Presentation Tips for Your Art Talk

©Peter Muzyka, Watt a Bird. Egg tempera on handmade traditional gesso panel, 18 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

I recently helped Rob, my husband, with a presentation he was preparing on the topic of virtual reality.

Now, he’s a smart guy. He has a Ph.D. in mathematical physics, so he wasn’t asking me what I thought about his virtual reality angle. He had that covered.

He was seeking tips on how to take what he knew and massage it into a better presentation.

Here’s some advice I gave him, which might serve you.

Make It Visual

Bullet points are okay when your audience needs to write something down and remember it later. Otherwise, opt for visuals.

I use images as much as possible, but sometimes I make fun graphics out of words – sticking to my branding, of course.

You’re lucky! You so have this because your topic is inherently visual.

Most artists need only

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What Is Your Morning Routine? (Curious Monday)

Ruth-Anne Siegel painting of coffee cup

If you ever doubted that routines are important for doing strong creative work, read Twyla Tharp’s book, The Creative Habit.

What is your morning routine?

What do you do each morning without thinking? What do you wish you would be able to do in the mornings?

Do you rise and shine early? Or are you a late starter?

Respond on this first Curious Monday post.

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Someone Else Could … (What To Delegate in Your Art Business)

Indigo Winds - Victoria Pendragon

There’s a certain point in your business when you can’t grow without hiring someone.

Your work is in demand, and you sell the work as fast as you make it. This is a good problem to have, but it’s still a problem because you can’t keep up by yourself.

You’re creator, packer, shipper, marketer, janitor, and warrior rolled into one. You spend as much time in the studio as you can and perform ninja maneuvers to get all of the business stuff taken care of.

You don’t watch television, your family barely sees you, and you’re not getting enough sleep.

You’re maxed out! But you don’t feel like you can afford to hire help.

Here’s the thing: You can’t afford not to hire someone.

Your art business will never grow if you continue doing everything yourself.

It’s not just you who hesitates to get help. Very rarely does an entrepreneur feel like it’s the right time to hire new people because there’s never “extra” cash lying around. It’s a catch 22: you don’t have surplus funds, but you’ve reached your limit on what you can accomplish alone.

If you believe in your work, it’s time to take risks.

When my clients reach this point of frustration, I encourage them to start keeping a list of everything they do in their businesses that someone else could do.

It’s even better if you start this list before you reach this point. You don’t have to go out and find someone right away. Just start the list. I’ll help.

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How To Be Happier About Running Your Art Business

devalmy-laurence-macaron

You love making art.

You probably think it would be great if you could just make art all of the time and do nothing else.

The title of my book on self-promotion for artists didn’t come out of thin air. It came from hearing artists whine about not wanting to do the business stuff: I’d Rather Be in the Studio.

Yeah, the studio is a great place for you to hang out and to be creative, but two things cannot happen if you stay holed up in the studio:

1. You cannot be financially viable by hiding out in the studio.

2. You cannot be emotionally or professionally fulfilled by keeping your art to yourself.

For these two things to happen, you have to embrace your role as the leader of your business. This doesn’t sit well with many artists who prefer pretending that they can ignore the business stuff.

There are ways to be happier about running a business, but first you must decide that this is what you want. As part of that decision, you can decide to be pouty and grumble about all of the hard work, or you can decide that you’ll find ways to enjoy the ride.

Which way would you rather go through life?

What Makes Me Happy About Running My Business

Running a successful business means long hours and many sacrifices. But if I had known about the deep satisfaction that results, I might have explored the options much sooner.

I love that …

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The Problem With Lower Price Points For Your Art

Torn paper, ink, spaghetti

Have you ever created a body of work just so you could sell at lower prices? If so, you might have created a problem for yourself.

Do any of the following ring true for you?

– You are afraid that people won’t buy your art if you charge what it’s worth.

– You believe that the people in your geographical region buy only cheaper art.

– You’ve started making smaller pieces because they’re less expensive.

– You have signed up for a service like Fine Art America to begin offering multiples of your art, even though the originals aren’t selling.

If you have created lower-priced work for any of these reasons, you might be lowering the bar along with your prices.

Let’s face it: selling lower-priced art is safer. There are many more people in your pool of prospective buyers at the low end.

But I can’t believe that your goal is to appeal to the masses. You, like my clients, surely have big dreams, and that means selling big art at fair prices.

So I have to ask … Are you running to this safer place of inexpensive art because you’ve been inconsistent with your studio practice, marketing, exhibitions, and networking? In other words, are you producing “more affordable” art because you don’t want to do the work required to sell your best work?

