July 29, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

What Your Failures Are Teaching You with Laura Petrovich-Cheney

Wood sculpture quilt by Laura Petrovich Cheney | on Art Biz Success

Failure. We fear it. We ask, What if I fail?,  as if failure at one thing would mean the end of all other opportunities.

But failure is necessary for growth. If you are succeeding at everything, there is no way you’re learning and growing.

Laura Petrovich-Cheney is not afraid to fail. She’s also ambitious and knows what she wants.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear Laura’s philosophy that failure is the result of not listening to your instincts and not doing your best. This builds on what Leah Smithson was talking about in episode 94 when she said how important it was to listen to her gut to avoid what she called disasters.

We tend to sweep failures under the rug—hoping that nobody will see or notice and that we’ll forget about them. But, as you’ll hear from Laura, we can’t improve without examining what went wrong.

Laura talks about a few failures she has learned from, why it’s helpful to have a little bit of time and space before examining failures, and the shame that gets in the way of sharing failure with others. We also discuss the inevitable comparisons with other artists that arise when you fail and see only their successes.

July 22, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Calculating Risks in Your Art Business with Leah Smithson

Core by artist Leah Smithson painting on linen | on Art Biz Success

There is no such thing as the artist’s path. Look at the careers of 50 artists side-by-side and you’ll see 50 different paths. And probably none of them happened exactly as planned.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast I talk with Leah Smithson about her path, which kicked into gear after her father suffered a massive stroke and she began researching how creativity works in the brain.

Leah’s interest in learning has led to her nontraditional portrait paintings, jewelry, public art, and murals. You’ll also hear about how she embraces technology and has been teaching herself augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR).

Leah and I discuss how she decides which risks to take on and which projects to get involved with, how she schedules her week, and how her well-meaning husband cajoled her into co-hosting a podcast with him.

Leah has taken many risks in her art career, and I love her point of view: You’ll never know until you try. You can decide to take a risk because even if it doesn’t turn out as you’d hope—even if it’s a disaster—you’ll be glad you did it anyway, if it’s something that fits with your goals.

If you’ve ever considered which step to take next or which opportunities are right for your art business, you need to listen to this advice from an artist who has failed and continues to experience success.

July 15, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Artist as Problem Solver with Michael Gadlin

Michael Gadlin paintings in studio | on Art Biz Success

Many artists take risks in their businesses and in their art without even thinking about it. They are hard wired to experiment. To stretch the boundaries of what is possible.

Artists are innate problem solvers.

My guest for this episode of the Art Biz Podcast is one of those artists. The list of what Michael Gadlin has done (legally) to earn a living as a working artist for more than 20 years is impressive. He sells originals, consults, teaches, designs, builds websites, and even hosted a show on public television. He has also sat on boards and committees in his local Denver art community.

Michael is gifted with what seems to be an endless supply of energy. I came at him with one topic and his mind connected it to numerous other experiences. The result is a wide-ranging interview.

Michael waxes philosophically about the life of an artist. Deep stuff. We talk about the lessons he learned from other working artists, the artist’s collaboration with viewers, gallery representation, why it’s important to be part of a community, and much more. There are plenty of gold nuggets in this interview.

July 8, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Are You Playing It Too Safe in Your Art Business?

Jenny Hope Antes watercolor painting | on Art Biz Success

We are hard wired for self-protection.

The moment we smell risk, our physical bodies start preparing for the encounter. Our mental faculties begin telling us how we can avoid it or, short of that, deal with it.

This is a convenient human feature you were given. It keeps you safe. But it can also keep you small when you give it all the power for decision-making. It can hold you back from becoming the person you dream of becoming and the artist you were meant to be in the world.

Playing It Too Safe

I want to share some of the ways you might be allowing your built-in sensor to rule your life and impede your growth. See if any of these ring true.

You enter the same exhibitions year after year.

When you just started your art business, you began entering juried shows. You found one that was a good fit. You got in. Yay you! That wasn’t so bad. So you enter again the next year. And then the next.

Juried shows are a natural first step for artists, but what I’ve witnessed is that many artists use them like a crutch. They’re easy and comfortable.

You maintain membership in a group whose members are not growing. 

This is similar to sticking to the same shows year after year. You’re comfortable with the people you already know, so it’s easy to stay involved. The problem, of course, is that you get frustrated because the group members aren’t thinking at the same level you are. You become angry and resentful about the time it’s taking up.

There’s no reason to get mad. You can’t expect

June 24, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with Christa Forrest

Christa Forrest painting of seated woman | on Art Biz Success

Imposter syndrome is the hairy beast that shows up when we’re trying to take that next big step in our lives.

We know what we want to achieve. We know we want more for ourselves. And we know we have to embark on a new adventure in order for that to happen.

There is scary stuff ahead. Stuff we don’t know how to do. Stuff that doesn’t come with a guarantee of success. This fear is real, and it’s trying to keep us safe.

Danger ahead! Watch out!

In her book Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:

Your fear will always be triggered by your creativity, because creativity asks you to enter into realms of uncertain outcome, and fear hates uncertain outcome.

