Building your career as an artist
1. Free Art Supplies
Businesses are constantly throwing away materials that artists go out and buy. What do the bicycle repair shops do with the flat inner tubes? What do the dry cleaners do with the extra metal coat hangers? How about the fishing stores that replace the customers fly fishing lines every year? Call up businesses and ask if they would save them for you. They will most likely love you for recycling for them.
2. Play with Friends at Sculpture Gardens
My new favorite gallery is the New Leaf gallery in Sonoma. It has a sculpture garden where you are encouraged to touch and play. There are things to sit on, giant balls to toss and knit hills to jump on. My recommendation is on a hot day, with a couple friends, rent a convertible and go play at this gallery. It is a beautiful and inspiring place to visit.
3. Artist residencies
A residency is an artist colony hosted by an organization giving space and time to create. Some places have free room and board and others cost money. Check it out; they are all over the world. The retreat varies from two weeks to one year. You can look for residencies at Alliance of artist communities.
4. Amazing Resource
The Foundation Center has free classes and a library for finding grants. Some of the classes are on “how to write a proposal,” and “how to write a budget”. They also have a free database listing grants for individuals, making it much easier to locate grants you are eligible for. The staff is super helpful and knowledgeable.
5. Game Plan
I was unsure how to approach sculpting as a career, until I read “Taking the Leap” by Cay Lang. Cay relieved my fear, that if I am not an amazing sales person, I won’t succeed as a free-lancer. Her book is full of useful templates for staying organized and practical information for getting your name out there. It was an encouraging read and exciting to use her resource list.
6. Recycled art supplies
Do you like garage sale hunting or antique shopping? How about taking that same passion for the hunt and applying it to your art? Go out and search for art supplies at creative reuse stores. In Berkeley there is a warehouse called Urban Ore and in San Francisco there is Scrap. Sometimes discovering something so awesome forces you to think of a way you can use it in a sculpture. Scrap is also a good place to look for brand-new slide page protectors.
7. 1st Thursdays and Fridays
In San Francisco, most galleries have new exhibitions on the first Thursdays of the month. Oakland has the same thing on the 1st Friday called Art Murmur. Sometimes there is free wine. In the evening, tons of people attend, making it great for networking. This is also a great way to scope out potential galleries for your art.
8. Personal Web Page
There are lots of options setting up your own web site to show your art portfolio. You can pay someone to do it for you, or you can figure it out (even if you are not a computer wiz). Check out “Taking the Leap” for more elaborate options.
With the guidance of my Aunt, I used godaddy.com to buy the domain and hosting. Then she used Wordpress, which is a free program with templates, to design the site. To bring in more traffic link your Twitter, facebook and blog to your web page.
The standard for artists is to use your first and last name for your site, like elizabethsymington.com. You will have to get creative if your name is taken. I could have used symingtonsculpture.com. It describes my profession and yet doesn’t limit me to any specific material, so I can change in the future.
9. The Page that has it all...
For the best deals for slides and tips on creating your artist's packet check out this site: http://www.artinsight.org/ It has artist resources, portfolios, websites, templates and classes.
10. Great discounts at massage schools
If I hurt, it impedes on me focusing on my art. Having tension headaches, being stressed and achy doesn't help either. For me it is so difficult to take a break because I feel like I should be doing something more productive. I trick myself by making weekly appointments for a massage. I go to the National Holistic Institute. For a 50 minute massage it's $35. I always leave feeling relaxed and more focused.
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