12 Ways of Art Success

12 Ways of Art Success


Hang on to your hot cocoa, this is a long one… Rather than the 12 Days of Christmas, I want to give you the 12 Ways of Art Success. And you don’t have to squeeze it all in before December 25. Please keep this list all year and tick off the things you can achieve at your leisure. At the end of 2019, you may not have 5 golden rings, but you will be able to toot your own horn and that is a truly valuable gift.

1.     Find an adventurous “art buddy”. Gallery hopping is much like going to the gym. If you have a friend who will accompany you to various art openings and events, you’re more likely to leave the couch. No need to torture your significant-other with art world networking. Find someone who will benefit equally from these excursions. One new app I recently discovered is Shapr – a mix of Tinder and LinkedIn that can help you find people nearby with similar interests and goals.

2.     Order business cards! It’s become so simple these days to whip up a business card with little or no design background. Places like moo.com and canva.com have lots of prepared designs to choose from. At Moo, you can also upload multiple images of your art for a mini gallery in your pocket. It may be old school, but it’s effective.

3.     Join your local Arts Council. Almost every region has a public or private non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the arts. Some are more active than others, but all of them need members to stay viable. I found it extremely rewarding to sit on the board of the ACNV where I met hundreds of artists, learned about arts funding and helped shape the priorities of the local arts community. If you live in California, here is a good list of local arts agencies.

4.     Stalk your dream gallery. If you don’t have one already, do a methodical research of galleries or nonprofit spaces that exhibit artists you admire. Pick a “dream gallery” and follow all of their social media accounts, follow their artists, sign up for their newsletters, attend openings and fundraisers. Become a polite persistent presence and this will pave the way for introductions to the decision makers.

5.     Use your LinkedIn account. I understand that social media and online networking can become a chore, but if you’re not using LinkedIn, you’re missing out. It’s where the pros are, and they are willing to interact and make introductions if approached professionally. It’s also becoming more of a channel for pertinent articles specifically targeted at your field. One secret tip, your can write articles about your own work and they will show up in Google searches for your name. Connect with me there to see some of the articles and blogs I have posted.

6.     Visit Open Studios! I’ve already talked about opening up your studio in a previous post, but if you’re not ready to take that leap yet, at least participate as a spectator. In San Francisco, ArtSpan has an incredible program year-round, and Open Studios in the Fall. East Bay Open Studios are in the Spring. You won’t find a better opportunity to pick the brains of other artists and get inspired about promoting your own work. Don’t forget to bring business cards!

7.     Discover art-business podcasts. Make the most of your commute or listen during studio hours. There are some great art-business podcasts that I’ve discovered lately. Please send me suggestions if I’ve missed one of your favorites.

Creative Mornings featuring interviews recorded at Creative Mornings events.
The (art)Scene Podcast with Louis Vargas, a series of conversations with artists, gallery owners and art/museum professionals.
Artist/CEO with Shannon DeYoung & Kerri Lowe - two creative entrepreneurs learning how to make business and art live in harmony.
(un)making with Weston Teruya in partnership with Art Practical talks with artists, cultural workers, or arts administrators of color to discuss their work.
Raw Material from SFMOMA – each season has a “podcaster-in-residence” to explore modern and contemporary art through a new lens.
Savvy Painter by Antrese Wood features interviews with talented painters who have spent decades honing their craft and building their business.
Art Biz with Alyson Stanfield shares stories of artists successes and struggles.

8.     Create a free public profile on ArtSlant.com. Even if you have a stellar website already, this is a quick and easy way to get more hits. It’s also a great way to refine your statement, edit your images, and get noticed by curators, or even write a blog.

9.     Have a Creative Morning. This is breakfast lecture series for the creative community takes place in 196 cities across the globe. I’m going to hear artist Leah Rosenberg speak at SFMOMA this Friday A.M. Check out their website for more upcoming talks and field trips (they also have a jobs board).

10.  Are you still with me? Advocate for the Arts. You know the saying “A rising tide lifts all ships.” Well I can’t think of a better way to describe art success. When you foster a culture of art appreciation and investment, you prep the canvas for your own career. Visit Americans for the Arts and click on Advocate. There are lists of legislative issues affecting the arts; stories of artists transforming local governments; toolkits for individuals and organizations and so much more.

11.  Start the Year with Bold Intentions. Take a moment this month to nestle in a comfy chair and imagine what 2019 means for your art career. Write up your vision of success – a solo show, a new collector, an awesome website, an art fair booth, etc. Then take a second look and nail down just 1 or 2 steps you could take towards those goals. Keep this vision of the “successful you” in a compartment in your brain. Open it up frequently and bask in your own glory.

12.  Change the scenery. Travel near or far – just get outside the everyday. If you can plan a trip to a new city or country, that’s fantastic. If you can only get away to the next town over, or just out the door for a walk in nature, you will still reap the benefits. Artists need “cognitive flexibility” and travel opens up the mind, shifts concepts around, makes you more trusting, less fearful and sharpens your focus. Here’s 13 reasons you should always make time to travel from Buzzfeed.  


Well I hear jingle bells, so I’d better get going. I’m bound for Mexico and some sunny inspiration. Wishing you all happy holidays and I look forward an exciting 2019!



Read Into It

Read Into It