The Art Biz ep. 21: Creating Opportunities for Your Art Career with Meg Black

Artist Meg Black doesn’t wait for things to happen, she makes them happen. She has recently installed a major commission in the new addition of the town hall in Topsfield, MA.

In this episode of the podcast, Meg tells us about the process from vision to reality.

Installation view ©2018 Meg Black, Autumn, River Road. Topsfield, Massachusetts Town Hall.

She shares how she got involved in the project, the research that went into it, and the hurdles she had to overcome in able to get it done both perfectly and on schedule. She now is a local celebrity due to her talent and care for the community.

Here are some highlights from the interview.

  • The pivotal experience 20 years back when Meg was commissioned to do a painting for the Topsfield town library.
  • How Meg’s idea of the Topsfield Town Hall addition project presented a challenge with no patron and no donor, and how she enlisted the perfect patron for this project.
  • The “10 Million Dollar” problem of the town hall project, and the feeling that Meg had of not wanting the beauty of the piece to become tainted by community politics.
  • The homework Meg did to fully understand and articulate the process of tax exemption when writing a letter to her potential donor.
  • The interesting release schedule Meg activated for her installation, which kept the town aware of the work but not completely in the know about who the donor was.
  • Meg’s dedication to seeing that the entirety of this project was kept local, including the printer, photographer, and the framer.
  • How Meg got the full amount she wanted for the project by selling prints, and how she shares print sales with a local nonprofit.
  • Bonus! Why networking on LinkedIn is important for any artist looking for the next commercial opportunity.
One of the slides Meg presented to the town in her proposal. ©Meg Black

4 Big Lessons from Meg

  1. Be aware. Opportunities are all around you. Meg showed us that a new town hall isn’t something abstract that only elected leaders deal with. It’s for the whole town and it presents a valuable opportunity for needed art.
  2. Be in touch. Relationships are critical for your art career, and you have to be able to introduce yourself as an artist. These relationships are increasingly important as you reputation grows.
  3. Be professional. Prove you can do it and that you’re the person for the job.
  4. Leverage your opportunities. Meg made the most of this project by generating buzz on social media and, later, creating prints. As she said, she couldn’t have sold a lot of prints of just any artwork. It was a location beloved by everyone in town.

Music: Keep It Simple by Wildermiss. Used with permission.
Listen to or subscribe on iTunes.

About My Guest

Meg Black has helped pioneer the medium of fibrous pulp painting. Her art focuses on landscapes, seascapes, New England scenes, and garden views and can be seen in public collections including Fidelity Investments National and International, General Foods, and Bain Capital.

With a doctorate in educational studies, Meg has taught at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

See Meg’s art on her website and follow her on Instagram.

Meg works on the commission for Topsfield, Massachusetts Town Hall.


This episode is brought to you by the Art Biz Inner Circle. This is a group of unapologetically ambitious artists that my team and I work with for a year. We help our members with goals, mindset, business strategies, and focus.

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5 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 21: Creating Opportunities for Your Art Career with Meg Black”

  1. Thank you Alyson and Meg for the great podcast.
    I wanted something to listen while working in my studio, and saw this in the e-mail from Art Biz. I loved hearing how Meg talked about her work, beautiful and confident and natural. Her honest answers to Alyson’s questions were inspiring.

  2. What a wonderful reminder- “Be in touch. Relationships are critical for your art career. And they’re increasingly important as you reputation grows.” – despite this concept being driven in so much, I must admit I tend to slack in this area, not because I don’t wish to put in the effort but because of fear when it comes to peoples perceptions. The podcast was another reminder to do what needs doing because otherwise there is an abundance of missed opportunity. Thanks for providing that extra nudge and with such sincerity!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Indeed! Thanks for listening, Vanessa. And when you’re hesitating, remember how enthusiastically the town received Meg’s proposal. They needed the project more than she needed the project.

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