Posts in Resources
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 Too many of us operate under the strange, outdated notion that it is more polite to negate a compliment than accept it.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

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

What you really should know about "The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips for Emerging Artists"

By Ekaterina Popova and Alicia Puig, Co-Authors of “The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips For Emerging Artists”

“The Smartist Guide: Essential Art Career Tips For Emerging Artists” has been out for a little over two months and we are completely overwhelmed by the initial response. Readers from across the globe are sending us messages about how they are getting accepted to exhibitions, finding gallery representation and growing their Instagram accounts using the tips found in our book. That was exactly our intention when we dreamed of and began writing “The Smartist Guide”.

Alicia and I also know that this book is not for everyone. We wanted to address a few key features and help you figure out if it’s worth the investment. We wrote this book with a very specific artist in mind, someone who is new to the art world, but is passionate and ready to take their career into their own hands. We want this person to experience success in the initial stages of his or her art career by offering tips that are crucial but often overlooked in art school. On the curatorial side, a lot of the submissions we receive for Create! Magazine are lacking the essential components such as a bio, statement or proper images. We want artists to experience more success and not disqualify themselves from the actual jurying process because their application was incomplete or could have been improved by a few simple changes.

For those considering buying this guide or who want a little more information about it, we’ve put together our most asked questions so that you can get a better idea of what it is, why we wrote it and who can benefit from it! And, if you happened to read the book and found that it wasn’t a great match, no worries. We offer full money back guarantees. We would rather you find it helpful and empowering or spend the money on a new paintbrush if it wasn’t for you.

Where did the title “The Smartist Guide” come from?

Alicia: Yes, we know that ‘smartist’ isn’t a word! It is a made-up combination of ‘smart’ and ‘artist’ because we believe in positive, empowering language for artists rather than outdated stereotypes of creatives that promote the false ideas that we aren’t business savvy or ‘can’t make a living’ doing what we love to do. With hard work, persistence and a few smart tips from our book - we know that all artists can succeed!

Kat: Alicia is the brains behind the title! I loved it so much when she first suggested it because it embodies a new breed of artists that are fully equipped to bring success into their art career. Plus it’s really fun, and the more you learn, the more enjoyable building your art business becomes!

Why did we write this book?

Kat: I always felt like I was missing something important when I first graduated. I felt lost and was looking for resources to help me get a jump start as a painter. The truth is, all the information was already out there, but not in one place. After years of googling, learning from mistakes, reading art books and attending workshops, I realized there were a few very simple and basic tools you need to get started. This book was our way to give new artists a strong foundation for launching their careers with confidence. Plus, after experiencing my own success as a painter, I wanted to give back and “send the elevator back down” to others. While it takes time to experience success and recognition, the actual steps to getting there are not complicated.

Alicia: I agree with all of Kat’s response! I believe we mentioned this on the podcast episode of “Art & Cocktails” where we introduced the book too, but another big reason was that we both went through so many ups and downs in the early part of our careers and wanted to share what did and didn’t work so that a younger generation of creatives could hit fast forward and start achieving things on a bit quicker of a timeline than we did. We’re not shy about sharing our struggles or failures so that you can learn from them! In addition, while we both learned a lot in our business of art course in college, there was never really a focus on selling online, marketing yourself or creating a strong social media presence. While it’s great to perfect your artist statement or get a gallery to represent you, we know that these other topics are also really helpful for young artists.

Who will find it useful?

Alicia: For the most part I think that the subtitle says it all - it is geared towards emerging artists. That being said, those a little further ahead in their career might still find some of the encouragement in the book helpful as a little push to keep progressing and tons of people have reached out to us with very positive remarks about our chapters on social media.

Kat: I envisioned a reader who is interested in having a sustainable studio practice and starting to put themselves into the art world through exhibitions and even employment, either fresh out of college or someone who has been creating art and didn’t receive a formal education.

How did you decide on the length of this book?

Kat: The hardest and most time-consuming part of being an artist is actually creating the work. I was excited to offer a quick guide, almost like a pocketbook to cover the basics one would need to get started. A lot of times creatives get overwhelmed with overly formal jargon and confusing business terms. We stripped everything down to the essentials in order to give clear, simple tools that can be used right away. Alicia and I learned a lot of the tips we offer in college, but they were scattered throughout four years of learning. We wanted to bring all the resources together in one place.

Alicia: Exactly, I think that one of my favorite reviews so far has been ‘I received it yesterday, read it today and will begin utilizing the information now.’ As this is our first book, we just wanted something simple and to the point that would be easy to reference and a fast read as to not take away from studio time. Also, while we both truly enjoy reading books about self-improvement, we know that not only does this involve carving out time to read them, but also money. We kept the guide short so that it could be as affordable for artists as possible.

