DELVE Interviews: Creating Change with Sarah G. Sharp

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DELVE Interviews: Creating Change with Sarah G. Sharp

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. This year, we are focusing our Interviews and Gatherings on the theme Creating Change.

Quiet or loud, social practice to solo studio painting, emerging to established, an artist’s voice is crucial to highlighting and synthesizing our human experience. We are interested in the critical eye and what it reveals, whether it’s a subtle visual pun or a loud, public proclamation. Art that comes from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility resonates strongly, and has the power to activate society and potentially reimagine its structure.

Get your ticket here for our first event of 2018 in New York City at CUE Art Foundation on June 26, 2018.

We are happy to share our interview with artist and curator, Sarah G. Sharp. Sarah is an artist and curator whose interests include alternative social histories, language, place, technology and craft. She is the recipient of a Getty Library Research Grant, a BRIC Arts Media Fellowship, residency awards include SoHo20 Gallery Residency Lab, Joya at Cortijada Los Gázquez and The Vermont Studio Center. Exhibitions include The Aldrich Museum, Real Art Ways, Hampden Gallery at UMass Amherst, Frederieke Taylor Gallery and Field Projects Gallery. Sarah’s Oral History Interview with artist Elaine Reichek was published by the Archives of American Art at the Smithsonian Institute. Sarah holds an MFA and an MA from Purchase College, SUNY, is Assistant Professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County and teaches in the MFA in Art Practice program at SVA. Sarah lives and works in Brooklyn and Baltimore.

 “Industry and Craft,” 2017, Metallic Embroidery thread on Denim, 40” x 40”   

“Industry and Craft,” 2017, Metallic Embroidery thread on Denim, 40” x 40”

 

Describe your current work/practice/project and how it fits into the theme, Creating Change. 

My recent work addresses themes of identity, technology and communalism through craft and media artifacts from various American social movements of the 1960’s and 1970’s. I often combine traditional “analog” forms (collage, hand-embroidery, macramé, press-based print media) with contemporary forms (video, digital photography and image manipulation, and digital printing.) One of my recent sources, the Whole Earth Catalog, was published by Stewart Brand between 1969 and 1972. It emphasized “access to tools” and presented information about things like sustainable farming, alternative economies, sexuality, technology and spirituality. It was also an assemblage of political and poetic speech; the Black Panthers guest edited one issue, the beat poet Anne Waldman published poems in another. It was circulated widely outside of mainstream media channels. In response to this material I produced a series of collages and hand-embroidered textiles, titled “Whole Earth Systems,” that use symbols from the Whole Earth Catalog. I have also mined imagery from NASA’s 1975 Viking Mars Lander project and notes from the formation of separatist “wimmin’s” land in Oregon for a video, “Finding Our Place in Space,” which looks at the ways technology and concepts of land ownership within the “back to the land” movement intersected with and resisted the search for life on Mars.

 Installation View: (center)  Whole Earth Samplers , 2017, Denim, metallic embroidery thread, wood, dimensions variable, each sampler: 10” x 10” (left and right)  Whole Earth Samplers at Elephant Butte, NM I-IV , 2017, Inkjet prints, edition of 5, 20” x 30”   

Installation View: (center) Whole Earth Samplers, 2017, Denim, metallic embroidery thread, wood, dimensions variable, each sampler: 10” x 10”
(left and right) Whole Earth Samplers at Elephant Butte, NM I-IV, 2017, Inkjet prints, edition of 5, 20” x 30”

 

After the 2016 election, I started the Tool Book Project, a conceptual “catalog” and direct action fundraiser for vulnerable non-profits that provides a way for artists and writers to use their practice as a way to connect and make a difference. The first volume, a printed book published in August 2017, was sourced from an open call that asked for images and writing that “edify, inspire, support and radicalize us in this time of deep uncertainty and resistance” and was a fundraiser for Black Lives Matter, Callen-Lorde, Sylvia Rivera Law Project and Sane Energy Project.  

 Tool Book, 2017  (upper left) Tool Books  (bottom) Tool Share Roundtable: Art and Activism, SoHo20 Gallery, July 16, 2017  (upper right) Tool Book Little Free Library and Listening Station, SoHo20 Gallery, July 2017

Tool Book, 2017
(upper left) Tool Books
 (bottom) Tool Share Roundtable: Art and Activism, SoHo20 Gallery, July 16, 2017
 (upper right) Tool Book Little Free Library and Listening Station, SoHo20 Gallery, July 2017

 Tool Box, 2018  An edition of 10 custom designed, handmade boxes that contain a set of limited edition artworks from five different artists and fundraiser for AgitArte. The Tool Box box was handmade by  Sophia Kramer  and our unique folding broadside catalog was designed by  Sabina Nieto .  More info.   Artists:  Sue Havens, Brick and Mortar series, 2018, Fired clay, acrylic paint, ceramic glazes, variable dimensions, approx. 10” x 3” x 5”  Awilda Rodriguez. Lora La Mujer Maravilla: Guerreras #1, 2018, Silkscreen on Mulberry paper, 9” x 11”  Mick Lorusso. Prayers to Microbial Ancestors, 2017, Woodblock print on cotton fabric, 10" x 10" x 1/16" Inkjet print on on vellum, 11” x 11”  Cristina Victor, Prayer Kit for Any Imminent Situation, 2018, Handmade cards, ceramic holder, tealight, case, 7” x 9” x 3”  Carissa Potter, Some Space Ear Plugs, 2018, Foam earplugs and custom box, 1.5” x 1.5” x 1.5”

Tool Box, 2018

An edition of 10 custom designed, handmade boxes that contain a set of limited edition artworks from five different artists and fundraiser for AgitArte. The Tool Box box was handmade by Sophia Kramer and our unique folding broadside catalog was designed by Sabina NietoMore info.

Artists: 
Sue Havens, Brick and Mortar series, 2018, Fired clay, acrylic paint, ceramic glazes, variable dimensions, approx. 10” x 3” x 5”

Awilda Rodriguez. Lora La Mujer Maravilla: Guerreras #1, 2018, Silkscreen on Mulberry paper, 9” x 11”

Mick Lorusso. Prayers to Microbial Ancestors, 2017, Woodblock print on cotton fabric, 10" x 10" x 1/16" Inkjet print on on vellum, 11” x 11”

Cristina Victor, Prayer Kit for Any Imminent Situation, 2018, Handmade cards, ceramic holder, tealight, case, 7” x 9” x 3”

Carissa Potter, Some Space Ear Plugs, 2018, Foam earplugs and custom box, 1.5” x 1.5” x 1.5”

In summer 2017, while I was an Artist in Residence at SoHo20 Gallery in Brooklyn, I held a series of public events connected to Tool Book, including a free library with listening stations that had themed playlists of radical songs sourced from friends on social media, a reading series and a panel discussion; Tool Share Roundtable: Art and Activism, where politically engaged artists, academics and activists shared “tools” regarding art production, political action and sustaining communities.

This Spring I co-curated, a show called “Comfort Level” at Field Projects Gallery with artist Alissa Polan, It  included artists from around the country that have been impacted by climate change. We debuted the newest iteration of the Tool Book Project, Tool Box, an edition of 10 custom designed, handmade boxes that contain a set of limited edition artworks from five artists. Tool Box is a fundraiser for AgitArte, an organization of working class artists and cultural organizers, who provide material and cultural aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria to the people of Puerto Rico.

Does this work come from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility, or both?

The Tool Book Project was a response to the 2016 election. I wasn’t newly made into an activist, I have always been concerned with and active in working for social and environmental justice, but after the election I feared the loss of all of the small bits of “progress” that had been so hard won over the recent decades. I felt kind of hopeless. I was lucky enough to travel a bit that winter and visit with friends, mostly artists, who were feeling the same way. It helped to gather together and remember that we weren’t alone, and it helped me to remember that these communities exist nationally and globally. I wanted to find a way to allow creative people to keep doing what they are doing, connect with each other and make some money for non-profits that already have structures for change in place.

