September 12, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Reinventing Your Art Career with Ali Cavanaugh

Ali Cavanaugh painting

In 2014, Ali Cavanaugh had 11 galleries representing her work throughout the U.S. and even overseas. It was all she could do to paint fast enough to supply these galleries with new work.

What a great problem to have, right? But something wasn’t sitting right with Ali. So she asked each of the 11 galleries to return her work. One by one they sent back what few paintings remained in their inventories.

There was no animosity. Ali greatly appreciated all the work the galleries did on her behalf, but she was no longer satisfied with the status quo.

She had begun to reconsider not just what her business model looked like, but the art itself.

She decided to take control and be very deliberate about her next moves.

In episode 33 of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear about:

  • Ali’s first steps as an artist and initial gallery representation.
  • Why galleries weren’t interested in work behind glass.
  • How Ali took 6 months to teach herself a new watercolor technique and why it was important to do this.
  • How Ali used her blog to attract press coverage and
August 29, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Success Is Complicated

Handmade cards by artists

What does it mean to be a successful artist?

We readily throw around the word “success” without defining what it means for us.

I am guilty of the same. My business is Art Biz SUCCESS. My signature program is the Art Career SUCCESS System.

But what does Success mean to you and to me?

In this bonus episode of the Art Biz Podcast (accompanied by a complete transcript) I explore the word Success.

I’ve been exploring this on my own for a few months now and, confession–or perhaps it’s a warning–I can go a million different directions on this topic. I’m not going to give you a nice package so that, by the end of the episode, you’ll know exactly what success means to you.

I ask you to go on a messy journey with me. One that takes twists and turns and definitely doesn’t end where it begins.

But maybe … just maybe … hopefully … it will serve you.

August 15, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Being Seen: The Social Part of the Artist’s Life

Meeting people and building relationships is the most important thing you can do for your art career. This means you have to get out of the studio and socialize.

You must, gasp, be social in the real world as well as online.

This goes against the natural tendency of so many artists who would prefer to be alone with their art supplies. But it’s absolutely necessary when you want to attain a high level of success.

If you desire more sales and more recognition for your art, you must make it a priority to meet more people.

You need to get out and mingle if you find yourself …

Sitting behind your computer all day and researching the latest magical way to promote your art online.

  • Sitting behind your computer all day and researching the latest magical way to promote your art online.
  • Attending only your own openings.
  • Living in the same place for years without knowing your neighbors.

Your art must be seen in person in order to be appropriately appreciated.

Eventually, you’re going to have to be there next to your art–speaking on its behalf.

Contrary to popular belief, your art does not

August 1, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Building a Legacy Brand and Destination with Sean VanderVliet

Regular listeners of the Art Biz Podcast know I love to explore the topic of legacy–the mark you’re leaving on the world. Check out my conversations with David Paul Bayles in episode 15 and Mary Erickson in episode 19.

So when I heard Sean VanderVliet say the L word, I knew I had to talk with him. He thinks big and I like that.

Sean is the artist behind Fenway Clayworks based here in Denver, Colorado, and in just a few years he has created a brand and a buzz around his functional pottery. A number of Denver’s finest restaurants commission Sean for their signature dinnerware.

He wasn’t always a ceramic artist. For a number of years Sean worked in tech startups and even, with partners, started his own niche business for rock climbers. He has been able to translate the lessons he learned in those positions to his career as an artist.

Sean says that people work with him because they see his passion. Although 60% of his current business is from commissions, he makes work only in his style. If you want something with a flower or aspen tree on it, look elsewhere.

He enjoys immensely the collaboration with chefs and others, but he is also clear that not everyone is a customer. This is just one of the numerous business lessons in Sean’s story that are applicable regardless of the type of work you do.

After hearing his vision, you may want to start looking out for a Fenway Clayworks in your neighborhood.

Our topics of discussion include:

July 25, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

5 Timelines To Help You Plan

Timelines are invaluable for planning your art business and marketing. They provide a structure for you to build upon so that you don’t have to start from scratch.

Regardless of how much or little you have going on, timelines help you sleep better at night since you know you have all of your bases covered.

I created five timelines to help.

1. Timeline for Publishing a Blog Post or Artist Newsletter

Publishing is a process. Nobody writes a publishable article on the first draft. Even seasoned writers need plenty of time and space, so give yourself a break and acknowledge the amount of time you need.

Schedule your writing and editing time wisely.

