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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 12 of 22

Successfully Promote Your Work


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 12 of 22

Successfully Promote Your Work


Lesson Info

Successfully Promote Your Work

What I asked you to dio was if you hadn't had a chance to complete your goal setting process or your goal setting chart to go ahead and work on that a little bit, and I also asked you to think a little bit more about the descriptive words or phrases that you I wanted, what you wanted people to experience when they encountered your website or your presence on the internet. So I'm curious if you did any work on that if you wanted to share any of it and I'm going to start with the folks in my studio audience and then maybe also reflecting on what that process was like for you and what you got out of it. So anybody, any of my students here willing tto start them running off by sharing? Hi, my name is donovan, illustrator and graphic designer um so one of the things that I wrote down that I wanted people to experience when they look at my website was I wanted them to smile, I want to make them happy, but I also wrote down a bunch of other things, and it made me feel a little bit vulnerable ...

to see that on paper because we were talking in class earlier of with the group with the goal setting and dreaming big it was just so exciting to have all those big things and then sort of reflect inward and write our our personal mission what we wanted people to feel on paper it was it was reality so these are all the things that I want people to see when they look at my website but is it really that way? So I felt a little vulnerable and I felt a little bit like I don't know like I need to do more work with it yeah and the truth is that oftentimes we don't we don't even realize that the goal is for people to come to our website we want more visitors we want people there we want people there too experience what we have to offer and if we haven't given a lot of thought tio what we want people to experience when they encounter our work online or our presence online it can feel a little scary you're a little weird because um you know when you have that many people when you want when you know you want that many people to visit your sight that can feel overwhelming right? The prospect of actually having people come and look at your work sometimes it feels safer to just be hidden in a little bubble but the reality is in order to make a living as an artist you gotta put your work out there and you've got to get people to look at your work so that's great great points thank you um yes hello, my name is natalie my nacho I am an artist, an illustrator and I would really like for people to come to my website and be guided through it right now how it is it's I think it's kind of hard to navigate and so I would love to have more like of a trail for people to stick around and kind of know where to go next onda as faras the goal setting I would love to sell prince but right now I am painting with gold acrylic and that's actually not re printable I'm sure it's like probably were printable in a really expensive way that I'm not even looking at so that that's another like, you know siri's of things of like making art work that doesn't include that in that will allow me tio branch out into that and of course that comes with like promotion and finding a printer and calibrating so there are a lot of break out steps of that yes, so interesting when you think about reproducing your work, it makes you think a lot about the medium's you're using not every artform is easy to reproduce like I used to make a lot of shadow box collages that were three dimensional it's really hard to sell prince of three dimensional work you actually in most cases photographs are very flat artwork translate the most easily teo reproductions and so that actually forced me to make a lot more work that was conducive to making prints my studio mate who's this wonderful artists she works in glitter like she literally paints and glitter and they're huge and, um amazing but glitter doesn't photograph well, so she even through her gallery and she's gallery representation they can't sell limited edition reproductions of her work because it just wouldn't translate so she's also thinking about what she could potentially do, you know, for reproductions and maybe changing things up and that's that's normal that's what we have to do sometimes in order to sell our work. So who else? Yeah, um for me, I in the past had never thought about anybody looking at my personality as part of my brand I just wanted people to look at my work and I know that's unavoidable. So so even when people were saying things like, oh, I want to be open and things like that that's not something I want inside, but I know that's what I should work towards. So yeah, I just have to figure that out of how I had to be comfortable with showing my whole personality too you know, an audience of people I've never met probably that's, right? And it doesn't have to be your whole personality um it can be parts of your personality that you're comfortable sharing or parts of your life or your life outside of work, or your life as it relates to work or who you are as a person as it relates to your work, the people it's much easier for collectors and art directors and curie, a tres and people who are going to want to work with you to connect with your work. If they know a little bit about who you are as a person. And what drives you, what motivates you and what your inspirations are. I found personally that writing about those kinds of things, maybe not every day, but frequently enough or referring to those things. And even if it's just through visual imagery is really what connected people to my work in general. So, um, and we're gonna be talking a lot about that today in the marketing section, different ways of marketing, not just your art, but your whole the personality of your business. Yeah, um, yesterday it was really helpful to break down a big goal into the intermediate goals in the action will task, and I decided that I needed a new body of work. I didn't really know where to go about it. And so I started today on a new challenge, a painting, a day for thirty days we talked about and so it then from breaking down from that the actual test is sending out a newsletter telling people to do that compiling, you know, all of my contacts, getting all my materials, but writing it all down was just so helpful and made it seem more attainable, you know, not as scary as I was before that's great and I love the idea of this is something that I'm not delving into in this class, but I'm glad you brought it up this idea of a personal challenge um a personal creative challenge and, um I did my first one in two thousand ten was called a collection a day where I photographed a different I collect all kinds of weird little things from old school supplies, told sewing supplies toe ephemera of all kinds and photographed each of them every day for the year two thousand ten ended up being published into a book, but originally it was just this blogged and occasionally I would draw an imaginary collection and that was my first challenge, and