Showing posts with label Evan Goldman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Evan Goldman. Show all posts

29 November 2014

Glen Kessler: How to Market Yourself as an Artist

Photo Credit: Evan Goldman
The following interview about marketing your work as an artist is based on a lecture that Glen Kessler, founder of the Glen Kessler Atelier in the Academy Program in Rockville, Maryland, gave to the Gaithersburg Fine Arts Association on November 13, 2014.

1. Who should think about marketing his or her work as an artist?


In all seriousness, marketing is a skill - just like making art is. You don’t want to wait until you are producing masterpieces at the easel to begin learning how to apply to shows, develop a website, manage a social media presence, or talk to prospective galleries and buyers. You want to go through your "awkward- student phase" of marketing while you are still going through your student phase of making art.

Another way to think about marketing is to understand that cultivating a career in the arts is like owning a company. Like with any business, in order to be successful, you need a CEO to chart the course, CTO to work on the web and social media aspect, CFO to check on the financial viability of your operation and on taxes, legal department to handle contracts for commissions, PR department to advertise for you, and of course, a sales force. All of these people are you! Making the art itself represents just the "manufacturing plant" of this business. If you don’t advertise, learn how to sell and use technology, and network, then, you just might end up with a warehouse full of unsold merchandise.

2. To whom should artists be marketing?

When you start, start locally. It is cheaper, easier, and you are more likely to net results when targeting your local community. As your reputation builds, and you learn what works and what doesn’t, only then, you might want to expand your range, budget and ambition.

Many artists exhibit their work in juried group shows, many of which are listed on sites like or There are thousands of shows to apply to. One factor I encourage emerging artists to consider is geography: Determine a distance that you are willing to drive your artwork (30 minutes, 4 hours, whatever) and only apply shows within this distance. This is recommended in part because of the high cost of shipping. For modestly sized works (up to 18x24"), it can cost $30 to box up a painting, $30 to ship it, and don’t forget about the return shipping fee, which you must purchase in advance. So, you’re in for approximately $100 a piece, per show, in addition to the entry fee.

Delivering your own artwork to local exhibits also gives you an opportunity to talk with the organizers. They might be more inclined to advocate for you if they know who you are, have talked with you about your work, or even like you. I once got a solo show out of such a conversation. It’s good to be a person to them, and not just a piece of art.

Another important aspect of marketing is learning how to talk about your work. You want to project an air of professionalism at a show of your work, whether it is a group or solo show. You may still consider yourself a student, but that is not something to tout in a public forum, like in an exhibition, an application proposal, or to prospective patrons. Also, learn certain buzzwords or phrases that easily convey what your work is about. Try to boil it down to as few words as possible, practice those phrases, and begin to own them across all platforms of your public persona (website, promotional materials, and in conversation).

3. What are some basics Do's and Don'ts of marketing your work as an artist?

Do cast a wide net. Apply to group shows, join local arts organizations, go to art events in your area, apply for competitions, grants and residencies, talk to other artists, accept speaking, jurying or teaching opportunities. Build your brand through repetition.

Don’t get discouraged. I wear it with pride that still, after 20 years, I get rejected from half of the shows I submit my work to. If I’m not getting rejected, that means I’m not being aggressive enough.

Do study what others have done, and make it yours. Picasso said, “Good artists copy, great artists steal.” So, observe other artists’ websites and social media, exhibition records and talking points, and then own the best lessons you can draw from them.

Don’t only apply to things you think you will get. Apply to shows, competitions and residencies that you don't think you can win. You will be surprised just how many you might get.

4. Why is this an important topic to lecture on? How do you integrate marketing know-how into your curriculum at the Academy in Rockville, MD?

There is only one other topic that is more important to discuss in a program that claims to offer students the ability to become professionals in their field  - of course, that other thing is how to paint, which we do quite admirably in the atelier.

It has always astounded me that discussion of the business side of one’s art career is a taboo topic in so many art schools. It’s as if these institutions believe that upon graduation, their students will be magically endowed with a skill set that often contrasts the sensibilities that brought them to their chosen artistic field in the first place. It’s an absurd notion, of course, and one whose time has expired.

In the atelier, we devote a significant portion of the third, thesis year to learning about the business. We cover everything from how to enter shows, photograph artwork, frame and price art, write grant proposals, develop a website and social media presence, and we even discuss how to teach. I sincerely want every one of my students to be able to operate at a professional level of art making, and I believe that every one of them can in fact achieve that.

05 February 2013

Evan Goldman

1. The title of your current show (closing March 29, 2013) at Kentlands Mansion in Gaithersburg, MD is "Worldviews." Why did you choose this title?

I like the title "Worldviews" because it has a double meaning. It could mean views of the world or perspectives of people around the world.

2. What kinds of places did you seek out when choosing what to paint. Why?

Rather than seeking out places to paint, I looked through my vacation photos and tried to figure out which were the most compelling images. I also thought about how they would look together.  The body of work references photos taken in the past six years in eight countries: China, India, Cambodia, Spain, France, Scotland. Norway and Canada. I also painted from my computer monitor because I could see more detail.

3. Your treatment of perspective draws the viewer into your compositions of places as diverse as dense urban India and remote Chinese wilderness. What do these places inspire?

I feel that these places represent the moments of awe in my life when I am so far from the familiar.  The most surreal place I visited was in China's Guilin Mountains.  The landscape looked as though it were taken right out of an ancient Chinese scroll.  In downtown Hyderabad, I climbed to the top of the famous Chaminar mosque for a breathtaking view of the city.  People, cars, and rickshaws flurry through the dusty streets and brightly colored marketplaces there.

Traveling abroad inspires a sense of adventure in me, and it also reminds me of the best times that I have spent with my family on vacation.  Painting this series has given me the opportunity to reflect on the most memorable time of my life.

4. There is a soft, ephemeral quality to your landscapes and cityscapes. Your portraits and figures (not included in this show) are much higher contrast. Why the difference?

When I paint a portrait or figure I prefer direct lighting to show form.  In my landscapes the lighting is diffuse, and my focus is on creating a sense of the atmosphere.

5. What does painting landscape teach that figure painting does not? How are the two similar?

Painting landscapes has helped me improve on the ability to look closely at textures and atmosphere.  I get immersed in figuring out how to best convey a crumbled stone wall in a Cambodian ruin or a tiled roof on Gaudi's architecture in Barcelona.  I am also drawn to the chaotic nature of places with large crowds as in my painting of downtown Hyderabad.

I believe landscape and figure painting are similar because places convey personality just as much as people do.  Through both genre, I am trying to understand and portray the unique character of a person or place.

6. What is the idea behind the "Worldviews" book?

The first book I made featured artwork from my 2010 solo show at the Orchard Gallery - "Impressions of Bethesda."  I launched it using the self-publishing website  I was inspired to do this after attending a Portrait Society of America conference where I noticed that the most successful artists often make books and instructional DVDs to promote their artwork.  When I began working on my "Woldviews" series last year, it became clear that I should make another book for this show.