January 23, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Art Safaris and Consistent Promotion with Alison Nicholls

When I was a kid I used to hole up in my room to draw—dreaming of being an artist. One of the books I worked from was titled something like How to Draw Wildlife. The drawing I remember making most vividly was a charging lion.

But I was just copying from a book. Learning anatomy and how to depict movement convincingly by building lines and shapes on top of one another.

I can’t imagine the opportunity to sketch African wildlife in their habitat.

That’s what Alison Nicholls does.

Once a year, Alison leaves her home in New York and heads to South Africa to lead her Art Safaris for Africa Geographic. (They found her from her online posts back in 2010!)

I know from experience that it’s difficult enough to fill a workshop in your hometown or even a neighboring state. Alison’s Art Safaris are thousands of miles away and sell out months in advance.

In the latest episode of the Art Biz Podcast, I asked Alison how she attracts students so far ahead of time. You’ll also find out how she got to be a guest on this podcast, which is a great marketing lesson. Definitely stick with it to the end.

January 2, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Focusing on Making Work That Matters with Suzanne Gibbs

Suzanne Gibbs in her studio

Two years ago, Suzanne Gibbs entered my Art Biz Inner Circle and began taking full advantage of everything that was offered.

As an aside, although we no longer offer the Inner Circle, we do continue to support artists through the Art Career Success System and our new small group artist masterminds. But, no matter how hard we try, we can’t make you do the work, whether it’s business or studio based.

And that’s where Suzanne’s story comes in.

What she wanted to share in this episode is critical to every artist’s success.

She and I started talking about the idea of doing less (not more) in order to accomplish your goals, but it turned into a conversation about focusing more. Focusing on what matters. For Suzanne, that meant making a new body of work.

Nothing is more important to your professionalism as an artist than a consistent studio practice. Nothing!

Listen to this episode to hear how Suzanne got over FOMO, set herself up for success, and used trusted artists to keep her on track for creating that body of work.

December 19, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Our Stuff Matters with Megan Auman

Megan Auman designs

As an artist, you may worry about the pressure to lead a minimalist lifestyle. Things weigh you down. Stuff is clutter. Stop being so materialistic.

These are just a few of the admonishments you’re exposed to.

How does marketing your art jive with such trends? If we’re encouraged to shed the objects in our lives, who will buy your art? Are you contributing to landfills? (The answer to that last question is a resounding No!)

Designer and metalsmith Megan Auman has some insight that will make you feel better about making more art. What you do is critically important—it’s the antidote to mass consumerism.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, you’ll hear Megan and I talk about a manifesto she wrote back in 2012 titled Stuff Does Matter. When I read it, I thought it was brilliant and wished I had written it. Now, finally, I get the chance to revisit it with Megan herself. (I’m a little slow)

Before we get to my interview, here’s the manifesto for a little background.

Stuff Does Matter Manifesto

Stuff has a place in our world and in your life.

Objects matter beyond their utility.

Caring about things is not wrong.

Your stuff helps you make sense of the world.

Stuff connects you to people — to your past, present, and future.

Stuff provides beauty, meaning, and experience.

Stuff helps you remember and share.

There’s a difference between mindless consumption and the way you feel.

Value what you have.

Buy only what you love.

Savor what you own.

Allow your things to enrich your life.

Choose gratitude over guilt.

Know that the things you love do matter.

December 4, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

5 Simple Steps to an Organized Studio with Fiona Valentine

Artist and organizing expert Fiona Valentine

When I was little, my mother used to get me to clean up my room by telling me that the queen was coming. The room had to look nice because, for some lord-knows-why reason, Her Royal Highness was crossing the pond to visit our humble home on 69th Street in Oklahoma City.

Funny thing. She never came.

I’m not sure when I caught onto Mom’s charade, but the clean rooms didn’t last. I loved to pull things out, try them on, and make messes. I still do. And I don’t like to clean up.

But I do love a tidy workspace. I can breathe better. I can think better when I know where things are and when I have space.

