Making a Living is Like Making a Painting

Face Making: Making a living is like making a painting by Gwen Seemel

The above link will take you to a nice little blog post about the business of being an artist, something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about lately. We don’t live in a world where an artist gets gallery representation and calls it done. An artist, represented or not, must also be an entrepreneur–which involves all kinds of knowledge that a typical BFA education never goes near.

That does not mean that the skills one learns as an artist are not applicable to other situations. Creativity, personal drive, and passion count as much in the studio as out of it (maybe even a little more, being a somewhat scarcer quality, whatever people’s resumes say). The question is, how do you learn to market yourself as an artist without forgetting who you are? Marketing is about selling a product. While it might be convenient to package your creative output (and, by extension, yourself) as a product to fit into marketing techniques, it’s important to remember that you (and hopefully your art) are more than just a brand.

I’ve been perusing Gwen Seemel’s blog, Face Making, where she has written plenty about being in the business of making art. While she is a painter, much of what she says applies to printmaking too (…and then there’s publishing; but let’s not go there just now). Bonus: if you are a Francophile, her blog is bilingual.

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3 thoughts on “Making a Living is Like Making a Painting

  1. Hi Heather-
    found you on my edit page under related articles- (I was just writing about a similar topic)
    I spent a good ten years in full-time academia, having my work in galleries, and at the time didn’t realize that there were things I should be doing in addition to further my career. But I was also raising a child, so who the heck had the time anyway? So…. now, I’m having to make up for lost time in a way- in a way, marketing my own work, and all that entails. It feels good to have my hands in everything, but I wish I had more hands!

    1. Yes, I know what you mean, wishing you had more hands! It does all seem overwhelming at times. Then I take a deep breath, pick the one most important thing, and focus on that for a little while.

      Gwen Seemel has been blogging about the finer points of balancing work, marketing, and life for years. I’ve found her advice helpful, and her can-do attitude about it encouraging.

      I wish you the best in your endeavors! And, you know, if you ever figure out a magic formula to make it all work smoothly, I’d love to know.

      1. No magic formulas, and if there were, only in hindsight. Life was hardest when I was on tenure track, trying to keep the studio work going and raising a child, while my husband was also working full time. I’m going to keep track of you and see where you go! Good luck on the grant app. I’m trying a new big step and going after a large hospital project painting commission. (a ten foot wide piece! yikes)

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