What is a professional artist?

marketing and selling art by Misty Oliver-Foster

As I’m preparing for my upcoming workshops on marketing and selling art, I wanted to share this brief thought with you.

Often, our road to becoming a “professional” starts with a shift in our mindset about ourselves.  Then, that attitude is projected to others and reflected in our work.   We are professional as artists when we decide to be a professional.

It doesn’t matter if you make art “full time” or have a 9-5 office job and make art 10 hours a week.  You are the only one who can define who and what you are. There are a lot of “experts” in this matter (highly opinionated, often overly-educated, and undoubtedly creatively constipated), who will try to determine if you are truly good enough to call yourself a professional artist.  Don’t let anyone else define that for you.

“I believe that if it were left to artists to choose their own labels, most would choose none.”

  — Ben Shahn

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get over it.

antony micallef

Over the past few years, I’ve had the chance to get to know a lot of artists.  Some of the artists have a  degree in art, some have training in college, workshops or private instruction, and some are self-taught.  But one thing that is consistent with pretty much everyone I’ve met is that we’re all a bit insecure.  And we make a lot of excuses.

Some of the most common excuses I hear for would-be artists not participating in the ‘art world’ are  things like not having enough work, not having a studio that was ‘good enough,’ or, better yet, not feeling like they’re a ‘real’ artist.

Real artist?  What is a real artist?Graffiti Grandma

I read a quote yesterday that “The only thing that makes one an artist is making art.” (David Rakoff)  If that is true, then what is our excuse?  We should have the easiest job in the world, right?  I mean, does giving someone medicine make you a doctor?  Does filing our taxes make us a CPA?  Nope.  But if all we have to do is create something to be an artist, then what’s holding us back?


We are all to some degree afraid.  Afraid of rejection, of being criticized, of being compared.  Of making a complete fool of ourselves.  Of making people mad.  Afraid of letting the world in on our private thoughts and feelings and points of view.

But what’s the payoff for not making art?  Frustration.  Unhappiness.  Regret.

I view my journey as an artist as just that – a journey,  a process, an adventure.  I started out as a young woman with a dream, but had absolutely no idea how to make it happen.  I went to college, got a degree in art, worked in a bank, then worked in a school, but I still didn’t know how to be a ‘real’ artist.  I took one step at a time, and eventually started figuring a few things out.  I joined the local art league.  I learned (the hard way) that I need to put wire on the back of my painting before submitting it to a show.  Through volunteering, I eventually learned how to plan and execute an art show on my own.  I learned how to network.   I learned that I loved to show my work.  Showing my work made me a better teacher.  Showing my work made me a better artist.  Showing my work made me a happier person.

I got to travel a little bit, and realized that there are a lot of people showing their work all over the world.  Many were a lot better than me.  And, to be honest, there were some that weren’t.  Haven’t we all known an artist (or two, or three…) who seems to being doing great in the art world, but we really think that their work wasn’t all that great?  We know that we could do better than that.  We criticize and judge in our hearts, but deep down we’re really just jealous.  Jealous that he or she had more guts than us to go after something they wanted.

Being an artist doesn’t mean that you have to make art 24/7, or even every day.  It doesn’t mean that it has to be your full-time job.  (Thank goodness!)  It means simply that you make art.   Say the things you need to say in a language that only you can create.

We can’t control how others view it.  We can’t control if people buy it.  We can’t control if they understand it or even like it.  All we can do is make it.

Andy Warhol

“Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”  – Andy Warhol

My hope is that some of you that read this will use this as a catalyst to make art.  Get rid of your fear – at least enough to make more art and show it often.  And, hopefully, some of you will decide that this time next year, you will be a part of the studio tour.  And if a studio tour isn’t right for you, then find another goal, one that challenges you a little bit.   Write down your goals, and post it somewhere that you can see it every day.

What can you do this week that challenges you as an artist?  Sign up for a class?  Submit work into a show?  Simply set up your easel or work area and make something?

“To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong.” – Joseph Chilton Pearce


Artists: Be Your Own DIY Network

Originally posted on  www.smokemirrorsart.com, reposted from www.makebigart.com.

