May 22, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Making Art While Grieving Loss with Jan Heaton

Grieving is a necessary byproduct of being human.

Perhaps it’s the loss of a pet, a dear family member, a relationship, or a safe structure that was taken away from you, along with the memories it held, in a disaster.

We will all grieve about something at one point or another. It’s an emotion we share.

When I first approached Jan Heaton to be a guest on the podcast and talk about grief, we were living in a different world. We had a recording session on the calendar and then the world as we knew it stopped.

It has become very clear that, whether or not we have lost loved ones during this pandemic, we are all dealing with grief of some sort. We have all lost something.

Artists are collectively grieving a number of things.

  • The exhibitions, art fairs and festivals, residencies, workshops, and other opportunities.
  • The plans we had made.
  • The studio spaces we can no longer visit.
  • The connection to others.
  • Our routines.
  • Our freedom to move about. To travel.

Grief on so many levels.

This is a huge topic and Jan wants to be very clear that she isn’t an expert on grief. I asked her to be on the show just to talk about her experience in hopes that it might be helpful—even if for only one person. Please enjoy this interview with Jan Heaton.

May 7, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Imperfect Journaling for Artists

Peeking at artists’ journals is my definition of heaven. I love to see how ideas develop and change—how creative thought processes evolve.

The illustrations that often punctuate artists’ journals are a bonus that can’t be found in the journals of those less visual.

But don’t keep a journal to satisfy my whims. Keep one for yourself. Write things down in order to remember and reflect. And keep writing because it contributes to your art marketing.

I mentioned journaling last week as a vital part of writing your artist statement. In this latest episode of the podcast, I talk with author/coach/artist Cynthia Morris about journaling. It was recorded over Facebook Live.

Cynthia and I give you a framework to help you commit to a journaling practice and discuss how we use journals for our businesses.

We discuss the types of journals we think are best for this process, why it’s important to write by hand before moving to the computer, a structure for your journaling process, and how to use prompts to get your ideas down.

Remember that we recorded this as a video conversation with one another. Some things might not translate. For example, we did show and tell about our journals. That’s why I’m sharing the video here as well.

Here it is … my conversation with Cynthia Morris about an imperfect journaling practice for artists.

April 30, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Guidelines for Your Artist Statement

I’ve been dedicating this blog and my podcast to what you can do now—actions you can take—to stay in control of your art business while galleries, studios, and exhibition venues are shuttered. While art fairs, festivals, and open studios are canceled. In this episode I want to talk about a …

April 23, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

A Year of Cleaning with Daryl Johnson

A lot of people are using their self-isolating time to clean out. Not artist Daryl Johnson. She has nothing left to clean. (I can’t imagine!)

Daryl is a member of my Art Career Success System and messaged me in March when we had a spring cleaning theme in our community. She said she had spent the last year cleaning out her life in preparation for a big move.

Most people who know they’re going to move delay the hard part of getting rid of things until packing time. Again, not Daryl. She made a year-long plan to alleviate much of the stress by recycling, donating, gifting, and selling many of her possessions—a little at a time.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, Daryl talks about a life-changing event that led to a very different relationship with things. When you listen, you’ll discover why the plan took an entire year to implement (it’s brilliant).

You’ll also find out how Daryl made a big wad of cash by selling things through carefully selected channels.

April 15, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Why Make Art Now

A number of years back I wrote a blog post called: What’s The Point of Making Art When The World Is So Screwed Up?

Lately, we’ve noticed that that post has been getting a lot of attention, which made me think that it’s time to update it and add a special podcast episode on the topic.

Before you can even begin to think about business at a time like this, you might need to come to grips with an existential question: Why make art at all? Why make it now?

If you’ve ever questioned the reason for making art, you’re not alone.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, artists everywhere are questioning their purpose. Many artists are having difficulty getting in the studio.

It’s tough to be motivated when there’s so much chaos around us. Why make art when you have no place to show it? When people aren’t able to interact with your work?

Venues are shut down. Unemployment is skyrocketing. The kids at home require your attention.

With so many other things taking precedence, and with so much negativity in the news, you might begin to see your work as frivolous. Expendable.

Well-meaning thoughts might enter your head.

Shouldn’t I be out there saving people?
Shouldn’t I be doing something more important than making art?

First, you can absolutely volunteer to make masks, pick up dinner for a neighbor, or donate blood. And you should.

But that doesn’t mean you should stop making art.

There are at least 5 reasons why you should continue making art at this moment, and I cover them in episode 48 of the podcast. This post includes the audio and a complete transcript.

April 8, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Using Real Mail to Delight

Email is terrific. It’s fast, inexpensive, and connects to other online resources. But along with email comes a few headaches—primarily, and I don’t have to tell you this, too much of it.