Do current events inform or guide your artistic decisions and processes? If so, how?

Yes and no. I think a lot about current events in historical context; especially how forms of technology and media guide the way ideas are conveyed and absorbed. So, it’s not that my core interests or processes change, but the present always shapes and informs our understanding of the past. This includes formal concerns, what it means to use certain materials or even colors, as much as it informs content.

What is the artist’s role in creating change?

I think different artists have different roles. Artists translate experience into forms that provide new ways of making connections, seeing and understanding the world, so we all reflect some kind of truth about the moment we live in. Artists are uniquely poised to make change because we are trained to look, think critically and be sensitive to how what we put into the world is received. At the same time, we can have extreme demands on our time and often navigate uncertain employment, housing, studio space and basic resources. So much of what we achieve is connected to the real-world resources we have access to, which varies widely. I think we should each use whatever power, privilege and agency we have for good.

How do you find balance with living your life and making this work?

This is something I am still learning about (and I don’t know if I do it very well.) My biggest struggle is figuring out how to divide time between projects that are more social and involve supporting many different people and components, like curating and publishing Tool Book, versus the more solitary components of studio practice. It is so important to make time to just think and experiment. I am also a professor. Being with students is very generative and hopeful, but also requires setting boundaries and carving out time for my own work.

Finding our Place in Space, 2017, HD Video, Color, Sound, Excerpt: 5 minutes, Full Length: 11 minutes
In 1975 NASA sent two rovers (Viking I and II) to Mars to survey the planet's surface. During the same year a group of women in the Pacific Northwest formed what became known as the Oregon's Women's Land Trust. Land purchased by the OWL Trust became the site of separatist wimmin's land where women from varied backgrounds developed new modes of self-sufficient, rural, communal living. Finding Our Place in Space complicates these historic, gendered, technophobic and technophiliac narratives by combining documentary notes, text and images from these momentous events. (5 minute excerpt from an 11 minute video; Creative Commons and Public Domain sourced images: Don Whitaker + Nasa via Archive.org.)

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DELVE Interviews: Creating Change with Karen Mainenti

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DELVE Interviews: Creating Change with Karen Mainenti

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. This year, we are focusing our Interviews and Gatherings on the theme: Creating Change.

Quiet or loud, social practice to solo studio painting, emerging to established, an artist’s voice is crucial to highlighting and synthesizing our human experience. We are interested in the critical eye and what it reveals, whether it’s a subtle visual pun or a loud, public proclamation. Art that comes from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility resonates strongly, and has the power to activate society and potentially reimagine its structure.

Get your ticket here for our first event of 2018 in New York City at CUE Art Foundation on June 26, 2018.

 Karen Mainenti

Karen Mainenti

Our first interview of this theme is with the artist Karen Mainenti. She is currently a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Bard Graduate Center Library. She has exhibited at La Bodega Gallery and Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn; Gallery MC and the Society for Domestic Museology in New York; Guest Spot @ The Reinstitute in Baltimore Maryland; and the Cornell Museum of Art in Delray Beach, Florida. Her work has been featured on HyperallergicGothamistBrooklyn Magazine and BmoreArt. In 2014, her outdoor street art installation, DUMBO Underfoot, was exhibited at the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn, and she had a solo show at Chashama's pop-up gallery in the Garment District. In 2013, she attended the School of Visual Arts Summer Residency Program in Painting & Mixed Media and was a visiting artist at the Tulsa Girls Art School in Oklahoma.

Describe your current work and how it fits into the theme, Creating Change.

 “I Feel Disgusted With Myself” Deodorant Soap by Al Franken, U.S. Senator (Irish Spring), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

“I Feel Disgusted With Myself” Deodorant Soap by Al Franken, U.S. Senator (Irish Spring), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

My latest work is a series of graphite drawings which explore the similarities between the apologies made by men accused of sexual harassment as a result of the #metoo movement and the fault-finding marketing claims commonly featured on women's beauty products. It struck me how unusual it was for a man to acknowledge his flaws, particularly in a public manner, and wanted to draw attention to this. I appropriate these repentant quotes from each man's statement and pair them with popular consumer products like Irish Spring, Barbasol and Speed Stick. Each quote is then given further context by using elements from the actual packaging design—"Maximum confidence! Feel clean and fresh!” —thus exposing the irony of such a juxtaposition.

Does this work come from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility, or both?

My artistic practice is rooted in my personal experience as a woman whose identity has been impacted by society's absurd and unnatural expectations of perfection. With the recent rise of the #metoo movement, I was stunned and delighted to finally see men being held accountable for actions that are all too familiar for women but have long gone unmentioned. The momentum of the movement has motivated me to contribute to these essential conversations about the dehumanizing power norms in the United States and create cultural change for women.
 

Do current events inform or guide your artistic decisions and processes? If so, how?

 “I Pledge To Be A Better Man” Shaving Cream by Donald Trump, U.S. President (Barbasol), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

“I Pledge To Be A Better Man” Shaving Cream by Donald Trump, U.S. President (Barbasol), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

Ideas for my artwork come from observations of everyday life around me. For example, if I’m watching the news, I’ll notice the glaring disparity in appearance and age between male and female broadcasters. If I’m out shopping, I’ll be struck by the gendered marketing for something as generic as ear plugs: blue “Hearos” for men, “Sleep Pretty in Pink” for women. Following this initial spark, I’ll begin to decide how best to shed light on my discovery through visual expression.

What is the artist's role in creating change?

I believe the inventiveness of artists inevitably creates change, whether they intend it or not. It could be as simple as provoking the viewer to look at something in a new light, or more strongly challenging prevailing ideas or norms. Sometimes, art has an immediate impact. In other cases, the work is not fully recognized for its significance until years, decades, or centuries later. It’s disturbing to me that the Guerilla Girls’ poster “Do women have to be naked to get into the Met. Museum?”, created in 1989, is still so relevant today.

How do you find balance with living your life and making this work?

For me, the two are absolutely intertwined. My observations of the world and my place in it as a woman inspire my artwork and continually fuel new ideas. It's cathartic to bring a sense of humor to issues that trouble me.

 "I'm Not The Man I Thought I Was" Hair Color by Harvey Weinstein, Producer (Just For Men Mustache & Beard), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

"I'm Not The Man I Thought I Was" Hair Color by Harvey Weinstein, Producer (Just For Men Mustache & Beard), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

 "All My Flaws” Regular Deodorant by Jeffrey Tambor, Actor (Speed Stick), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018   

"All My Flaws” Regular Deodorant by Jeffrey Tambor, Actor (Speed Stick), graphite on paper, 25.5in x 19.5in, 2018

 

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June 26th, 2018: DELVE Gathering/NYC: Creating Change

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June 26th, 2018: DELVE Gathering/NYC: Creating Change

Get your ticket here for our first event of 2018 in New York City at CUE Art Foundation.

DELVE Gatherings are rooted in the desire to build a strong, supportive community around art, artists and contemporary issues. The theme we will be exploring this year at each event is Creating Change. Quiet or loud, social practice to solo studio painting, emerging to established, an artist’s voice is crucial to highlighting and synthesizing our human experience. We are interested in the critical eye and what it reveals, whether it’s a subtle visual pun or a loud, public proclamation. Art that comes from personal experience or a sense of civil responsibility resonates strongly, and has the power to activate society and potentially reimagine its structure.

We're thrilled to have our first gathering in New York City on June 26th at CUE Art Foundation, a dynamic visual arts center dedicated to creating essential career and educational opportunities for emerging and under-recognized artists of all ages. Through exhibitions, arts education, and public programs, CUE provides artists and audiences with sustaining and meaningful experiences and resources.

