Artists Are...

State of the Art is a show being developed by an artist to talk about what it means to be an artist right now (today) in an effort to raise up artist voices. The first episode works to define what an artist is by talking to artists who are innovating and using their abilities in ways only artists could use them.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Survive Power

The Power of Goal-Setting

One of the major issues I see with my peers as artists is this need for external validation. There are gatekeepers to the art world, regardless of what art practice you are in, and, as artists, we can feel at the mercy of a small and hard-to-penetrate community of decision-makers. And because we don’t necessarily receive steady and consistent financial support for our practice, I think it can make us crave this validation even more and pursue it, sometimes, without the most strategic plan for why we are doing it. The best tool I’ve found for becoming less focused on these external validation opportunities is to engage in my own goal setting for how I want to build my art practice and setting my own financial goals. It is both empowering and also increases self-sufficiency while making you less driven by this need for external validation. There is definitely something powerful in that mind shift to say, “I don’t need to get into six new shows this year for people to recognize my art career is meaningful and making progress.” If I set my own set of goals that I know that I’m moving towards, I can see that my goals may not require any new shows in the next six months and stay focused on more relevant tasks. It’s okay to be in a period of reflection, of planning, rather than chasing after projects and short-term validation at the expense of really building capacity, thinking long term, and putting the foundation in place for your art practice to be successful over a lifetime. There is definitely empowerment that comes with trying to move yourself into that mindset, which is challenging because we’re always driven by the short term. Especially as artists: whatever you’re making at the moment feels like the most important thing in the world – and it should be. So, the trick is to have that drive alongside the longer-term goal setting. Most artists are incredible goal setters and goal achievers when it comes to our creative practice. If you can harness that natural skillset in areas outside the studio or onstage or wherever, you become very powerful.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Survive Planning and Capacity

Hiring People with Different Expertise

I think another key is to remember the importance of having a team of people with different expertise. One good example I saw was of two glass artists who have a studio here in town, who applied for and received some funding a couple of years ago. They used the funding to make a long-term investment by hiring a business consultant to work with them on building their studio practice and improving their marketing and sales skills. Since then, they have built their business up to the point where it is profitable. They’re making a number of different objects that they’re able to sell within the studio space, a gallery space right at their production facility. It’s not a very large facility at all, and they’re not doing tons and tons of volume, but they’ve been able to take what they had learned through that experience with the consultant to make their businesses profitable. And I know that they had kind of a rough start because they were not business experienced, so this was a really good way for them to obtain the business skills they needed. They learned how to market to their audiences and really sell their products successfully from identifying areas they needed to grow in and investing some funds in their own development.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Survive Communicating & Connecting

Budgeting as a Tool for Empowerment

Elaine Grogan Luttrull, Department Head of Business & Entrepreneurship at the Columbus College of Art & Design, describes the experience of an artist shifting her perspective to view budgeting as a tool for fulfillment rather than a chore.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Survive Money

Learning Pricing Based on Artist Value

Elaine Grogan Luttrull, Department Head of Business & Entrepreneurship at the Columbus College of Art & Design, shares a story about teaching students to price their work in a real-world setting.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Survive Money

Together We Rise: Artist Offered a Seat at the Table

Artist, Mitzi Sinnott, describes her experiences struggling as an artist and the value of talking openly about these struggles and sharing them with other artists, decisionmakers, and more. 

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Power

Finding Balance with a Day Job

 As an actor, I was having trouble finding work, so I took the suggestion of a colleague to apply to be a tour guide, since I’m a huge state history buff. I was hired to became a tour guide on one of the boats and would walk off the boats with wads of cash. Then one day, I got the call for a big acting gig. I went to my employer and said, “I’m going to reject the offer if it will conflict with my day job.” But my employer said, “We love you so much. Go do the gig – your job will be here when you get back.” I felt like this was an example of taking responsibility for this stage of my life and finding balance and steady work that is still supportive of my artistic pursuits. Since then, I’ve continued to do the boats and the tours, and that stable income and flexibility have me time to write, produce, and act in two films. So, I think that’s a success story because it’s about asking not just “How can I look at all aspects of my life and protect the creative person?,” but also, “What are my values? What do I want in my life right now? And how do I adjust so I can set those priorities and be honest to them?”

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Practice

Did You Promote the Show?

A former student left a comment on my blog about an unsuccessful exhibition. Her exhibition had a nice opening, but the work wasn’t selling. I actually emailed her, “Tell me what you did to promote the show,” because I had learned over the years we can’t trust galleries to do that. And she emailed me back “Oh my god, I thought I had done more. I sent out one email and one social media post.”

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Communicating & Connecting

Knowing What a Life as an Artist Can Look Like

Artist Diane Scott shares her first-hand experience with the importance of showing artists real examples of what making a life as an artist can actually look like to inspire them to imagine their own futures.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Struggle Planning and Capacity

Waiting for that Lucky Break

What I see as a failure is an artist who hasn’t recognized red flags: you haven’t paid your rent for two or three months and you’re waiting for a lucky break. It’s more like an addiction or gambling, “I’m gonna get that lucky break” but meanwhile the ground is crumbling underneath you and there’s only so much that anyone else can do to offer crisis assistance, but at a certain point if the artist is working in isolation and not open to at least even trying something different, even just to stabilize him or herself, the resources won’t be enough and the artist may ultimately give up.

Rubric Spectrum Category
I am an Artist Artists Give Up Practice