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The fourth revised and expanded edition of this classic handbook puts to rest the myth of the starving artist. It examines the enormous impact the Internet has had on the art world and looks at the burgeoning field of artists' career consultants and arts administrators. A completely updated Appendix lists artists' colonies, grant sources, internships, and insurance and legal services available nationwide.
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Caroll Michels is a successful sculptor whose artwork has been exhibited in museums worldwide, and she has worked as a career coach on behalf of thousands of artists since 1978. She lives in Sarasota, Florida.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Introduction: An Overview In 1978 I began counseling visual and performing artists and writers on career management and development. I set up my own business and called myself an "artist`s consultant." Today, I refer to my profession as a "career coach and artist advocate," a job title that better describes the work that I do. Ranging in age from twenty-one to eighty-five, clients have included painters; sculptors; printmakers; fiber artists; poets; playwrights; novelists; cartoonists; journalists; photographers; craft artists; theater and film directors; film and video artists; performing artists; choreographers; dancers; classical, jazz, and pop musicians and composers; and opera singers. They have included well-known artists, unknown artists, beginning artists, self-taught artists, midlife career changers, artists fresh out of school, and college dropouts. My clients have also included groups of artists, artist couples, arts administrators, curators, gallery dealers, art consultants, critics, arts service organizations, and theater and dance companies. I have assisted a rabbi, a retired executive of Macy`s department store, a retired host of a television variety show, a gossip columnist, ex-offenders, corporate executives, physicians, surgeons, architects, psychiatrists, psychologists, lawyers, and editors. When I first began working with artists, the majority of my clients lived in the New York City area. However, today, through phone consultations I help artists nationwide, as well as those who live in Canada, Europe, Japan, and South America. I also meet with many artists in person in Sarasota, Florida. I have advised and assisted artists in developing such basic career tools as résumés, artist statements, biographies, and brochures. I have provided information and advice on exhibition, performance, and commission opportunities. I have advised and assisted in the preparation of exhibition proposals, book proposals, and grant proposals, and public relations campaigns. I have advised artists on how to negotiate with art dealers and to prepare for studio visits. I have also counseled artists on complex and seemingly less tangible career problems such as developing goals and helping artists learn to see themselves in relation to the world at large and as participants in the specific world of art and its various components. I have also counseled artists on handling rejection as well as success and on maintaining momentum and overcoming inertia. However, the most significant aspect of my work is helping artists to take control of their careers. Calling myself an artists` consultant and "hanging out a shingle" was not an easy task. For valid and comprehensible reasons, deeprooted skepticism was intrinsic to all arts communities. Initially, it was difficult to reach artists and convince them that what I had to say and offer was worthwhile. I jumped this major hurdle when a writer from the Village Voice wrote an article about me and why my services were needed and necessary. It was only one journalist`s opinion, but the endorsement was set in type, and I was deemed legitimate! Literally an hour after the Voice article hit the newsstands my life changed drastically. I was swamped with phone calls from artists eager to set up appointments. Nevertheless, after more than thirty years of counseling artists, I still find it is not uncommon to be questioned about why I am qualified to give artists advice. Some of my specific accomplishments are sprinkled throughout this book, cited to make or emphasize a point or convey an experience. Although I am no longer doing artwork, I have always been proud that I was able to live solely off my earnings as an artist. I exhibited at museums and cultural institutions throughout the United States and in Europe. I established a solid track record for winning grants and corporate contributions. I developed and implemented all of my own public relations and publicity. And I was regularly published in newspapers and periodicals. Managing my own career was something that no one person taught me. I learned from several individuals, positive and negative encounters, trial-and-error experiences, and personal intuition. My father was an artist and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He earned a living as a graphic designer for the U.S. government. Early in his career he also worked as a freelance political cartoonist. In the evenings and on weekends he would design all sorts of "products"—ranging from a line of greeting cards with rather offbeat messages to T-shirts and other paraphernalia with messages that espoused his political point of view. Although he was jubilant about each and every project and would go as far as having everything printed without a marketing plan, he "froze" when it came time to make business contacts and organize sales. Some of the cards and T-shirts were distributed free of charge to friends and relatives, but basically our basement became a huge repository for what might have been. When he retired, he started painting profusely. And although he read every word in each edition of my book, he never asked me for advice on how to get his watercolors beyond the walls of his house nor did I ever hear him mention that he submitted his work for exhibition consideration. Only in recent years did I finally make the connection between the work I do with artists and my family background—that I am helping artists achieve what my father was unable to do: enter the marketplace. This book contains information and advice derived from all of my experiences when I was working as an artist, as well as those of my clients, and most certainly some subliminal messages that I received from my childhood and adolescent years. I have offered perceptions, observations, and advice that would have been invaluable to me when I first started to make a career as an artist. What artists need most is objective advice, but what they usually receive is reinforcement of a myth of what it is like to be an artist. All too often artists are characterized as underdogs, and accordingly this image is reinforced throughout their careers. I can`t promise that all of my advice is objective, since my personal experiences come into play, but the original incentive to write this book came from realizing how much underdog philosophy was being published under the guise of "nuts and bolts" career management. Much of the reading material published in the 1970s and 1980s flatly stated that the way the art world operates will always remain the same, and it is naive to try to change it. Other publications were more subtle, but the tone was patronizing: "Yes, artists, you might be creative, talented, and have a lot to give to the world, but there are `others` who really know what is going on, others who know best." A book published in 1970 used the sexist title The Artist`s Guide to His Market. Although the title of subsequent editions was changed to The Artist`s Guide to the Art Market, the author advised that it would be unrealistic for artists to believe that they can earn a living through art sales.1 Although, in the 2000s, books on career management for artists are more plentiful and some publications emit tones that are more optimistic and empowering, the attitudes displayed by artists and many members of the art world continue to reek of the master/slave and victim/victimizer mentality. This book addresses artists` roles in advancing and bettering their lot, taking control of their careers, learning to market their work, learning
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