During the DELVE Gathering, a solo exhibition by Sheida Soleimani, curated by Kate Shepherd will be on view at CUE. Titled Medium of Exchange, the exhibition presents sculptural photographic tableaus that address the relationship between dictatorships and the petroleum industry at a time when oil has become a form of international currency and a source of warfare.

Meet our speakers:

 Jeff Bergman. Photo by   Jeremiah Dine

Jeff Bergman. Photo by Jeremiah Dine

Jeff Bergman is a writer, art dealer and curator in New York. He is a Director at Pace Prints.  In 2016, he became the founding reader of an ongoing Teach In at Trump Tower. His art newsletter Atlas is in its fifth year.

 Katrina Majkut

Katrina Majkut

Katrina Majkut (My’kut) is a visual artist and author living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She is dedicated to understanding how social traditions affect civil rights through embroidery and writing. She exhibits her cross-stitched artwork nationally, often at U.S. colleges, where she constructively engages with students about politics, women’s health, social practices and art as activism.

At our Gatherings and online via our blog and social media, we’ll be sharing the work of artists who don’t separate their everyday realities from their art making, and in turn use their own artistic language to communicate in the best way they can. By sharing their processes, histories and ideas, it’s possible to educate and inspire others to take action and cultivate change in their communities.

Over the next month as we look forward to the event, we will be sharing interviews, articles and artwork that relates to our theme. If you have any ideas or suggestions to share, we’d love to hear from you.
Secure your ticket here, it's only $10.

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5 Steps for Effectively Telling Your Story

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5 Steps for Effectively Telling Your Story

You are the only ______ (fill in the blank: freelancer, artist, designer, singer...) in the world who does exactly what you do in your unique way.

So how do you let your potential clients know who you are and what you do in a way that feels powerful and genuine? How do you recount your professional history, products and services in a compelling way when your work isn’t there to visually speak for you?

HERE ARE FIVE TIPS FOR TELLING YOUR UNIQUE STORY:

1. CARVE OUT THE TIME TO GET IT RIGHT

You need to set aside time for yourself to craft your unique story. Take a look at your schedule and determine when you most like to write and feel self-reflective. Over morning coffee? At night after a day’s work? On the weekend?

Make it count! Schedule a few hours in your calendar and show up. This is a very important meeting you have with yourself.

2. REFLECT ON WHY YOU ARE AWESOME

It doesn’t matter if you hate writing, despise thinking about yourself, loathe self-promotion, and would rather crawl in a hole. Now is the time to pat yourself on the back a bit, reflect on all of the amazing things you have been doing and think about why you are so awesome.

Let’s get started. Answer the questions below honestly and with as many descriptive words as possible in a free-form style. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or coherent thoughts, just write and avoid jargon. Be yourself. No one is reading this except for you.

  • What do you do? What does your work look like? (If you make visual or physical products, get down into the nitty-gritty and describe one of your most successful projects or pieces in great detail. If you offer services, write out the exact steps you take on a project from beginning to end with an ideal client.)
  • How do you do it? (List the cold, hard facts about how you do what you do. Take nothing for granted. For the makers: how much time does it take, what kind of materials do you use, what does it look like in space? And if you offer services: how much time does it take, what is your approach and attitude, where do you do it? What are the results that people get from you?)
  • How did you arrive at this kind of work? (What is your applicable personal and professional history that has led you down this unique path? What inspired you to start doing this? Go back in time and think about the days before freelancing, or that amazing project that launched you.)
  • Who are you as a creative professional and how do you want to be defined? (As a creative, you might wear many hats, but only state the thing that you want to be known for by your ideal clients.)

OK, you’re done! Save your writing and get ready to move on with your day.

But first, schedule a time tomorrow to review this. It should only take about 30-45 minutes. Do it. Show up. Don’t wait until next week!

3. WHAT NICE THINGS HAVE OTHER PEOPLE SAID ABOUT YOU?

So you currently have a giant document full of information about your work that applies only to you. These notes provide the actual words that reflect your very own personal and professional history that drive your creativity and passion for what you create.

Next, you need to remember the nice and amazing things that clients have said about you and your work.

Write from memory, and if you have some great testimonials kicking around then copy them into this doc.

4. SHOW WHY YOU CARE

You’re more than just your work.

Your career path and personality make you unique, so just describing yourself as a “designer” won’t help you get new clients. Tell us exactly what you design, why, what it means to you, and how you got there. Give your clients something to care about and remember.

With that frame in mind, review your notes and take the first stab at writing your unique story as if you were telling the story to someone who loves what you do. Don’t bore them, engage them.

Set your timer for one hour.

First, clearly state what you do and the services you offer. Tell us why your services are unique and how and why you do them. Next, reflect on any interesting tidbits of your professional path or applicable personal details that make you stand out from others in your field. And finally, what are the amazing results that clients get from working with you?

Sleep on this first draft, take a day or two, and better yet, engage the help of a friend and schedule in your next meeting to whittle this beast down to a manageable statement that you can use on your website and other marketing materials. It will also translate beautifully to how you talk about what you do.

You’re close. We know you can see the light.

5. KEEP REFINING

The goal for the next sixty minutes is to finish editing your draft down into a manageable professional story that is engaging, genuine, and all you. The goal is to have one to two concise and powerful paragraphs that are malleable enough to share on your website, use in your marketing efforts and feel proud of.

Spoiler alert: this step really isn’t the last, since your unique story will be ever-evolving and changing as you do. Roll with it and come back to these questions often when you feel a shift in your work or when you know that you have something wonderful to add.

How do you tell your story? Let us know!

© 2018 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

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5 keys to Marketing for Shy Artists

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5 keys to Marketing for Shy Artists

MANY ARTISTS AREN’T OUTGOING. HECK, MANY ARTISTS ARE INTROVERTED. WE KNOW THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO MAKE OUR WORK AND GET IT OUT INTO THE WORLD, BUT THIS TASK CAN BE STRESSFUL. ON TOP OF THIS, OUR WORK CAN SOMETIMES BE DEVELOPED FROM A PERSONAL PLACE, AND IT’S HARD TO SHARE IT IN A WAY THAT FEELS GENUINE AND NOT LIKE YOU ARE BEARING YOUR HEART TO THE WORLD.

Luckily, you don’t have to be the life of the party to succeed at marketing, you just have to be clear and confident in your story. Marketing for artists is a necessity to get the opportunities you want. They won’t be achieved in a vacuum.

Here are 5 ways to overcome marketing anxiety if you have social anxiety:

  1. Get your Unique Story down pat. It’s a curated version of who you are, the one that is clear, accessible and helps you share the story behind your work, but not every personal detail. So that right there is a great way to put yourself out there in a way that is controlled but still relatable.

  2. Practice and memorize a really nice elevator pitch. This is a 1-2 sentence summary of who you are and what you do. Just memorize it so it sounds natural and conversational– not like a robot.

  3. Make sure your website is amazing. This is one of your biggest assets. Even if you have terrible social anxiety when talking about your work (most of us do!!!), then your website will speak volumes for your amazing work and professional acumen.

  4. Assure your visuals and documentation are gorgeous. Go back to the last point. This is a must for artists of any temperament, but especially important for people who will do a lot of their marketing online.

  5. Get really good at one social media platform. You can build a solid community of friends and supporters online. If you dedicate yourself to sharing your work and unique story on Instagram, for example, you will be marketing your work in an inspiring way without ever having to speak to anyone!!

© 2018 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

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Be memorable: create an effective introduction

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Be memorable: create an effective introduction

Have you ever felt tongue-tied when asked to introduce yourself and describe your work? Or maybe you ramble on in a way that doesn’t accurately describe what you do?

As a creative who does so many amazing things, it might be incredibly difficult to put your work into words in order to give your audience that “aha” moment and make them want to learn more.

There are many occasions where you’ll be asked to describe your work—or answer that dreaded question: what do you do? These include interviews, parties, networking get-togethers, conferences, or even meeting a friend of a friend for the first time.