it brought a lot of exposure to my work I had wasn't some major press and it was this this crazy idea that I had and then two years later I did a hundred sixty five days of hand lettering, which sort of launched my career in the direction of hand lettering, which I'm really loving right now not every project has to be a daily year long project that starts on january first, so I love that you're just like for thirty days, I'm going to pain, and this is a great way also not just to prepare to publish a book, if that's, what is something that you have as an aspiration, but also as this sort of form of just self discipline, to get you ready for a show or whatever? I'm a little later, I'm gonna share the names of some of my favorite instagram feeds, and one of them is a woman who has a sketch book project, which she which started off, I think, as just something she thought was going to be short term and has turned into something that is really drawing a lot of attention to her work. So that's great andi, recommend that whatever you do, you're posting those things on the internet somewhere, so we'll talk about that later, too anybody else or out in internet land? Yeah, well, on the internet land right now, the chat rooms air starting to blow up. We have people joining from all around the world. Kwazulu says good late afternoon from berlin, germany. Thank you for joining krisel. Owe a few people have been chai ming in on that sum answer. He said it was last night the homework was great it was good that I managed to arrange my cv and I will have a website that I'm working on soon and red scorpio says I'm going through all this right now because I split my business into two brand the one is pretty nailed down but the other one I'm still trying to define these exercises that worked really well for red scorpio so thank you all for tuning in today and let us know as we go throughout the day your experiences and what you've been learning so far from lisa condon's course the first session um was uh really just starting this path of writing down your dreams and backwards mapping to very attainable actionable goals so we started with making vision maps we broke those down into intermediate goals and then taxable tests we also talked about making sure that all of that stuff that we write down that we want to dio is connected to and aligned with our core values the way we wantto work when we make our art the way we want to sell our work that staying connected to what's important and meaningful to you is really important then in segment that was pretty much what we did in segments one into um and all the tools are in the workbook for that segment three we talked about the fine art world and we had two special guests come on who talked about preparing your cv and your artist bio and your portfolio and all the things that sort of need to be ready and waiting when you're when you're wanting to approach a gallery or when a gallery approaches you and we talked also about aspects of the fine art world that it's important to understand when you want to break in two you know, showing in galleries or having an art dealer represent you or if you just want to show your work without representation the same things also apply and then in the last segment we talked about branding essentially and I was calling it the personality of your business because I think sometimes we get thrown off by this term branding it feels very corporate to a lot of people we think of things like volkswagen and heinz ketchup on dh slogans and things like that are we narrow it down to just having a recognizable logo but it's so much more than that and in the case of artists I feel like it's important to think about the personality of your business. What do you want people to experience when they encounter your art or you or any you know, any presents you might have out in the world on the internet or foreign person? So we're actually gonna build in this next segment um from the work you did in segment four on branding to talk about marketing because one really important aspect of marketing is having some solid branding that you can then share with the world and it's a way to continue brandon you're using your branding on a daily basis so before we do that I just wantto oh, this is ahh this is actually also available if you purchase the course as a downloadable high resolution print um I love this quote by robert frost freedom lies in being bold yesterday I went over these and I'm gonna just quickly go over them again these air this sort of principles that I like tio abide by when I'm in a learning environment both myself and that I liketo encourage other people to use and the first one is openness, so openness to the possibility that you can be successful and achieve those dreams, those big goals that you wrote down on your vision map yesterday openness to some of the ideas that I'm going to be talking about and in this marketing segment I guarantee I will be talking about some ideas that are going to push your buttons a little bit. Some of you are not going to be comfortable with what I'm telling you you might need to dio in order teo get more exposure for your work, so be open and be open to the to the possibility that you can enjoy all of this even though it might feel a little awkward or hard humor we did a lot of laughing yesterday didn't way, yeah, it was fun, and I want to make sure that we continue to laugh and have a good time and joke around. I want this to be an enjoyable for everybody and, um, and it's, I think important that we don't take ourselves too seriously, so we're all in learning mode, curiosity, similar to openness put on that hat of really wanting to nome or ask questions that also goes for people in their homes who are watching this. Don't be afraid to raise your hand and ask a question, even if you think other people might think you're question is silly, because you'd be surprised how many people probably have the same question that you do, so push yourself to ask questions, that's why I'm here and now is your opportunity, bravery? We had a lot of brave people get in the hot seat yesterday, gabby, in particular went through four different exercises with me in front of thousands of people, so that e think you're all brave for being here and for thinking about taking your business, you're our business to the next level. You know, we live in this world where the starving artist smith still still a strong, you know belief system in our in our society, and we want to break that down and saying I can do this I can make a living as an artist or at least part of my income as an artist is a brave thing to do and I can feel really scary so um community we're here together you heard us talk a lot yesterday about community not just in the fine arts segment talking about finding and meeting mentors making sure you have a supportive people in your life who are going teo tell you you can do it and um darlene talked about her accountability buddies at work where she checks in with them about what she's working on and what they're working on like find your people in on dh think of creative interesting ways to do that in internet is also another great place for that you made even meet people through the course of taking this class that you