Stefan Simchowitz Interview - Patron Saint or Satan?

Stefan Simchowitz is collector and a very smart guy who is also quite controversial. Jerry Saltz and the New York Times as well as other critics, galleries and writers, dislike him. He also has an equal amount of dedicated admirers. What he talks about sounds good for artists, but you decide, here is the interview, and below is also a link to the New York Times article that featured an image of him getting dressed with his wife and staff in his home, calling him a Patron Satan.

My interview can be heard by clicking here (it is not on yale radio or publicly released yet)

The article in the New York Times can be read by clicking the image below.

A Resource for the Determined November 29th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

How uncomfortable does it make you to ask?

Some call it Chutzpa, Nerve, Guts, Audacity, or more recently, "getting out of your comfort zone" but it all amounts to the same thing in the arts, which is the ability to ask for something. In my books I outline my own stories, and the stories of others who have asked for everything from funding to museum shows and got them because of all of the above adjectives.

At any stage in an artists career, there is a time when having the nerve to ask for something is rewarded hansomely. From Damien Hirst bringing paintings directly to auction or artists selling on the street to asking a better gallery for representation. The difficult part in all this is the "ask" itself. That is, the moment when you ask for something that is probably more than you think you deserve.

I am no psychologist, but among artists there are different thresholds for what they feel they can ask for.

I once read a book (Twilight I believe) by Elie Weisel, the holocaust survivor, and at the end, he quotes a mentor as saying, "The most generous thing you can do is to receive everything." At the time that was mystifying to me.

But later I understood it to mean that is it generous of an individual to receive a gift wholeheartedly. For example, those that you give presents to that say some form of "you shouldn't have" or say they feel guilty that they haven't bought you a present in return - are examples of not being able to receive. Conversely, if you give someone a present and they go crazy with joy and keep thanking you and then open the present with great enthusiasm, I imagine you will want to give that person a present again, because their unbridled enthusiam was a gift to you.

Perhaps that is what Elie Weisel was talking about, but on a grander scale. And as an artist, if you are going to get a better gallery, or sell more work at higher prices, you need to have the nerve to ask for it. And part of having that nerve is realizing that it is a generous thing you are doing, to ask for more and receive it, it is a generous act.

So as this holiday season approaches, and you hesitate to ask for that big grant, or that bigger gallery, or sending out those fundraising letters, perhaps think about the ceiling you are creating for yourself and consider exploading that ceiling with the simple gesture of asking for more. Yes it takes guts, it takes audacity, but if you are prepared to receive that, it will be the greatest gift you can give yourself as well as the person you are asking.

Happy holidays (in the largest sense of the word)





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A Resource for the Determined November 15th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

On Selling Art - Whether you are Represented or not...

Some artists are represented, and some artists are not, but both sets of artists can also find alternate ways of selling their art from the studio or otherwise, regardless of their connections to a gallery.

One example I wrote about in a past newsletter was the subscription idea that Jorge Pardo used and is a way of getting paid directly by collectors before the work is even made.

Another example of a high-end sale that circumvented a gallery was Damien Hirst bringing his work directly to auction.

I have written street sales, which can also net a large income.

There is also studio sales and inviting collectors by regularly - one of the most effective means.

And there is selling online, all of which I have written about, but takes a certain kind of personality to market that, like Abbey Ryan who sold well over a 100,000 on ebay regularly.

Today I want to talk about selling your art by creating secondary products from it.

Artists from Murakami to Banksy have sold their images on products that make a supplemental income for them. They don't have to be solely commercial either, and it does not diminish their "brand" in any way, or make sales of their original art less attractive.

Here are a few examples of artist that have made an income from work that is derivative of their practice.

One artist survived and thrived by making cast-iron book ends that she sold in boutiques in New York City and elsewhere, which provided her with a consistent income that helped to fund all her art activities and her expenses in general, including raising children. Because a foundry was casting the work, she had little to do except design and make connections at stores that she kept filing the inventory of.

Another artist matted and shrink-wrapped drawings that were sold inexpensively, at multiple stores and boutiques everywhere, resulting in an extra income. You can do this under your own name or another name, but it is one way to build an serious supplemental income.

Another artist I know made an income from approaching design companies like Umbra and Anthropologie, and asked them if they were interested in selling her paintings on ceramic cups. They were interested. All she had to do was provide the designs and they manufactured and distributed them so that she just had to deposit checks.

Ther are many more ways to have a side business that can quickly become a large income that does not detract from sales of your work, and is born from original artwork of yours.

Just think about it for now, no reason to rush into anything. But there may be a method you can employ, a creative one, that will allow you to sell more work and create a supplemental income without having to do much extra work.



P.S. Feel free to suggest topics or ask me to expand on previous ones.



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A Resource for the Determined November 8th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Getting "Discovered" can be a long wait, but this is a success story...

The idea of being "discovered" is a fantasy all artists entertain, and sometimes it does indeed happen. I am sharing a story about one artist who was "discovered" or more accurately, rediscovered at the age of 81.

I think this is an important idea to address, because in this case, like several others, that discovery took almost 50 years, and most of us cannot wait that long. He was also showing in between, but not selling much or getting much attention.

In the next newsletter I will talk about methods for being dicovered and ways to be more visible, but first, read what happened to Sam Gilliam, written by Jim Lewis, which sheds light on one aspect of the art world.

The rediscovery of an artist is always endearing. It seems to happen every couple of years: An older painter with a sterling record, who has nonetheless escaped notice for a few decades, is suddenly taken up again. The work looks great, the artist is rescued from oblivion, and everyone is bracingly reminded of how fragile and mutable our sense of history can be. It happened in the late ’90s to Bridget Riley; it happened a few years ago to Lee Bontecou. It’s happening now to Sam Gilliam, who is 81 years old and living, as he has for more than 50 years, in Washington, D.C.; and no one is more cheered by the rediscovery than he is.

On a recent visit to his studio, a renovated gas station in the largely residential Petworth neighborhood, he comes to the door clad in standard issue artist black—a tall, slender man who moves as elegantly as a dancer. We sit, and Gilliam speaks softly, gently, thoughtfully, and with muted but evident emotion.

He was born in Tupelo, Mississippi, one of eight children, and grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. To hear him tell it, he had an idyllic childhood, marked by just the right amounts of doting and benign neglect. The classic narrative of an artist’s life depicts a selfish man devoted to boozing and painting, a disappointed wife at home, and surly and estranged children. Gilliam’s is quite the opposite. In the early ’60s, his wife got a job as a city reporter at The Washington Post; he followed her to D.C. And while the marriage eventually ended, he stayed in town to be close to his three daughters and kept his studio hours strictly 9 to 5. “There’s an adjustment between being the father and being the artist,” he says. He smiles softly. “Anyway, ‘Dad’ is the sweetest word I’ve ever heard.”