  • Ongoing :: Gather content ideas. Don your journalist cap and be on the lookout for things to write about.
  • 1 Week out :: Write your first draft.
  • 2 Days before publishing :: Edit your draft.
  • 1 Day before publishing :: Do your final edit. Schedule your post or email for delivery.
  • Publishing day :: Share on social media.

2. Timeline for Designing Your Artist Website

ASAP :: Interview and hire a designer. Designers have lots of other clients and need to squeeze you into their calendars.  Simultaneously, begin researching sites so that you know what you want and like.

The schedule below is an example. You will need to  agree with your designer on deadlines and adhere to them. Once you miss a deadline, the designer will move on to another client and put you at the back of the queue. 

  • 2-3 Months from launch ::
July 11, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Multi-State Multi-Year Multi-Artist Art Project with Marilyn Artus

Her Flag by Marilyn Artus

In 1920, women–white women, that is–across the United States got the right to vote when the 19th amendment was ratified by ⅔ of the states. The fact that we are coming up on the 100th anniversary of this event did not escape the attention of Marilyn Artus. For years she had been wondering what art project she could possibly do that would be grand enough to match the significance of the occasion.

Then, in 2017, Marilyn attended one of my workshops. At the end of two days of masterminding with like-minded ambitious artists, Marilyn had the outline of her multi-state, multi-artist, multi-road-trip project: Her Flag.

Her Flag includes collaborations with artists and public performances in each of the 36 states that passed the amendment. Her first road trip was in June and included the first four states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, and Kansas. Her next trip begins on July 13.

Marilyn has scheduled 17 trips over a period of 14 months. At the end, Her Flag will be complete and measure 18-by-26 feet.

It’s an enormous project that involves an incredible amount of logistics and organizing. But Marilyn is up to the task. As she says, she’s psycho-passionate about this project and topic.

I’ve been dying to share this project for awhile and had the thrill of interviewing Marilyn before she left on her first trip. I hope it inspires you to think bigger about what is possible for your art.

June 27, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Have a Sale of Your Art

Have a sale of your art? It’s possible! But you might also want to run a sale on products such as calendars, note cards, books, catalogs, or prints.

Before we get too deep into the specifics, I acknowledge that having a sale of original work is unpalatable for many artists. Sales are associated with discounts, and this seems like it cheapens the art. I get it!

In this article, I share 7 ways to have a sale (promotion is probably a better word). You will have to decide which is best for original work and which is okay for other items. You’ll also have to decide what feels right so that you don’t regret taking the action.

Stick with me to the end and I’ll share the biggest mistake you can make when having a sale of your art.

Count Your Inventory (Step 1)

Conduct a detailed account of what you have in stock.

How many pieces are there?
What is the monetary value of the inventory? That’s right, total up the value of your inventory.
How many/much would you like to sell? Set a goal!

Nail Your Offer (Step 2)

There are two primary options for a promotion: discounts or bonuses.

June 20, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

When the Commissions Gig Dries Up with Leslie Neumann

What do you do when one of your major sources of income disappears?

I wish I kept track of how often I have heard this story. It goes something like this.

Artist gets a really juicy gig. Maybe they have a wealthy collector who buys tons of their work to outfit all of their offices and homes (because of course they have more than one). Then the collector is done, dies, or disappears.

Or they have one gallery that is selling their work like hotcakes. Until the gallery doors close or the director skips town because of back taxes owed.

Bottom line: The gig dries up. You have placed all of your eggs in one basket and, due to circumstances beyond your control, what was once reliable income is no longer available to you.

This is what happened to artist Leslie Neumann.

She had a sweet deal going with Firebird Restaurants for more than four years. Their purchases of her original paintings accounted for 50-60% of her income during that period.

And then it stopped. But there’s no need to feel sorry for her! As you’ll hear in this episode of the podcast, Leslie rose to meet every challenge. She does, however, have a cautionary tale.

June 13, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

How Much Will That Juried Art Show Cost You?

Karen Lynn Link painting

Those in charge of juried art shows have made it stupid easy for you to enter.

Step 1: Upload images.

Step 2: Complete form.

Step 3: Enter credit card and click the submit button.

The wise artist will pause before that last step and ask these questions.

  • Does this show contribute to my goals?
  • What do I want to accomplish by being in this exhibition?
  • Aside from the nominal entry fee, what are the other costs that are involved if my work is selected?

There are many other things to consider, but these are at the top of the list. And it’s the final bullet point that I want to address.

The Costs of a Juried Art Show

You won’t know if a show is worth your financial investment until you do the math.

Back in 2012, an artist sent me an email about a  painting she was sending to a juried art exhibition that would sell for $1200.

She outlined the fees involved as follows,