd and outsmart your competition when looking for opportunities. This episode also offers effective networking strategies and offers tips for artists on working with galleries.

If you are at a crossroads in your career or are excited about making it as a gallerist, curator or work with major art institutions, this one is for you!

Painting on a photograph by Alicia Puig (discussed in this episode)

Painting on a photograph by Alicia Puig (discussed in this episode)

Paintings Alicia Puig completed during her undergrad at Kutztown University