Hanging in the studio are a dozen or so paintings, fashioned in the manner known as Color Field, a style that involves pouring layers of acrylic paint onto unprimed canvases and letting it soak in. The result is an unruffled surface that conveys a striking combination of flatness and depth. Like a lot of artists, what Gilliam loves to talk about most is process: how the work is made, the properties of various materials, and the way the materials respond to handling. I ask him a banal and somewhat goofy question—What’s your favorite color?—and he answers with the sort of delight that most people bring to a list of their favorite movies, or songs. “Purple,” he says. “The purples, the blues. Purple colors have a depth. It’s just a romantic color. It’s royal. I used to never use greens; I used to be a great yellow person.” These things matter when the word “color” is in the very name of your triumph.

Gilliam is considered a third-generation Color Field artist (a “generation” in this kind of art history lasts perhaps four or five years), and he came to it obliquely, drawn in by his friend the late painter Tom Downing, who threw down a gauntlet. “I was painting figures,” Gilliam says. “I had a show of figural painting—sort of California school, Diebenkorn—and Tom Downing asked if I was afraid of art. He said, ‘Why not paint real paintings?’ ” He laughs. Gilliam was 28; had he, in fact, been afraid of art? He laughs again. “I’d always been afraid of art. I was afraid in college. But that fear is a goal, in a way: It makes you hesitate, and then you delay your start, and then you have a breakthrough.”

Gilliam started painting stripes—sharp, bright, and dynamic, in saturated colors, playing off Downing’s abstractions, and earlier paintings by Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland—and inspired, above all, by music. “Before painting, there was jazz,” he tells me. “I mean cool jazz. Coltrane. Ornette Coleman, the Ayler brothers, Miles Davis. It’s something that was important to my work, it was a constant. You listened while you were painting. It made you think that being young wasn’t so bad. All the young painters were into jazz.”

There are fewer solid firsts in art history than you might think—even within modernism, which made a fetish of innovation. One of the first artists to be known for pouring paint, rather than applying it only with a brush, was Joan Miró. From there, the technique leads to Jackson Pollock, and then HelenFrankenthaler, and then Louis. Gilliam has a first of his own, a breakthrough at least as important, if lesser-known—it came in 1967, a few years after the stripe paintings, and the way he describes it, it was almost an accident. He’d been experimenting with folding and creasing his canvases before he stained them, creating furrows and channels where the pigment would become particularly concentrated; he took the paintings off the stretcher and laid them on the floor, turning them into something more like tarpaulins, which he worked from all four sides, creating a rosy, translucent effect, much like Chinese screens. “We used to talk about Coltrane,” he said in a 1984 interview with the Smithsonian Institution. “That Coltrane worked the whole sheet; he didn’t bother to stop at bars and notes and clefs and various things, he just played the whole sheet at once.” Gilliam was playing the whole canvas.

In 1967, his old friend and mentor Walter Hopps—one of the great curators of last century—became the director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C., and offered Gilliam a show in the rotunda. “He said, ‘I’m going to give you an opportunity,’ ” Gilliam recalls. “You’ll take the upper floor of the atrium, the space is 30′ by 60′, and you’ll paint. And these little paintings that you’re making won’t fit.’ ”

In anticipation of the Corcoran show, Gilliam was in his studio working on a large painting called Niagara. As he was putting it on the wall, one side became dislodged, and the canvas fell to the floor. “I just thought, This is something,” he says. He began deliberately draping the canvases, creating fluid, semi-sculptural objects out of two-dimensional paintings. It was the first time anyone had taken a painting off the wall and transformed the cloth into folds and swaths and wraps, and they circumvented a whole series of formal painterly concerns: the frame, the shape, the wall. What’smore, as powerful as the Drape paintings were, treating the canvas as malleable cloth rather than pristine surface was a nod to dress-making and window treatments, which undermined the machismo associated with painting in general, and Abstract Expressionism, in particular. For that—for all of that and more—Gilliam earned a place in art history.

This was a period of considerable recognition for Gilliam—he was included in the American Pavilion at the 1972 Venice Biennale and had a major installation of Drape paintings at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art the following year. But then, as the ’80s and ’90s arrived, with their hyperactive, theoretical, media-saturated art scene, Gilliam went into eclipse. Though his work redoubled in density and complexity, the world’s attention didn’t follow. There was a retrospective at the Corcoran in 2005, and then nothing. In part, that’s the natural cycle of history: Ways of working come and go. In part, too, it was because Gilliam had veered away from the Color Field painting thathad brought him to prominence, reversing its emphasis on flatness by making his work almost architectural. He’d been looking into origami and string games, like Cat’s Cradle, for inspiration—these were heresies. Painting in the 1960s was meant to be a terminal affair, the moment when the entire history of painting absorbed all its own verities: image, surface, brushstroke. As his current dealer, David Kordansky, puts it, “Color Field painting, as brilliant and amazing as it was, to some extent was kind of endgame painting. Where Gilliam is very different is that for him, it was just the beginning. He was looking for new ways to experiment and push painting forward.” The style couldn’t hold him—he would put down a body of work and then circle back years later and resume it. That made him hard to track, hard to categorize. And so did his reluctance to treat his race as significant to his art. “It’s not,” he tells me. “It’s important to me as a man, but to the work, no.”

There followed years in the wilderness—regular shows in a loyal D.C. gallery but little public recognition. And there were personal struggles: Gilliam suffers from bipolar disorder, a fact he speaks of openly. He spent decades on Lithium, which damaged his kidneys and eventually left him in a depression so severe that for three years he scarcely left the house; he’s been off the drug only a few months when we meet. But even as he was working his way through the darkest times, things were starting to happen for him. He was included in group shows, in museums, and, in 2012, at Gladstone Gallery. Around that time, Kordansky, a longtime admirer of Gilliam’s work, flew to D.C. to meet him. He immediately asked for a show; the artist wept at the offer (Kordansky says he came close to doing the same).

His first solo exhibition took place at Kordansky’s gallery in Los Angeles in 2013, a selection of early, Hard-Edge paintings curated by gallery-mate Rashid Johnson. “The interest,” Kordanksy says, has been “kind of mind-blowing.” In the past year, both the Museum of Modern Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have acquired Gilliams—in the first instance, a spectacular, tripartite Drape painting from 1969; in the second, a bright multicolored bevel-edge painting from 1970. Several major private collections have also bought pieces. At the same time, Color Field is making its own comeback, with shows in New York of work by Louis and Frankenthaler, Jules Olitski, and Kenneth Noland, all in this year alone.

As for Gilliam, this is his moment, and one can’t help but enjoy it with him. His work is pure, a relatively rare thing in this day and age, but more than that, he’s a gentleman (though I’m sure he’s quite capable of being irascible), and his happiness seems hard-won. This is what we want artists to be: ambitious but not vulgar about it, original but not gratuitously so, confident but not immodest, and, above all, in love with their medium. This is what we want to hear: that sooner or later, the prophet gets the honor he deserves.

Click here to see more of his work.





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Raising Money for Projects / Using Your Mailing List

No matter where you are in your career, if you are represented by a gallery or not represented, using your mailing list to generate extra income is a possibility worth exploring.

When I interviewed the artist Jorge Pardo, he told me about how he rasies money with his mailing list, even though he probably doesn't need more, since he has representation and plenty of income. However, his method could be used by you with a different interpretation.

