January 18, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Artist Brochures as Part of a Marketing Strategy

Are artist brochures a thing? In a word, yes. Do you need a brochure of your art? Probably not. Some artist brochures are better than others. Most are a waste of paper because they’re poorly designed, flimsy, look homemade (in a bad way), have poorly photographed art, or are considered …

January 13, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

The #1 Priority for Artists

I am frequently on the receiving end of artists’ complaints about all of the computer work they have to do. There’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and then writing a blog post, sending an email, organizing photos … you know the list.

Yes, there is a lot of digital work that is required of today’s artists. And aren’t you lucky to have these free or low-cost tools that artists two decades ago didn’t have to share their art? (It’s a good idea to remember this now and then.)

In some instances, I find that artists who spend excessive amounts of time on the computer are doing so at the peril of their artwork.

In other words, they’re unconsciously doing it to avoid the studio work. And, let’s face it: The studio work is the harder work.

I don’t care how much you say you enjoy making art. When the pressure is on to show and sell your work, the creative process can be brutal.

It’s super easy to type, respond to comments, and “like” other people’s posts. You could waste all kinds of time doing that and that’s exactly what you’d be doing. Wasting time.

Don’t get me wrong: You can’t avoid these tasks entirely. But your days should be heavily weighted toward making art.

Are you using your computer work as an excuse to avoid engaging with your more important work?

You Are Not Alone

Please know that when you’re struggling to make art, you are not alone. All artists have phases that are more successful for creating than others.

It’s when the phase becomes your modus operandi that it is no longer acceptable. If you haven’t worked in the studio for days or weeks,

January 9, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Introducing Yourself as an Artist

Stephanie Hartshorn and Holly Wilson get to know each other at Art Biz Makeover this past fall. Photo by Regina-Marie Photography.

If you find it difficult to introduce yourself as an artist, you’re not alone.

“I’m an artist” doesn’t seem to roll off the tongue easily for some people. And yet it’s critical to be able to say it with confidence.

Why Your Artist Introduction is a Struggle

It seems to be easier for people with art degrees, especially MFAs, to proclaim their profession to the world. This might be because there is a physical piece of paper that says you completed a curriculum to the satisfaction of an institution.

There isn’t an official governing body that confers the title of artist on anyone. You don’t have to pass any state licensing boards or get certified.

For most people, there is no turnkey moment when they say, “NOW I know I’m an artist.” It’s more of a slow, steady slog on the way to the title.

This is why it can be difficult to introduce yourself when you are in the process of becoming.

But this shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Why You Should Care About Introducing Yourself as an Artist

Introducing yourself as an artist is the beginning of your professional relationship with another person. Not introducing yourself as an artist results in missed opportunities.

When you stop apologizing for your art . . . when you stop waffling on your purpose . . . others begin to view you as the artist you want to be. And even though you may not be perfectly comfortable with the title, this buy-in from others will boost your confidence.

So stop introducing yourself with a label from your day job. Lead with this: I’m an artist. It’s really that simple.

What You Should Say

January 5, 2020 | Alyson Stanfield

Artist Bio vs. Artist Statement vs. About Page

Theresa Beckemeyer, Chautauqua

Are you confused about the difference between your artist biography and artist statement? I’m here to help!

See if these explanations give you a better picture of these two documents.

Artist Biography

Your professional artist bio is kind of like your résumé in paragraph form (but less boring). It highlights your top accomplishments—usually with the most recent and most important at top.

Your bio gets to the point. It’s not a place for you to share everything you’ve ever done or get into your personal life.

Your bio is written in 3rd person unless it’s an autobiography, in which case you’d use the 1st person.

Formula for a 3-Paragraph Artist Bio

Artist Statement

Your artist statement is about your art, not about you. More to the point, it’s about the current direction of your work, not a history of how you got to where you are now.

Your artist statement is written in the 1st person.

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 11, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

Is Your Artist Statement Written in First or Third Person?

There is no overseer of the perfect artist statement and bio that is going to come get you for not adhering to rules that never existed. Breathe a sigh of relief.

You can’t go wrong unless you have a bunch of type-os, use poor grammar, or don’t align your tenses.

Here are some guidelines for which tenses to use and when when you’re writing your artist statement and bio.

Your Artist Bio

Your bio is about you and your artistic accomplishments. It is not your life story.

It is written in the third person (otherwise, it would be an autobiography). It helps to think of it as your résumé in paragraph form.

Write it in reverse chronological order, acknowledging that your most important accomplishments are those that are most recent. You can open a bio with a short paragraph summarizing your current work. This can be taken from your statement and reworked for the bio format.

Your Artist Statement

In contrast to your bio, which is about your accomplishments, your statement is about your work—the current direction of your work, not the history of how you got to this point. It’s your opportunity to define a body of work before others respond to the work and define it for you.

Your statement—because it is a statement—is written in first person. It is not the definitive statement about your work forever and ever because your work changes. You must allow your statement to get better and to grow along with your art.

My litmus test for a good statement is

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 30, 2019 | Alyson Stanfield

What To Include In An Art Exhibition Proposal

Metro State Gallery - Denver

Exhibition proposals sound formal and intimidating, but they don’t have to be. This outline for writing an exhibition proposal is easy to follow and will help you gain confidence in proposing art shows to a variety of exhibit venues.

What Is Your Curatorial Thesis?

When you ask to show your art at a venue, you need to be very clear about what you are offering. People don’t often say Yes to vague offers.
Think about what ties the work together. This is your curatorial thesis – your big idea. Writing it out, as you’ll see below, helps you find the clarity you need.

Before sitting down to write your exhibition proposal, ask the venue if they have a particular exhibition proposal format they prefer. If they do, follow their instructions. If they don’t have specific guidelines, you’ll have to compile an exhibition proposal for yourself.

The details of your proposal will vary depending on whether you’re proposing a show at a coffee shop, a pop-up space, or a nonprofit gallery. You will have to judge what is appropriate for your situation.

Here are major components you’ll include.

Introduce Yourself in a Cover Letter

Personalize your cover letter with the correct name and spelling of the manager, exhibitions director, or curator. It’s much nicer to show you have done your homework than to start off with a generic To Whom It May Concern salutation.

I like to begin cover letters with an acknowledgement that I know something about the recipient. You could compliment them on a recent exhibition or say that you’ve been reading about them. You should also mention anyone you know who is associated with the venue – a patron, board member, or artist.

Thank the recipient for considering your proposal.

Document for Your Exhibition Proposal

The meat of your proposal is a document that outlines the particulars of the exhibition.

  1. Explain why your art is a good fit with the venue’s exhibition program.
  2. Describe the exhibition contents and