What’s next?

Alicia: We will continue to share free career articles on a monthly basis via Create! Magazine, but since we enjoyed the process of writing this first book so much we are planning a second Smartist Guide. I’ll be focusing on chapters about mentors, networking, starting over, dealing with negativity and time-management among other topics. We’re always open to hearing what you’d like us to write about or what questions you’re looking to have answered. Feel free to reach out to us at info@createmagazine.com or alicia@createmagazine.com.

Kat: I’m currently writing in-depth advice for artists such as marketing, selling, attending residencies and more for our next, full-length edition. The first book was a great start for someone brand new to the art world, but the next one will empower artists to take over the world. Just kidding! I’m just really passionate about showing artists that they have exactly what it takes to create their dream career.

Ready to purchase? Click here to buy The Smartist Guide ebook or get the print version on Amazon.

Thread Folk: A Modern Makers Book of Embroidery Projects and Artist Collaborations
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Thread Folk is a modern refresh of an age-old craft. Author Libby Moore teaches basic stitches and how to choose materials, and shares original patterns with easy-to-remove perforated pages. Thread Folk includes:

• 15 embroidery projects with step-by step instructions & modern patterns • 14 different stitches, from straight stitch to lazy daisy
• Techniques to stitch on clothes, shoes, tote bags and pillows

Thread Folk also features Artist Collaborations, a series of projects based on the curated artwork of several distinctive, talented artists, including clothing designer Audrey Smit, and illustrators Alli Koch and Lauren Merrick.

Libby Moore is the embroidery artist behind Thread Folk, with a thriving Etsy shop and Instagram following. Libby started by embroidering portraits, and now creates her own unique patterns. She lives with her husband and four boys on the Central Coast of NSW, Australia.

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!

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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 doesn’t work (nor does random tagging unless they specifically request it!). Often, these accounts will post simple directions like using a specific hashtag on your posts for you to share your artwork with them. 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.

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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 happy 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 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

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.


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

New Podcast: Instagram For Artists Part I

This month I celebrated new milestones on my Instagram accounts and wanted to share some simple, easy tips that helped me get my personal account to 20k and the magazine's account to 60k.

I use instagram to network, share my work with the world and even connect with new collectors! I want to share what has been working for me to help you do the same.

On this episode, I cover the basics on what to post, how to promote and even sell artwork. Perfect for beginners. 

-Kat



Introducing Our Printing Partners: Printi!

Interview with Daynah Leblanc from Printi

Printi is a Boston-based online printer that caters specifically to creative professionals, from graphic designers to small businesses and marketers. We specialize in cost-effective, custom-printed products in varying sizes, substrates and finishes that will help you make a visual impact.

Our online printing solutions cover a wide range of products, including books, magazines, marketing materials, signage, and art prints. We use cutting-edge technology to deliver exceptionally finished products to our valued customers, and provide an intuitive user experience – simply configure your product, upload your files, and you’re done! 

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When was Printi founded and what is the story behind the brand?

Printi entered the Brazilian printing industry in 2012. Printi entered the US market in 2017 and eventually joined forces with Pixartprinting NA. With both companies servicing the same audience and providing many of the same products, it only made sense to merge! Since then, the company and product portfolio has only grown and we have been able to provide better quality, prices, and offerings. 

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What do you hope to provide to your clients that other printing companies are not doing?

We aim to provide a various amount of high quality products at the lowest prices. We have the latest tools in the Web2Print industry that simplify and streamline the complex process of ordering custom materials. 

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What products and services do you offer that could be helpful to artists and creatives?

We offer sample packs of our products, allowing artists and creatives the chance to gain an idea of what their product could potentially be printed on- whether that be their business cards, magazines or banners for trade show essentials. We also match prices! If someone finds a product that we offer, but on a competitor's site for a lower price, we match prices. We want to be the printer that helps fuel creativity!  

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What is something you are currently excited about within your company?

As our team has continued to grow, we’ve recently moved offices to a new location in Boston- 109 State Street. We’re excited to welcome new members and be able to offer our followers more content and creative inspiration geared towards their interests! Also - continue to stay tuned to our product offerings. We’re excited about some new offerings on our current products that are different from our competitors. 

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How can we learn more about your products and brand?

The best way to learn more about our products and brand is to stay tuned to our social sites- Instagram (@printiusa), Twitter (@printiUSA), Facebook (/printiUSA), LinkedIn (/company/printiusa/), and Pinterest (/printiusa0347)! And signing up for our weekly newsletter allows our clients to be the first to know about our discounts and special offers.  

