Posts tagged Business
Taking the Power Back in Your Art Career with Michelle I. Gomez
Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

Photo by Milana Braslavsky @milanabphoto

On this episode of Art & Cocktails, Kat talks with Michelle I. Gomez about her entrepreneurial journey and how artists can take back self-worth and gain control over their life and finances.

Michelle I. Gomez is the founder of Creative Unions Event Design LLC, the first event planning company dedicated to integrating contemporary art into life’s celebrations, she views marriage celebrations as specially curated art exhibitions that bring people together to celebrate and express unique love stories.

After having founded her own successful arts business, she now serves as a Launch Strategist for Women identifying Artists wanting to launch their own arts businesses by coaching her clients on business strategy and emotional intelligence so they too can do what they love (and get paid for it).

You can find Michelle at:

Coaching Services: www.artisttoartpreneur.com

Creative Unions Event Design: www.creativeunionsllc.com

Email: michelle@creativeunionsllc.com

IG: @michelleigomez and @creativeunion

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.

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.

rawpixel-561415-unsplash.jpg

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.

eddie-howell-719573-unsplash.jpg

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!). 

nick-morrison-325805-unsplash.jpg

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

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. 

alejandro-escamilla-66211.jpg

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

roman-kraft-197672.jpg

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

Beautiful Podcasts for Art Ideas and Creative Inspiration

We love listening to podcasts during our commute or even in the studio. We decided to compile a list of beautiful audio programs and podcasts you can use to discover contemporary artists, get tips, inspiration, latest news in the industry and business advice from the top creative professionals.

By Monocle Magazine

Weekly cultural nourishment with Monocle 24’s international critics in the fields of art, music, theatre, literature, film and television. Enjoy conversations with the directors, artists, authors and musicians and minds behind it all. 

2. Art For Your Ear

2. Art For Your Ear

By The Jealous Curator

Art For Your Ear brings you stories from some of my favorite contemporary artists. When I studied Art History, the best part was, well, the gossip. I loved finding out why artists did certain things, what was going on in their personal lives, and behind-the-scenes details about other artists they knew and worked with.

By Daphne Cohn

Daphne Cohn is the host of The Creativity Habit Podcast: conversations with artist, creatives, and makers about art, creativity, and courage. 

4. The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

4. The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

By Chase Jarvis

Chase Jarvis is a visionary photographer, artist and entrepreneur. Cited as one of the most influential photographers of the past decade, he is the founder & CEO of CreativeLive. In this show, Chase and some of the world’s top creative entrepreneurs, artists, and celebrities share stories designed to help you gain actionable insights to recognize your passions and achieve your goals.

By TED

Some of the world's greatest artists, designers, photographers and architects showcase their work and visions onstage at the TED conference, TEDx events and partner events around the world. You can also download these and many other videos free on TED.com, with an interactive English transcript and subtitles in up to 80 languages. TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading.