Saturday, July 22, 2006

Emerging Encaustic Artists

Check out a new blog from another encaustic artist, Zane Vredenburg - Emerging Encaustic Artists.

Zane's goal "is to unite a handfull of passionate emerging encaustic artists so that we may encourage and spur one another on to do great things in the art community, raise awareness of the artform and critique each others work."

He does some really great work, too. Check it out.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Writing an Artist's Resume

Being an artist means not only making your art but of course promoting your art. But some would argue that you’re really promoting yourself. Regardless, you need to have a good resume.
Edward Winkleman’s blog recently had a great post about resumes/bios with some really valuable information (be sure to read the comments, too). I’ll just add to it by telling you how I deal with my resume.

I created a Word document titled, “current resume,” that I update frequently. This resume includes everything. I probably wouldn’t show this resume to anyone, but it’s nice to have it all documented in case it’s needed someday. I can edit this all inclusive resume and create an alternate resume for any given situation – applying for a teaching position, submitting a proposal to a gallery, applying for a job, etc.

The all inclusive resume is divided into categories and formatted appropriately. The categories include:
Name and contact information (I put this in the header and footer so it shows up on each page)
Forthcoming Exhibitions
Exhibitions (separated by year and then into categories - solo, juried, and group)
Publications (in which I’m mentioned or my work is reviewed)
Collections (public and private)
Teaching Experience
Related Experience (volunteer positions, committees, boards, serving as a juror, etc.)

I edit down this information to create a resume to send to a gallery.

In the gallery resume, I will include:

Name and Contact Information

Forthcoming Solo Exhibitions
Venue, Location, Date

Shelbyville Community College, Shelbyville, Missouri, 2007

Selected Exhibitions
I edit the exhibitions and title it, “Selected Exhibitions.” I don’t usually include open shows or member shows, as they aren’t all that impressive (everybody usually gets in, so it’s not considered prestigious). There’s a local exhibition that I enter frequently, so I won’t usually list that unless there was a particularly well-known juror or I won an award in the show. And I do usually include the juror. Some are more well-known than others, but I think it’s good to be consistent (if you list one, you should list them all).

"Freezing," Springfield Center for the Arts, Springfield, ME
"Big Time Invitational," The Palomino Gallery, Arlington, CA
"Super Cool Art Exhibition," Johnstown University, Johnstown, TX
"Simple Things 2005," Sprightly Art Center, Baltimore, OK
(Juror: Stacy Smith, Executive Director, Eagle Mountain Art Center, Chicago, IL)

Public Collections

Private Collections

Use a consistent, standard formatting method (such as MLA or APA).

Johnson, John. "Paintings fill art center with life." The Springfield Times 15 Oct. 2005: 7.

MFA, Studio Painting - Springfield University, Springfield, TX, 2005
Minor: Art History

This gallery resume focuses on exhibitions, collections, and education. If I were to apply for a teaching job, I would probably have a much longer resume, as more and varied activity is important for that type of position.

I don’t usually include a bio unless it is requested. I do have a short bio that I wrote myself, but I’m considering having a writer friend do a more extensive one for me.

Here are a few resources for writing an artist’s bio (some music and dance-related, but still relevant):
Durable Goods
Music Biz Academy

And some resources for resumes:
The Artist's Trust
NYFA Interactive

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

What works

I wanted to talk a little about what seems to be working for me so far.

As I mentioned in previous posts, I created a brochure that features my artwork. I went through the Art In America gallery guide issue and found the galleries that I liked. I've gotten fairly good response from those mailings. I mail a cover letter and my brochure to the gallery. If they're interested, they will contact me and ask for more information. Thanks to that strategy, I have work in one gallery, will be in a group show in another this fall, and I'm talking with two other galleries about possible representation.

Another way that I've gotten gallery interest is just by being in shows. One gallery owner saw my work in a group show and contacted me. I was also contacted recently by a consultant who saw my work in another show (although I'm still trying to figure out if they really want to represent me or if they're just trying to sell me something...).

I also donated a piece to an art auction a few months ago. I have a possible gallery lead due to a contact that I made through the auction.

So I guess the answer is to just get your work out there - the more people see your name and your work, the more likely it is that someone will want to either buy your work, represent you in their gallery, or invite you to be in a show.

I got a great fortune cookie fortune a few years ago that I think applies here: The harder you work, the luckier you get.

So what has worked for you?

Friday, July 14, 2006

“Professional Practices” classes

In my grad school, the MFA students were required to take a professional practices class. It was technically a photography class, titled “Portfolio Photography,” but it was really professional practices, with a strong emphasis on photography. The class was intended for students who were about to graduate and who were going to apply for teaching jobs or send packets to galleries. Some undergrads would take the class to work on their application packets for grad school.