Jorge Pardo and his Subscription service

I interviewed Pardo several months ago, and recently saw another artist I was working with use the same method with success, so if you are familiar with this idea, it might be the time to try your own version of it.

This was his idea to work outside of his galleries and directly with people who wanted his work.

He decided to make a subscription service to sell work, which is something any artist could consider. He said he likes getting things in the mail that are surprises and assumes other people do as well. I know it is true for me, I subscribe to three clubs myself, I get a vinyl record every month that is a surprise, and wine every other month that is a surprise (based on my taste), and also a small natural foods box every other month with interesting new snacks in them. Here is how an art subscription works.

He begins by deciding he will send out six sculptures (small lamps) three times a year or every four months. Then he decides on a price, and in his case it was $6,000 dollars, which is actually a good price for three of his works.

He sent that out to his mailing list and got 30 subscriptions - much more than he thought he would! That's $180,000!

The next year he sent out the letter again and got more than double that, about 70 subscriptions. That was a nice extra bit of income for him.

This is a model you could adapt to your own work. You could have a series of prints that go out by subscription, or small sculptures or anything else. It is something to meditate on and think about.

If you have any ideas, I would love to hear about them.



Plagiarism in the Art World

One of the fears of every artist is that their work will be ripped-off in some way. Either directly (stealing photos or images and resusing them) or indirectly, by being "inspired" by a work of art, that happens to be yours.

I interviewed Michael Robecchi, an Italian writer for numerous art magazines and also the author of a recent book, From Mona Lisa to Marge, which is about how certain images get worked into the public sphere so much that copying begins to happen on an almost subconscious level. You can hear that interview below, but that is only part of the plagarism issue. Robecchi is talking about artists that lived hundreds of years ago in most cases, but whose images keep reappearing. One example is the famous image from Michelangelos Sistine Chapel where the hand of God is just touching Adams hand in the Creation. That image has been reproduced in phone ads to the poster of E.T. in the Spielberg film.

Artists ripping-off Artists

But the kind of plagarism you might be thinking about is having your work ripped-off or worse, the ideas in your work being used and not getting credit for it. Marina Abramovic was famously furious with a fashion designer for using her performances as material for his images. She said he blatently ripped-off her ideas and used them in photographs. But oddly, Abramovic also copies other artists work, and because of her fame, no matter how much an artist may have worked on a theme, if Marina steals it - it overwhelms that artists previous work. For example, Regina Frank (who I interviewed) has been exhibiting her installations under the title “The Artist is Present” internationally since 1989 in windows, museums and public spaces (25 years). I interviewed her awhile ago and though she had come to terms with it (what else can she do) it was still a bitter memory that Marina knew her work, and was actually a friend of hers, and suddenly began using the term "The Artist is Present" and because she is so well known, and that was the name of her big show at MoMA, you can't type those words into the internet now and find Regina anymore. Her ideas were not just stolen, they became lost in the shadow of a famous artist. Regina has tried to transform that into other work because she has no choice. But do you remember Marina in a giant dress in the Guggenheim? That was also Reginas idea. Here is Regina's page about being ripped off, and she handles it with as much grace as possible.

But recently, Marina has been accused of stealing another artist work at a very high-profile gallery in London. Many are coming to the defense of the artist Mary Ellen Caroll because of a new show that steals her ideas. More on that here. This kind of plagarism is perhaps the most upseting type for artists, because you have to argue with another artist, and if they are famous, you will lose in most cases. I also know Marina well, I interviewed her in 2004 and she also interviewed me about the show I was in at The Whitney Museum where my wife and I gave out hugs. Last year she did a performance called. "The Embrace" which many artists asked me about, but what can I do, the hug is not mine to own, but it was nevertheless upsetting.

More recently, (last week) James Turrell was upset that a rapper who he knew and who admired his work also took liberties in a video that created Turrell-like environments. An image from that video is here, and more on Turrell and Drake here.

In the next newsletter I will talk about other types of plagarism you can avoid, but for now, this is one to just be careful of, and if you have to respond, as James Turrell did, do it through a press release and a lawyer.

If you are interested in the interview with Regina Frank, you can hear it by clicking here.



Interview with artist Sue Carlson

There has been a lot of reaction to the new video I made about Artists as Shamans, but the inspiration for it all was in part from an interview I recently did with Sue Carlson. She is an artist, a painter, and also plays classical music and teaches music. She lives in Brooklyn, and for me, this was a very interesting and inspiring interview.

One of her images is below and the interview is here - > Click here to hear the interview. Or use the link below.

She also mentions a Swedish church in NYC, right in mid-town that is a wonderful place to have lunch, and also has small exhibits of artist work, I had never heard of it and I went after this interview. It is a strangely quiet place in NYC, and has a small library and a cafe. If you are interested, this is the address - Church of Sweden, NY, 5 East 48th St (very close to Grand Central.)



P.S. More on Sue is here on her website.

More on the Shamanic Nature of Artists

This week I am sharing a video I made two days ago about the idea of artist as Shamans, or at least message - givers, gift givers, visionaries, etc.

I am writing more about this now and also creating courses, so this new way of thinking for me, is perhaps a way to help artists embrace even larger ideas and destinies. But only you can tell me if it rings true for you, so I am interested to hear what you think.

I feel this could be a powerful way to reimagine the role of artist and remove many overly complicated issues that currently exist.

There are two ways of seeing the video - click here for a direct link to youtube -

Or you can see it an comment on Facebook as well -


A Resource for the Determined September 26th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Artist as Shaman - a new way to see the art/money relationship?

The process of interviewing people often sheds light on ways of thinking from different angles. In the past week I interviewed some really interesting people that made me look at the issue of art practice and its relation to money from a different angle.

It started during an interview with Sue Carlson, which you can hear below if you like. She was talking to me about the idea of modernism and post-moderism. She felt that there was no such thing as "post-modernism" because there was no cultural revolution, or social revolution at that time.

Modernism, she felt, is what every artist is doing today and for the last 100 years or so. It is simply "artist - as - shaman" or "artist as someone with a message" or "art as spiritual practice" all are about "the artist with something to share" that is somehow meant to change the world, the way people see and understand.

Do you relate to that? Do you see yourself in a category that is a combination of those things? You probably do. It's what separates the "paint by number" artists, literally, from the rest of the artists out there. This idea would include all artists from conceptual artists, to painters and sculptors.

The reason I mention this is because it can change the way you look at money and its importance in relation to your art.

If we take for granted that we (artists) perceive ourselves as Shamans, then what does a Shaman do to make money, and how much does a Shaman need?

That answer is clear, and it changes everything.

The way a Shaman traditionally makes money is that he or she creates a following, and finds a way to generate cash through donations and various business ideas from books and art to other objects. The Shaman can be rich or poor or somewhere in between but it does not effect the work that the Shaman must do -- it is about the work of course, not the money, just like making art. It is a spiritual practice, a practice that is in service to the world, like art.

The Shaman doesn't lose credibility or his/her soul for making lots of money. On the contrary, it allows them to spread their vision far and wide, to be in service to as many people as possible.