The goal? You want the right people to remember you.

There are ways to practice talking about your services and talents that will open doors and engage the people you are talking with in an exciting way.

First, you need to remember: You are the only person in the world who does exactly what you do in your unique way. We want to help you make sure you tell the right story when people ask, in a clear, succinct, and compelling way.

First, let’s explore an example:

We met an artist at an opening. She had recently moved to New York from Florida, so we were discussing that, since it's a big life move. Sarah, our new acquaintance, impressed us when we asked her, "What kind of work do you make?" And she answered, "I am a sculptor who makes works from recycled materials, especially those small plastic bags that newspapers are delivered in."

Immediately, we were intrigued, asked her more questions about her work, and made it a point to look at her website the next day. Had she just said, "I am a sculptor" the conversation might have drifted off to more social things, or perhaps ended. So, the point here is to be very specific because each and every one of us is incredibly unique.

MAKE SOMEONE REMEMBER YOU. HOW DO YOU DO THAT? CREATE YOUR PERFECT ELEVATOR PITCH IN FIVE EASY STEPS:

1. Say what you do: I am a______________________________. (designer, writer, illustrator, programmer, etc)

2. Now write down the three most important things that you do as a (designer, writer, illustrator, programmer, etc) and cite proof points why your work is important or unique.

3. Now figure out: What do you want your work to accomplish/What is your goal?

4. Distill the above three points into a short sentence or two: this will become your introduction, or pitch. You’ll want to end up with a simple statement like: I am a _____________ who (does this unique thing.)

5. Remember, you are talking with someone else, so engage them. Hopefully your pitch is so compelling that they ask you follow-up questions! Make sure you have a business card on hand to give them in case they want to learn more.

HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO CONSIDER AS YOU PRACTICE YOUR PITCH IN THE MIRROR AND TO YOUR DOG, CAT AND BEST FRIEND BEFORE YOU TAKE IT OUT INTO THE REAL WORLD:

  • It should explain what you do, clearly and succinctly: Who are you? What do you do?
  • It should be no longer than 20-30 seconds, which is about the time it takes to ride an elevator.
  • The pitch should be addressed to THEM not to YOU. To successfully engage in conversation, remember it’s about storytelling, not fact-reciting.
  • It should be comprehensible to even a kid.
  • Say it with confidence.
  • Be memorable.
  • It needs to be compelling and sound natural in person. (It’s beneficial to write it out and memorize it, but you don’t want to end up sounding like a robot.)

WHY IS YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH IMPORTANT?

  • You want people to understand what you do and remember you. It’s an opportunity to create a mental picture for your audience when your work is not in front of them to experience first hand.
  • You are creating an opportunity for an opportunity, which getting tongue tied will not provide you.
  • In a social setting, you would like to be able to engage in meaningful dialog with someone without rambling.
  • You want to add value to your community.
  • Because it’s an opportunity to represent your character as well as what kind of work you do.
  •  

Good luck! Let us know what your success stories are after you’ve written out and practiced your pitch!

© 2018 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

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What did you accomplish this year?

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What did you accomplish this year?

How was your year? When you started 2017 where were you? Did your goals change, meander, or stay the same? Did you set off to conquer and succeeded, or were you derailed?

Take 5 focused minutes and assess your year.
Focusing on the positive, we want to know what our amazing readers accomplished this year. We hope that this short exercise will help you pat yourself on the back and look forward to what’s next.

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Defending your creative time.

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Defending your creative time.

To be creative, we need to have time and space to allow our minds to wander, expand, and go off in random directions. Of course, that's a hard thing to do these days, as we have so many things constantly vying for our attention. What that means is that we have to learn to be really strict with ourselves. If creative time is indeed important to us, and something that we'd like to bring to the forefront in our lives, than we have to make time for it. Blocking it off is the first and most important thing you can do. Write it in your calendar and treat it like you would any other meeting or appointment. It is arguably the most important appointment of your day. 

Hopefully the time you have found for yourself is also your most creative time of the day--for example, many of us think most clearly and have the most energy first thing in the morning. If that's the case, then grab your cup of coffee and head straight to your work area. Do not check your email, do not scroll through Instagram. This time is blocked off for your mind to focus, for your creativity to have a chance to flow in. If you check your email, chances are you'll get distracted and think that confirming your dentist appointment is most important thing you could do. It's not. Almost all of your emails can wait until you take your lunch break. 

In the book Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind, Cal Newport suggests starting with small blocks of focused creative time (an hour at first), and building those up incrementally by 15 minutes every week or two. The key is never to allow distraction. Once you give in to checking your phone, you should cancel the whole block and start over. It's a great way to build discipline. 

Another tip he suggests is having one focused task to do during that time. If you are writing an article, do all your research ahead of time so that when you sit down, all you have to do is write. Same thing goes for starting a new painting or designing a poster. Gather all your research, source material, visual inspiration, and tools ahead of time so that when you sit down you can dive right in.

Stay focused, artists. We need you.

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3 ways to maximize your time.

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3 ways to maximize your time.

As a working artist, getting a hold on your schedule and productivity can be a challenge. In this post we'd like to offer three important facts to consider in order to improve your schedule, create more balance in your days, and therefore, reach your goals.

1) When are you most productive? 
A DELVE Toolkit client of ours came into the first meeting really wanting to change her schedule since she didn't feel like she was being productive enough. When we asked her when she felt most energized and creative, she stated that she was best in the mornings. We proposed changing up her morning routine (which then looked like: checking email, doing busy work, and planning her day) to: diving straight into her productive studio time each morning after walking her dog and having coffee ritual. Her small daily change would allow her to show up everyday to the creative process that her business thrives on and make that work. Emails and bill paying can wait until the afternoon when the creative juices wane.

If you're not a morning person, that is ok. The goal is to determine when you are best at making your work, not doing all the busy stuff that supports it, and make that time sacred.

2) Physically write things down.
Sometimes you need a good old-fashioned piece of paper to drag with you through your day. Write your to dos down on paper so you can cross them out and visually be reminded. Change and reorganize this piece of paper every day, or every few days. Keep it fresh and flowing.

3) Create your daily to-do list the night before, or for the week.
If you start your work time with a set intention, it's way easier to get working. Spend the last fifteen minutes of every day creating that to do list so you can easily pick up where you left off.

The key is to not overcomplicate things. Stay on task and cross things off your list every chance you get. Stay focused!

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Time: your perception and the reality.

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Time: your perception and the reality.

One of the biggest fears we have is not having enough time; enough time to finish a project, get an application written, or a proposal sent out. It's that nagging feeling that you might as well not even try because you'll probably run out of time. Or the realization that the deadline is at midnight, and here it's already 7pm, so why even bother? It's born out of procrastination but also causes procrastination. Have you ever said to yourself "I'm never going to get my materials together in time, so I might as well not even bother?"

Us, too. It happens. But how do you get out of that mindset or rut? 

The key is realizing it is a mindset. Meaning it's in your mind. Anything that's in your mind, you can adjust. If you think about it, there are 2 kinds of time. There is clock time, which is standardized and given (60 minutes in an hour, 24 hours in a day, etc.) and then there is the time you feel on any given day. This kind of time is completely based on perception, meaning an hour at the dentist can feel like an eternity, while watching your baby turn 18 can feel like the blink of an eye. So any tasks that you want to fit in for your practice or business can be organized with clock time, but their perception can be adjusted depending on your mental attitude towards them. 

Step one is harnessing and organizing that clock time. 

Here's how:

1. First, you need to know where all of your time is going to begin with. Grab a scheduler (or a calendar), and for one week, write down everything you do and how long it takes. Be honest, and see how much time the various parts of your business or practice take. (This is also a valuable exercise to see what things you're not even doing, even though you know you probably should be doing them). How much time during your week is spent with productive activities that are working towards your goals?

