Listen, read, act, repeat

It’s been said that the four most dangerous words in the English language are “I already know that.” These words create a mental barrier that shuts you off from any additional information you might receive by listening. More importantly, saying “I already know that” closes the door on new experiences that could enrich your life and your art.

Christen Humphries, Winter Elegance. Oil on pergamenata, 39 x 27 inches. ©The Artist

As I tell students in my classes and workshops, it’s important to stop yourself before uttering–or even thinking–these words. When the thought crosses your mind that you’ve already heard something before, ask yourself one of the following questions.

–Am I living it? –Am I doing it? –Did I act on it? –Will it hurt to be reminded of it again?

Consider the many ways we learn. We

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Don’t neglect old-fashioned mail

Postal rates just went up in the U.S., but that’s no reason to stop sending mail. It’s more important than ever to use regular mail in conjunction with any email messages you’re sending out. Let’s look at some of the reasons why you shouldn’t neglect buying stamps.

Deb Schmit, Highland Dreams Oil on canvas, 12 x 16 inches. ©The Artist

Above all, regular mail won’t be considered spam. People have all kinds of filters set up for their inboxes these days. You can’t be certain your email messages are getting through. While you might grumble about the reliability of the postal service, there is no doubt that it’s far more reliable than email.

Likewise, regular mail can’t be accidentally deleted. It doesn’t take much to get frustrated by an overflowing inbox and delete a load of messages at once.

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It’s the annual Memorial Day issue, when I share reminders of what you can be doing to build your career and reputation and to sell more art. Let’s just get right into it.

Remember that you hold the key to your success. This is your life and your career. Don’t listen to anyone else’s definition of success. Instead, define success for yourself.

Constance Humphries, Untitled #2. Oil on canvas, 36 x 36 inches. ©The Artist

Remember that the studio always comes first. My job is to help you promote your work more effectively. Your job is to put the art first. Without your studio time, you have nothing to promote.

Remember that as fun as Facebook and Twitter are, they can also be time-wasters. If these social media platforms are cutting into your studio time, you need to rein

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Identify (only) the next action

Clarity will help you get things done. When you’re fuzzy about what needs to be done, you tend to procrastinate. When you procrastinate, you create a backlog of tasks and overwhelm sets in.

Clearly define your tasks and identify only the next action for your task list.

Lisa Pressman, Seeds of Thought. Encaustic on cedar, 15 x 13 inches. ©The Artist

Instead of writing “Promote Exhibit” as a task, identify your next action for each area of promotions. “Promote Exhibit” requires many separate actions–it is not a single task. For example, you might have the following items as your next actions toward the “Promote Exhibit” goal.

Design postcard for exhibit Write blog post describing exhibit Add new contacts to mailing list database

“Next action” means that the tasks on your list do not have a dependent action that must

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Pack your presentation with meaningful content

If you think you don’t have much to say about your art, you’re not trying hard enough. Good content is everywhere, but it has to incubate. If you have a presentation coming up, start developing your content immediately. Give yourself time to play around with it, to make mistakes, and to tighten up your slides and words.

Find last week’s tips for designing your presentation PowerPoint or Keynote slides.

Lisa Kairos, Gear Nest. Acrylic and mixed media, 12 x 24 inches. ©The Artist

Here are some tips for unearthing and refining your presentation content.

THOSE ANNOYING QUESTIONS What questions are people asking you about your art? Every time someone asks you a new question, write it down–even if you don’t yet have the response to it. If they’re thinking it, someone else is bound to be thinking the

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Art Marketing Action: Turn the conversation around

You have a chance to guide a conversation about your art if you (1) don’t get defensive (2) recognize that almost all viewers’ questions are valid and sincere (3) learn how to ask thoughtful questions and (4) listen to the responses and engage on a deeper level with viewers.

Patrick Gracewood, Bear Fountain. Bronze, 12 x 11.5 x 9.75 inches. ©The Artist


I recently asked artists to respond to this question. What do you say when someone asks: How long did it take you to make that?

One of the things I found interesting was that many of the 69 respondents automatically assumed this was a value question–that it was being asked because the viewer associated time invested with the price on the artwork. I think this is a dangerous assumption; although, of course, sometimes it is easy to

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Art Marketing Action: Return to your art

When times are good, artists make art. When times are bad, artists make art. When time stands still, artists will continue making art.

Artists who are true to themselves do not make art for the marketplace, but for themselves–to start a dialogue with their viewers, their fans, and the world. They make art because they have something to say that is best said not with words, but through a creative act. They make art because they have to. The marketing stuff can come later.

Janet Checker, San Blase Panama. Oil, 48 x 24 inches. From the “Women of the Americas” series. ©The Artist

Through this newsletter and the Art Biz Blog, I give you ideas for promoting your art and building your business. Too many ideas. You can’t possibly implement these ideas as fast as I generate them.

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