Artists have the same goals.

So depending on how you read what I am saying here, this model might create a shift in thinking about the role of money in art, and the purpose of sales. It is not about being liked, or needing love and attention - as is always said about artists - it is about sharing a message with the world that you know is important. Therefore, give that message its very best chance, since it is in service to the world and your responsibility is to save the world, in a manner of speaking.

Do you agree?

To listen to the interview with Carol which just touches on this issue,click here or use ths link-


Enjoy :)





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A Resource for the Determined September 20th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Artist who made a weekly, hard-to-understand newsletter

This is an interview with the artist Carol Szymanski, a visual artist and also an artists that uses words, poems, music and performance. She is married to the art critic Barry Schwabsky who I interviewed last year.

She created a newsletter she called cockshut dummy and began sending it to me unsolicited about a year ago. I started getting these odd letters - every week - that all said they were coming from cockshutdummy, and had a cryptic message of some kind. She sent 990 of these letters - WEEKLY, sometimes daily.

Imagine what you would write that would not irritate people every single week? Well, I did not know her, and her letters did get my attention, and I would even share them with other artists sometimes to illustrate how a newsletter could be like a work of art as opposed to a narrative, because in the end, they caught my attention!

She sent her bulk letters in small blocks in the bcc category of her email, (to about 400) so it came in like a regular email, because she was not using any software to send it (like what I am using to send this).

Her interview is here (just click) but take a look at samples of her newsletters below, it is food for thought and a great out-of-the-box way to reach people and get attention for your art and the way you think. The images she included were snap shots, not neccessarily her art.

Here are two samples of her daily letter;

Letter 990 - Subject - cockshut dummy 990. Temple

“But the true voyagers are only those who leave

Just to be leaving; hearts light, like balloons,

They never turn aside from their fatality

And without knowing why they always say: "Let's go!

this splendid misery


In a world, it creates a word after its own image

Letter 988. Subject head was - cockshut dummy 988. Ritual

Ok I got her in to this and now I need to get her out or back in in a better way.

The way in was through an orange. That can be hopeful and full of promise. But what is the way back?

Drawing the math


Proper marks

No signs yet of erasure.

Page turns and what is that sound?

A vague clapping with tides between it or/and the wind blowing through

mark, mark,

mark, mark mark

long drawn, full stop

oh an erasure and a second one , mark mark, MARK, mark mark, page turned.

Writing occurs,

Perhaps an explanation or definitions

Silence of fingers moving in space

The rabbi gets passed along through mostly image, the one who kills animals without pain.

To listen to her interview, click here or use ths link -


A Resource for the Determined September 13th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

What You Need to Know & Do to Prepare for The End!

This may sound grim, but here's the question - what happens to your art in the event you die suddenly in the near future, or even in the very distant future? Most artists dont have any kind of plan at all, especially if they have not been selling regularly. It is not about ego necessarily, or the idea of leaving a "legacy," it is about having your affairs in order so it is easier for others to deal with, because an art estate that is uncatalogged is notoriously a family nightmare to deal with.

Therefore, this is for those who survive you, to make it easier on them, and also to honor those that have bought and cared about your in your lifetime. Here is a synopsis to help you begin the process, or at least understand what is entailed. You can take your time with this process, but I believe it is very important to begin it.

Estate Planning

It is important to know how you want others to handle your estate and the artwork that you will leave behind. Organizing the work and the information about the work will ensure that it is not lost or destroyed. Some organizations work with older artists to help them with estate planning. Consider hiring a young artist or student to help you enter art data into a computer, and scan older slides and photos. Contact local service organizations to see if they have a service near you.


Creating a good estate and financial plan is an excellent way to start. Your financial security and the preservation of your assets for future generations should be in place by the time you reach 50 years of age, but you can start at anytime.

Do you have a will? If not, make one. Work with a lawyer on your will who can help you with everythng below, it will not be expensive to do.

Is your will up-to-date or less than five years old? It is important to keep your documents up-to-date because important decisions and the people involved in your estate can and do change.

Are there any changes in your life that would change the circumstances of your will?

Do you know your financial status and the debts/surpluses you would leave behind?

Keep a list of where all of your important financial information and documents are stored, and give a copy to someone you trust.


Document and inventory all of your work and enter it into your Artwork Inventory. This includes art at home, in your studio, storage areas, galleries, and on display at outside locations. Include all artwork you have ever made, as well as work owned by collectors, so it will be easy to find your work in the future in case you will ever have a retrospective.

Artists often amass a collection of artwork by other artists, friends, and colleagues. You should treat this collection with the same professionalism as your own work. Archive this work, maintain accurate records, and have a plan in place for this work should something happen to you at a later date.

Organize all information related to your art and your career as an artist, including notes, show reviews, photographs, invoices, personal journals, and correspondences from artists, friends, dealers, and collectors.





Assign a power of attorney. In the unlikely event that you are incapacitated and unable to make decisions regarding your estate, you need to assign a power of attorney. Select the person you can trust to make decisions both medically and professionally in your proxy. Many people prepare for when they pass away but do not plan for situations where they need someone to be a voice during a trying medical issue.

Make sure the executor knows where things are stored, and how to find complete contact information for your dealers, representatives, and agents. It is crucial to explain to the executor how to work with these people. If you have not found someone with art business experience to represent or handle your art, now is a good time to start looking.

Make sure your executor, heirs, dealers, agents, and representatives understand what you want to do with your art (without trying to micro manage). Never assume that people automatically know what to do. Put your preferences in writing.

Give all concerned parties opportunities to ask questions, offer opinions, and make suggestions regarding the future of your art and your legacy as an artist.

Leave clear instructions on how your art is to be divided among family members, institutions, galleries, and other relevant parties. Make sure that everyone understands what they are going to get and, if necessary, why they are getting it.


And thats all, because the main thing is that you get started. If you can't afford a lawyer to help you make a will for a fixed price, you can do it online, but try to find a lawyer, because it makes it all much easier to deal with.


Enjoy :)





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A Resource for the Determined August 23rd, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

The Guggenheim Grant. Repeat, Wash, Rinse - Reminder.

The Guggenheim grant is one that many artists have to repeatedly apply for before they get it, if they ever do.

I think it is a great grant to apply for, because it does not cost anything to apply, and it's not that hard to apply, and if you win, it is something in the neighborhood of 40,000 dollars that you will receive. If you dont win, once you apply for it, it is easy to do again and again with slight changes each year.

Even if you're just thinking about it, download the application by going to the Guggenheim site and clicking here to see how to get free login credentials and begin reading it over.

Start by working on the Narrative Statement, which is just a prose account of your resume, with a bit of feeling added. You can start it with where you were born or college, and then trace the path of your interest in art and how things changed and where you had shows. It is an expanded version of a CV that is readable.

This newsletter serves as your reminder to begin the process, because it is due on the 18th of September.

You have time, but not a lot of time, about three weeks. For now, download that application, read it over, and either start the narrative, or wait until next week, and in the next newsletter I will give more detailed instuctions on other aspects of the application.

Enjoy :)




A Resource for the Determined August 9th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Summer Interview - Director / Founder of Rare Gallery.

