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.

July 8, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Elevating Women and People of Color with Adri Norris

Adri Norris is on a mission to tell stories of women who have made history. She does so through her art, her teaching, and her speaking.

Adri is especially interested in shining a spotlight on women of color who have been overlooked in our history books.

In this latest episode of the podcast, I asked her about her work, her teaching, and her activism.

Less than one month ago, Adri was asked to design and direct the Black Lives Matter street mural in front of the Colorado State Capitol building. She selected the words Black Lives Matter Remember This Time for the mural. We discuss those words, as well as the symbolic colors she chose and how she involved community members in its making.

I also asked Adri what steps white artists can take to be helpful right now. Spoiler: This one’s on us. African Americans have been fighting this fight for centuries. It’s our turn to educate ourselves. Still, Adri had some helpful insights to share.

June 24, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Name Your Art Business

One of the first steps an artist makes when turning professional is to decide on an art business name, and many new artists make this more complicated than it should be.

Allow me to bottom line this entire article: If you are a fine artist, your first choice is to always use your given name for marketing your original art.

You Are an Artist, Not a Company

Art history is a history of individual artists, not of company names. Since my master’s degree is in art history, I naturally want you to use your name when promoting your art.

Using a company name puts you in league with all of the companies out there who are manufacturing and promoting unremarkable products. You’re different. Art is different. Art is not a mass-produced product.

Using your name for your business name tells the world that your art is elevated from the stuff they can pick up at Target or Pier One. It says “This is made by hand, and not just any hand, but the hand of an artist.”

While it may seem safer to hide behind a business name, playing it safe won’t get you too far in your art career.

I understand it isn’t always this easy. There are sometimes reasons for not using your own name, including, as I’ve learned, reasons of physical and emotional safety.

[ See Use Another Name for Your Art Business ]

Setting aside these very real concerns for the moment, the most frequent arguments against using given names for an art business are the following.

  • My name is too common / Someone else already owns the URL with my name [And she’s a porno star!]
  • My name is too hard to spell
  • I sign my name as X on my paintings, but I want to be known as Y

I consider these objections one by one in this post and podcast episode.

June 18, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

An Army of Artists with Sandra Felemovicius

Covid strikes.
Hospitals start filling.
Her doctor-husband continues to go to work in a building that is treating those who have fallen ill to the virus.

She feels helpless, but not for long. Sandra Felemovicius springs into action. She doesn’t think too long or overanalyze. She only knows she wants to make a difference.

That’s how her twice-weekly Instagram Live program, Tap Into Your Creativity, started.

On it, Sandra interviews artists at home in their studios—hoping to inspire and to be a light amid all the darkness. The artists, in turn, agree to donate a 10 x 10 inch painting to be auctioned to benefit Feeding America.

Follow #armyofartists to watch the progress.

Having recently started my own weekly Instagram Live (Wednesdays at 4pm Eastern) I know that there are a lot of logistics around getting guests to join you. Schedules, bandwidth, backgrounds, audio, and lighting. As Sandra says on the podcast, “Anything can happen on live TV.”

Still, when you’re committed to a project, you’ll find a way to make it happen. Listen to how Sandra does it.

June 15, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Silence = Complicity #BlackLivesMatter

George Floyd Mural in Denver by Detour and Hiero Veiga

This is special episode of the Art Biz Podcast.

No music. No promotions. Just me and the microphone.

Last week I received an email from a listener, who wrote:

I am a fan of your podcast. I think it can serve as a wonderful tool for artists to learn how to grow and get inspired. With that said, I was wondering if you are planning on making an episode pertaining to Black lives, Black artists, and using art for activism. I haven’t heard anything yet from you about this human rights issue. As a listener, right now, these are what we are looking for. How to get people involved through art, inspiration on making real change and bringing awareness to these issues with our art.

She was certainly right to request this, and it’s a tall order that I could never do justice in a single episode.

It made me realize something very important, and it’s a lesson for your art business. Not everyone who listens to this podcast subscribes to my email list or follows me on social media. Because I wrote a long email to subscribers and I’ve been posting on social media.

But I’ve been ignoring this platform. Not on purpose! It’s just that there are so many channels these days. I’m sure you can relate. So the lesson is: Leverage your content across all platforms if you want  your message to be heard.

Please forgive me for being silent on the podcast until now. As you will learn, it wasn’t my intention.

June 11, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Embracing a New Meaning for Her Sculpture During Covid with Carmen Mariscal

Born in California, raised in Mexico City, Carmen Mariscal had been living in Paris for many years when our paths first crossed in 2012. She’s been sheltering in place with her family in the north of France during Covid, but will soon be returning to London, where they resettled a couple of years ago.

I’ve watched Carmen’s career soar as she devotes herself to serious projects and exhibitions. It’s been my pleasure to guide her when she needs it along the way.

Carmen has been working on her Chez Nous (Our Home) project for a number of years. It was finally installed in Paris near the high-trafficked area of the Louvre just hours before shelter in place orders.

There is no way she could have predicted what would happen next.

The Chez Nous story speaks to the power of art and the fact that you, once you put your art out into the world, have no control over how it’s perceived—over what it comes to mean to others.

Please enjoy my conversation with Carmen Mariscal.

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.