The world is full of talented people. Many of them are known only in their small circle of friends. Unless these artists either have patrons or else live close to the bone, they have to have second jobs to support their first love. If these artists were able to promote their work effectively, they might be in the position to sell their work and thus fuel additional creativity.
Alyson B. Stanfield's new book offers a series of hands-on tasks to remedy this situation, to teach artists business skills that will allow them to (hopefully) support themselves through their art. The book is arranged by eight typical excuses followed by one to three actions to counteract the power of that excuse. No airy-fairy inner child work here; this book is very hands-on. Once you read it, you'll find that the only thing between you and success as you define it is your willingness to take a few simple steps. "Like your art, [self-promotion] is something you do every day," Stanfield says.
And simple steps they are. For example, the second excuse is "There aren't enough hours in the day to do it all." Stanfield counters this excuse with two actions, both of which establish systems to free up time to make and market your work. The first action is to organize your information. Stanfield offers brass tacks suggestions for organizing electronic and paper information, keeping accurate inventories of the work, and maintaining an up-to-date mailing list. The artwork inventory is especially detailed, including categories for name of artist, title, location, an image, date, types of materials, where printed or cast, technique, size, sales price, materials cost, etc. Can you see how helpful this drilled-down inventory would be in the event of a gallery show? A possible sale to an interested collector?
The book's sections on systems and routines to ease the time crunch especially interest me as a busy writer, teacher and musician. By establishing routines, we can manage our time more effectively and avoid activity creep: that mysterious thing that happens when you avoid something useful by allowing something mindless and easy-to-do to use up your time. As a writer, I sometimes focus on extraneous activities like housework or surfing the 'net for one more source of information for the article I am writing.
But of course, this book is primarily directed towards visual artists, and these creative types will find the step-by-step method of preparing an artist statement very useful. This task is to counter the excuse "My art speaks for itself." Stanfield's proactive approach is for the artist to define the work, rather than allow critics or viewers to do so. A strong artist statement is integral to remaining in control of your career.
Once these and other basic tasks are accomplished, the artist can confidently move into marketing her work, and the remainder of the book covers topics such as creating a portfolio, using the Internet effectively, sending thank you notes, joining artist organizations, teaching lectures on your work, and writing press releases and newsletters. Many artists are either introverted or perhaps just unaware of these simple yet effective ways to boost awareness of their work. And again, it comes down to what you define success to be and crafting these techniques to reach your own specific goals. Some artists want a one-man show at a prestigious gallery. Others value consistent sales on E-bay or at home art shows. Whatever you want, you can do it!
The book also includes first-hand accounts of how working artists have applied Stanfield's tasks to successfully support their careers. Stanfield's website offers this book, freebies, workshops, and an informative daily newsletter. I've subscribed to her blog for nearly two years and have found it very inspirational and motivating.
Although I was reading the book to review it, I couldn't help myself from working the exercises in support of my writing career. The author is so positive. And because I also have an MBA, I recognize many of her suggestions as deeply rooted in successful business strategy. If you get this book and apply its techniques towards your goals, you should be able to manifest your vision of what it means TO YOU to be a successful artist.