So You Want to Leave Your Day Job

Ekaterina Popova

If you are an artist or creative who dreams about leaving your grueling day job and making it on your own, I wrote this for you. I have been self-employed for the past two years and wanted to take a moment to share my experiences, the good, bad, and the ugly to hopefully help you take the leap when you are ready.

This article is not meant to sound  discouraging or like a typical ad from a "laptop lifestyle" guru telling you to instantly quit your job and make millions while traveling the world. The path is challenging, exciting, and I welcome anyone who feels that they are meant to follow it to join me, but I also want to be completely transparent and helpful in preparing you for what may be ahead.

So should you simply hope for the best, be positive, and put in your two weeks in order to pursue your dreams? Not at all, at least not yet. Hear me out. I’ve been there and I know what it takes. You have to be strong mentally, financially, and emotionally to do this, and while I love to encourage everyone I meet to chase after their dreams, I want to empower you and help you make an informed decision by sharing my journey first. 

If you already have a job or career, aside from making art, that allows you the time and freedom to create, while giving you security and an income and you enjoy it, good for you! This was my original plan and it did not work for me, which is why I am here. I think any way you can support your lifestyle while making art is honorable and you should be proud of it, even if it's not related to your passion. If you happen to enjoy what you do at your day job, I applaud you! This article is for those who dream of being their own boss or are deeply dissatisfied with their current employment. 

I promised myself that once I started making headway in my own career as an artist, I would "send the elevator back down to someone who needs a lift". I do not have all the answers or solutions to your unique situation, but I'm hoping my experiences, both good and bad, can give you some ideas and perspective on what life is like and how I got here. These are the things I wish I knew when preparing to leave my job, graduating college, and trying to learn about who I wanted to become. 

I was worried about all the wrong things, such as experience, level of education and other nonsense that played essentially zero role in my career. I had a lot of insecurities, which held me back. I had a negative mindset that was probably a plug on many great opportunities I missed. I was resistant to change; I was expecting someone or some job to come save me. I now look back and find comfort in these mistakes and try not to slip back into negative patterns of thinking when hard times arise. 

Now that you read through that little disclosure, here are some helpful tips that will prepare you, empower you, and build you up to the person you want to be when you are crazy enough to take your art/venture out into the world. As always, you are capable, strong, and talented, and I am rooting for your success. 

Visiting Create! Magazine at McNally Jackson Books in NYC:

1. Be Your Own Investor

When you start working for yourself as an artist or creative, you will have to think of yourself as a business. I was resistant to this for a long time, but once it all clicked, my life changed. You are the CEO of your art career. You have to take full responsibility for your success. This means making wise choices about your money, your time, and how you present yourself to the world.

If you are still working your day job, USE it as your "angel investor". I know a lot of times day jobs don't pay nearly enough even to cover the bills or student loan payments, but do your absolute best to save as much as you possibly can, and you will thank yourself later. Nickname your bank account "dream art career" or "studio fund" and put away any extra dollars after your bills and living expenses are covered. Save up for the time when you will leave, envision your life as a self employed person, and also use any extra money for building a website, photographing your work with a quality camera or hiring a photographer, covering application fees, and buying the materials you need to create your next body of work. 

Even when I was suffering through my waitressing days, I would use the extra $100-$200 I had for canvases, visiting exhibitions in bigger cities, and applying to dream opportunities. I also always had a budget for art books and magazines so on my breaks my mind would constantly be filled with things that I aspired to be around.

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2. Use Your Free Time to Build Your Career. 

Right after I graduated, I was so discouraged that I couldn't find an art related career that I would sulk, binge on Netflix, and cry about how miserable I was and how unfair it was that I had a college education and had to work minimum wage jobs. I dreamed of being hired by a gallery or museum and basically waited for someone to come save me. No one came, and I had to figure it out on my own. 

One day, after a year of rejections from every single art job I applied to, I said, "Fine. I will figure this out on my own." I remember I got a job at Macys in the makeup department (the most creative gig, as of yet) and decided to just make the best of my situation. I aggressively painted in the mornings before my shift and on weekends. I even snuck my phone under the counter to research calls for art and get ideas for future paintings. On my lunch break, I sprinted to Barnes and Noble and hungrily consumed every new magazine while sipping on a cappuccino. I started to enjoy my life, even though my employment wasn't ideal. I started to be happier and even more motivated. 

Not surprisingly, the good energy that was radiating from the new determined me eventually landed me more opportunities than I ever had before. I got an exhibition in Philadelphia and sold my first large painting to a stranger. The small exhibitions and opportunities gave me the encouragement I needed and field my positivity. 

Around this time I also got the idea to start my first magazine, FreshPaintMagazine. I remember having a "lightbulb" moment and I excitedly began researching how to make it happen. The first publication was scrappy to say the least, but I'm so glad I was inspired and bold enough to do it. At this point, I was building an online community, getting deeper into my own work, while balancing the world of retail and the often catty cosmetic department (a bunch of bored women standing around all day :)). I don't remember how this happened, but I started meditating and practicing affirmations to protect my passion and positive attitude, especially in an often-depressing work environment that could easily bring me down. I was getting somewhere and I kept pushing through as much as possible. 

My first magazine, which I founded in 2013 while working at Macys:

The first copy is here! Official launch is next week! So excited!

A post shared by Ekaterina Popova (@katerinaspopova) on

Painting during a day off on our kitchen table while living in a studio apartment:

The start of something new #paint #instaartist #artliving #art #love #wine

A post shared by Ekaterina Popova (@katerinaspopova) on

3. Always Learning

As I mentioned earlier, I spent a lot of time at the bookstore, but I also started getting into business literature and self-development books. I was so motivated to make my dream a reality (though I really didn't know what it would look like). I started consuming as much knowledge and education as possible. I remember first dabbling in art career books, but later stumbling across Girl Boss by Sophia Amoruso.  

A new world began to open itself up to me. I realized I could learn how others did it and apply any relevant aspects to my life. I started to see patterns and how others from similar backgrounds made it happen. It gave me hope; it made me feel closer to my dream. I slowly began diving into the world of social media and using it to market my art and new magazine. It was a steep learning curve and I had no idea how to write captions or what to even post, but it all came with time and experience. I remember the first time I sold something through Facebook and Instagram and how amazing it was to me. At first, I thought it wasn't legitimate and that I was a fraudulent artist because I didn’t have a fancy gallery representing me (but boy, I am glad I kept doing it, because that is how I mostly make my living now). As my social platforms began to grow, my community started to emerge as well. 

I recommend for you to take time each week, or even each day, to learn something new that you know you need help with. It can be business, art techniques, social media or anything else. Libraries are still a thing, and there are millions of free articles and YouTube videos. We live in an incredible time where anything we need for success is at our fingertips. I never thought of myself as a business-person, but I am thankful to the past me for keeping an open mind and taking the time to educate myself so that I could later support myself as an artist. 

Download podcasts, get books on audible, read an old-fashioned paperback, or search YouTube and online courses to get you to the next level. 

4. Get Involved. 

Around this time I was volunteering at art openings and writing free articles for an online art magazine in exchange for free admission to museums. This forced me to upgrade the caliber of people I interacted with, to be around other artists and creatives, build new friendships, and even improve my own art. I got new ideas and was around high level exhibitions and impressive work that challenged and excited me. Though I am naturally an introvert, and sitting at home was my favorite, I knew it wasn't the person I dreamed of becoming. I hated it at first, even got massive social anxiety before any art opening, but pushed through it until it became second nature. 

I also like to remind myself that even though I did not take a traditional career path (whatever that even means) all my experiences, which I thought were negative at the time, shaped who I am today. A lot of exhibitions and opportunities came from meeting people at events that I attended or volunteered at.

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5. Celebrate and take notes. 

So when do you know when to go out on your own? When you start consistently selling your artwork or creative product, start taking down your sales and numbers to see how much you need in order to make a healthy income that supports your lifestyle. Mine has always been a combination of art sales, magazine sales, commissions, and curation. The mix of all of these things helped me make a decision over time. I would take notes and be familiar with your numbers and check them for overall consistency so you can confidently leave your job. 

Each time I had a breakthrough or figured out something new that worked financially, I would take notes, feel the excitement, and feel one step closer to my goal. 

Before I quit my job, I had only 6 months of living expenses, which I frankly regret because it wasn’t enough and I had some massive setbacks in the first few months and ended up having to use most of the money unexpectedly. Always have a little more than you think you need. Trust me, it's worth staying at your job for an extra few months if it means you can be comfortably focusing on your work instead of having a meltdown like me. Give yourself a nice cushion, because it's really hard to be inspired when you are having a panic attack over not being able to pay your bills. Test your side income for at least a year before taking the leap. 

I had an unfortunate business partnership breakup with my first magazine, which slowed down my growth, and while this is unlikely to happen to you, life gets in the way sometimes, so just be prepared as much as you can. Don't think of it as a rainy day fund, but think of it as an investment you can use to grow your career if everything goes great (which it will!). 

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6. You Are Your Personal Brand.

