October 15, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Pitching Your Story to My Podcast or Anyone Else’s

Black-and-white painting of a dog by Elizabeth Petrulis

I’m always on the lookout for artists with interesting business stories to tell.

I consider it my good fortune when I find them from one of my students or clients, and am equally happy when the story appears from beyond my immediate circle.

But I know there are hundreds and thousands of more stories out there that are waiting to be told. Not just to this podcast and blog, although that would be lovely, but to other podcasts, blogs, and media.

Make The Argument

I’m not crazy about the word “pitch” but I’m going with it. I use it in the sense that you are making an argument for something. You’re making an argument that I should pay attention to who you are and the art you make.

I specifically say “pitching your story” rather than “pitching your art” because most artists could benefit from massaging the stories they tell about themselves. You might not call it that, but it’s something that you’re constantly doing.

I’m more likely to pay attention to your art if you have a compelling story than if you ask me to buy, buy, buy.

  • You’re pitching your story when you post about your art on social media.
  • You’re pitching your story when you send an email to your list.
  • You’re pitching your story when you submit to an exhibition.
  • You’re pitching your story when you ask for gallery representation.
  • And take a minute to let this sink in. You’re (hopefully) pitching your story when you tell anyone you’re an artist. Anyone. At any point.

What I’m sharing will not only help you get featured on the Art Biz Podcast, but will also serve you when you pitch to other podcasts, bloggers, writers, and publications.

The more interviews you do and the more experience you get, the better you become at telling your story. You will also grow your audience and maybe even sell some art or attract new students and social media followers. You never know who is listening. Here are 5 steps for pitching your story.

October 8, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Facebook Live Group Art Shows with Brooke Harker

Brooke Harker Painting

Fun isn’t a word used very often when we think of marketing or business tasks. Still, it’s one of the criteria I suggest considering when you’re thinking about whether to add something to your busy schedule.

When Covid hit, Brooke Harker threw her fears about doing live video out the window and created Saturday Night Live Art Shows—because she thought it would be fun. It started with just her, but quickly grew to a core of regular artists, with new ones jumping in each week.

I wanted to talk with her about it because these weekly events are open to any artist who wants to show off their art or, perhaps, the art that you collect. In fact, as you’ll learn, the rules are, well, … What rules? This could be a great way for you to connect, practice your video (because imperfections are encouraged), and maybe even sell some art.

Brooke and I discuss:

  • What happens during SNL Art Shows and how you can participate. They’re 100% free!
  • How participating artists have benefited from being part of SNL Art Shows.
  • The 3 questions Brooke uses to prepare for live video.

And so much more. Listen and read the detailed notes.

September 24, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

The Value of Critique Groups for Artists with Patricia Miranda

Feminist installation by Patricia Miranda

My experience with critiques is limited to memories of undergraduate painting classes with George Bogart. I was crammed into a space outside the studio classroom with my fellow students.—some of us lucky to snag a bench—to talk about our work.

The only session I remember vividly was one in which I had a very early work in progress that was about my 25-year-old cousin, who had recently been killed in a small plane crash. I struggled with that piece and it was getting nowhere.

“Maybe it’s too soon,” is what I recall Professor Bogart saying. It was, indeed, too soon. And I didn’t have a strong vision for the piece—just the desire to depict this fond memory.

I strongly believe that artists need critique in order to improve. Artists who have been part of formal and ongoing critique groups find them invaluable to their creative development, which is why I’ve prescribed them to many clients over the years.

In the latest episode of the podcast, I talk with Patricia Miranda, founder of The Crit Lab, which uses a structured pedagogy designed to deepen discussion around members’ work.

Miranda has been leading 7 separate critique groups in 3 states and has recently transitioned successfully to online sessions in the wake of Covid.

I encourage you to listen to this episode more than once. And then return to it later. There’s much to consider.

August 28, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Reclaiming Your Year — Even Now

Christine Aaron Work on Paper

I’m a planner. If you’ve taken any of my courses, or even read my book, you anticipate that there will be at least one plan involved. Often with every lesson. It doesn’t do much good to learn a bunch of stuff without figuring out how to implement it right away. In fact, that’s more like consuming than learning.

In talking with my students and clients, I know how devastating this year has been. Of course, I didn’t really have to talk with them to know that their plans had been stomped on, but it helps to get the full picture.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on everyone’s plans. Canceled shows and travel. Shuttered studios and exhibition spaces. The spouse used to leave for work and give you space, but now you’re stumbling over one another. And the kids! Suddenly the kids are at home and you are tasked with the awesome responsibility of their education.

You’re on Zoom all of the time, so that brief sigh of relief you felt for not having to get dressed and put on makeup was short-lived.

In the early days of the outbreak, I encouraged my clients and students to plan just 1 week at a time. We didn’t know what was going to happen. How long things would be closed. I wanted them to control what they could and not worry about months ahead.

We now know that Covid is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. The planner in me said, Okay! Time for a new plan!

August 20, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

My Best Practices for Working with an Assistant

Art Biz Success Team in Seattle

Four and a half years ago I hired the best assistant I have ever had at Art Biz Success. She has been loyal, prompt, 200% dependable, and absolutely indispensable.

She was 21 years old at the time—about to turn 22—and had just graduated early from college.