I think more schools are incorporating this type of class into the studio art curriculum. It’s important for art students to have at least some idea of how to promote themselves when they get out in the “real world.”

My painting professors would include some of this real world advice every now and then, too, by requiring reading (such as Taking the Leap) and discussions. We would often watch art-related videos during our class lunch breaks. I remember one in particular that was about the business of art (I think it was one of those Art City videos).

Someone in the video was talking about how he tells his art students that they should just drop out of school, take the $40,000 they would have spent on school, and spend $1000 each on 40 parties. His point was that if you want to make it in the art world, the MFA isn’t important, but who you know is.

Depressing, no?

Anyway, I wanted to talk about the class I took and what I learned.

Photographing Artwork
Since it was a photography class, we spent some time on basic photography, how a camera works, lighting, developing slides, etc. How to use a light meter and set up lights in the studio to shoot 2-D and 3-D work.

20 slides of 2-D work shot in the studio (including artwork shot from books), 20 slides of 3-D work shot in the studio, and 20 slides of 3-D sculpture shot outdoors.

Self portraits (for promotional purposes).

Artist’s Statement
Elements of artist’s statements, writing exercises, and submit examples of good statements from other artists.

Resume or Curriculum Vitae
What to include, formatting, editing, etc.

Presentation Techniques
How to work a slide projector. How to give a successful slide presentation. Attend and review artist’s lectures.

Power Point
How to scan in slides, adjust them in Photoshop, and import them into a PowerPoint presentation along with resume and artist’s statement.

There were two final projects:
1. Create an attractively designed packet to promote yourself that includes 20 slides, resume, artist’s statement, self portrait, printed image of one piece of artwork, and CD with PowerPoint presentation (also to include 20 images, artist’s statement, and resume).

2. Present a 20-minute slide lecture on your work, using no more than 40 slides.

The class was very beneficial. I used much of what I learned to create my proposal packets that I sent to art centers and galleries. The practice giving presentations was also very valuable.

Have you taken a similar class? What do you think of these types of classes? Should they be required in university art programs?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I think I get attached to my work and sometimes don't want to let certain pieces go. But the rest of the time, if someone seems like they really like a piece, I have a hard time not just giving it to them. That's not a good way to make a living as an artist, though, is it?

I've had some issues with pricing recently. I won't bore you with the details, but the difficulties have helped me see the wisdom of what you always hear about pricing: be consistent.

Deciding on a price
Pricing your work is tough, especially when you're just starting out. Maybe you're having a show in a student gallery, exhibiting a piece in a local art group's show, or entering regional or national juried shows. If your work is available for sale, you will be asked to include pricing information.

My best advice is to ask around - how are artist's with similar work pricing their work? Then you have to take into account your own "status." Are you just starting out? Have you been painting (or whatever it is that you're doing) for 20 years? If you've been doing watercolor for a year and another artist has been doing it for 25 years, then they will most likely be able to command a higher price for their work.

Then you also have to consider your materials. If you use something rare or expensive, then take that into account when pricing. Framing is another issue - if you've spent a lot on the frame, be sure to include that in the price.

Time is another factor. Some people say not to consider time, but if your work is very time-consuming, you could consider it.

I think most artists start out by figuring pricing by size. Obviously larger pieces usually require more time and more materials, so it's understandable to charge more for them. If it works for you, you could determine a formula to simplify pricing. For example, you could determine a price - say $1 per square inch. You just figure an initial price and then do the math for each subsequent piece...

If you're going to show work in a gallery for the first time (and you haven't already established pricing for your work), I would suggest working with the gallery director to determine the best pricing. He or she will know what collectors will pay for your type of work in their market.

Then, when you've established that pricing, stick with it. This is where the "be consistent" thing comes into play. Your prices should be the same in all galleries and shows and even your studio. What if someone from your town purchased a $1000 painting of yours and then travels to another city and happens to see a similar painting in a gallery for $600? This would annoy, confuse, and possibly anger them.

You need to price work that you sell out of your studio consistently, too. It's common for people to expect an artist to sell her work for less through her studio. The advantage to the artist is that she doesn't have to give the gallery their percentage. This is true, but it will also ruin her reputation with gallery owners. And whatever you say about the inequities in the gallery system and the unfairness of the art world, that's the system that's in place right now, so if you want to work within it, then you have to follow the rules.

Then, as you sell more work and become more known, you can gradually increase your prices.

Here's a good article in Artist's Register about this topic.

Another take, this time from

And yet another, reprinted from ARTnews.

How do you price your work?

Thursday, July 06, 2006

More Resources

I've come across a few more good resources for marketing your artwork, effective business practices, etc. has a good article about getting your work into a gallery.

Here's another similar article from an alternative art magazine called Picklebird.

The Artist's Register also has their own take on it.

The New York Foundation for the Arts has some really great business articles.