2. Goals? You know you have some, but are they really clearly spelled out for the next month, six months, or year? And we mean really clear, like you know exactly what the goal is, and how it's broken down into achievable tasks over the next few weeks? Next step: write out your goals, and then break them down into manageable pieces or steps.

3. Each piece of that goal should have time assigned to it. This is where a scheduler or calendar actually comes in really handy. A to-do list is great, but what happens is that it becomes longer and longer and then gets overwhelming. Take those to-dos and pencil them into a real schedule with real amounts of time assigned to them. That way you don't have to think about them and have them overwhelm you, unless they are the scheduled task in front of you for the next 30 minutes or hour. Keep that appointment with that task. If you do that, it will actually get crossed off your list! Amazing!

4. Take 10 or 20 minutes at the beginning of each day (or even the night before) to plan the day. Make sure all your scheduled goals are still on track and that the tasks you set for yourself are realistic to accomplish. At the end of your work day, take 10-20 minutes to go through that day's tasks and assess if you've actually accomplished them and if the process went smoothly. If it didn't, assess what went wrong and try to remedy it for next time. (For example, you set one hour to work on your writing, and you got nothing accomplished because you were feeling blocked and spent one hour staring at a blank screen. Next time, start the task with a list of questions you can answer to help you get the writing process started. Start simply, with a question like "What is this project about?")

5. Take a minute before each task to decide what result you want to achieve. This will help you know what success looks like before you start. And it will also slow time down. Take a minute after each task to determine whether your desired result was achieved. 

This all seems like a lot of work, probably. But once you try it and figure out a way to work it into your routine, time will feel a lot less scary and you'll actually feel like you have a grasp of it–and can possibly even manage it!

Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

 

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Overcoming fear.

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Overcoming fear.

Every once in a while, we all encounter a sense of fear in our practices.

Fear of what? Of taking the next step in your career, of trying something new in the studio, of talking to a stranger at an opening, of reaching out to your idol, of putting your work out into the world? And why are we fearful of that? Because of failure. It boils down to the fact that we're all afraid of failing. But what does that mean, exactly? For each of the examples mentioned above, the stakes are of course a bit different. Do any of your fears make you stop in your tracks and feel unable to move forward?

Luckily for all of us, failure is part of the process. And sometimes failure is the best thing that can happen, because it allows you to reassess your situation, your point of view, and your approach. It often leads to new ideas, new ways of working, and new relationships. It is why great things happen, which is why you have to at least try. Nothing happens without trying, and that's the stasis we want to avoid! 

Here are three things to think about when you feel fear creeping in and preventing you from taking a next step:

1) What exactly is it that is making your fearful? Get specific and identify what aspect of the task is preventing you from moving forward. 

2) Talk or write it out. Find someone to confide in, or write it out in your journal. Chances are, once you've listed your specific fears, they will no longer seem so scary or daunting. 

3) If you are feeling fear, switch over to feeling gratitude instead. For example, if you are at an opening and afraid to introduce yourself to someone, instead take a fresh look at the situation and feel grateful to be able to be in the position to make this connection/be part of this artist community/to have seen the great show this person has curated. Chances are, it will change your attitude and point of view, and you'll no longer be afraid to say hi.  

Let us know what fears are holding you back. We want to start a conversation and help you move forward! 

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3 Ways To Overcome Writer's Block

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3 Ways To Overcome Writer's Block

As a visual person, writing may not be your forte. But it's an exercise that can greatly help your practice once you get into the right mindset. Here are three ways to get the words flowing:

1. Lists, lists, lists.
Whether you're writing an artist statement or some product descriptions for your online shop, you don't want to sound generic. Start by making lists that visually describe what you are looking at. Answer the questions: What does my work look like? How do I make my work? What materials do I use? Be specific and bust out that thesaurus. Or better yet, dive into our online course: Crafting a Powerful Artist Statement: A Step-by-Step Course

2. Listen to others. 
Some of the most insightful cues about your work can come from friends, clients, strangers and colleagues. If you are showing your work, make sure to take notes (or have someone else do it for you) and write down key words from how people describe what it is you do. This will definitely give you a jumping-off point. 

Working on something new? Share images with trusted friends or colleagues and ask them to spend five minutes writing a list for you that describes what they see. You can always return the favor someday.

3. Create daily habits.
Writing needs to take place every day in order to make progress. As makers and artists you may not be a writer by trade or necessity, but keeping a daily journal will help you gather and collect the language you need to sit down and write about your work in a clear, engaging and powerful way. 

All of these brainstorming ideas can help you identify in writing why your work is unique and how you can stand out from others working in your field.

Good luck!

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Take 20 minutes to define your brand with this free guide

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Take 20 minutes to define your brand with this free guide

We created a guide to help you define your unique story, or personal brand. It starts with putting your artwork into words and thinking about why you are unique. Plus, it’s free and should take you less than 30 minutes.

Sign up below to get it emailed straight to you.

As an artist or creative entrepreneur who deals with making work that is close to your heart, incredibly intuitive and part of how you simply are as a human being, it can feel impossible to translate your work into words and marketing efforts that mean something real, that make an impact on the people that matter, and that feel right to you.

As a small business owner—artists and creative entrepreneurs, that’s you—you may be unsure of your personal brand. You may be thinking, “Do I even need one? ‘Brand’ sounds like a word that only corporate companies use.” 

But you do have a serious business: your work. And you do indeed have a personal brand, it already exists within you. It's way easier than you think; it starts with putting your visuals into words and thinking about why you are unique.

Good luck and let us know how it goes!

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Be specific: honing your unique story

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Be specific: honing your unique story

As you navigate the art world, remember that you have a unique story to share about your practice. This story is a condensed verbal delivery of your personal brand.

HERE ARE FIVE TIPS FOR TELLING YOUR UNIQUE STORY:

1. CARVE OUT THE TIME TO GET IT RIGHT

You need to set aside time for yourself to craft your unique story. Take a look at your schedule and determine when you most like to write and feel self-reflective. Over morning coffee? At night after a day’s work? On the weekend?

Make it count! Schedule a few hours in your calendar and show up. This is a very important meeting you have with yourself.

2. REFLECT ON WHY YOU ARE AWESOME

It doesn’t matter if you hate writing, despise thinking about yourself, loathe self-promotion, and would rather crawl in a hole. Now is the time to pat yourself on the back a bit, reflect on all of the amazing things you have been doing and think about why you are so awesome.

Let’s get started. Answer the questions below honestly and with as many descriptive words as possible in a free-form style. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or coherent thoughts, just write and avoid jargon. Be yourself. No one is reading this except for you.

  • What do you do? What does your work look like? (If you make visual art, get down into the nitty-gritty and describe one of your most successful projects or pieces in great detail. If you offer services, write out the exact steps you take on a project from beginning to end with an ideal client.)
  • How do you do it? (List the cold, hard facts about how you do what you do. Take nothing for granted. For the makers: how much time does it take, what kind of materials do you use, what does it look like in space? And if you offer services: how much time does it take, what is your approach and attitude, where do you do it? What are the results that people get from you?)
  • How did you arrive at this kind of work? (What is your applicable personal and professional history that has led you down this unique path? What inspired you to start doing this? Go back in time and think about the days before freelancing, or that amazing project that launched you.)
  • Who are you as a creative professional and how do you want to be defined? (As a creative, you might wear many hats, but only state the thing that you want to be known for by your ideal audience.)

OK, you’re done! Save your writing and get ready to move on with your day.

But first, schedule a time tomorrow to review this. It should only take about 30-45 minutes. Do it. Show up. Don’t wait until next week!

3. WHAT NICE THINGS HAVE OTHER PEOPLE SAID ABOUT YOU?

So you currently have a giant document full of information about your work that applies only to you. These notes provide the actual words that reflect your very own personal and professional history that drive your creativity and passion for what you create.