might want to start a private facebook group with or you know start a group with so I encourage you to do that we're here we need to be here for each other I would not be standing here if it were not for the generosity of so many people over the last thirteen years of my life who have given me advice and held my hand and talked me through off rejection and all of the things that I've experienced and so it's important it also making art can feel like a very lonely and isolating thing if you are already a working artist at least part time, you know that most of it you do by yourself and I quite enjoy hanging out by myself and that's good, because I do a lot of it, but at the end of the day, you need to be able to talk to people and relate to people who also do similar work is ugo and finally perseverance thiss determination to keep pushing through even when things feel uncomfortable or scary or hard? Um, a lot of you may not like planning or this idea of gold setting or even thinking about, you know what you need to do to get to a goal. Some of you may be uncomfortable with some of the stuff I'm going to talk about today around using social media. Some of you may feel scared, teo, launch something new that you're thinking about launching. So perseverance is a big thing that has sort of gotten me where I am so pushing through all of the fear, all of the self doubt, and, um, I hope you can do that at least for this class and then beyond okay, segment five successfully promote your work. Okay, um so you heard me say it yesterday and I might be talking about it a lot again today we're in the midst of a really, really exciting time for artists I think any creative person, whether you consider yourself an artist or not, and that is because of one thing and that thing is the internet, the internet has changed the landscape for artists in a really profound way. And actually I was saying yesterday that it's really changed the landscape for professionals all over the world, or people who connect over any number of topics, including science and math and other forms of the arts, like entertainment ain't and writing. So if you're starting your career now, you could not or relaunching your crew now, you cannot be starting at a better time and that's, because they're these ways that you can communicate about whatyou d'oh, they're these ways that people can find out about you. They're these ways that you can connect with other people who do what yu dio that never existed until the last ten years and that's super exciting. We also talked about the fact that that means that a lot more people are, for lack of a better word, competing for attention on the internet, right that lots of artists are out there, the playing field is leveled, anyone can can use the internet to promote their work, but it also means that more people are on the internet trying to promote their work, and so it can feel overwhelming at times. And that's, where this idea of perseverance is important, internet has revolutionised how we work, how we communicate about our work, how we sell our work and talk about that in segment six um and it used to be that when you were an artist, whether you're fine artist or a commercial artist before the internet existed, and even even in the early days of the internet, you needed somebody with connections and power to represent you or to speak for us, especially if you didn't come from a prestigious institution even if you did, even if you went to school for art but especially if you were self taught you really needed somebody else to sell your work for you. Those people are still really important. They're still illustration agents and licensing agents and literary agents and photography agents and gallery reps and art dealers and those people's roles are very still very important in this world, but it used to be necessary to sort of make it anywhere that you had toe have one of those people on your team and now that's no longer true it's helpful to have one of those people on a lot of people aspire to having representation, but there are also people who have figured out how to do this on their own without anybody representing them because usually when you have a representative, what do you have to do pay them they take a commission it's not always. You know, in the art gallery world it's typically fifty percent illustration reps take anywhere from thirty to forty five percent. Literary agents typically take fifteen percent. So you're giving up some of your income for that help and oftentimes it's incredibly incredibly helpful tohave that especially if you reach a point your career where you need someone to help you manage everything but it's no longer necessary people can do it on people can promote their own work and that's what we're gonna talk about today. So the time of opportunity okay? You're blawg now many of you how many of you have a blogged? Um, how many of you have a block that you write on regularly? Okay, three of the seventeen people I'm gonna talk about blogging today, blogging is not for everybody, necessarily, but I do think if you can do it and you can find some excitement about it, it is a fantastic platform for writing about your own work. Um, rachel was talking about yesterday she's starting to write about the work of other artists. I do that too, on my block. Um it's a great platform for talking about what you're up, tio what your process is, what you're thinking about, what all and writing about all of those things and then sharing them via social media is a great way to bring people into your world so that they can begin to connect with your work and that's an important thing because in order for people to hire you tow buyer work tio you know to want a curate you into a show you heard cary talking yesterday about you know it's important that she get a sense of who you are and that your work is is accessible and so blocks are great for that because they're not static your website is static all right, you might update your portfolio when you have a new piece but it's not a place that people visit every day because they're going to get something new and interesting um social media is a way to spread the word about what you're up to so we'll talk more about that and we're also going to talk about email marketing which I think is still a really valuable tool and I'm going to give a little plug later for my own email list if you want to join oh and also more traditional stuff advertising let's talk about whether it's still important to advertise how many people wonder about that sometimes do I need to advertise anymore is advertising still viable and if so what's the best way to do it do I still need business cards? I have been watching you guys exchange business cards would you say that's important yeah, and if you don't have them, you might be thinking, wow, I wish I had business cards right now. And promotional postcards. Lisa talked a little bit yesterday. Lisa solomon, about this ideas. She thinks that having print postcards, especially for your art shows, is still a really important way to spread the word about what you're doing. I would also say that's, still true for a lot of illustrators who still do mailings, star directors to let them know what their latest work is looking like.

