Life Is Beautiful and I Have Proof

All is right with the world. I have proof.

I’m at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to see the Matisse/Diebenkorn exhibition. I arrive early with Rob, my trooper of a husband. He’s agreed to be my companion through the permanent collection galleries before our afternoon ticket time.

What I witness restores my faith in humanity.

Here’s how it goes down.

Is It Art?

As a former museum educator, I know that it’s wise to avoid school tours in the galleries. If I had thought about that, I might have visited later in the day. But then I wouldn’t have been fortunate enough to have had this experience.

There is at least one group in each of the galleries. Most students have assignments and a docent.

One docent teaches native Spanish speakers how to say Marcel Duchamp.

Mahr-sel’ Du’-shahn

They giggle.

She stands in front of Duchamp’s Fountain and asks: Is it art? They are pretty certain it isn’t. It’s a urinal, for Pete’s sake.

I don’t stick around to hear more of their reasoning. I already feel like I’m an intruder.

I’m less interested in the art history lecture than in the way these kids are fully engaged with the art. They are hanging on every word she says.

My husband finds me and asks what I’m up to. “This docent is awesome,” I say.

Then I catch a glimpse of another heartwarming scene.

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Do This Today to be Happy One Year From Now

Rene Gibson sculpture from cow skull

Your exhibition/class/event was a smash hit, and now it’s over. You can breath a sigh of relief.

Your calendar is empty. The breathing room feels good for a few days, until you realize that you have no thoughts about what to do next.

I gently suggest that you take about 1.5 days to relax and bask in the afterglow of your success. Then, get back to work.

I’m not saying that you have to work at the fever pitch before your event. I’m just saying that you need something else to look forward to.

When there are no big plans on the horizon – no major deadlines – we flounder and may find it easier to procrastinate.

Without something to work toward, it’s easy to get lost in the black hole of social media or convince yourself that your inbox needs rearranging. Laundry, anyone?

Stop pretending that any of these (especially social media!) is satisfying. If you want to be happy one year from now, what do you have to do today?

Commit to the Big Scary Idea

It’s fine to accomplish small tasks and projects, but it’s the big goals – the things that are a little scary and a lot uncomfortable – that will move your art career further faster.

Big ideas motivate us to take action, and each action builds momentum toward a larger goal. All you have to do is decide to do it and commit to making it happen.

Here are six possibilities to consider for your next project.

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Organize Your Busy Art Career with Evernote

Bluff painting by Marsha Savage

I am writing this draft in Evernote on my iPad while taking the light rail train into Denver to see a few art shows.

When I want a document that I will reuse and share with students, clients, or my team, I create it in Word, Pages, or Google Docs.

When I want to save drafts of documents or to store something to remember, it goes straight to Evernote where I can access it across devices.

Evernote is an app that organizes information into digital notes and notebooks. It would be impossible for me to keep track of all the information I need to without it.

Here’s a peek at how I use Evernote in my life and business along with suggestions for how you might use it in your art career.

Keep Your Travel Information in One Place

This might be my favorite use of Evernote. In your Travel notebook you might store:

  • Hotel arrangements
  • Flight details
  • Car rentals
  • Contact names and information
  • Directions
  • Things you want to do and see when you arrive
  • Local restaurants

You might also store travel information for your family or for friends who are visiting.

Capture Content Ideas

One of the problems I hear most often from artists is that they don’t have anything to say. And this is a problem when so much of your marketing is based on the written word.

No more worries! The minute you have a bright idea, you can start a note in Evernote. Save drafts for:

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How To Discuss Slow Sales with Your Gallery

Sales are slow.

You’ve been with the gallery for a short time (let’s say just over a year) and you expected them to sell more art for you, but it’s just not happening.

Or maybe you’ve been with them longer. They sold a lot of your work at one point, but sales have dropped off significantly in the past couple of years.

So what now – do you ask for your work to be returned? Not yet.

Opening a dialogue is your first course of action. Regardless of the outcome, you will be admired for your professionalism.