When we allow that fear to be in charge, we give away our power, our hopes, and our dreams. We hear voices whispering …

Who do you think you are?

Most artists have battled these voices, which is why I was happy to discuss imposter syndrome on the Art Biz Podcast with corporate-world-turned-full-time-artist Christa Forrest.

Christa is a big advocate for fake it til you make it, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t have doubts and insecurities. In this episode, you’ll hear how Christa developed thick skin by showing her work at art festivals, why she is laser focused on building her email list, and how she overcomes feelings of inadequacy in her art practice.

June 20, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Is Being Too Cheap Hurting Your Art Business?

I am tired of watching artists and arts organizations live on leftover scraps.

Mind you, the organizations and agencies aren’t cheap with the patrons and board members with the big bank accounts. They are cheap with the artists, without whom their passionate interest would not exist.

Artists, in turn, grow to feel they are not worthy of more.

Don’t get me wrong. Frugality isn’t inherently bad. In fact, it can be good.

I don’t believe in spending for spending’s sake or in extravagance.

But frugality becomes detrimental when it feeds the notion that we are not worthy of more.

Many of my clients develop this sense of unworthiness that is perpetuated by the very organizations that were created to serve them.

I confess that I behaved similarly in the past.

For years I have been writing about how artists can show that their work has value. But I continued to allow the organizers who hired me for workshops to do things “on the cheap,” and I was doing the same with the workshops and events I organized myself.

How can I save money? was my modus operandi.

My first workshop, in 2003, was held at an office building that a friend managed. I recall my parents (!) picking up and delivering boxed lunches to the group.

At a much later workshop, I ran my team ragged making coffee all day long – trekking repeatedly to the kitchen on the other end of the building. Coffee! Because I didn’t pay for a venue that had food service.

No more.

I began attending

June 17, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Elitism in the Art World with Megan Auman

Megan Auman artists hammered copper bowls in progress | on Art Biz Success

Elitism in the art world is not an easy topic to tackle. To help make sense of its complexity, I  invited Megan Auman back to the Art Biz Podcast.

Megan and I wrestle with what, exactly, the art world is. What are its boundaries and who defines it? We dive into problems that occur when entire groups of people are excluded from participating in that world.

On the other hand, I believe there are multiple art worlds. And now that I’m thinking about it (after the recorded conversation), maybe there is just a planet with a lot of artists making things and it doesn’t matter that we come to a clear definition of what the art world is or isn’t. But that’s another topic.

One thing is for certain. Elitism is rampant in the art establishment that is written about in newspaper reviews and whose artists are shown in museums and sold at auction, and that can be a real problem. Or is it?

In our conversation, Megan and I unpack the many layers of elitism in the art world, from the traditional artist models that need to be permanently retired to the concern that too many artists are undervaluing and underpricing their work.

There is a lot that needs to change, and this conversation is the perfect starting point for any artist who is interested in exploring and contributing to this difficult dialogue.

June 14, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Feel More Abundant in Your Life and Art

Margaret Warfield painting

In this blog post I encouraged you to consider how your frugality might be hurting your art business by sending the wrong message to potential collectors.

At the end of that article, I posed 3 questions for you to think about, which we will now look at in depth. The intention is to ensure that you are not only living with an abundant heart, but that you are projecting that way of being into the world.

1. How do others treat you?

Perhaps a better question is this: How do you allow others to treat you?

For example … If you’re a member of an artist organization, what is the room like at your artists’ meetings? Is it dark, gray, and lifeless?

Do something to combat the drudgery and nurture abundance throughout the organization. Ask members to bring snacks on beautiful trays – preferably handmade by an artist – instead of paper plates.

Assign alternating people to arrive early at each meeting to clean the room and serve as welcoming hosts.

You can be the catalyst for change within any organization to which you belong.

We teach people how to treat us by

June 13, 2021 | Alyson Stanfield

Dwell In the Love Not On the Rejection

Plenty of people denounce Valentine’s Day as one that was invented by the greeting card industry, but put me in the column for wanting more love, more hearts, and more sappy cards.

Send away!

Recognize the romantic love between you and your partner.

Celebrate familial love with your parents, children, and extended family.

Commemorate the special love between you and your friends.

And don’t forget to honor the love you have for your buyers, collectors, patrons, and students.

Send cards, flowers, and chocolates. If it’s too late to pop something in the mail, start typing your email messages.

While you’re at it, stock up on the love for yourself because you’re gonna need it.


The artist’s life is full of rejection and criticism.

The gallery doesn’t want your work. That couple praised your recent piece, but didn’t buy it. The residency you want so badly won’t consider your application.

To add insult to injury, nobody commented on your recent blog or social media post. You’re beginning to wonder what the point of all this is.

It’s amazing that any artist thrives at all. It’s a testament to your resilience that you persevere despite the roadblocks you encounter.

You do it because you have an unwavering commitment in the work you do. You can’t imagine doing anything else.

Still, because you are human, the criticism and rejection hurt.

And those voices are louder than any chorus of praise you might receive. The default for so many of us is to dwell on the negative comments and rejections and ignore all of the nice things that people say about our work.

Do this instead: