Art Fair Insiders

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Seven Things Every Artist Should Know -- The Book

Have you heard me say (to quote artist Bob Ragsdale) that being an artist is only half the job, the other half is marketing your art? Here is a new list from the Huffington Post. Although it is more slanted to artists who are working toward the gallery scene, it has many good points for us in the art fair business. In that spirit, here is what you should know:

1. Every artist has a day job.
Most artists cannot live off their art--even relatively successful artists in New York or L.A. So don't feel like you're doing something wrong if you can't make ends meet without a day job. The key is to define yourself as an artist. What you do for rent is just that. It's not who you are.

2. Residencies are good for your health.
Applying to residencies is a critical component to a career as a visual artist. Some are hands-on, with career mentoring or technical instruction; some are totally independent without much in the way of communal activities or guidance. The application process itself is worthwhile. It forces you to think deeply about your work and goals.

A few places to start your search:
artistcommunities.org, resartis.org, transartists.org, nyfa.org

3. NO BLIND SUBMISSIONS!
Every Saturday you can go to Chelsea and see people hauling around their portfolios, cold-calling on galleries. This is a terrible idea. It tells the gallerist that you don't respect his or her time and that you don't seem to care where you show.

4. Write stuff down.
Paperwork sucks. But staying on top of it will make your life easier and save you time in the long run, which means more time to make art.

5. The Internet is all the rage.
You need a website. (Or a blog, or some sort of online space.) Everyone expects you to have one: gallerists, curators, critics, art bloggers, other artists. It doesn't need to be fancy or expensive, but it should have images of your work, a copy of your cv and your contact information. Ideally, the design of the site should reflect the kind of art you make or the kind of artist you are.


6. Rejection: It's not you, it's them.
The odds of landing a residency, getting a grant or finding gallery representation are daunting. Popular programs may accept as little as 1.5% of their applicants each year. And even before the economic crisis, commercial galleries couldn't possibly absorb all the artists who came out of school.

7. There's more to life than commercial galleries.
Commercial galleries are a prominent part of the art world, but there are many other ways to show your work: non-profits, collaboratives, artist-run spaces, online galleries, artist-run fairs, cafes, restaurants, retail spaces, etc.

This is the tip of the article. Read it all here: Huffington Post, and then buy the book ART/WORK: Everything You Need to Know (And Do) As You Pursue Your A..., by Heather Darcy Bhandari and Jonathan Melber.

I don't know about you, but do you agree with all of these points? Definitely count me in for #5, the Internet is essential! But what about #1?

Let me know your thoughts on this.

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