Next, you need to remember the nice and amazing things that your audience (friends, fans, clients) has said about you and your work.

Write from memory, and if you have some great testimonials kicking around then copy them into this doc.

4. SHOW WHY YOU CARE

You’re more than just your work.

Your career path and personality make you unique, so just describing yourself as a “designer” won’t help you get new clients. Tell us exactly what you design, why, what it means to you, and how you got there. Give your audience something to care about and remember.

With that frame in mind, review your notes and take the first stab at writing your unique story as if you were telling the story to someone who loves what you do. Don’t bore them, engage them.

Set your timer for one hour.

First, clearly state what you do. Tell us why you are unique and how and why you do what you do. Next, reflect on any interesting tidbits of your professional path or applicable personal details that make you stand out from others in your field. And finally, what are the amazing results that clients get from working with you?

Sleep on this first draft, take a day or two, and better yet, engage the help of a friend and schedule in your next meeting to whittle this beast down to a manageable statement that you can use on your website and other marketing materials. It will also translate beautifully to how you talk about what you do.

You’re close. We know you can see the light.

5. KEEP REFINING

The goal for the next sixty minutes is to finish editing your draft down into a manageable professional story that is engaging, genuine, and all you. The goal is to have one to two concise and powerful paragraphs that are malleable enough to share on your website, use in your marketing efforts and feel proud of.

Spoiler alert: this step really isn’t the last, since your unique story will be ever-evolving and changing as you do. Roll with it and come back to these questions often when you feel a shift in your work or when you know that you have something wonderful to add.

And if you want even more help, and a nifty guide and workbook to help you hone your story even further, download our free DELVE 3 Step Brand Guide!

How do you tell your story? Let us know!

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Your website: does it open up doors of communication?

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Your website: does it open up doors of communication?

As you know, your website is an incredibly effective and important tool for your art practice and creative business. Beautiful, well-maintained, current sites evoke confidence in your work, in you, and open up doors of communication. We liken it to looking at a neighborhood of homes. Your ideal audience is more likely to want to walk up to the front door of a home that looks clean, has a beautiful yard, and doesn't have too many winding paths and obstacles that prevent them from ringing the door bell. The same idea applies to your site: you want to give your viewers an accurate and positive sense of who you are right off the bat. Don't be a mystery!

Here are a few ways to assure that your website is working for you, not against you:

  • Include a photograph of yourself, your team and/or your establishment. We know that solopreneurs and artists can be shy, but posting a nice, professional photograph of yourself on your website will immediately make people more comfortable reaching out to you.
  • Don't make people click too much. Operate on the assumption that your audience does not have a lot time, so make it easy for people to see the work that you want them to see at a glance. Too many clicks might make your audience give up and move on.
  • Make it easy to understand what your work really looks like. We may have said this a million times already, but gorgeous images of your work are a must for any successful website. But if your work is better seen in context or in detail, be sure to share these images as well!  And don't forget to label your work and add descriptions as necessary. Better to be overly descriptive than to assume your audience knows what they are looking at.

We help people create their own beautiful websites all the time. You won't have to rely on someone else maintaining it for you, you'll know the content is perfect and it will be an amazing way to showcase your work. Get in touch.

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Your new best friend: the editorial calendar

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Your new best friend: the editorial calendar

The editorial calendar is your vehicle for staying organized, maximizing your time and maintaining a clear communication plan.

As an artist you are a small business owner. You are responsible for making the work, the business side and the marketing side. We understand that it is really overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be.

Our philosophy: once you develop your unique story verbally and in writing, create beautiful documentation of your work, the rest of the marketing stuff falls into place with good design and a clear plan, and some minimal maintenance along the way.

I have heard content management/managers before. What is it? What do they do?

A content manager is you, or someone who will make sure that your work is updated on your website, documented and shared in a consistent, clear and compelling way online to achieve results.

What exactly is an editorial calendar?

It's simply an organized personal calendar that outlines your content for sharing online in different formats. This can be everything from establishing monthly content themes, determining what products/services you are sharing over the course of a year or month, updating your website or blog, sharing events, and planning all of the online content (social media, newsletters, press) that you will share to tell your ideal audience your unique story, so that they will know you, love you and buy what you do. The editorial calendar is your vehicle for staying organized, maximizing your time and maintaining a clear marketing plan.

The key is that you need to figure out the big goals first before you can get your editorial content active and working for you. Let's review the big stuff that you need to consider before you develop your editorial calendar:

1) Do I have a firm grasp on my unique story verbally and in writing? Can I write and speak clearly about what I do that feels natural and is memorable? This is fundamentally the most important part of telling the world about what you do. It's also one of the hardest things to do.

2) Am I aware of my ideal audience? Your audience should never be "everyone." It's important to define who they are. Once you narrow this down you will know who you are creating content for and it will be much easier to speak to them directly about what you do specifically. Your ideal audience might only be 50 people to start. That is ok.

3) What are my goals? Why am I sharing my work? Are you looking to get people to hire you, create awareness around your practice, or sell a specific product? Before you start dreaming up amazing content to share, you should be aware of what you want it to accomplish. Of course, you don't want to sound salesy or pushy, no real people do. But you won't achieve your goals without sharing your work in an effective, clear way. Operate under the premise that there is no one waiting to discover you in hiding.

No matter what your end goals are, we believe that online content management can develop two very important things around an artistic or creative practice:

  • It creates a community around your work. By engaging on social media, sending newsletters, writing guest articles, or simply sharing your work, you are creating conversations, building an audience and rallying support. People care!
  • It is the opportunity to create a personal online archive of your work, interests, passions and life as a professional. When you look back through a Twitter feed or Instagram account, for instance, you can see exactly what you have shared that builds a story about who you are and what influences your work. Your ideal audience will be very interested in this.

That is the big picture assessment of why it's extremely important to have a firm footing in your goals and unique story before launching into the development of your editorial calendar.

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Writing an artist statement doesn’t have to be so hard.

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Writing an artist statement doesn’t have to be so hard.

Without fail, most artists dislike writing about themselves and their work. Writing is difficult. So we figured out a way to teach artists how to craft an effective artist statement about their work over and over again.

It doesn’t have to be so hard. Actually, it can enlighten your practice, clarify what you’re working on and give you tons of confidence.

Crafting a Powerful Artist Statement: a step-by-step guide, is an online, self-paced course that you can start at any time. It will guide you through the questions to ask yourself so that your thoughts are genuine and specific to your work. We won’t put words in your mouth; we just give you the tools so that you can concentrate on making your work.

Here are some key things to remember about writing a statement:

  • Like it or not, you often need one for applications and exhibitions.
  • The goal of your artist statement is to give your viewers insight into who you are as an artist, your motivation and your process. In other words, it’s an amazing way to highlight how you are unique and what you’re thinking about.

  • It will remind you what is most important to you when making your work.

In addition to the class, you can also have your statement professionally edited by us before you put it out in the world, but you have to complete the class first.

We promise that if you see this course through completely, you will have a better understanding of what to write about and how to accomplish writing an artist statement.

Why wait?
Access Crafting a Powerful Artist Statement: a step-by-step guide here.

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DELVE Interview: Alix Sloan

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DELVE Interview: Alix Sloan

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. DELVE IS AN EDUCATIONAL AND COACHING PLATFORM TO HELP YOU GET THE BUSINESS SIDE OF YOUR CAREER IN ORDER. THE ARTISTS AND ARTS PROFESSIONALS WE INTERVIEW ARE POSITIVE FORCES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES, AND THEY SHARE TOOLS AND ADVICE THAT THEY'VE LEARNED TO INSPIRE EACH OF US IN OUR PROFESSIONAL AND ARTISTIC GOALS. 

