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Friday, June 09, 2006

Book Report: How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist

I think it's about time for a book report. Today's book is: How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul by Caroll Michels.

This book is very oriented towards visual artists, especially those who intend to make a career out of selling art. Therefore, for us as crafty/jewelry people who are planning on staying part-time for about the next five years, some of the advice isn't all that relevant. However there are a lot of interesting things in the book, and a lot that will be useful to us now and in the future.

She talks about pricing your work (always a hard thing when you're starting out, and sometimes for longer than that), dealing with dealers, presentation and marketing and generating income. Her main point is that the business side of art is important, and the talking points boil down to:
Don't let a dealer take advantage of you: She gives helpful tips for dealing with dealers, which can also be applied to consignment stores. She outlines what is normal in an artist-dealer relationship, which is helpful for new people in the field who might not know what to expect. Without artists making art, art dealers would have nothing to sell...so don't let dealers walk all over you.
Don't assume you need another job on the side to support yourself: Pricing and marketing can help your art bring in enough to support you. There are other other options including illustration, book cover design, fabric design, graphic design, licensing art, printmaking, etc. She discusses the pros and cons of teaching art while launching an art career, and what to look for when choosing a second job outside the art world.
Don't ignore marketing: Don't assume the gallery is going to do the marketing correctly. Plan out your promotion, advertising and publicity, following the enclosed timeline.

The second half of the book is a listing of resources (books, software, websites, organizations, etc) that is pretty useful and can give you an idea of what is out there and what to look for even if the exact group she lists doesn't work out for you.

How can you dislike a book with chapter titles like "10. Rationalization, Paranoia, Competition, and Rejection"?



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