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Sunday, May 2, 2010

How to Torpedo Your Art Career Before It Begins

Since it is sometimes easier to remember colorful and extreme examples of what not to do, I thought I would share this hopefully entertaining top ten list. The next ten will follow later. I do think these examples apply ONLY to a very small group of artists.

1.) Just walk into any art gallery or other business that you happen to pass by and insist they take a look at at your art work right now or carry your work! After all, why should you take the time to look at their rules for an artist portfolio submission on their website and/or make an appointment. Who cares if the business in a national clothing store and does not carry art work. They will be bowled over by your take charge attitude and confidence!

Reality Check: Being a professional artist is a career just like any other profession. Would you walk into your accountant's or doctor's office without an appointment? What if a door to door salesperson demanded that you buy their goods? You would not appreciate this tactic. Do your homework. Look at the style of the artwork of the gallery. Does your work fit the style? If the non-gallery business does not carry artwork, it is unlikely they will carry your artwork.

2.) Work no more than 2-3 hours a week on your art. After all you are so talented, you can create in a few hours what some artists might take weeks or months or years to create.

Reality Check: Work till you drop. Others are and that is why they are doing better than you are!


3.) Make it difficult for people to locate you and your artwork. Don't bother with a website. The general public will simply assume you are too busy and are hiding from your many fans. Your elusiveness will capture their attention!

Reality Check: You must have an artist website or blog with an email address and photos of your work. If someone cannot locate you in a minute, they will move onto another artist.


4.) In calls to artists, do not follow the rules spelled out in the prospectus. Solicit and even demand opportunities that are not part of the call. Ask to co-curate the exhibition or co-judge the submissions. After all, you know as much as the person who issued the call to artists!

Reality Check: To solicit other services or demand opportunities not part of the call is completely unprofessional. Your name will quickly be "mud" in the art world. It is also not an opportunity to solicit free critiques of your work. While you may ask questions concerning the rules, such as photo resolution, ask for confirmation of receipt, etc., keep it short and to the point. When I apply to calls, I submit the information and note on my calender when a notice of decision is expected to be made and I am done.


5.) Always try to show up late for appointments with art related professionals and clients. After all, they should know how extremely busy and popular you are, so they will be grateful just to bask in your presence.

Reality Check: Your art career is a business. Show up on time or a little early just as you would do in any other situation.


6.) Copy ideas and work of others. After all you cannot find the time to both create the work and come up with original ideas!

Reality Check: If you routinely lack ideas and inspiration for your art medium, then find another business or interest.


7.) Have really poor photos of your work. Make the viewer work to try to figure out what is in the photos. And if someone ever wishes to use one of your photos in a high visibility event, demand compensation.

Reality Check: You need professional images of your work. Ask around for photographer references for your medium. Certain mediums like glass require photographers with a high level of expertise since glass is difficult to shoot. And normally, you will not receive compensation for your image. You will be asked to sign a photo release documenting you own the copyright to the image. If someone is going to give you a great deal of publicity and use your artwork photo in a specific one-time venue, why ruin your chance and demand money for the photo of your work? (*This rule is not applicable to photographers who sell images since this is their work creation.)


8.) After your first attempt at creating art, view your work as the greatest work ever created. Don't do a critical assessment of what changes you could make or what you could do differently next time. Approach museums NOW and tell them of your amazing work!

Reality Check: You should do a critical assessment of each work you do. Enthusiasm is one thing but delusions are another thing. While you should not in some sense compare yourself to other individual artists, you should always be aware of what level of work is out there.


9.) Don't exhibit. After all, why should you have to develop a resume. People will beat a path to your door just by the fact that YOU created it!

Reality Check: If you do not want to put your name out in the public and be part of this competitive juried process, you will limit your chance to develop a name as an artist. Your resume is a critical part of what galleries and museums expect to review and if you have no exhibition experience, few professionals will pay attention to your work. While "outsider" artist geniuses come along on occasion, it is a rare event.


10.) Don't ever take classes to further your knowledge of your medium and art in general. After all, you work is already the best, so what do you have to learn?

Realty Check: Take an occasional class but also spend time following up after class and apply what you learned. If you can only get work done via a class, you might have difficulty accepting commissioned work and meeting deadlines.

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