The most valuable resource artists have is each other.
— Alix Sloan
 Alix Sloan celebrating the launch of her book: “Launching Your Art Career: A Practical Guide for Artists”

Alix Sloan celebrating the launch of her book: “Launching Your Art Career: A Practical Guide for Artists”

Alix Sloan has been in the arts for over 20 years. During that time she has been a gallery owner, gallery director, curator, consultant, author and educator. She opened Sloan Fine Art, one of the first galleries in the now vibrant Lower East Side arts district, in 2008. Today she continues to mount pop up shows under the Sloan Fine Art banner, guest curate exhibitions, work with freelance clients, teach, coach artists and consult for artists, collectors and businesses.  She is the author of “Launching Your Art Career: A Practical Guide for Artists” and maintains the website PracticalArtists.com where she posts helpful information and resources for artists and has recently launched online courses.


Can you describe your path as a writer/curator/arts professional – from where and when you began, until now?

It’s been a bit of a circuitous path. My first job out of college was at La Luz de Jesus Gallery in Los Angeles, which was a great experience. I learned so much. But I hadn’t done much else and was anxious to try other things. I left to explore TV and Film Production and Copywriting.  About six years later I was running the writing department at an Interactive Agency when the dotcom bomb hit. The company closed, I was out of work and realized how much I missed the arts. So I just started calling people – artists, clients, galleries – to see if they needed help with anything and got back into it by way of organizing events, helping artists get books done and curating shows. And my experience as a copywriter led to writing opportunities. Eventually, I relocated to New York and opened the gallery, an accomplishment I’m super proud of. It was definitely one of the hardest and most rewarding things I’ve done. But it was also all consuming. So when I couldn’t negotiate a reasonable lease renewal I took it as a sign and closed the physical space. I’ve been doing pop up shows and occasional art fairs, consulting, teaching, coaching artists and writing since. It’s a bit frenetic but I love it.

 What does a day or week in your professional life look like?

Every week is different. I have a few artists I work with on an ongoing basis, so I prioritize them and make sure we’re on track with any projects or goals. Then I divide my time as needed between everything else. It all kind of depends on deadlines and timing.

How do you balance your personal and client work and what have you learned from balancing all your projects?

Balancing has always been a struggle for me. The past five years or so I feel like I’ve gotten a much better handle on it. I’ve become a huge fan of time blocking which I definitely recommend. It helps me focus and organize my time. I find it also helps combat procrastination. I plan each week out ahead of time to get my head around what it’s going to look like. I commit the first hour or two every workday writing because that’s when I’m most productive and creative. Then I plan out the rest of the day after that. I try to stick to that week’s schedule knowing I may have to move things around and make adjustments to accommodate anything unexpected.

Since getting married, I’ve made a commitment to try not work over the weekend unless I really have to. That was a big step for me and has been such an upgrade. It forces me to work more efficiently and longer during the week but it frees up most weekends for a personal life. Also there’s plenty of overlap in my life. I enjoy going out to openings. That’s both business and fun. And I’m good friends with many of the artists I work with. Work doesn’t always feel like work, which is nice.

In your book, Launching Your Art Career: A Practical Guide for Artists, can you give us the top three things that an artist needs to do in order to win the opportunities that they want?

It’s hard to come up with just three, but I think I’d say building and maintaining community is definitely #1. Whether directly or indirectly, most opportunities come through friends and colleagues. The most valuable resource artists have is each other.

Then making time for career development – things like finding and pursuing opportunities, networking, creating and maintaining effective support materials – is so important. So many artists are committed to making wonderful work but not to getting their work out into the world. An artist can have the most amazing work in the world but if nobody knows it exists then it won’t be seen, enjoyed or make an impact.

And finally, patience and perseverance. I didn’t get into this enough in my book so I’m happy to have the opportunity here. Developing a career can take time and everyone’s path is different. It can be really frustrating, but if you stick with it, you’re ahead of anyone else who doesn’t. I know one artist who applied for the Guggenheim Fellowship every year for something like five years with no luck and then finally it happened. He was selected to be a Guggenheim Fellow. Thank goodness he didn’t give up!

As a curator and someone who coaches artists, what are good ways to network in the art world and beyond?

There really is no substitute for getting out, supporting your community and meeting people in person. If an artist is able to attend openings, open studios and arts events, I always recommend it. If you show up for people, they’ll show up for you. And you never know what could happen or whom you might meet.

Social media can be a great tool if used properly. People may enjoy seeing your art. But if you also share information, make recommendations and share other people’s work and news, you bring value to your community and become someone people want to be connected with.
 
Where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Professionally, I find being around other art lovers, like on a really busy night where there are lots of openings and people milling around, incredibly inspiring. Creatively and personally any quiet space works. If I had my choice it would be a gorgeous beach or balcony with a great view. But on the couch with the phone turned off and the cats by my side works, too.

What are you working on right now?

I’ve expanded my Practical Advice for Artists website to include online courses which I’m incredibly excited about. I love the idea of making straightforward, encouraging information available to artists everywhere. I’m also teaching a one-day workshop at Art Center College of Design in July 2017. It’s part of their extension program, so it’s open to anyone. And the next Sloan Fine Art exhibition is a four-person show in collaboration with Phylogeny Contemporary in Seattle in early 2018.

 A screenshot of Alix Sloan in her new online course for artists.

A screenshot of Alix Sloan in her new online course for artists.

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Writing to win opportunities

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Writing to win opportunities

Writing about one’s art work falls into the nonurgent crucial category on our To Do List. Meaning, it’s an incredibly important but difficult task, so it’s often put off until the last minute. We advocate for adding writing to your daily or weekly practice so that it can illuminate your practice but not weigh you down.

How to write project proposals/statements for residencies and other opportunities is a difficult task – especially if you haven’t experienced the opportunity in person or it could be months or years away We’ve all been there. It’s a tough one, but we are going to run down some productive ways to think about this conundrum below.

First, make sure that the opportunity you are applying to is a good fit for your work and your practice. If you don’t fit the criteria, then applying will be a big waste of time.

Do you know anyone who has gotten this opportunity in the past? Ask them about it.

Next, get into the mindset of what the reviewers are looking for. Yes, you want this opportunity and everything it has to offer but what can you offer them? Every opportunity has it’s specific story and requirements so be sure to pay attention and tailor your application to it. They are looking for artists who will make the best of their opportunity and need it.

You’ll need an artist statement and beautifully documented work. A lot weighs on these documents, so don’t put off writing your statement to the last minute! Sometimes we want to apply to a residency, for instance, to further work-in-progress. Despite the work being in progress, you can still formulate a cohesive statement, knowing that it will most likely change someday.

Your project statement or proposal is different from your artist statement. For a project statement, the jurors want to know how you would make the most of the opportunity and what it has to offer. You should write about what you would work on and how you would spend your time. This is something only you know. Are you interested in taking advantage of their specific location, resources, or technology? Is there an educational or community component that would benefit your work? Is there a private, isolated experience you are needing to get some work done? Set some goals and let them know what you want to get done in the context of what you are applying for. A proposal is just that: an idea; a way to share your process, practice and why one specific opportunity is calling your name.

Good luck!

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DELVE Interview: Maya Pindyck

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DELVE Interview: Maya Pindyck

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. DELVE IS AN EDUCATIONAL AND COACHING PLATFORM TO HELP YOU GET THE BUSINESS SIDE OF YOUR CAREER IN ORDER. THE ARTISTS WE INTERVIEW ARE POSITIVE FORCES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND THEY SHARE TOOLS AND ADVICE THAT THEY'VE LEARNED TO INSPIRE EACH OF US IN OUR PROFESSIONAL AND ARTISTIC GOALS. 

