Being Seen: The Social Part of the Artist’s Life


Meeting people and building relationships is the most important thing you can do for your art career. This means you have to get out of the studio and socialize.

You must, gasp, be social in the real world as well as online.

This goes against the natural tendency of so many artists who would prefer to be alone with their art supplies. But it’s absolutely necessary when you want to attain a high level of success.

If you desire more sales and more recognition for your art, you must make it a priority to meet more people.

You need to get out and meet more people if you find yourself …

  • Sitting behind your computer all day and researching the latest magical way to promote your art online.
  • Attending only your own openings.
  • Living in the same place for years without knowing your neighbors.

Why This Matters

Your art must be seen in person in order to be appropriately appreciated. Eventually, you’re going to have to

Continue reading…

Opening Lines at Art Openings: Starting a Conversation


It’s easy to meet people when you’re at an opening of your own art because you’re the host or hostess. Your job is to meet everyone and to introduce your guests to one another.

Not true when you’re the guest at someone else’s opening. When you don’t have a role to play, it’s uncomfortable to force yourself to meet people.

And, yet, you know it’s important.

Students in my Art Career Success System understand how critical it is to meet more people. New relationships might lead to opportunities, sales, and lifelong fans.

So what do you do? How do you start a conversation with a stranger without getting sick to your stomach?

Alyson to the rescue! Below is a list of conversation starters that you can start practicing immediately.

You don’t even have to be at an opening to begin. Try talking to

Continue reading…

How Your Art Makes People Feel

©Margaux Lange, Bust Heart Necklaces. Salvaged Barbie doll parts, sterling silver, and hand-pigmented resins, pendant measures 1.5 x 1.25 inches.

People don’t buy what you do or why you do it. They buy how it makes them feel. – Bernadette Jiwa

When I heard Jiwa utter those words on a stage in Denver last year, I had an AHA! moment. I had previously been sucked in by Simon Sinek’s famous TED Talk, Start With Why.

People don’t buy what you do, or how you do it. They buy why you do it.

It’s a powerful message that is hard to disagree with, yet it fell short for many artists, who were paralyzed for months or years over the inability to nail their Why.

Jiwa’s quote adds clarification. People buy how it makes them feel.

People buy your art because it makes them feel something.

To find your purpose (your why), all you have to do is remember the connection you are making with others through your art.

Continue reading…

Mean People: When Your Soul Has Been Swiped by the Grinch

Lorelei Land Caricature

A hateful email hits your inbox.

A surly comment is left on your blog.

A nasty response is added to one of your Facebook posts.

How Do You Respond to Mean People?

I have plenty of experience with this and confess that I’ve used all of the following suggestions (except perhaps #2) at one point or another.

Your response to malicious words will depend on the level of wickedness.

If there is any question of intent in the language, make sure you’re not misreading their words. It’s easy to misunderstand email, so ask for clarification if there is any doubt.

Try this -> “Hey, Rex, I’m not sure if I’m reading this correctly, so please help. Did you mean to imply that … ?”

Armed with your answer, you can move on to any of these responses.

Continue reading…

Feedback Whether You Want It or Not


We are often too quick to ask for feedback.

We’re equally guilty of giving feedback when it’s not requested (or wanted).

I’ve been guilty of both – especially the latter – and I’ve learned a lot about giving and receiving feedback. I owe much of what I know about feedback to Cynthia Morris, an artist and coach.

Here’s what I’ve learned from her and from others.

When Not to Ask for Feedback

Feedback is serious stuff. You should only ask for it if you’re prepared to hear the answers.

At certain points in the creative process, your project is in a delicate state. You might have a direction and be excited about it or, alternatively, not know what you’re doing.

Proceed with caution when you’re at this point. Asking for feedback too early doesn’t give you time to nurture your baby. The wrong words could put a quick halt to any enthusiasm you had and before you know it, your bubble has burst. Ouch!

How to Ask for Feedback

Continue reading…

Your Life’s Work: The Artist's Retrospective

Virginia Folkestad discovers insights into her life’s work by using a visual timeline.

A retrospective is an exhibition that shows off the entire oeuvre of an artist’s career. Typically arranged chronologically and later in an artist’s life, retrospectives treat art viewers to the progression of the work in a single space.

I try to visit as many retrospectives as I can for artists I admire, which sometimes involves traveling and going out of my way as necessary. You never know when they will happen again since it’s difficult to borrow or gather the work in one place.

Retrospectives aren’t just for viewers. They provide an excellent opportunity for artists to examine their accomplishments.

Even without an art venue for your retrospective, you can take stock of your life’s work by creating a virtual retrospective.

Virginia Folkestad discovers insights into her life’s work by using a visual timeline.

I was delighted to come

Continue reading…

Introducing Yourself as an Artist

Stephanie Hartshorn and Holly Wilson get to know each other at Art Biz Makeover this past fall. Photo by Regina-Marie Photography.

I’ve been surprised at how difficult it can be for artists to introduce themselves as artists. “I’m an artist” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue easily for some people. And yet it’s critical to be able to say it with confidence. It seems to be easier for people with art degrees to pronounce their profession to the world. This might be because there is a piece of paper that says you completed a curriculum to the satisfaction of an institution.

Continue reading…

How To Warm Up a Cold List


You were told you needed an email list, so you asked people to subscribe, and then they just sat in your system for months. Your list has gone cold. Ice cold. You’ve realized the errors of your ways and are now ready to commit to staying in touch with your list on a regular basis, but you wonder: Will they remember me? What will they think if I just start contacting them after all this time?

Continue reading…

Save The Apologies For When You Really Need Them

©Casey Klahn, All The Colors Field. Pastel, 5.5 x 10.5 inches. Used with permission.

There are real things in your art business and marketing you should apologize for. Apologize when you miss a deadline, are late to an appointment, or (oops!) accidentally use the Cc instead of the Bcc line for your email blast. Of course you should apologize when you do something wrong, but don’t apologize for things that aren’t hurting people or for things you have no control over.

Continue reading…

Stop Typing And Start Talking

Caption: ©Tami Bone, Tributarius. Photograph. Used with permission.

If you call my business phone and I’m unavailable, you will get a recording that says I respond fastest to email. I love email. Like most business owners these days, I prefer it for my primary communications tool. There are numerous situations when you must stop typing and start talking. Here are five examples.

Continue reading…