The last job I had at the Capital One call center taught me about the importance of being your own brand. This means that you are representing yourself everywhere you go and it's your job to show up, work hard, and have the best attitude possible (even if you eventually want to move in to another job). I am happy I had the sense to take this advice to heart. By being the best I can be, even at a job I wasn't excited about, I was able to build amazing relationships with my team members and managers. I did my best and pushed myself as a salesperson and customer service representative, no matter how frustrating it was. My managers rewarded my efforts with extra days off to paint, eventually let me transition to part time, and then finally let me to leave on good terms with the ability to come back "in case things don't work out".

I know life can get aggravating, but by being the best you can, no matter where you are, you will create a support system that may end up helping you land your dream position or help you smoothly transition to self-employment. There is something empowering about having a group of people rooting for your success and knowing that you will always have the option of going back to a day job. Not that you will have to do that, but it will help give you peace and certainty when taking the plunge. 

I hope this brief summary of my experiences will help you make a plan, if it is your dream to make it on your own one day. As I mentioned earlier, if you enjoy multiple streams of income, and they don't all have to be creative, more power to you! I struggled to figure out in the beginning and had to go the roundabout way. I have so much respect for educators, art therapists, designers, consultants, and multitudes of other professions that are creative and demanding. I also love hearing about how artists support themselves while working in finance, engineering, and love their second career outside of the arts. Don't feel pressured to make your entire income from art sales alone. It's rarely the case for self-employed artists and usually we all have to hustle, teach, and offer services to make ends meet in between those big painting sales. I wish you all the best on your journey. 

If this was helpful or you have questions, feel free to email me at info@createmagazine.com

Cheers!

Me at my home studio/office (p hoto by Emily Grace Photography)

Me at my home studio/office (photo by Emily Grace Photography)

Photo by Emily Grace Photography

Photo by Emily Grace Photography

Anything is Possible: Bridgette Mayer's Powerful Story and Career Advice for Artists (Podcast Interview)

On this episode, Bridgette shares her story and how she overcame major obstacles in her life and built an incredible career as an art dealer, curator, art advisor, author, and entrepreneur. She has empowered many artists and helped them build successful careers, sell work and get incredible opportunities. Tune in to this special episode for invaluable career advice, marketing tips and authentic ways of sharing your story as an artist to build your career from a leading art expert. 

Bio

Bridgette Mayer is an art dealer in Philadelphia, PA. She opened Bridgette Mayer Gallery on Philadelphia’s historic Washington Square in 2001. In July of 2016, the gallery evolved to a private gallery and consulting practice. Mayer represents artists from Philadelphia, New York and around the world, specializing in contemporary painting, sculpture, and photography. The gallery also deals in secondary market artwork sales and private and corporate consulting.

Gallery artists have won many prestigious awards including the Pew Fellowship in the Arts, Guggenheim Grants, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Awards, the Miami University Young Painters Competition and the Pennsylvania Council for the Arts Grant.

Bridgette Mayer Gallery has been featured on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 as a small business “On The Rise” and was recognized as a recommended Philadelphia arts destination in The New York Times Magazine. In 2013, Mayer was named one of the top 500 Galleries in the world by Boulin Art Info and was also featured in the Tory Burch Foundation’s “Women To Watch” series.

Mayer has been a featured speaker on many panels in the Philadelphia area and has guest lectured at a number of Universities, where her talks focus on how emerging artists can promote their work and sustain a career in the arts.  A graduate of Bucknell University, Mayer was an active member of the University’s Arts Board for several years. She is currently a board member of the Arts & Business Council, Philadelphia, PA & Vox Vopuli, Philadelphia, PA.

Bridgette’s Book:

Interview with The Art History Babes

Give us a brief summary of The Art History Babes.  

The Art History Babes are four lady pals with Masters’ degrees in Art History that love to drink wine and discuss visual culture. The show explores various aspects of art and art history from a largely interdisciplinary perspective. Our primary goal is to makeart accessible, promote curiosity, and illuminate how relevant and fun the study of visual culture can be.

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Tell us about the ladies behind this show. How did you meet and decide to work together? 

Corrie, Natalie, Jen, and Ginny met during graduate school. We all attended the University of California, Davis for our M.A. in ArtHistory. One night we were grabbing drinks to decompress from grad school stress. We were a bit tipsy and Ginny told this amazing story about Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Corrie had recently gotten really into listening to podcasts so her first instinct was “We should start a podcast!”. It started a fun side project to help express our love for art in a non-academic setting. The response we got was overwhelmingly supportive and now it’s become our primary focus.

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What are some ways young contemporary artists can become better versed in art history? Give us some tips on where to begin. 

The world of art history is vast. The internet is an amazing resource and we would suggest exploring the history of a theme, idea, or material that you find intriguing. Go to museums any chance you get! You will inevitably find yourself attracted to certain works and artists. Take an art history course if you have the opportunity. And listen to our podcast obvi :)

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What are your team's hobbies and interests outside of making this show? How do you spend your free time? 

