November 4, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

How To Discuss Slow Sales with Your Art Gallery

film noir painting by Leslie Peterson Sapp

Sales from your art gallery are not what you expected or need them to be.

They sold a lot of your work at one point, but sales have dropped off significantly in the past couple of years—especially during the pandemic.

So what now? Do you ask for your work to be returned?

Not quite! Before you take such drastic measures, do the hard, but professional thing. Talk.

Opening a dialogue is your first course of action, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself. First things first.

Assess Your Relationship with the Gallery

The conversation you have with your gallerist about slow sales depends on the answers to a number of questions.

How long have they have represented you?
How much work have they sold for you in the past?
What are the terms of your agreement with the gallery?
What is the nature of your past relationship?
What is the current state of the gallery’s business? How has it been affected by the pandemic?
What is the demand for your work outside of their venue?

2 Options for Opening a Conversation with Your Gallerist

Based on how you respond to the questions above, consider 2 options for opening a conversation about slow sales from the art gallery.

October 29, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Knit Democracy Together with Eve Jacobs-Carnahan

At the intersection of craftivism and the world of campaign finance is Eve Jacobs-Carnahan. Eve is taking the historical practice of knitting circles and re-envisioning them as modern craftivist assemblies.

While bringing artists together to craft the building blocks of a characteristic state capitol building, she’s also leading conversations about changing the role of money in election campaigns. But the impact that Eve is going to make with this work is going to extend far beyond the current election cycle. In fact, it has very little to do with it.

Kicking off in early 2020, *Knit Democracy Together* combines interested organizations, knitting circles, and conversation about election finance reform. The result will be a 5’x3′ knitted sculpture of a state capitol building that Eve hopes to exhibit in multiple venues.

The pandemic has certainly had an effect on Eve’s plans, but it hasn’t stopped her.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, she shares details about how she has had to reimagine the previously scheduled in-person knitting circles, funding and exhibiting the project, and the art of knitting as a daring act of social activism.

October 15, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Pitching Your Story to My Podcast or Anyone Else’s

Black-and-white painting of a dog by Elizabeth Petrulis

I’m always on the lookout for artists with interesting business stories to tell.

I consider it my good fortune when I find them from one of my students or clients, and am equally happy when the story appears from beyond my immediate circle.

But I know there are hundreds and thousands of more stories out there that are waiting to be told. Not just to this podcast and blog, although that would be lovely, but to other podcasts, blogs, and media.

Make The Argument

I’m not crazy about the word “pitch” but I’m going with it. I use it in the sense that you are making an argument for something. You’re making an argument that I should pay attention to who you are and the art you make.

I specifically say “pitching your story” rather than “pitching your art” because most artists could benefit from massaging the stories they tell about themselves. You might not call it that, but it’s something that you’re constantly doing.

I’m more likely to pay attention to your art if you have a compelling story than if you ask me to buy, buy, buy.

  • You’re pitching your story when you post about your art on social media.
  • You’re pitching your story when you send an email to your list.
  • You’re pitching your story when you submit to an exhibition.
  • You’re pitching your story when you ask for gallery representation.
  • And take a minute to let this sink in. You’re (hopefully) pitching your story when you tell anyone you’re an artist. Anyone. At any point.

What I’m sharing will not only help you get featured on the Art Biz Podcast, but will also serve you when you pitch to other podcasts, bloggers, writers, and publications.

The more interviews you do and the more experience you get, the better you become at telling your story. You will also grow your audience and maybe even sell some art or attract new students and social media followers. You never know who is listening. Here are 5 steps for pitching your story.

October 8, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Facebook Live Group Art Shows with Brooke Harker

Brooke Harker Painting

Fun isn’t a word used very often when we think of marketing or business tasks. Still, it’s one of the criteria I suggest considering when you’re thinking about whether to add something to your busy schedule.

When Covid hit, Brooke Harker threw her fears about doing live video out the window and created Saturday Night Live Art Shows—because she thought it would be fun. It started with just her, but quickly grew to a core of regular artists, with new ones jumping in each week.

I wanted to talk with her about it because these weekly events are open to any artist who wants to show off their art or, perhaps, the art that you collect. In fact, as you’ll learn, the rules are, well, … What rules? This could be a great way for you to connect, practice your video (because imperfections are encouraged), and maybe even sell some art.

Brooke and I discuss:

  • What happens during SNL Art Shows and how you can participate. They’re 100% free!
  • How participating artists have benefited from being part of SNL Art Shows.
  • The 3 questions Brooke uses to prepare for live video.

And so much more. Listen and read the detailed notes.

September 24, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

The Value of Critique Groups for Artists with Patricia Miranda

Feminist installation by Patricia Miranda

My experience with critiques is limited to memories of undergraduate painting classes with George Bogart. I was crammed into a space outside the studio classroom with my fellow students.—some of us lucky to snag a bench—to talk about our work.

The only session I remember vividly was one in which I had a very early work in progress that was about my 25-year-old cousin, who had recently been killed in a small plane crash. I struggled with that piece and it was getting nowhere.