Peter Surace founded RARE Gallery to help shape, nurture, and promote the careers of emerging visual artists who had not yet widely exhibited. After 17 years, his mission remains constant.

In this interview I did with him last week, he talks about working with artists and how he runs his gallery. The interview link is at the bottom, along with an index of all the interviews I have done thus far.

But first, here is what he looks for in artists, criteria he established. Peter seeks out artists whose work meets the following criteria:

(1) The work must be directly connected to the artists’ life experiences, particularly in terms of their most formative years;

(2) the processes and materials utilized must be atypical, unusual, or unique, and not for the sake of mere virtuosity, but rather for the purpose of amplifying content;

(3) the artists’ craftsmanship must be evident in the work and part of its visual appeal – in other words, the creators’ hand must be present. Slick work will not pass Peter’s litmus test; and

(4) the final result must be sincere in its intentions – sincerity takes precedence over irony and art about art, at least for him.

Are you that type of artist? Even if you aren't, he gives us insight into how he establishes his own aesthetics and parameters.

Listen to the interview by clicking here to see the play button and also images.

Or use this link below;

Enjoy :)




The Artist Vacation / Vacation Thoughts

Christo and the late Jeanne-Claude used to say that they never took vacations. "Why would we take vacations? We love what we do!" was Jeanne-Claude's unusual reply. If pressed to explain, she would say that vacations were for people with jobs they didn't like, and that when you are an artist, you like your job, so vacations are meaningless.

I'm sure you have felt this - on some vacation in the past, you were wishing you were in your studio or doing something else.

I think this idea is something all artists manage in a way that is different from the general public. An example is how artists view "the weekend" of every week. Is it a time to party and do as little as possible - or is it a time to catch up in the studio if possible? Many artists do both, party and work. But it comes down to how you define a weekend.

It is different for all artists. There is the common notion or confusion about what leisure time means, and I think it is appropriate to contemplate that now; in the middle of the summer when most people are on vacation.

My rule for myself is that I work on all the things I need to during the week, and on weekends, especially Sunday, I remain unplugged from email and make attempts to do something for pleasure only, that is outside, like walking or seeing a show or doing volunteer work. Ideally with my family.

For me, taking the weekend off makes all the difference, even if I do send some emails Saturday morning on some weeks, I usually wrap that up by noon on Saturday. In that day and a half I also do not make any kind of art. It is a time of total leisure that feels like a reward to me. I only drink wine on Saturday nights as well, and that feels like it is a special day.

We all design our time as we want to for the most case, or at least we get to design our weekends which are in effect mini-vacations.

On this day, my proposal is that you rethink your leisure time and make a small adjustment to see if it feels more productive and satisfying - or less.

I wish you a very happy weekend or vacation or both.

On this weekend I am going to the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY, to see an artist who hade made an emoji version of Hieronymus Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights. I think I will enjoy that :)

If you want to see that artist's work in an interview I did with her, check this post where you can see her eye-popping gifs and moving images. Click here to see that.

Have a good day :)




A Resource for the Determined July 26th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

The Education of Collectors

You would think that art collectors are people who simply know what they like when they see it and buy it. In fact, that is rarely the case. Education must come first.

Some of the best collectors pay art consultants to build their collections and they spend many hours looking at art with these consultants to not only understand the art, but to understand why they should buy it. It may seem counter-intuitive, but collecting art, just like being a philanthropist - must be taught or by default people tend to do neither.

When the conversation between potential collector and art consultant increases in length, the collector should be getting educated about the process of building a collection and finding what is truly important to them.

The collector should have knowledge about the artist, as well as history, to understand the context they are buying in. An education in what it mean to like something, is also essential and not intuitive for most collectors - they must learn this.

It's not that hard to teach; when a collector is in your studio, especially if they are being silent and not speaking up, ask them to point to the work that is their favorite. That may seem like you are putting them on the spot, but you're not, or at least it is not too painful, because to get out of that spot they only have to point, and you can remind them that there is no wrong answer. After they point to something, walk over to that with them and begin talking to them about it. Now you are talking to the person about art they selceted for an intuitive reason, and you can explain to them why their intution is working well by explining why that work of art is special and how it was made.

That would be the beginning of an education in art appreciation that is sorely needed for the millions of potential collectors out there, which is anyone with the money to collect!

After that part of the initial conversation, where you are both looking at a work of art, the conversation can either deepen or stop there. When art consultants talk to their clients, they try to deepen the conversation by getting to know the collectors interests and the type of personality they have. Just like children, we all learn differently and are attracted to different things that must be tailored to meet us or we may not learn what we want to or need to.

So in your next conversation with a family member, a friend, or a collector in your studio that is new to collecting, ask them which is their favorite and give them a small selelction. Then tell them why it is special and get them to talk, and make them feel good about their intutive impulse. If you practice this you will be doing the world an educational service, and you will also sell more work.

Here are interviews I did with different art consultants that sell work to collectors. Some are very powerful like Todd Levin who buys art for movie stars, and others operate on different economic levels of the collecting world.

If you want to share, please reply to this email to tell me any of your storieswith talking to collectors and what worked and what didnt work.

Start with this interview of a great gallerist who explains how she talks to collectors about buying from diverse areas.

Here are several interviews with private advisory / art consutants.

Have a good day :)





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Jack Early and Art World Black Listing

This interview is one of the most interesting one I have done, partially because Jack Early has endured the nightmare that many artists worry about but few ever have to experience. He was part of a collaborative with his boyfriend at the time, Rob Pruit, and rose to fame in New York city where he was represented by the Leo Castelli gallery. Then his career ended. In 1992 he and Rob Pruit created a show at Castelli gallery about Black power and the rise of African-American imagery in modern media. The show was denounced as racist and they were literally ostracisized from the art world. Previous friends like Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, John Waters and many many more, just stopped calling them. The backlash was so intense and so stressful for both artists, that their relationship could not survive it and they broke up under the weight of it all.

Jack went from a highly succesful artist to retreating from art making alltogether and going back to house painting for a living. As he was working for the next 20 years on painting houses, he said songs began to come into his head, and though he was not a musician and could not read music, he started making music by directing musicians. He even had some success with his songs.

Then the Tate Modern restaged his show that was controversial and re-examined why it was considered so, and made the case that the show was misunderstood. Jack Early began making visual art again, and before long he was featured as one of the 10 best artists at Miami Basel and his career was revived with new shows.

In the interview that I am giving a link to below, I start with his song that he wrote, which is really a story (20 minutes) and then he talks about how things turned around. There is also a link to the Tate Modern show as well as one of the damning reviews from the New York Times at the time of his show.

I share this with you because I think it is a sad but triuphant story, and the way he makes music is inspiring as well as the way he makes paintings. I hope you enjoy this.

Here is the interview - Interview with Jack Early

Here is one of the damning reviews that was part of what destroyed his career.

Here is a review of the Tate Modern Restaging of the show -

An here is the interview with his song at the beginning.


A Resource for the Determined July 5th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Interview with Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Los Angeles.

