Workshop: Professional Practices: 6 Keys Points to Effective Self-Promotion
Location: MIAD Todd Wehr Auditorium, 273 Erie Street, Milwaukee 53202
Date: Saturday, November 15, 2014
Back in 2004 I had an experience that changed my life. This experience resulted in thinking about my legacy. If I was to leave this earth, what would I leave behind? I began to reflect on my life and what obstacles I have faced mentally, emotionally, and financially.
I had moved to Sheboygan during that time due to this new change. Although I have been teaching for about 3 years I never had the opportunity to see what Sheboygan had to offer considering that I was commuting to work. I decided to approach this new outlook as an artist. So I began to pay attention to my surroundings and found myself painting topographical map-like abstract works. This was my way to relating to my environment and finding my way around the city.
In the studio, I always listen to music. I found myself listening to the Basquiat soundtrack. As I painted I stumbled upon two words that stuck in my mind, CLINK CLANK. I immediately grabbed oil pastels and began to draw. At the time that I created this drawing it did not make any sense. It was just a drawing of a robot on a cliff. About a year later, I stumbled upon this drawing and viewed it with a different perspective. This robot symbolized something special. It symbolized the idea that in life we are constantly beaten down with life’s challenges and although a specific moment seems like an eternity things do get better. “No matter how beat down you get in life it is that inner fuel that will push you out of it”.
So how does this story relate to the Business of Art? Well, today I still think about this experience and how it made my life’f goals clear. Realizing that life is about being happy. It is about doing what you love. Discovering what you are meant to do.
Today, CLINK CLANK still exists. It is what lies at my core. It is how I got to be where I am today. We often wonder where the future is going to take us. Well, I am happy to say that I do not know where all of this is going to take me. What I can say is that I have adopted a new way of looking at life - expose.educate.engage.
These three words have become my foundation for what I do as a gallery owner. What has helped me make this transition into running my own gallery is being an art educator. We expose people to the things we enjoy or passionate about. We educate them through personal stories, explaining the process, sharing influences. We engage them in conversation, art making, writing, critiques. We introduce them to a world that we enjoy living in and hope that it makes a difference in their lives.
You could say that is is the secret to my success. It is what keeps me up late at night, putting endless hours into a project, executing ideas, failing, and experiencing the ‘aha’ moment. We are bombarded by a lot of things on a daily basis. I would like to encourage you to reflect on your business or creative practice and begin to highlight those things that make you happy and create your own goals. In a year’s time you will notice a difference – mentally, emotionally and financially.
A great friend of mine, Erika Block, has launched an exciting project called The Inkdrop Project. Every week subscribers will receive a special note with words of encouragement and support from creative professionals. What a fabulous way to kick off your week!
Yesterday I facilitated a presentation on the how to begin your very own blog via WordPress.com. I was happy to see artists take their own careers in their own hands and put themselves in the driver seat to navigate their path to success.
Why a blog and not a website? I find blogs to be more engaging than a website. Websites are effective, however, if you are like me always on the go, seeing new art, going to receptions, visiting artists, and so on wouldn’t it be great to add photos, video, content right away? Yes, it can wait, but how many times do you forget to write things down or try to remember to later find out that you forgot? Having the option to do so can add excitement to your blog. People want to see you active. I do.
For the past few years, I have been involved in developing ways to help artists become successful. Each success defined by the artist’s need. My background as an art educator has given me the knowledge to pin point strengths and weaknesses, to listen to one’s needs, to assist in coming up with solutions, to take risks, and to reflect. In Education, you hear that today’s children is the future of tomorrow. This is true. I believe today’s artists enrich our lives with their art and their vision.
Artists tend to welcome a multiple of opportunities that may come their way. Whether it is a commission, a collaboration, or even exhibiting a local exhibition space. In the beginning of 2014, I wrote an article titled, What’s your Mission (June 25, 2013). You may be thinking why do I need a mission statement if I am an artist. Think of your mission as a your personal road map as to what is important and to figure out what you need to do to make that become reality. Should you be selective as to what you want to participate in? Yes! The thing that is great about writing a personal mission statement is that it can guide you in determining if a good opportunity is a great opportunity. If it is not a great opportunity that will advance your artists/career objectives then do not do it. A mission statement does not have to be published, but more of a reminder as you get bombarded with opportunities that involves you and your work.
Are you operating at your optimal level? Did you create a list of goals that you would like to achieve in 2014? Are you focusing on an annual goal? A quarterly goal? A monthly goal? Chances are you maybe engaging in one, two or all of the aforementioned. Over the past few years, my interest has been focused on the business side of art primarily due to running my art gallery. This focus has pushed me to begin exercising the muscles from the left-side of your brain. When you delve in to the business realm of art things change, headaches begin to develop, stress begins to shine, and your time becomes limited to do other creative things. However, I have learned that by balancing both sides of the brain can lead to a sense of achievement – a sense of success.
No matter what we strive to accomplish we are always trying to perfect the imperfection of our practice, process, business savviness, professional relationships, and so on. I realize I may be preaching to the choir on this topic, but sometimes we need to understand whichever system we decide to participate in we need to constantly maintain and nurture it so that we can adopt, adapt, and implement new ideas to assist us in reaching our goals through modification, simplification, and evaluation.
No one wants (at least publicly) to admit that the system he/she uses has weaknesses. Truth of the matter is that it may, which can result in taking proper action to improve it with the notion that we are not trying to perfect it, but to constantly work with any unforeseen obstacles that may come our way. Over time, we will create a system that will help us reaching new heights in our career. A system that will work for us to operate at our full potential on consistent basis.