Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Letter to an artist

What follows is a slightly edited copy of a letter to an artist at the start of her career and who took a couple of workshops and read a book about "how to get into galleries." She was quite excited and hopeful because the book gave her lists of Do's and Don't's and was explicit in its rules of how to become a success.

Dear -----

I said I'd write again and so I am. Perhaps the most important thing for someone just starting out to promote her work is confidence and the belief she has the necessary tools. You have been given that, so you are on your way.

What comes next is a lot of trial and error. I have known hundreds of artists in my lifetime and interviewed and written about several, some of them quite famous. The one thing I can say about all of them and career success is: they each did it a different way.

In the last five years or so, there has been an explosion of people becoming art-coaches and art-marketing gurus, often promoting the basics of merchandise marketing as ways to market art. It is important for an artist just starting out to learn about these things, but it is, I believe, even more important to adopt only those which fit ones work and personality, adapt those which need to be altered, and discard those which don't fit.

I'm betting that as time goes by you'll also learn that there are galleries and then there are galleries and then there are galleries and that the method of "getting into" one that caters to one type of clientele will get you shunned by a different type. And that even amongst any one particular type of gallery, different directors/owners will have different requirements and turn-offs about how they are approached, and even those will change as the owner/director's needs, desires and experiences change. That doesn't mean that one doesn't need to have good images and clearly written statements, etc.

But it sounds like you have a really good start and nothing I have written is meant to or should diminish that. It's really exciting. Let me know when and where your work is up on the _______ site. And good luck.

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