This is a good interview for Independence Day not because of anything patriotic, but because this curator is powerful and influential on her own terms. It is also significant because an artist that I work with asked me if she could do this interview. Of course I said yes, but this is her 4th interview and besides the fact that she is getting better at it, she is also meeting the chief curator of MOCA! After doing an interview like this, besides getting all your questions answered, you have literally made a new friend that is in a powerful position.

So if you are interested in doing an interview anytime in the future, take a listen to this one, to see if you could do something like this for yourself, on your own blog, or possibly Yale radio. Of course the other reason to listen to this is because this is a great curator providing the information that one artist asked for very directly.

Read more about Helen Molesworth below, and you can listen to the interview by clicking right here or using the link below.

Helen Molesworth is the Chief Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles. From 2010-2014 she was the Barbara Lee Chief Curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston, where she assembled one person exhibitions of artists Steve Locke, Catherine Opie, Josiah McElheny, and Amy Sillman, and group exhibitions such as Dance/Draw and This Will Have Been: Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s.

As head of the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Harvard Art Museum, she presented an exhibition of photographs by Moyra Davey and ACT UP NY: Activism, Art, and the AIDS Crisis 1987-1993. From 2002 to 2007 she was the Chief Curator of Exhibitions at the Wexner Center for the Arts where she organized the first US retrospectives of Louise Lawler and Luc Tuymans, as well asPart Object Part Sculpture, which examined the influence of Marcel Duchamp’s erotic objects. While Curator of Contemporary Art at The Baltimore Museum of Art from 2000-2002, she arranged Work Ethic, which traced the problem of artistic labor in post-1960s art.

She is the author of numerous catalogue essays and her writing has appeared in publications such as Artforum, Art Journal, Documents, and October. The recipient of the 2011 Bard Center for Curatorial Studies Award for Curatorial Excellence, she is currently at work on an exhibition on Black Mountain College and a monographic survey of the work of Kerry James Marshall.

A Resource for the Determined June 28th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Selling Your Work / That Next Dealer?

The issue of selling work, your artwork, is always on the table so to speak, it is always in the room, always a posibility. There are essentailly to ways that happens. Either you sell it yourself through your studio, or a gallery or dealer sells it for you.

Some artists are very good at selling through their studios, but most are not, or dont have the time, so a dealer, or rather, multiple dealers are needed to sell the work.

The million dollar question always seems to be how to meet that dealer, or get introduced to that dealer. But there is a flaw in that thinking, because meeting someone is not hard, it is what you will do and say after you meet them that counts, and no introduction can do that for you. Ideally, it would be nice if the artwork "sold itself" to the dealer without words - the dealer simply meets you, sees the work and the deal is done. Fortunately or unfortunately, since we all like to work with people we know and trust, we need more than our art, more than an introduction, we need some form of charm that is of our own making.

Another way to look at this is from the perspective of David Ogilvy, owner of the giant New York advertisting agency.

When someone would come to him asking for help selling their product, and said they could not sell it on their own, he would say "How can I sell your product if you can't even sell it to me?"

If you compare this to the artist meeting a top gallerist, the part of the follow-up, the relationship to the dealer, the conversation after you are introduced and you show them work - that is the time to not just sell yourself to the dealer in terms of being a trustworthy person as well a an interesting artist, it is the time to talk about art.

That is how you meet your next dealer, your next gallerist who might make more sales for you.

It is not an easy task, but the steps are clear - talk about who you are, or ask them questions, but your own innate sense of charm should emerge the more you relax andtalk, and that will be the element that helps to build trust and teach the gallerist or dealer the importance of selling your work.

Try it!





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A Resource for the Determined June 21st, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Allard van Hoorn, artist without a home, only a suitcase.

There are many types of artists in this world, and in the visual arts alone, there are many ways to build a life - gallery artists, online artists, project-based artists, patron supported artists, etc. Then there are the new ways you can invent - to be an artist.

(more below the image)

Historically, artists have always done this. They have defined what an artist is and what art is, and the role they play in its production. Artists have consistently re-defined what an artist is and does. Today I want to give you a recent interview with an artist who has carved his own path. He is a true nomad, has no home, lives out of his suitcase, and has museum shows and residency opportunites all the time. I think he is a wonderful example of how you can do almost anything in terms of a career in the art world. He started late in life as well. I think you will find this interview inspiring and it may make you want to travel!

Its just 20 minutes, and gets very interesting just a few minutes in, so enjoy and dream of your own wild ideas!

To listen to the interview, click right here or use the link below.





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A Resource for the Determined June 14th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Simone Battisi, director at Barbara Gladstone Gallery in NYC

This is a recent interview with someone who is a major player in the world of selling art, and was more down to earth then he looks in this photo below!

What I like about this interview is his comments on what he looks for in an artists work, in their studio - it's a one word answer that might surprise you, so I will leave it a suprise and let you enjoy this interview this week.

If you have suggestions for more interviews, feel free to reply to this and tell me.

Click here to listen to my interview or copy and paste the link below.

Below is SImone Battisi and a brief biograhy, and the link to the interview is above this sentence.

Simone Battisti was born in Rome, Italy in 1982. He began his academic career studying philosophy of language and cinema before eventually studying art history.

At the meantime he was also writing texts and articles for artists catalogs and for the Italian newspaper La repubblica. He moved to Paris in 2004 where he worked at the Centre Pompidou. Following his time in Paris, Simone moved to New York to work with Stefania Bortolami at Bortolami gallery where he spent 5 years working closely with artists. He joined the team at Gladstone Gallery as a gallery director in 2012.

--------- end --------


A Resource for the Determined June 7th, 2015 The Newsletter for the Professional Artist

Bad Street Fair vs. Avant Garde

Fairs are rapidly growing, an easy place to DIY.

The Art Fair network has grown tremendously in size in the last decade.

The Armory is one of the most well known. In 1994 it started in as the Gramercy International Art Fair, and was held in the rooms of the Gramercy Hotel in New York City by four art dealers: Colin De Land, Pat Hearn, Matthew Marks and Paul Morris.

As the fair grew, it needed more space and in 1999 the show was renamed “The Armory Show” when it was first held at the 69th Regiment Armory, which was also the site of the Armory Show of 1913.Now the Armory show is a huge event, and other fairs have popped up all around it for the week it is open. In 2014 the event attracted crowds of up to 90,000 and more and sales of up to 85 million.

What does an artist do at or with an art fair?

In general, art fairs like The Armory Show are meant for dealers to work directly with clients and also to see their peers in the business. It was initially not a place to shop for the public, only for serious collectors. Now you have many options as an artist in 2015 and beyond.

1. You can work with a gallery that takes work to an art fair and sells the work for you. Some galleries go to art fairs and others do not, so just ask. Since the “booths” or spaces at an art fair are usually very expensive to rent, unless a gallery is confident they will sell, it is often a big expense for a small gallery.

2. Your other option is to work directly with some of the other sattelite fairs that exist all around The Armory and Art Basel which are now world wide in their scheduling. Every time there is a big Art Fair going on, there is ten or more small ones happening at the sme time to cash in on the audience that is coming in for the big fair. Your other option is to find visibility during the art fair week without traditional methods.