Three Reasons Artists Need to be More DIY

(do it yourself)

Jeb Matulich

Art by Jeb Matulich

1) DIY means Community

When artists work together they can create amazing events, exhibitions, and opportunities to promote their work. When my friend and fellow artist dreamed up the idea for opening our own gallery and producing our own events, we knew we would need help—so we turned to our other artist friends for help.

Other artists aren’t your competition. They are your greatest allies. Doing it yourself, doesn’t mean going it alone.

Working alone in your studio can be a lonely task. When you finally come up for air you’ll need the support of people who understand exactly why you do what you do. Every artist can benefit from being part of a network of friends and colleagues that truly understands the obstacles and concerns that other artists face.

Your network, your group of creative peers, are your greatest resource for finding and getting the information and support you need. Artists thrive in communities. Being a part of a community of artists means having a built in support system.

Barbara J. Mason

Art by Barbara J. Mason

 2) DIY means More Money

Let’s do what I like to call “art math”. Let’s say you have a gallery exhibition of 30 artworks, each priced at $3000. The gallery does a great job of marketing and selling the work for you and the show is a smash hit! In fact you sell every artwork in the exhibition. That means $90,000 in sales. YAY!

But wait. Subtract the gallery’s 50% fee they earned for working their butts off to sell your work. That leaves you with $45,000. Oh but wait. Subtract another 15% for taxes. And another 20% for expenses. That leaves you with around $30,000. And then remember that you only have a solo exhibition once every 3 years in that gallery, so divide that by 3. That leaves you $10,000 a year to live on until your next solo exhibition. Congratulations!

Clearly you need to have other avenues of income if you’re going to survive. You can’t rely on one gallery, or even 3 for that matter, to bring in all of your income. If you really want a fatter bank account, you’ll have to do a pretty big share of the heavy lifting yourself–Especially in the beginning of your career.

A. Eilene Carver

Art by A. Eilene Carver

 3) DIY means Freedom and Opportunity

If you’re the one at the reigns of your career, that means you have complete control over what you make, how often you make it and when and where to show it. Isn’t that the goal?

Sure, it’s great when you find a gallery to sell your new work. But what if you aren’t working with a gallery? Or what if the gallery’s jam-packed exhibition schedule doesn’t have room for your work until 2014? Or worse yet, what if after waiting 2 years for your first solo exhibition, the gallery goes out of business a month before your exhibition is set to open?

Becoming more DIY means embracing the many new avenues that are available to exhibit and promote your art rather than relying one possibility.

Ultimately, when artists embrace the DIY mentality, it means they stop waiting to be “discovered”. It means that instead of waiting for opportunities, they go out and create opportunities for themselves.

Link to original post:  http://www.makebigart.com/2011/07/three-reasons-artists-need-to-be-more-diy/

** Note from artseen:  We’re planning on the 2nd annual artseen studio tour this October, so start getting your studios ready, artists!  Last year we had a great turnout, with many art sales.  This is an easy way to DIY!

Selling Your Art Online

Here’s a great post from ArtGroupsDFW, forwarded to me by artist Barbara J. Mason— lots of great info for artists!  The original link is: http://artgroupsdfw.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=684

Selling Your Art Online: a Guide to Artist Websites, Online Galleries and Stores, and Auction Sites

The Internet offers a wonderful opportunity to sell your art! Here are some ideas for you to use. Please note that inclusion of a website does not imply an endorsement since this list is intended as examples of possibilities and is certainly not complete. Many sites are free or a free version with limited features is available. Some ability to edit images of your work is usually needed – for help on that see the last section.

This guide is divided into five sections:

1. Artist websites (blogs, photo galleries, and personal websites)
2. Online art galleries (collective)
3. Online stores
4. Auction and classified ad sites
5. Helpful guides and resources

Artist websites (blogs, photo galleries, and personal websites)

The most famous artist blog is the “Painting a Day” concept site by Duane Keiser. An example of a local artist is the Nancy Standlee Art Blog. Blogs are easy to use — they’re much like composing an email message. Digital photos and images are loaded easily. You can set up an email subscriber service so that interested parties receive your latest posting automatically. They provide RSS coding, which can be used by RSS reader sites, such as Google Reader. Some can coordinate with your Twitter or Facebook accounts. Some examples of free blogs:
Blogspot http://blogspot.com
LiveJournal http://livejournal.com
TypePad http://www.typepad.com/
WordPress http://wordpress.com
Tumblr https://www.tumblr.com/