We all love to travel and we all enjoy live music.

Natalie is into cooking, running, and learning about health and wellness.

Corrie is a dancer, loves teaching and working with children, and a is self-proclaimed “wonder junkie”.

Ginny loves reading, collecting old records, and making pasta.

Jen loves comic books and likes to paint and draw.

What inspires each episode, how do you come up with the theme?

Really whatever tickles our fancy. While we were in grad school the episodes would often overlap with what we were studying or writing about at the time. We try to address topics that are in the news or currently relevant as often as possible. We also get a ton of listener requests so we do our best to keep up with those.

What are top 10 art history books you think artists should know about?

In no particular order and by no means comprehensive:

“The Brilliant History of Color in Art” by Victoria Finlay

“Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space” by Brian O’Doherty

“Art in Theory 1900-2000: An Anthology of Changing Ideas” Edited by Charles Townsend Harrison, Paul Wood

 

“Legend, Myth, and Magic in the Image of the Artist: A Historical Experiment” by Ernst Kris and Otto Kurz

“The Subversive Stitch” by Rozsika Parker

“Orientalism” by Edward W. Said

“Damn Good Advice (For People with Talent!): How to Unleash Your Creative Potential by America’s Master Communicator, George Lois”

“The Guerrilla Girls’ Bedside Companion to the History of Western Art” by the Guerrilla Girls

For artist’s seeking insight into the curation process:

“The Curator’s Handbook” by Adrian George

If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, art history survey textbooks by Marilyn Stokstad or Helen Gardner are a good place to start.

How can we learn more and support you?

We are entirely listener supported and donating to our Patreon is a huuuge help: www.patreon.com/arthistorybabes

Check out our website www.arthistorybabes.com

Subscribe to our newsletter

Follow us on the various social medias:

Twitter: @arthistorybabes

Instagram: @arthistorybabespodcast

Tumblr: arthistorybabes.tumblr.com

Like The Art History Babes on Facebook

& of course listening and sharing us with your friends!

Photo courtesy of Scott Lahn

How to Host a Studio Sale Online 

A few years ago, I started selling my work online. It was a very slow and natural progression from getting a friend of a friend to buy a piece to eventually meeting new collectors from across the globe. I learned a ton of lessons from my experiences and wanted to share them with you. 

Hosting a sale a few times per year is a great way to make room in your studio and fund your next project or exhibition. Over the years, this strategy became an integral part of my artist business plan and introduced me to many incredible art lovers. So, whether you have an overflow of inventory, are looking to make some money, or want to find new collectors, these tips on hosting an online studio sale will help you with all the above. I will be using these techniques and strategies right along with you. Let’s plan for a successful season of selling our art!

Photo courtesy of  Marta Spendowska

Photo courtesy of Marta Spendowska

Here are three important elements you need to help make your sale a success. 

1. Organize your inventory. 

This is the tedious and mundane part, but it will help you make the rest of the process very simple. 

1. Select every piece of art that you want to sell and is available to pack and ship right away. Make sure all the artwork that you feature is something you are proud of and would want someone to have in their home. Don’t try to dump your entire inventory, because the client will know if it’s not your best work. Use a special series, pieces that recently became available, or a collection you made specifically for the sale. You can curate this experience in any way you choose, but make it meaningful and unique.

Photo courtesy of  Danielle Krysa

Photo courtesy of Danielle Krysa

2. Photograph each piece, if you haven’t already, and organize the files with labels that you will know how to find. Take beautiful, crystal clear images that show your work in its best light. More quick tips on photographing your work here.

3. Keep the files in a place you can remember and have a document with titles, sizes, media, and prices in the same folder for easy reference. Label your work in a consistent way within that folder. For example: (yourname_paintingtitle_dimensions_price.jpeg ). 

I keep images and information of my art on Dropbox because even if I don’t have my computer with me, I can still have access to the best quality files in case I need them. 

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2. Plan your shop. 

There are a ton of free and affordable web tools that make it super easy for artists to sell online. When I first started doing this, I would create an album on Facebook and mark items off as they sold. At one point, I used a simple PDF with available works that I e-mailed interested patrons. These days, I use the shop feature on my Squarespace hosted site and send a “secret” link to those who are interested. A lot of web hosting services offer free or affordable options for customers to checkout using PayPal or Stripe. You can also create a simple link with a piece if you are selling your work on a one to one basis. paypal.me

Another option is to use an online gallery like Saatchi to sell work for you. They take a small commission fee, so you would have to calculate your prices accordingly.