My guest for the latest episode of the Art Biz Podcast is Fiona Valentine, who shares 5 simple steps to organize your studio and save time, money, and materials while increasing your productivity.

Organizing your studio might not sound like much fun and, honestly, I don’t care what your office or studio looks like. But here’s what I know: Most of my clients are overwhelmed and stressed out. At the same time, most would probably tell you that they aren’t very good at the whole organizing thing.

I’m pretty sure that you’ll alleviate a lot of stress when you take the time to 1) get organized and 2) stay organized by keeping a tidy workspace.

Fiona has adapted a proven 5-step technique to her art studio and her outline makes it easy for you to follow. If you listen closely you’ll hear that we added a 6th step (and it’s a fun one). Then you’ll be ready if, indeed, her majesty drops in unexpectedly.

November 21, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

5 Week Push for Your Art Goals

More Faithful Than Contrivance by Jennifer Anderson Printz

Caught you!

You were looking at your calendar. You’re counting the days until a fresh start. Thanksgiving … Christmas … New Year’s Eve … and, at last, January 1. Or, rather, January 2 because no one works on the first day of the year.

Maybe you’re lamenting the fact that it’s the end of the year and there is much left undone. (Incidentally, the core message in this post applies regardless of the time of year.)

You had big plans last January, right? That’s when you were wearing rose-colored glasses with glitter on them and sipping the New Year’s Kool-Aid.

Now you’d rather think about next year and give up on this one. You are so ready for a fresh start. After all, the holidays are upon us and, if we’re being honest, very little gets done during the holidays what with all the baking, decorating, wrapping, card-writing, shipping, egg-nogging, and Hallmark-movie-watching (no judgment).

Stop This Nonsense

If this is you, stop it. This is unproductive, and it’s no way to run a profitable art business. You can’t make progress or maintain momentum if you’re effectively writing off more than 5 weeks at a stretch.

Five weeks is plenty of time to make an impact. It’s plenty of time to get sh*t done. It’s plenty of time to cross a few things off your list.

Every day is precious.

Every day presents an opportunity that you can either grab with gusto or thumb your nose at.

High achievers don’t write off weeks at a time because they prefer the excitement of a New Year to the hard work of the current one.

Reevaluate Your Priorities

If you find yourself looking forward to the New Year rather than putting your whole heart into finishing this one in style, you have some difficult questions to answer.

November 14, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Publishing a How To Book for Artists with Carol McIntyre

Painting by artist Carol McIntyre

Do you think you might have a book in you?

Why not do it?!

Writing a book could increase your credibility, contribute to your legacy, and impact many lives.

A lot of people think that writing a book is the hard part of getting your book published. Not to take anything away from the difficult work that goes into the writing, but it is only a small portion of the entire book publishing process.

I learned about the process when the first edition of my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio, was published in 2008 and was reminded of the long book-publishing journey when the 4th edition was released earlier this year. There are so many moving parts and, like many businesses today, book publishing is a fast-moving industry.

Those moving parts come, of course, with an expense line in your budget, which means it’s very helpful to know what you’re getting into before you start down the book production path.

You really want to know 1) that you will be able to pay for the cost to publish and 2) at what point you’ll begin to make a profit. In order to accomplish that second thing (the profit thing), you also need a marketing plan specifically for your book.

I confess I didn’t talk to enough people.

My guest for this episode of the Art Biz Podcast is artist Carol McIntyre, the author of I Just Want to Paint: Mixing the Colors You Want. In the book, Carol teaches a step-by-step color mixing method for frustrated painters of all media who want to stop making mud and start mixing the colors they want with ease.

Listen now to hear Carol’s process and advice so you can avoid the sticker shock of publishing your own book.

November 7, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Productivity for Artists Isn’t About Doing More

Productivity for artists doesn’t mean that you work harder or take on more than you can handle. It means that you work smarter—that you use your time wisely.