One idea would be to rent a booth yourself at new fairs like Fountain, or propose a curated booth with a few friends to one of the other fairs like Pulse or The Affordable Art Fair. A space can cost three thousand and up, so if you are splitting one with a friend(s) that helps.

The main consideration if you are renting a booth yourself or sharing one and paying, is this - someone needs to be a sales person and actually sell the work. In other words, the work won’t sell itself, literally. Someone (either you or a friend) has to be outgoing and make new connections with potential buyers. to talk people into buying something, etc. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is a required skill. At all the big fairs, the dealers are at their booths and they are doing essentially that - they are selling to new and old collectors and talking about art. The ones who are best at talking have the biggest galleries. Showing your work yourself at a fair is like that - be prepared to sell yourself by talking to people as much as possible.

If that does not appeal to you, then you need to find a gallery that will take your work to a fair in the hopes of selling. The only other option is to do some kind of event or perfomance or pop-up space during an art fair week.

(continued below)

Pop-up Art fair satellite

3. The third option is to make your own darn art fair! That’s right. At the same time that the other big fairs are going on, you could potentially rent a space with friends in an unused retail/commercial location and yes, start your own version of an art fair. You would benefit from the traffic that all the other fairs generate, and it could also be fun. However, unless you are creating this temporary event for publicity only, there will also have to be a salesperson there to actually close deals if you want that to happen.

You will see versions of this idea around art fairs, from open studios, to artists taking over a store front or garage space. Some artists with their own pop-up spaces, like the dealers at the fairs, make many sales in that one week.

Interview with a legend of an artist.

One of my favorite interviews - wisdom distilled.

Maybe it's just me, but this is one of my favorite interviews and I've done hundreds of them now. Dottie is 77 years old, was a founder of A.I.R - a womens collective and is an uncompromising artist represented by PPOW Gallery in NYC. Please listen to how she talks about making work that is consistently disturbing. The interview can be listened to by clicking the link below, but scroll down a bit as well to read more about her and see a few more images.

You can listen to the interview by clicking right here.

Or by using this link -

Dotty Attie (born 1938, Pennsauken, New Jersey) is an American painter and printmaker. She has been exhibiting in museums and galleries worldwide since the 1960s. Attie's work in the 1960s received some attention, but gained far more recognition after her involvement in A.I.R. Gallery. In 1972, she was one of the co-founders of A.I.R., a non-profit cooperative gallery and one of the first to exclusively feature the work of women artists. As an early artist-member, Attie helped the group to choose a gallery space and recruit members. Attie had her first solo show at the gallery in 1972. Shortly after, she felt the freedom to rediscover her early passion for drawing. Later, she was an integral part of the gallery’s establishment of an international presence, and helped to secure shows in Paris, Israel, and Japan.

While still a member of A.I.R., Attie began to solidify her personal style, which remained fairly consistent throughout her career; she typically deconstructed existing images -- such as Old Master paintings and early 20th Century black-and-white photographs -- and her works often included text to create a narrative. Therefore, some of her works contain small pictures that were copied from other, sometimes famous, works by Caravaggio,Gustave Courbet, Thomas Eakins, and Ingres. Some of these pictures have been taken from the backgrounds of earlier works, bringing new perspectives to features which may have been formerly overshadowed. This produces a quality of differing scale, paired with short segments of text, which creates a cinematic quality throughout. The text and pictures are related, but do not contribute to a clear narrative, allowing the viewer to fill in the blanks left by the artist. Furthermore, her multi-panel paintings explore the depictions of the body in the history of art and critique the gender bias in the art world. Because Attie, at times, has meticulously repainted well-known works but presented them in fragments or with other modifications, her work has addressed the concepts of originality and reproduction.

Attie's work is often characterized by her identification with feminism. She has explained, that feminism "means no barriers between what a woman chooses to do, and what is acceptable by societal and familial standards." These ideals are present in her work, which often contains manipulated images of women that accentuate their vulnerability, often featuring lewd acts of a sexual nature.

Her most recent exhibitions have been at the P.P.O.W. Gallery in New York City. What Would Mother Say (2009) featured children engaging in actions which, while innocent, may be construed by adults as provocative or shameful; each work is accompanied by two panels of text. More recently, The Lone Ranger (2013) served as a follow up to What Would Mother Say and included a photo of a boy kissing a horse. According to Attie, that little boy grew up to be the Lone Ranger. Attie expresses that “All of my (her) work is about our hidden selves, the part of us we don’t want to share with others”, and this was her inspiration for “The Lone Ranger”. The overarching idea of the show is that "If a little boy does something, he will grow up to be a hero. But the little girls, doing the same thing, they all become whores." Attie expresses that “All of my (her) work is about our hidden selves, the part of us we don’t want to share with others”, and this was her inspiration for “The Lone Ranger”. In 2013 she was working on a series of painting called the “Worst Case Scenarios” which is discussed in this interview.

Attie's paintings are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and many others. In addition to numerous honors in the art world, such as her induction into the National Academy in 2013, Attie has the unusual distinction of having a punk rock band named after her; the female-led indie quartet Dottie Attie, based in Portland, Oregon, formed in 2013. Attie has been photographed wearing the band's t-shirts.

See more of her work on the website of her gallery, PPOW.

Looking forward to hearing any thoughts on this interview.





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The Other Art World

An Interview with Steven Rand, founder of Apexart.

This is a recent interview with Steven Rand, an artist and founder of apexart, a non-profit center for the arts in New York City. You can submit a curatorial proposal to apexart, meaning an idea of a show that contins at least three artists.

He talks in a frank and refreshing way about how he feels artists should engage or not engage the "market." Rand’s countercultural streak is filtered through a shrewd, enterprising worldliness. He argues that market pressures limit the pool of talent available to the art world and pigeonhole the type of work that gets produced. “Networking in business is important, but networking in a creative field doesn’t get you the most creative person, it gets you the best networker,” says Rand in his calm, measured voice. He doesn’t begrudge professional artists who, by definition, require a certain amount of financial success to feed themselves. Instead, he tailors apex’s programs differently, to focus on ideas rather than marketable personalities.

Apex receives its submissions “open-call,” using an online script to anonymize proposals before sending them to more than a hundred jurists, including many art experts, who then read a selection and rank their favorites. To better navigate apex’s hundreds of submissions and to encourage curators to refine their ideas, proposals are limited to 500 words. “By the end the winners basically pop-out,” says Rand. A “Franchise Program” mirrors the process to produce shows outside of New York, this year in Detroit, Beirut, and Dar es Salaam. In both cases, the result is a wildly varied set of curatorial projects that occasionally position surgeons, musicians, writers, and trained curators at the helm.

Learn more about Rand - here is the interview, just click here.

Survival Thoughts (studio poster included!)

How One Teacher (Irwin Greenberg) Wrote a Manifesto for Artists.