Photo Galleries
An informal artist gallery can be constructed by using an online photo site. Editing of images is not required but, of course, they would look better if you do. Many of these sites actually have online photo editing tools. Negotiating payment with a buyer can be tricky. Payment may be arranged by email or phone; PayPal is a useful resource for this. Caveat: Some sites may permit the public to download your images or have photos developed. Some free sites:
Flikr http://flikr.com
PhotoBucket – Photobucket will link to eBay or blogs http://photobucket.com
Qoop http://www.qoop.com
Shuterfly http://shutterfly.com
Snapfish http://snapfish.com

Personal websites
There are many free sites where you can build your own gallery — your own telecommunications host may offer you one. If you don’t know how to do web design, look for a site that offers templates or website creation software. To find a local webmaster, check out the websites of other local artists. If you wish to sell art directly off your website, you can employ several payment methods: PayPal, credit cards, cashier’s checks and communication by phone or email. Many web hosting services offer free templates, as well as fee-based graphic services, shopping carts, and credit purchasing support.

There is much advice about the design of artist websites  — just keep it simple, readable and professional. Don’t go overboard with personal details or your artist statement. If working with galleries, pricing is a sensitive issue for them so you may not want to display prices.

Keep in mind that unless you are well-known, personal websites usually receive miniscule amounts of purchasing traffic in comparison to online collective galleries, stores or auction sties. The problem with a group site is a different one – that of standing out amidst the crowd. To find free sites go to http://www.free-webhosts.com/, which is directory list of 300+ free web hosting providers.

Online art galleries (collective)

Absolute Arts – free or premiere membership for 15,000+ artists. http://absolutearts.com

CritiqueMyArt – a free place where artists post their art and their news and other artists and art lovers respond. Very much like a community Blog. http:CritiqueMyArt.com

Dallas Arts Revue Member Pages – A gallery created by webmaster J R Compton. $100 for the first year and  six images on their Member Page, and $75 each additional year, with one additional image per year.  http://dallasartsrevue.com

EBSQ – Self Representing Artists – Includes artist directory and portfolios. Combines an online arts community atmosphere with easy-to-use tools to do DIY marketing and allow you to link to where you sell your art: eBay.com (has auction posting tools), etsy.com, Imagekind.com, Facebook, Twitter or your personal Blog or website.  $89/yr. http:// www.ebsqart.com/

FASO: Fine Art Studio Online – Free basic website and tiered prices. http://faso.com

Fine Art America – Free basic account or premium account. http://fineartamerica.com

LicensArt.com – provides free space for artist portfolios to showcase their work to companies interested in licensing art for commercial use. http://licensart.com/

Online stores

CafePress – You can add your artwork or designs to 250+ products such as t-shirts, calendars, etc. Free basic account and premium options. http://cafepress.com

Art Menu – Sell limited edition reproduction works of art on canvas or paper. Limited to 20 quality local painters and photographers. Dallas-based. http://www.theartmenu.com/

DeviantART – Largest art gallery and community in the world – As a member, you can collect favorites, submit art, and track your friends and favorite artists. Free and choice membership levels. Offers a wide variety of merchandise you design including photo prints, canvas prints, calendars, puzzles, mousepads, mugs, coasters, postcards and magnets. Membership $30/yr; Premium Prints Subscription Accounts $24.95/yr. http://deviantart.com

Etsy – Sell your art or handcrafted items or almost anything! Sign up – free, your own shop – free, listing an item – 20 cents, selling – 3.5% fee. All listings include up to 5 images and stay up for 4 months. Seller chooses what payment methods used; Etsy recommend PayPal, as it facilitates instant payment and offers anti-fraud protection. http://etsy.com
EtsyDallas, a local group that you can join, coordinates local publicity and sales events in Dallas. http://etsydallas.com

Imagekind – Create and sell art prints with your own framed designs – all with no upfront costs. Get a free online gallery and promote your art on your website or in our marketplace. Imagekind handles all product creation, credit card processing, shipping, and customer service! Markup your art, and keep 100% of the profit; earn 15% commission on frames, mats and glazing; nothing to buy, stock, or ship. Note: Limited no. of images free; more capacity with monthly ($8-12) or yearly fees ($95). http://imagekind.com