It’s stupidly easy to type up a message and press send. Everyone does it. Every day. And they’re doing even more of it right now because even more of our lives are lived in the digital space while we are staying at home. That means there is a dizzying number of emails flying over the airwaves.

How can you make sure your email is being seen by those you want to stay connected to? You can’t.

I don’t want you to discount email completely, but it seems like a good time to try a different tactic—to revisit a strategy for sending real mail that lands in a real mailbox.

4 Reasons You Should Send Real Mail Now

There are 4 reasons why I’m raving about real mail to my students, members, and private clients.

1. Real mail is tactile.

Envelopes and postcards are things you can touch. You can cut, tear, and unpack a package (sometimes you can even smell it).

Handwritten notes enhance your emotional bond with recipients—something that can’t be duplicated with email. I can’t think of a single email, regardless of how kind it was, that evokes the same level of emotion as a piece of mail with handwriting.

This tactile quality is as important to you as to the recipient. I am certain you will experience more joy writing a single note or shipping a single package than you will sending 500 emails.

Couldn’t we all use a little more joy right now?

March 25, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Structure Your Days to Be in Control of Your Art Business Now

So much of what is happening right now is beyond your control. You can’t control how many people get sick. You can’t control how fast the virus spreads. You can’t control what our leaders do (though you can vote and I strongly urge you to do that).

But you can control how you react. It’s critical for your well being that you pay attention to what is in your control. This is going to make you feel much more optimistic about the future, and give you fuel to carry on.

For the foreseeable future, I’m dedicating the Art Biz Podcast and this blog to discussing what you can do now to stay in control of your art business.

I want to begin this series by discussing how you spend your time every day, hour, and minute—even if you have kids at home.

In a recent interview with Colorado Matters, Craig Knippenberg, a licensed social worker in Denver, discussed the importance of structure at this very strange moment. Adults do better when they have structure, but kids absolutely need it, so having a schedule is even more important if you have kids at home right now.

1. Go to bed and wake up at the same time.

This helps you better plan your day and know when you need to start winding down for a restful night.

2. Make time for inspiration.

We all have different environments. If you’re homebound in a small high-rise apartment, you might look for inspiration online or out the window. But find it somewhere.

And I’m not talking about inspirational quotes. You’re a visual artist, so I encourage you to look for visual inspiration in clouds, the landscape, or online art exhibitions.

3. Continue learning.

During this period when you aren’t in the throes of writing exhibition proposals or planning your next event, study a subject that has piqued your interest. Maybe indulge in an online art history course. Or enroll in lessons on embroidery, mosaic, or illustration. You can bet that anything you want to learn can be found from the safety of your home. You can also be assured that you will grow as an artist with any knowledge you gain.

Yes, you can schedule these things. Devote, say, Thursday afternoons or Tuesday mornings to learning.

March 12, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

The Impatient Artist: How Much Time Will Your Art Career Take? (encore)

Back in 2016 I sat down with Cynthia Morris to discuss an affliction many of our artist-clients suffer from: Impatience. Especially around making money.

This was the first episode of what became the Art Biz Podcast.

I originally started noticing this almost desperate desire for artists to make fast money at the height of the recession. Artists lost day jobs and, while they were excited to be able to focus on their art, they needed income to start rolling in much more quickly than was reasonable.

Nobody should cultivate a small business this way. It’s unrealistic to put that kind of pressure on yourself and on your art.

As Cynthia put it in our conversation: You wouldn’t decide to be an architect and think you can finish a building by the end of the year, so why would you think an art career would take off so quickly?

The hard truth is that your art career needs time to develop.

A lot of time. An unbearable amount of time for some people. In my experience, patient artists who are committed to their careers for the long haul are the ones who enjoy the ride, have a much healthier outlook, and, ultimately, reach their goals. They understand that there is no such thing as fast fame.

Today I’m republishing an encore of that original episode because Cynthia and I talked about things we need to be reminded of frequently.

We started by considering the pitfalls of impatience, and quickly launched into a variety of topics that all have to do with what it takes to be a professional artist.

March 5, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Turn Your Buyers and Collectors Into a Sales Force

Kate Ward fiber art

Want more help selling your art?

You have a sales force right under your nose: Your collectors.

The people who loved your art enough to buy it and live with it are your biggest fans, and are probably itching to share your art with their friends, families, and colleagues.

Make it easy for them!

Your first step to turning collectors into an art-selling brigade is to stay in touch with them. Sending newsletters, personal emails, postcards, and holiday and birthday cards keeps your name in front of them.

People are more likely to remember to recommend your art if you remind them that you’re still alive and working in the studio.

You risk being forgotten when you neglect your buyers and collectors too long. 

Aside from regular contact with the important people in your life, a special touch here and there will upgrade their experience with you and, simultaneously, improve your sales.

Here are a number of ways you can make it easy for people to promote you and your art.