In Chapter One of Secrets of the Art World: Getting Real about the Process, Business, and Selling of Your Work, I talk about how all artists are entrepreneurs, how they share similar traits—they are big thinkers, fearless, risk-takers, adaptable, resilient, etc. They are also lifelong learners which means they ask for help or seek advice from others. After all, hindsight is 20/20, as they say. With this in mind, I reached out to some of those lifelong-learning artists to ask them for the advice they’ve picked up over the years and what they would say to their younger artist selves.
KX2 (Dana Kleinman &Ruth Avra)
Dawn Renée – On Consulting, Marketing, & Connecting
Sculpture artist, Dawn Renée, says that she has picked up a few nuggets of wisdom over her 20 years as a career artist, and she states that the three most important components to creating a smart career platform are consulting, marketing and connecting. With regard to consulting, she says, “Whether dealing with a gallery or designer, if they don’t love your work and don’t want to see your career elevate, don’t waste your time.” On marketing, her advice is to, “Save at least 15% of your sales and put that towards marketing and consulting. Blink Art is all of that. Exposure is everything.” Lastly, she talks about the benefits of connecting and networking. “Whenever I can, I travel to workshops in my medium or related to meet other artists and educators to share success tips and ‘new mistake’ experiences that expand our horizons. Always reach out and connect!”
Kerri Warner – On Taking Chances
Kerri Warner, a mixed media artist, discusses the benefits of taking chances. "Be confident and take chances. Say yes to every opportunity big or small. You never know who will see your work and how the exposure might lead to new possibilities."
Dana Kleinman and Ruth Avra (KX2) – On Social Media, Opportunity, & That Basket of Eggs
Dana Kleinman and Ruth Avra, sisters who founded KX2 Art, have three pearls of wisdom for their younger selves: “1. Set up an Instagram account at the beginning (vs. resisting a new platform for years). 2. If you get a big opportunity, capitalize on it. Do not say that you are not ready, or you need to make more work first. You have about a three-month window before everyone forgets. 3. Do not put all your eggs in one basket. We had thought getting into galleries was the only important avenue for our career when really there are many components.”
David “Squid” Quinn – On Budgeting & Promotion
Photographer David “Squid” Quinn has advice regarding budgeting time and money and consistent promotion. “Learn to budget not just your money but also your time. Business management, marketing posts, and art creation are all things that require regular chunks of your attention, time, and money. Applying a budgeting mindset allows you to allocate your resources in a more efficient manner. It also helps prevent you from using time and money as excuses for not creating new work. Promotion is also key. Use low-cost social media platforms on a regular basis and spend money on boosting posts for bigger events or stronger work. Keep doing it. It builds slowly and way more people are seeing your work than are liking or commenting. Treat group shows in regional galleries as promotion and marketing. The work may not sell, but you are promoting yourself as an actively exhibiting artist. You will also learn the ins and outs of shipping artwork and communicating with gallery staff. This is how you build your resume and work your way up the gallery industry ladder.”
Reno Carollo – On the Value of Learning
Sculptor Reno Carollo says the advice he’d give relates to the value of learning. “You must learn to have focus, discipline, and persistence; learn about yourself and your artwork by learning how to see, and study and learn about your fellow citizens because your success depends on this!”
Lea de Wit – On Working Hard
Glass artist, Lea de Wit, says, “Be flexible, be patient, and if you think you’re working hard, work even harder as all the sacrifice will yield success in the future. And, always reinvest in yourself, your skills, and your art business practice.”
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