Lulu – Self-publishing site — create books and printed merchandise and sell them. Products include art portfolios, photo books, posters, calendars and art prints as well as other kinds of publications. Lulu produces each item when ordered, and handles all payment transactions and filling of orders. Markup the base price by the amount you wish to earn for each product you sell. Free accounts. http://lulu.com

RedBubble – RedBubble is an art community and online art gallery that makes it easy to sell your art, photos, designs and illustrations as high-quality framed prints, mounted prints, canvas prints, greeting cards, posters, designer T-Shirts and more. RedBubble produces each product when ordered, and handles all payment transactions and filling of orders. Markup the base price by the amount you wish to earn for each product you sell. Free accounts. http://redbubble.com

Auction and classified ad sites

Art by Us – Free to list, but optional features cost. http://www.artbyus.com/

eBay – The largest online auction site and also the largest art auction site – over a million postings of art and crafts items at any one time. Famous artists and lower-priced art are the best sellers. Typical bidding and Buy It Now format. Online store fronts also available. Special art categories. Helpful marketing tools and fraud deterrants. PayPal recommended. Fees for posting (based on initial selling price), selling (based on a percentage of the final sale price), hosting of images and listing upgrades. http://ebay.com

Craig’s List – Free classified ad service. Dallas – Fort Worth is one of the specific areas served. Ads can include up to four images; run 45 days; and are limited to one ad placed every 48 hours. Category to list in: For Sale: Arts+Crafts. Other art-related categories: Community: Artists; Jobs: Art/Media/Design; Services: Creative. Free accounts. A great resource for marketing locally. http://dallas.craigslist.org

Helpful guides and resources

Allworth Press  – 300+ books to help creative professionals in the arts succeed http://allworth.com

“Selling Art Without Galleries: Toward Making a Living From Your Art” by Daniel Grant, published by Allworth Press, Nov. 2006. This comprehensive guide takes you beyond the walls of ultra-competitive commercial galleries. Learn how to exhibit and sell your work in a host of nontraditional venues, including online, through open studio events, on cruise ships, and in hospitals, restaurants, and art fairs. http://allworth.com

 ArtBizCoach and Art Biz Blog: Art marketing secrets, research and motivation by Alyson B. Stanfield http://artbizcoach.com and http://www.artbizblog.com Check out Helpful Sites and Services for Your Art Business & Career; Web Sites, Blogs, and Technology for Artists. Both website and blog offer free email newsletters or you can follow by Twitter.

Art Print Issues: a business blog for visual artists by Barney Davey. http://barneydavey.blogs.com/

eBay: Art Selling Guide. http://pages.ebay.com/buy/guides/art-selling-guide/ (there are 1000+ user-created guides on buying and selling art on eBay – go to http://reviews.ebay.com/ and click on the category Art.)

How to Best Sell Art Online. By Barney Davey on the eHow.com site. http://www.ehow.com/how_4695109_best-sell-art-online.html

Selling Art Online: Information on Where (and How) to Sell Art on the Internet http://emptyeasel.com/selling-art-online/ Note: The Empty Easel site is dedicated to the business of art – sign up for the free email newsletter.

PayPal – online payment system for auctions and websites. The service allows anyone to pay in any way they prefer, including through credit cards, bank accounts, buyer credit or account balances, without sharing financial information. http://paypal.com

Fotoflexor – free online photo editing site http://fotoflexer.com/

Picnik – another excellent free online photo editing site http://picnik.com

Web Photo Resizer – free online photo editing site http://www.webresizer.com/

About.com: Graphics Software – Tips, tutorials and information on graphics software. http://graphicssoft.about.com/

Photographing your artwork: Angie Vangalis gives you tips on shooting your artwork with a digital camera. http://artgroupsdfw.com/nucleus/index.php?itemid=754

How to Photograph Art by J R Compton. http://www.dallasartsrevue.com/resources/How-to-Photo-Art.shtml

Best of luck to all of you artists out there!

“Water” at thegallery8680

august 5th– september 11th

Cypress Creek by Misty Oliver Foster


We may be having a drought right now, but there is no shortage of water at thegallery8680.