I hit the jackpot.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, I tell you exactly how I hired the perfect person for my business at the time. I also going to give you the steps I put in place to make sure that we maintained a good relationship and that, above all, she enjoyed her position.

I’ll touch on the hiring process, setting up an assistant for success, working together, and keeping her happy.

I’ll also share my mistakes. I’m sure there are more that I’m unaware of, but I can tell you about those I know.

I’ll be getting a little vulnerable and a lot sentimental. I’m sharing the story because I don’t know of a single artist who wouldn’t like a little more help with their business. Perhaps you’ll benefit from my experience.

I’ll start at the beginning, when I first began looking for a new assistant in early 2016.

August 13, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Leverage an Article About Your Art

Congratulations! You had an article written about your art.

Whether it is in a newspaper or magazine or published on a blog, website, or as a podcast, you are deservedly thrilled and want to share the good news.

How do you make the most of an article about your art?

The extent to which you share the article and how you share it depends on the importance of the article and the format in which it was published.

I don’t have to tell you that not all articles are created equal.

Who will care about this news as much as you?
Who will be happy for you?
Who would be bummed if they didn’t hear?

Most importantly … Who do you need to know about this article?

Below are some ideas for leveraging an article about your art, but first we need to get something out of the way.

That Article is Copyrighted

Like your art, the words in an article—whether it’s on paper or a computer screen—are copyrighted. This means that you need to ask permission to make copies or to repost in its entirety.

If you want hard copies of an article about your art, buy copies of the print edition as soon as possible after the publication date. Then you can clip the article and share it freely and legally. You can also order back issues from some magazines and newspapers.

If you plan to share the article digitally and prefer a PDF, you need to

July 30, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Overcome Decision Fatigue by Automating and Systematizing

Every day takes too much thought. – Gwen Meharg

Gwen left this comment in our Art Career Success System private group. I was struck by her insight because I had been reading about this at the time. “Decision fatigue” is a real phenomenon in contemporary society.

According to researchers, we make over 200 decisions per day about food alone. Just food decisions! I don’t know about you, but all of these decisions wear me out.

As an example, I spent 3 months last fall researching espresso machines – dreaming of holding the perfect cup of coffee while still in my jammies. But I could never click the button to buy.

My husband took me out of my misery. He decided on one, bought it, wrapped it, and put it under the tree. Best. Gift. Ever. No decision (on my part) was required.

Don’t get me started on making travel reservations. I can’t stand to make plane reservations or to find a hotel. What if I book “the wrong” flight or land at the wrong airport? Don’t laugh. I recently did this when I was confused about a small airport name, and it cost me a lot of extra driving time.

I contend that we’re happier when

July 23, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Questions to Ask When You’re Stuck or Need Motivation

Everything is Googleable these days, right?

If you want to know who painted Las Meninas, Google it and you’ll quickly find it was Diego Velázquez in 1656. From there, you’ll see that it hangs in Room 012 of the Prado and can read about the Infanta Margarita and her mother’s maids-of-honor. You can even click on Room 012 and see the paintings of family members that keep the young princess company in that same gallery.

Not into 17th Century Spanish painting? Other treasures await you on the internet. You can Google how to write your artist statement, how to grow your email list, and how to use Instagram Stories.

It’s easy to find answers. It’s harder to know if the answers are right for you and when you should stop looking for answers outside of yourself.

It can be painful to sit in the unknown and explore what might be possible. But … oh! … the rewards that await you when you do.

When you sit in the question rather than looking for answers, you begin generating additional questions and rephrasing your original question to be more in line with what you are seeking.

In his exceptional book, Smarter Faster Better, Charles Duhigg notes that questions beginning with “Why” help us link hard choices to something we care about. He says, “Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.”

With that in mind, I’ve outlined a number of situations in which you might need a hefty dose of motivation. Each has a number of questions to help you make progress and a Big Why to ask yourself.

When You’re Not Making Art

One day off is understandable. Two days is acceptable. A week? Probably okay.

An entire month without thinking about or making art is something to be concerned about when you’re trying to gain recognition and earn money from your art.

Ask yourself …

July 16, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Adding E-Commerce to Your Website with Lynn Goldstein

Twenty years ago it would have been unthinkable for me to suggest that artists add shopping carts to their websites. Above all, it was crazy expensive to do so at the time. But also it was considered a bit tacky.

Boy have things changed! Not just since Covid, but even in the decade leading up to where we are now.

Online shopping carts are affordable and easy to implement, and the vast majority of the population is comfortable buying online—even buying art online. Some even prefer the online experience.

Then there are the galleries. Many of them struggle to make sales (again, even before Covid) and haven’t quite gotten the hang of social media. They were the last of the art world to come into the 21st century way of doing business.

But now even galleries are selling online, with mega-dealer David Zwirner leading the way in 2017.

Why wouldn’t you make it easier for people to buy directly from you?

That’s what Lynn Goldstein thought, too. She built a shopping cart for her website earlier this year. And the sales rolled in immediately after the March launch.

To date, Lynn has sold 18 original paintings and about a dozen reproductions directly from her site, and I wanted to find out how.

It must be said that neither Lynn nor I are not experts in all of the options you have for shopping carts. I wanted to share Lynn’s experience and, above all, her results.

Listen in if you’re curious about how she did it.