Irwin Greenberg circulated this primer to the Art Students League of New York classes he taught. He died, age 87, in 2009. It is reprinted below, but as I did more research on him, I found this. He was teaching at the Art Students League in NYC since 1955, and here is his introduction to this list. While he considered himself "old-school" his dedication and skill sets were contemporary. There is a pdf of his manifesto, and if you want to print it out, just click here- four page file for printing.

From Irwin Greenberg-

The list that follows was an effort to crystallize some of the things I’ve learned in over thirty years of teaching. It makes up a kind of horse wisdom about painting, practical advice rather than fancy aesthetics. This “survival kit” has proved useful to generations of young painters as well as its author. There is an awful lot of blather about art, not at all helpful to students. I hope these aphorisms are something of an antidote.

Several people have felt confused by number ten. By “drink a glass of water” I mean, “avoid running to the refrigerator every hour or so.” As I reread the list, I remembered the source of many of the ideas. So, here’s a “thank you” to Ben Franklin, Frederick Douglass, Robert Henri, Howard Pyle, Abraham Ginsburg, Ernest Hemingway, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn.”

-Irwin Greenberg

Here is his hand-out, it is list of 100 sentences and makes for great refrigerator or studio wall material! Print in out if you likeusing this link.

Irwin Greenberg's Handout to Students

1. Paint every day.

2. Paint until you feel physical strain. Take a break and then paint some more.

3. Suggest.

4. When at an impasse, look at the work of masters.

5. Buy the best materials you can afford.

6. Let your enthusiasm show.

7. Find a way to support yourself.

8. Be your own toughest critic.

9. Develop a sense of humor about yourself.

10. Develop the habit of work. Start early every day. When you take a break, don’t eat. Instead, drink a glass of water.

11. Don’t settle for yourself at a mediocre level.

12. Don’t allow yourself to be crushed by failure. Rembrandt had failures. Success grows from failure.

13. Be a brother (or sister) to all struggling artists.

14. Keep it simple.

15. Know your art equipment and take care of it.

16. Have a set of materials ready wherever you go.

17. Always be on time for work, class, and appointments.

18. Meet deadlines. Be better than your word.

19. Find a mate who is really a mate.

20. Don’t be envious of anyone who is more talented than you. Be the best you can be.

21. Prizes are nice, but the real competition is with yesterday’s performance.

22. Give yourself room to fail and fight like hell to achieve.

23. Go to sleep thinking about what you’re going to do first thing tomorrow.

24. Analyze the work of great painters. Study how they emphasize and subordinate.

25. Find out the fewest material things you need to live.

26. Remember: Michelangelo was once a helpless baby. Great works are the result of heroic struggle.

27. There are no worthwhile tricks in art; find the answer.

28. Throw yourself into each painting heart and soul.

29. Commit yourself to a life in art.

30. No struggle, no progress.

31. Do rather than don’t.

32. Don’t say “I haven’t the time.” You have as much time everyday as the great masters.

33. Read. Be conversant with the great ideas.

34. No matter what you do for a living, nurture your art.

35. Ask. Be hungry to learn.

36. You are always the student in a one-person art school. You are also the teacher of that class.

37. Find the artists who are on your wavelength and constantly increase that list.

38. Take pride in your work.

39. Take pride in yourself.

40. No one is a better authority on your feelings than you are.

41. When painting, always keep in mind what your picture is about.

42. Be organized.

43. When you’re in trouble, study the lives of those who’ve done great things.

44. “Poor me” is no help at all.

45. Look for what you can learn from the great painters, not what’s wrong with them.

46. Look. Really look.

47. Overcome errors in observing by exaggerating the opposite.

48. Critics are painters who flunked out.

49. Stay away from put-down artists.

50. If you’re at a loss for what to do next, do a self-portrait.

51. Never say “I can’t.” It closes the door to potential development.

52. Be ingenious. Howard Pyle got his start in illustration by illustrating his own stories.

53. All doors open to a hard push.

54. If art is hard, it’s because you’re struggling to go beyond what you know you can do.

55. Draw everywhere and all the time. An artist is a sketchbook with a person attached.

56. There is art in any endeavor done well.

57. If you’ve been able to put a personal response into your work, others will feel it and they will be your audience.

58. Money is O.K., but it isn’t what life is about.

59. Spend less than you earn.

60. Be modest; be self-critical, but aim for the highest.

61. Don’t hoard your knowledge, share it.

62. Try things against your grain to find out just what your grain really is.

63. Inspiration doesn’t come when you are idle. It comes when you have steeped yourself in work.

64. Habit is more powerful than will. If you get in the habit of painting every day, nothing will keep you from painting.

65. There are three ways to learn art: Study life, people, and nature. Study the great painters. Paint.

66. Remember, Rembrandt wasn’t perfect. He had to fight mediocrity.

67. Don’t call yourself an artist. Let others name you that. “Artist” is a title of great weight.

68. Be humble; learn from everybody.

69. Paintings that you work hardest at are the ones you learn the most from, and are often your favorites.

70. Read values relatively. Find the lightest light and compare all other light values to it. Do the same with the darks.

71. Grit and guts are the magic ingredients to your success.

72. Let your picture welcome the viewer.

73. Add new painters to your list of favorites all the time.

74. Study artists who are dealing with the same problems that you’re trying to solve.

75. Have a positive mindset when showing your work to galleries.

76. Don’t look for gimmicks to give your work style. You might be stuck with them for life. Or, worse yet, you might have to change your “style” every few years.

77. If what you have to say is from your deepest feelings, you’ll find an audience that responds.

78. Try to end a day’s work on a picture knowing how to proceed the next day.

79. Don’t envy others’ success. Be generous-spirited and congratulate whole-heartedly.

80. Your own standards have to be higher and more scrupulous than those of critics.

81. Howard Pyle said, “Throw your heart into a picture and jump in after it.”

82. Vermeer found a life’s work in the corner of a room.

83. Rembrandt was always clear about what is most important in a picture.

84. If, after study, the work of an artist remains obscure, the fault may not be yours.

85. Critics don’t matter. Who cares about Michelangelo’s critics?

86. Structure your day so you have time for painting, reading, exercising and resting.

87. Aim high, beyond your capacity.

88. Try not to finish too fast.

89. Take the theory of the “last inch” that holds as you approach the end of a painting, you must gather all your resources for the finish.

90. Build your painting solidly, working from big planes to small.

91. See the planes of light as shapes, the planes of shadows as shapes. Squint your eyes and find the big, fluent shapes.

92. Notice how, in a portrait, Rembrandt reduces the modeling of clothes to the essentials, emphasizing the head and the hands.

93. For all his artistic skill, what’s most important about Rembrandt is his deep compassion.

94. To emphasize something means that the other parts of a picture must be muted.

95. When painting outdoors, sit on your hands and look before starting.

96. When composing a picture, do many thumbnails, rejecting the obvious ones.

97. Study how Rembrandt creates flow of tone.

98. If you teach, teach the individual. Find out when he or she is having trouble and help at that point.

99. Painting is a practical art, using real materials—paints, brushes, canvas, and paper. Part of the practicality of it is earning a living in art.

100. Finally, don’t be an art snob. Most painters I know teach, do illustrations, or work in an art-related field. Survival is the game.