“Water,”  thegallery8680’s newest show, opens this Friday night.  The exhibit, curated by gallery director Robyn Parker Feehan, features dozens of diverse works of art, displaying each artist’s interpretation of water.

Previous shows have been selected by invitation only, but this is thegallery8680’s first show that included an open call for artists.  The gallery received submissions from all over North Texas, and is featuring several artists who are new to showing in Frisco.

Feehan even used her connections with artists in other parts of the world to secure a series of paintings from Australian artist Lavinia Hobbs, which feature the lifestyle of Madagascar. 


Smile at Night by Lavinia Hobbs


When explaining her interest for the theme of water, Feehan explains, “Water is our life source, our most precious resource.  We use it for recreation and survival.”

 Paintings, drawings, photography, prints and mixed media works all explore the many uses and visions of water around the world.


Wily the Whale by Renee Brown

 Take time to cool off and join the party Friday night, with artwork set to the backdrop of the sultry Caribbean sound of Tania Cordobes.

The Opening Reception is this Friday, August 5th 2011 from 7:00pm – 9:00pm at thegallery8680, 8680 Main Street, Frisco 75034.  The show continues through September 11.  For more information, contact Robyn at the information below.

 robyn parker feehan

creative director
p 214-585-8175

b http://thegallery8680.blogspot.com/


help for the artist

Here are some great resources to get you motivated to make and sell your art, to get over your hang-ups, and to inspire you.

Julia Cameron's "The Artist's Way"

Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”

“The Artist’ Way:  A Spiritual Path to Recovery,” by Julia Cameron — a course in discovering and recovering your creative self.    This is a MUST for any artist who struggles to hear their own voice, deals with doubts and insecurities, and needs to get past themselves to get to a more creative career.  An excerpt from page 7:

  • Stop telling yourself, “It’s too late.”
  • Stop waiting until you make enough money to do something you’d really love.
  • Stop telling yourself, “It’s just my ego” whenever you yearn for a more creative life.
  • Stop telling yourself that dreams don’t matter, that they are only dreams and that you should be more sensible.
  • Stop fearing that your family and friends would think you’re crazy.
  • Stop telling yourself that creativity is a luxury and that you should be grateful for what you’ve got.

"Starving" to Successful by Jason Horejs

“Starving” to Successful: The Fine Artist’s Guide to Getting into Galleries and Selling More Art” by J. Jason Horejs

This little book is about $20, but is priceless for helping you get your work on track, get your portfolio together and get your work in front of art dealers. Very practical and easy to read.

Available at http://www.xanadugallery.com/ArtistSvcs/index.asp.

The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week

“The Artist in the Office: How to Creatively Survive and Thrive Seven Days a Week” by Summer Pierre. 

This is a really fun book, full of ideas to keep you going thru the week, especially if you’re working a 9-5 to support your art habit.  It’s not an excuse to avoid work, but it may make your workweek a little more palatable.   It’s got some fun ideas for everyone.

Available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon.   Click the images to access more info.

let’s get the ball rolling

Things are changing around here.   For the innocent bystander, you might not notice anything yet.   Daily life looks the same on the surface.   But if you’re an artist in 75034, then you’ve started to feel the rumble of something exciting.  A buzz is in the air.  People are starting to talk.  And the rest of our town had better hold on.

So far this year, we’ve seen two large art shows, with very well-attended receptions.  The Visual Arts Guild of Frisco had a blowout attendance at their member show at the Discovery Center last month.  They’ve seen a huge increase in membership in the past year, and the talent of the group is truly unmatched in North Texas.  

VAGF Member Show

VAGF Member Show February 2011

 Thegallery8680 is a fairly new gallery space on Main Street that is featuring  local artists, as well as bringing in artists from all over Texas.  Director Robyn Parker Feehan has a vision to help advance both emerging and established artists, and so far her shows have been very successful.  There was even an art festival downtown earlier this month, and despite the cold weather, some of our artists had good sales.   Not so bad for the first few months of the year.



thegallery8680 February 2011

Our town may be known right now for it’s good schools, nice neighborhoods, sports venues and shopping.  But you just wait.  Something exciting is brewing.  If you’re an artist, this is the time to catch the train.  If you’re not, then it’s time to pay attention to the art ‘seen’ around you.  You don’t want to miss this.