“Maybe it’s too soon,” is what I recall Professor Bogart saying. It was, indeed, too soon. And I didn’t have a strong vision for the piece—just the desire to depict this fond memory.

I strongly believe that artists need critique in order to improve. Artists who have been part of formal and ongoing critique groups find them invaluable to their creative development, which is why I’ve prescribed them to many clients over the years.

In the latest episode of the podcast, I talk with Patricia Miranda, founder of The Crit Lab, which uses a structured pedagogy designed to deepen discussion around members’ work.

Miranda has been leading 7 separate critique groups in 3 states and has recently transitioned successfully to online sessions in the wake of Covid.

I encourage you to listen to this episode more than once. And then return to it later. There’s much to consider.

August 28, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Reclaiming Your Year — Even Now

Christine Aaron Work on Paper

I’m a planner. If you’ve taken any of my courses, or even read my book, you anticipate that there will be at least one plan involved. Often with every lesson. It doesn’t do much good to learn a bunch of stuff without figuring out how to implement it right away. In fact, that’s more like consuming than learning.

In talking with my students and clients, I know how devastating this year has been. Of course, I didn’t really have to talk with them to know that their plans had been stomped on, but it helps to get the full picture.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on everyone’s plans. Canceled shows and travel. Shuttered studios and exhibition spaces. The spouse used to leave for work and give you space, but now you’re stumbling over one another. And the kids! Suddenly the kids are at home and you are tasked with the awesome responsibility of their education.

You’re on Zoom all of the time, so that brief sigh of relief you felt for not having to get dressed and put on makeup was short-lived.

In the early days of the outbreak, I encouraged my clients and students to plan just 1 week at a time. We didn’t know what was going to happen. How long things would be closed. I wanted them to control what they could and not worry about months ahead.

We now know that Covid is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. The planner in me said, Okay! Time for a new plan!

August 20, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

My Best Practices for Working with an Assistant

Art Biz Success Team in Seattle

Four and a half years ago I hired the best assistant I have ever had at Art Biz Success. She has been loyal, prompt, 200% dependable, and absolutely indispensable.

She was 21 years old at the time—about to turn 22—and had just graduated early from college.

I hit the jackpot.

In this episode of the Art Biz Podcast, I tell you exactly how I hired the perfect person for my business at the time. I also going to give you the steps I put in place to make sure that we maintained a good relationship and that, above all, she enjoyed her position.

I’ll touch on the hiring process, setting up an assistant for success, working together, and keeping her happy.

I’ll also share my mistakes. I’m sure there are more that I’m unaware of, but I can tell you about those I know.

I’ll be getting a little vulnerable and a lot sentimental. I’m sharing the story because I don’t know of a single artist who wouldn’t like a little more help with their business. Perhaps you’ll benefit from my experience.

I’ll start at the beginning, when I first began looking for a new assistant in early 2016.

August 13, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

How to Leverage an Article About Your Art

Congratulations! You had an article written about your art.

Whether it is in a newspaper or magazine or published on a blog, website, or as a podcast, you are deservedly thrilled and want to share the good news.

How do you make the most of an article about your art?

The extent to which you share the article and how you share it depends on the importance of the article and the format in which it was published.

I don’t have to tell you that not all articles are created equal.

Who will care about this news as much as you?
Who will be happy for you?
Who would be bummed if they didn’t hear?

Most importantly … Who do you need to know about this article?

Below are some ideas for leveraging an article about your art, but first we need to get something out of the way.

That Article is Copyrighted

Like your art, the words in an article—whether it’s on paper or a computer screen—are copyrighted. This means that you need to ask permission to make copies or to repost in its entirety.

If you want hard copies of an article about your art, buy copies of the print edition as soon as possible after the publication date. Then you can clip the article and share it freely and legally. You can also order back issues from some magazines and newspapers.

If you plan to share the article digitally and prefer a PDF, you need to

August 1, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Beware of “I Am Not”

©2009 Jacqueline Iskander, Impromptu in Blue. Mixed media mosaic.

I’ve been particularly sensitive to students and clients who utter the words “I’m bad” at this or that.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote Are You Walking the Talk?, in which I encouraged you to act on your words. Today, I ask you to think about the words you’re putting out into the world and those you’re saying to yourself.

Stop Defining Yourself in the Negative

Have you ever said any of the following?

I am not a salesperson.
I am not outgoing.
I am terrible at marketing.
I am bad at following up.

Every time you use any of these sentences, you are giving up. You’re telling a story about yourself that will stick. You’re defining yourself in the negative.

These are self-fulfilling prophecies. You can’t say, “I’m terrible at marketing” without being terrible at marketing.

Whenever you find you’re defining yourself in the negative, remember that you have the power to shape your story. How you choose to define yourself will influence how others look at you and think of you.

Will you define yourself in terms of limitations and failings? Or . . .

Will you define yourself in terms hopes and aspirations?