Once you decide on your option, upload your work and details, and set up how you want to get paid. It’s up to you if you want to keep the shop and prices private, or share with everyone. Here is great article by Saatchi that may help you price your work. https://canvas.saatchiart.com/art/how-to-price-your-artwork

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3. Spread the word. 

Chances are you probably already have a community you created online on Facebook, Instagram or your e-mail list. It doesn’t matter how big your following is, as long as you have a genuine connection with at least a few people. Make a simple announcement that lets your audience know that you are excited and your work is on sale. Invite others to share the news with their community. Sometimes people need to be reminded that they can own the beautiful paintings they have been looking at for months on your profile!

Photo courtesy of  Sticks and Ink

Photo courtesy of Sticks and Ink

I remember feeling so nervous when I launched my first sale online. It only featured a few pieces, but I had the worst imposter syndrome and doubt just flooded my mind. Thoughts like “What if no-one buys anything?”, “Am I charging too high or too low?”, and so on would paralyze me. I finally committed to putting myself out there and e-mailed a few people I had on my Mailchimp list.

For a whole day or so I did not hear from anyone, which then inspired me to make an announcement on my Facebook page and Instagram. I paid $10 to run a little “boosted post” on Facebook to broaden my reach. A few days later I started getting messages and made my first big sale. Whenever I feel doubt again, I think back to the amazing feeling I had when I sold a big painting to a stranger across the country. I was on cloud nine for weeks!

Photo Courtesy of  Zoë Pawlak

Photo Courtesy of Zoë Pawlak

If it’s your first time putting your art out there, don’t be scared! The worst that can happen is nothing at all or everyone will want to buy your work and you will have an empty studio and a full wallet. 

Remember to be confident about your art and accomplishments. Think back to any exhibitions, publications or any other accolades you received so far. If you are a newbie, think about a time that someone complimented your work and how proud it made you feel.

P.S. Once you make the sale, make sure you pack it like a pro. Learn how here: https://www.saatchiart.com/packaging

Check back and let me know if any of these tips worked for you at info@create-magazine.com

The Do’s and Don’ts of Applying to Galleries

One of the quintessential markers of an artist’s success is securing a gallery to represent their work. The application process can be daunting, whether you have already sent out hundreds of emails or are mustering up the courage to reach out to your first gallery. While it does take time and a little bit of research, it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. Based on insider knowledge from working for galleries, art fairs, museums and auction houses and my own previous experiences approaching this as an artist, I’ve put together my thoughts on what to have prepared before you submit, how to find the right fit for your work and the best do’s and don’ts for applying to galleries.

First, if you haven’t read Kat’s post “5 Things Keeping Your Art from Being Featured”, please pause right here and check it out first! A lot of the rules she mentions relate to this topic as well.

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1. Adding to her tips about your artist website – DO choose a simple, memorable domain name and email address. You’d be surprised at how many people send applications with websites or personal emails that are not related to their art! You want your first impression to make you look like a professional, practicing studio artist.

A few good options are [yourname].com, [yourname]art.com or [yourname]artist.com. If you have a more common name you can play around with adding your middle name, initial, or using a shortened version of your first name like Kat did! https://www.katerinapopova.com/

2. DON’T jump the gun and submit before you’re ready. Have a consistent body of work that includes at least 15-20 pieces viewable on your site. They don’t all have to be one medium, but should demonstrate that you’ve put effort into developing an idea. This allows a prospective gallery to imagine what a full solo show of yours would look like. If you only send five images or don’t have many posted on your website, a dealer might think that you don’t have enough work to fill a gallery.

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3. DO compare galleries. In the best-case scenario, you would visit galleries and talk to the owner, director or manager in person beforehand to get a feel for whom you would be working with. Just like if you’re job searching, you want the relationship with your gallery to be mutually beneficial. If you don’t like the space or didn’t connect with the staff, you’ll be glad you didn’t spend the effort applying.

4. DO your research if you can’t go to the galleries to find the best match. Find out who they already represent. Visualize a group show with all of these artists and honestly answer the question: Does my work fit the aesthetic? Read their résumés to see where they studied and have exhibited (and how they are formatted!). Do you have similar accomplishments?

If you're a younger artist, try looking for galleries with a smaller project space where they are often more willing to show emerging or experimental work. This could be an easier way to get your foot in the door.

Finally, if you are applying to galleries outside of your local area, always consider how much you are able to spend to ship your work to them. That is usually a cost that you will have to incur and it can get expensive very quickly, even if some dealers are willing to split the shipping fees 50/50.

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5. DO look closely at a gallery’s website and social media channels. A quality gallery will maintain their online presence using the same standards that they expect of yours: modern, clean and up-to-date. You might also want to note if a gallery regularly produces a catalog for their artists’ exhibitions, if they are private versus open to the public and which art fairs they attend, if any. If these things are important to you, don’t lose time drafting applications to galleries that don’t meet your requirements.