The more I write, the more the writing comes. It’s a cyclical process.
— Maya Pindyck
 Maya Pindyck recording a participant’s recollection of seeing a rabbit in Milton. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson, documenting the making of “Today I Saw”

Maya Pindyck recording a participant’s recollection of seeing a rabbit in Milton. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson, documenting the making of “Today I Saw”

Maya Pindyck is a multidisciplinary poet and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. She is the author of Emoticoncert (Four Way Books, 2016), Friend Among Stones (New Rivers Press, 2009), and Locket, Master (Poetry Society of America, 2006). Her work has been recently exhibited at the Lewis H. Latimer House Museum (NY), Chashama Pop Up Space (NY), Gallery 263 (MA), and the Governors Island Art Fair (NY). Currently a doctoral candidate in the English Education program at Columbia University's Teachers College, she teaches at Parsons School of Design and Long Island University. Her language-based installation, “Today I Saw,” opens May 13th, 2017 as the first exhibition at the Milton Art Bank (MAB)* in Milton, PA. Placing the town in a global context, the installation remaps Milton through the lenses and voices of its residents while forming an archive of sights.

*Founded by Brice Brown and housed in a converted 19th century bank in Milton, PA, Milton Art Bank (MAB) is an artist-run experiment and space for creative inquiry. Through exhibitions, performances, and other creative interventions, MAB encourages curious dialogue and engaged participation as a way for people to become active agents of positive change in their community.


Can you describe your path as an artist/writer – from where and when you began, until now?

I remember drawing, painting, writing, messing with objects, and performing as a child and into high school and throughout college and after. And I remember when I was fourteen my mother giving me News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness, an anthology I fell in love with and would read each night before bed. I entered college as a theater major, then switched to art and philosophy. I took an inspiring poetry workshop there, but I didn’t have a consistent creative writing practice the way I did with visual art. After college, I moved to NYC and worked for a non-profit while continuing my art practice. I applied to MFA painting programs and got into SFAI, but I felt uneasy about quitting my job and moving to San Francisco. I decided to stay in New York and took a poetry class at Columbia that summer. I was hooked. I wrote & read poetry anywhere I could: at my job, on the subway, at cafés. The accessibility & portability of writing really appealed to my city life—I didn’t need to worry about space or toxicity or the messiness or weight of material.

For years I incorporated text in my drawings/paintings and had an ongoing practice of manipulating found books, but there was something about the limitations of poetry that I loved. What could I make of just language and space? How could I work words—make them move & trigger—as lines on a page? (It felt like a mixed media exercise I could do for the rest of my life!) The instructor at Columbia encouraged me to apply to MFA programs in poetry, and I ended up at Sarah Lawrence. I really grew as a writer there and learned from a range of brilliant & supportive poets/teachers. Now I continue both my writing and visual art practices, often using language in installation and as a form of social practice.

What does a day or week in your professional life look like?

Well, this semester a day might go something like this: Wake up. Record dream if remembered. Get my two-year-old out of bed and bring her to preschool. Then, depending on the day of the week, go teach, or work on my dissertation, or tend to another project. Pick up my daughter at 3pm. Hang out with her until 6pm. Then read, grade assignments, respond to emails, or play around in my studio for a few hours after dinner.

 Maya Pindyck & MAB founder Brice Brown discussing the installation in MAB before the bank’s renovation. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson documenting the making of “Today I Saw."

Maya Pindyck & MAB founder Brice Brown discussing the installation in MAB before the bank’s renovation. Photo credit: Jamie Wilson documenting the making of “Today I Saw."

Since writing and drawing/painting are both part of your creative process, how do you see them working together and informing each other?

I see writing and drawing/painting offering distinct materials for thinking and opening up different ways of sensing. I heard William Kentridge say something along those lines in a recent drawing lecture, and it really resonated: There’s an illogicality to drawing and thinking, and each material brings its own thinking. I’d say the same is true of writing. Writing longhand with a pen or with a pencil or through erasure or in between drawings or over an image or on a computer or by phone each activates different ways of thinking/feeling. My creative process brings writing and drawing into relation and works the gap between word & image, between language & gesture, between name & thing. It’s that between-space that tends to activate my process and inform my subject matter. I’ve always been less interested in calling myself a “writer” or an “artist” than in what those materials—text, sound, charcoal, ink, found object—can do, together & alone, in a sociopolitical context.

What is your writing process? How do you set aside time to write?

It depends on what I’m writing & why, but I’d say that with poetry, there’s a process that repeats: First I write with a pen or pencil in an unlined notebook. I’ll then rewrite the poem around 4-8 times. I rewrite each version slowly, feeling out the line, making slight shifts as needed in each rewriting. I’ll also speak the words aloud to measure how they feel in my mouth & body. Then, when the poem starts to click (or when what I’ve written clicks as poetry), I’ll type it up, print it out, and make handwritten changes to the printout.

Sometimes I’ll do an exercise—often in class with my students—to get moving, but usually my subject matter finds me. What I need to write about follows, haunts, & stalks me. It’s a kind of possession. I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with something to write down. I’ll be in the shower and suddenly realize that a word in a work that I thought was finished is actually wrong. I carry a notebook with me wherever I go so I can be ready. In that sense, it’s less about setting aside time to write and more about trying to stay attuned, open, and prepared for what needs to get written. But a consistent writing practice mobilizes that attunement. The more I write, the more the writing comes. It’s a cyclical process.

Since you are also a professor, how do you teach writing and inspire your students to want to write? Can you advise visual artists in any writing exercises?

I try to assign exercises that I find engaging and that push different ways of seeing & making. If I’m giving my students an assignment I wouldn’t want to do myself, that can be a sign that it’s a shitty assignment.

Some writing exercises I love that I would suggest to other visual artists:

1. Find a random book and erase its text to make poetry. Try out different modes of erasure: whiting out the words, blacking them out, scratching them out with a thumbtack, crossing them out with a pencil. (And read Mary Ruefle’s amazing essay “On Erasure”).

2. Cento: a collage poem made of lines from existing poems. Start with a poetry anthology or stack of poems and make a poem entirely of lines from other poems. I give myself rules, like only use one line per poem, and/or pick each poem by opening up to a random page in an anthology.

3. Write a visual essay by juxtaposing image and text.

4. Observation exercises: Study an object and, using language alone, record its tone. Shift its scale. Make it into an ominous thing. Now make it a vulnerable thing. Repurpose it. Describe its surface marks in as much detail as possible. Map it onto your own body & history (where/how does this object live in relation to your own life experiences?). Imagine the memories it carries and tell its story based on those memories. Develop a theory of human nature from that object. Place it in a different context and write about what changes.

5. Read Wallace Stevens’ “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” What are 13 ways of looking at your neighborhood, your grandmother, the kettle in your kitchen?

6. Activate chance: Open a book to a random page and begin writing from a word or line. Record the first six phrases you overhear in a café or the first eight things you see on a train.

7. Read Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl” and make a written portrait of someone in your family that takes on her/his voice & language.

8. Follow the cadence of a text—its sonic current—and write a poem that follows that cadence.

 Some of the participants in “Today I Saw” standing outside the entrance to MAB. Recordings of their voices describing local sights will be heard in the bank and throughout the town for the duration of the exhibition.Photo credit: Jamie Wilson documenting the making of “Today I Saw."

Some of the participants in “Today I Saw” standing outside the entrance to MAB. Recordings of their voices describing local sights will be heard in the bank and throughout the town for the duration of the exhibition.Photo credit: Jamie Wilson documenting the making of “Today I Saw."

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from managing all your projects?

Saying no can be an affirming and nurturing action. I used to think I had to say yes to most project invitations & opportunities, but I’ve learned that saying no can open other things up and be a form of self-care. I’m also learning how to be still with each project, engage it wholeheartedly (even if just for a few hours), and then give a different project the same careful focus instead of trying to do everything at once in a distracted & thin way.

And where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

My favorite places to go are books, art exhibitions, readings, performances, the park, the ocean, the woods, the subway, the classroom, cafés, my daughter’s wild & tangled hair. If I had to pick one place right now: your question at this table.

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