Bringing Up Slow Sales with Your Gallery

The conversation you have with your gallerist about slow sales depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How long they have represented you.
  • The terms of your agreement with them.
  • The nature of your past relationship.
  • The demand for your work outside of their venue.

How do you begin a conversation considering these factors? Here are three options.

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A Few of My Favorite Things

A few days before Christmas is the perfect time to share some of my favorite things with you: business and personal tips, recipes, online email classes, and products I love.

Skip the famous eggnog recipe at the end at your own peril. Merry merry!

Tech and Online Stuff

IPhone Class

Emil Pakarklis offers loads of info in his complimentary video tutorial for hacking your iPhone camera: 7 Hidden iPhone Camera Features That Every Photographer Should Use. I learned a ton and I didn’t even get to all of his lessons.

Later’s IG Email Class

Later.com is an online service that allows you to schedule your Instagram posts. They also have a fantastic free e-mail course on using Instagram for Business and regular tips via email when you sign up.

It’s totally worth it to learn more about taking advantage of Instagram. Check out their blog, too.

Products

Seize The Year Calendar

You gotta have a wall calendar to see the rhythm of your year. I heard about this find via Jane La Fazio who I believe got turned on to it by Patti Digh. This wall calendar is uber functional and attractive.

The clincher is the way the months run into one another instead of being compartmentalized.

I also love that this calendar isn’t

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What Are You Reading This Summer? (Curious Monday)

Book about Philip Johnson & Frank Lloyd Wright

When I heard about Architecture’s Odd Couple, the new bio about Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson, I couldn’t wait to read it.

I have a thang for architecture, and reading about the friendly rivalry between these two opposites was too appealing to pass up.

It’s my summer reading.

What’s on your list?

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Art Business Interest List on Facebook

While you’re creating interest lists on Facebook to help you stay connected, how about adding an interest list for staying up-to-date on your art business.

You could start by adding the Art Biz Coach page. Just sayin’.

Here are the business pages on my art business interest list (just click that link to follow my list), though note that I also have individual profiles on my list as well.

Please leave your favorite art business pages on Facebook in a comment here.

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Top Art Biz Blog Posts of 2014

colorful abstract painting

At year’s end, a look back at the top posts here from the past year.

Top 6 Most-Commented-On Posts

Yep, It’s Art and It’s for Sale

©Patricia Coulter, Jubilant. Acrylic on gallery wrapped stretch canvas, 48 x 42 inches. Used with permission.

Many artists seem are shocked when people don’t understand that your work is for sale. And, yet, you’re not doing enough to clue them in.

Your Job Is in the Studio

A perennial favorite! This is my annual reminder that if you don’t make art, you have nothing to promote or build a career on.

Turn On Your Cell Phones

Take advantage of the

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What Your Art Business Will Cost You

Maggie Ruley’s Key West studio. Used with permission.

When you own your own business, it’s important to look at expenses as well as income in order to remain profitable.

I looked into various (not all – not even education or supplies and materials!) expenses for artists and thought it might be interesting to share the results. Feel free to add to our completely unscientific list in a comment on the Art Biz Blog.

Maggie Ruley’s Key West studio. Used with permission.

Studio Space

These numbers are based on responses I received through Twitter and Facebook. (sf = square feet)

Central Virginia (476sf): $355/month Key West, FL (750sf – 3 rooms): $1600 for studio + store front

Ravenswood, Chicago, IL (600+ sf): $540/month Downtown Chicago, IL (sf n/a): $485/month Gages Lake, IL (1200sf): $500/month with utilities

Albuquerque, NM (175sf): $200/mo in

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I Recommend These Services for Your Art Business

Lisa, Alyson and Janice

In the beginning months and years of Art Biz Coach, I thought of my services as a one-stop shop. Bad idea. It’s never a good idea to try to be everything because you then become known for nothing.

Over the years, I have learned to work to my strengths, which include helping artists with foundational marketing pieces like building mailing lists, nurturing relationships, and improving professional presentation.

Artists usually begin with my Art Biz Bootcamp before we get into a private client relationship that helps them personalize their strategies. In addition, I am very good at helping artists improve their systems and productivity. This is why I teach Organize Your Art Biz.