6. Along a similar vein, DON’T submit an unsolicited application if a gallery’s website explicitly says that they are not currently looking for artists. I worked at a gallery where we noted that we were not actively seeking applications and we were still contacted by multiple artists each week! Please read their website thoroughly to avoid making this mistake.

Think about it from another perspective – if you were an artist already represented by this gallery and they continued to take on more people, you would likely have less opportunity to show and they would focus less effort on selling your work specifically. Though I would personally avoid applying to galleries that aren’t looking altogether, if it otherwise seems like the perfect fit for your work, my best advice is to see if you can get a face-to-face meeting with the director.

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7. Please DON’T just show up to a gallery with your portfolio. Again, I’ve worked at galleries where this happened weekly and it is not the right way to start the conversation. If you arrive unannounced, you are catching the staff off guard and there is no guarantee that someone will be available to meet with you. Similarly, exhibition openings and the first few days of an art fair are tough times for long conversations with a dealer because they will be focused on their clients and closing sales. However, if you notice a lull when you are there, certainly take the chance to meet them or ask them for an appointment at a more convenient time. This way, when you follow up via email you can say that you’ve already met – mention when and where so they remember.

8. DO find other opportunities to introduce yourself. Besides showing up to gallery openings, attend art events in your community and you are likely to meet the people you are looking to work with organically. Practice speaking to people about your work confidently, like an elevator pitch, and ideally be able to do one that is short (one minute) and one that is a little longer (five minutes) in case you have the time for a more in-depth conversation. Pinpoint what are the most exciting or unique things about your work and you as an artist and use those to convince a gallerist to want to represent you.

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9. DO read their application instructions carefully, triple check your materials, and have a friend look for typos! If they do not list specific instructions, send a brief email stating your interest in the gallery and attach your resume, images as a zip file and your artist statement (check out our article with tips on writing one). For large files, you can also use programs like Dropbox and WeTransfer, but be wary of having to send more than one email. Ideally, you want to send a complete application in one message. Look on the gallery information page of their website to find the name and email of the owner or director so you can address it directly to him or her.

Your message could read something like this:

Dear [Gallery Owner],

I am writing in reference to the call for artists listed on your website [OR to submit my work to be considered for representation]. My current body of work [describe in one or two sentences]. I have exhibited most recently at [name notable exhibitions, preferably solo or two-person] and am part of the permanent collection of [list any]. [Also mention relevant awards, recent press, residencies or other gallery affiliations].  

Please find attached my artist statement and résumé, as well as a selection of my work. Additional pieces can be viewed on my website: [list website here]. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact me at [list email, phone or both]. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.

This example is more formal, but it gives you an idea of what you can say to keep it simple and direct. 

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10. DON’T get frustrated if your application goes unanswered. Hopefully, a gallery will at least do you the courtesy of acknowledging your application, but they often do not. My general rule is that once I apply to something I “forget” about it rather than worry or obsessively check my email. If I hear back, hooray! – if not, oh well. There will always be more to apply to. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t follow up. It is appropriate to send a message about a week or two after the initial one to ask if your application was received or if it is being reviewed. If they still don’t respond, however, then it’s time to move on.

11. DO consider alternative models like co-op galleries. Depending on where you are in your career, it might be worth it for you to exchange a few sitting hours per month for the opportunity to show. Always read their agreements carefully to decide if the exhibition potential outweighs the membership fees and/or working requirements.

Speaking of alternatives to the traditional gallery – connecting with independent curators, art advisors and interior designers can help broaden your client base as well. While most galleries sell to private individuals or people purchasing on behalf of an institution, a curator or designer might be looking for art to place in a corporate office, hotel lobby, restaurant or department store, and some are tasked with finding artists for large-scale mural projects. But most importantly, never underestimate the power of building your own personal brand! With a strong website and social media presence, you can start to make sales on your own.

12. Lastly, DON’T let the fear of rejection hold you back. When I was still in art school, I remember finding a gallery focused on emerging artists. I compared myself to who they were already showing and thought that I fit the bill, but I was too scared and talked myself out of submitting an application for a whole YEAR! Luckily, once I finally bit the bullet and applied, I heard back shortly after and was asked to bring in a few pieces for a final review. At my meeting, the gallery director decided to take all of them and I signed a contract on the spot. Sadly, the gallery eventually closed, but at the time despite being overjoyed at the positive outcome, I was a little disappointed in myself for having given into my self-doubt for so long. Don’t let that be you.

Everyone at Create! is cheering for you! So, go, apply to amazing galleries and get represented. Tell us about it when you do ;)