If you want to be a more productive artist, you must embrace your role as the CEO of your art business. In that capacity, you understand that every decision you make impacts your income, influence, and legacy. Every decision.

When you are productive … when you are fully in charge of your art business … you know which tasks are most important and which can wait.

A Productive Artist’s Profile

Before I get too deep into this topic, I have to fess up to having more than my fair share of unproductive days. My productivity seems to come in cycles. Maybe it’s the change of seasons or the promise of the New Year, but, lately, my productivity has soared.

I am still trying to figure out the productivity puzzle. I read plenty about the topic. I listen to productivity podcasts. I, like you, want the secret sauce that will help me eke out one or two more tasks in a day. (I’ve also discovered that one can, ironically, be incredibly unproductive while researching productivity.)

I’m in the process of holding individual video conferences with every single member of my coaching programs to reflect on their year with us. After asking about their accomplishments, I want to know about the challenges they continue to face.

Those who have been working with us longer have higher level and focused challenges. Those who are newer consistently list time (lack thereof) and prioritizing as their biggest challenges.

You are not alone in your drive to become a more productive artist. But the good news is, it’s a skill you can learn.

How You Spend Your Time is a Reflection of Your Priorities

Becoming more productive is a process you need to put in place and, here’s the clincher, follow for months and years. You must be committed to the process, and you won’t be unless you’re also committed to your art business and career.

You get to choose how to spend your time, and how you spend your time reveals what you prioritize in life.

How you spend your time tells the rest of the world what is important to you.

October 31, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Reaching the Other 99% for Your Art Business with Adele Sypesteyn

Have you ever been so focused on a goal you thought was right for you that you missed opportunities that might have been better?

Chances are good that you can’t answer that question because you were so myopic. You just knew that this one direction was the path you needed to take. And you might have ignored that it wasn’t working or didn’t feel like the right fit.

This week’s podcast guest, Adele Sypesteyn, has been making a living from her art for 4 decades. But she never gets too comfortable with income coming from a particular source. She pays attention to changes in the marketplace and economy. And she educates herself.

The people who go into galleries are 1% of the population.
I wanted to reach the other 99%.

Listen to learn how Adele made the decision to pull out of her galleries and how she easily replaced that income.

October 24, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Juggling Multiple Income Streams as an Artist

Relying on sales of original works of art doesn’t always pay the bills. Sales can be seasonal, galleries can shut their doors, or the economy might tank. No doubt you are already aware.

This is why I am all for artists having multiple streams of income–when it makes sense.

Multiple Streams of Income for Artists

An income stream is a source of money.

Your income streams might include employment outside of your art business, but I want to focus on diversifying how you make money from your art.

Selling original works of art is probably the most appealing way for you to make money from your art. Other avenues include, but aren’t limited to, teaching, licensing, writing, and selling reproductions.

Sometimes multiple income streams go together under a broad heading.

For example, if teaching is one of your incomes streams, you might break down that money into income from online classes and in-person classes. Additional funds might come from how-to books and informational products.

They’re all related to instructing and marketed to the same audience.

Likewise, you might make products with your art and have separate smaller streams from note cards, note pads, and calendars.

When It’s Silly to Have Multiple Income Streams

Diversifying income sources from your art is tempting. You might think, More stuff=More money! Watch it.

As I described above, some sources make sense together because they are marketed to the same audience. Other times, they’re completely separate businesses.

One example is licensing. There is an entirely separate audience for licensed art than for original fine art. The people and venues you work with are different.

This means you essentially have separate businesses. Two businesses means you exert twice the effort. Three businesses will cost you 3 times the effort.

The result: multiple business plans, marketing plans, venues, and audiences. Each income stream must be attended to.

It’s silly to go to the trouble of creating a new source of income that you don’t have time or energy to invest in.

It’s also a terrible business practice to sell more “stuff” if you don’t know what you’re getting into. Many artists are spending too much time on things that have too little return.

Simple Math

You have to do the math. Is it making money?