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Using Invitations To Elevate The Cachet of Your Exhibition

Sullivan-Christine-Passing

Every contact you have with someone is an opportunity to wow them with your art and your professionalism, so you don’t want to miss the chance to wow from the beginning.

Robert Mapplethorpe knew this. For his first solo exhibition in 1973 at New York’s Light Gallery – a show of Polaroids – Mapplethorpe’s invitation was a hand-printed image from a Polaroid original.

He embossed his name on the outer edge, included the protective Polaroid cover, and inserted everything into hand-addressed, cream-colored Tiffany envelopes.

His invitation was a work of art in itself because, he believed, an exhibition doesn’t begin when you go to the opening, but when you receive the invitation.

An art exhibition begins when your guests receive the invitation.

The moment people hear about the show, they start judging. Will it be any good? Who else will show up? Is it worth my time? Is there something better I could do that night?

What experience do people have when they get an invitation from you?

Here are 7 ways to use your invitation to elevate the cachet of your exhibition.

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3 Simple Actions To Avoid The Tax Time Crazies

Alicia R Peterson Painting

Even if you work with a bookkeeper and accountant, as I do, there’s still much work to be done this time of year.

Every year I learn something new at tax time that I wish I had known in advance – insights that would have made the filing process much easier.

These three actions are a compilation of what I’ve learned from my experiences and those of my clients, which should eliminate some of the crazies around tax time.

1. Take charge of your business finances.

Don’t rely on a spouse to take care of your business finances. You, as CEO and CFO of your art career, need to know how to manage the money. You must take 100% responsibility for your future.

As sad as it is, I’ve heard many stories about people being duped out of their life savings by spouses who made poor financial decisions. These weren’t features in the paper or characters in a television exposé. These were artists and clients.

At the same time,

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21 Mindless But Productive Tasks for When Genius Takes a Hike

Miller-Judy-Mist

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could call up your genius whenever you needed it?

Hey, genius! Help me out with writing this article, please.

What would be even more amazing is if Genius would come running whenever you issued this command.

But Genius runs on its own time and has a pretty smart mouth.

My Genius lets me know who is boss:

  • I’m tired. Leave me alone.
  • You really should have used me when I was in better form. You know … like 6:00 a.m. That’s my power hour.
  • Are you kidding me? You spend the last four hours doing diddly-squat and now you expect me to drop everything and run to your rescue?
  • Hey, lady! I worked hard for you today. I’m entitled to stupid time.

Stupid time. That’s what I call the hours when my brain can’t make sense out of words or come up with a single creative idea.

I imagine Genius is taking a hike, sweating it out at hot yoga, or gulping down a green smoothie. You know, because Genius is Genius. She doesn’t need naps. She only needs to refuel.

Whatever happened to Genius, I’m left alone to endure stupid time.

And then there is someone else’s time. This becomes an issue when

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Your Artist Newsletter Delivers Trust

©Darlene Olivia McElroy, Sweet & Juicy. Mixed media on panel, 24 x 24 inches. Used with permission.

I sent my first email newsletter on March 25, 2002.

When I started, there was one other email newsletter that I was aware of that was published to help artists build their businesses.

If you had told me that I’d still be writing it in 2016, I would have questioned your sanity. And then I would have questioned my own for starting.

I’ve been delivering this content every week for 14 years. Every. Single. Week. I’ve never missed an issue. (Knock on wood.)

I’ve come close. Some editions are down to the wire, as I feel pressure to publish high-quality content in an increasingly noisy environment.

What’s The Big Deal?

If I skipped a week here and there, you probably wouldn’t miss it, but you might wonder if I am serious about nurturing a relationship with you.

You might question whether or not I’m “the real thing” or just another fly-by-night person thinking she has the chops to coach artists about their careers and businesses.

Here’s the thing:

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List-Building Tactics For Artists Who Want To Increase Their Followers

Owl Eggs Day 650

Your email list is a means for nurturing trust, for building relationships, and, if you teach, for demonstrating your knowledge.

Your list is, as I’ve often said, your most important asset. It’s unique to you, your art, and your goals. No one has the same list of names and email addresses.

For more than 10 years, I relied on good content to build my list. I thought, correctly, that if I just share good stuff, word will get around and more people would subscribe. They did!

But I missed out on helping even more artists because I wasn’t proactively adding names to my list as often as I could have been.

I am more convinced than ever that we need to use as many avenues as possible to build our lists. Not quantity for quantity’s sake, but seeking the highest quality of loyal subscribers.

Online Ask

From time to time, ask people who follow you to sign up. Don’t beg, just ask. You can use the ask in combination with any giveaways mentioned below.

In-Person Ask

If you’re out networking, as you should be, don’t be afraid to ask people that seem interested if they’d like to be on your list.

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