Class Description

"This is an incredibly helpful class for anyone who feels intimidated by all the "giants" in the land of art, and wonders if it's really worth keeping trying to make money from their talent. Lisa breaks everything down into manageable steps, while not dumbing things down. Her manner is very approachable, so that you can imagine yourself doing what she does. Her generous spirit means too that she is sharing really useful stuff - not just some fluff, and keeping all the good ideas for herself!"
 - Janet and Craig Mathewson (CreativeLive Students)

An enthusiastic audience that appreciates your art is waiting for you. Join Lisa Congdon, illustrator, artist, and author of Art, Inc. for Become a Working Artist and learn everything you need to know to make a living as a fine or commercial artist.

In this class, you will find out exactly what it takes to break into the art world and reach new, diverse audiences. Lisa will show you how to:

  • Identify the characteristics that make your style unique
  • Map out the vision and goals that will drive your artistic career 
  • Navigate the fine art market and break in to it
  • Land and negotiate art licensing deals
  • Develop effective techniques for promoting your work
Every artist faces rejection and setbacks on the road to finding an appreciative and paying audience. Become a Working Artist will teach you how to navigate the inevitable disappointments and push through to build a vibrant, rewarding career in art.

Making money as an artist doesn’t have to be far-fetched dream, Lisa Congdon will show you how to make it a reality.  



I was very happy and inspired to be able to attend to this class! It helped me so much to understand which are my goals as an artist and what I need to make to make them happen. Lisa is amazing and I cannot be happier to have been part of this, thank you so much!! I am now more than inspired to create beautiful things and make the tasks I need to make to become the professional artist I aim to be. Thank you Lisa for your wonderful generosity and Creative Live for hosting and creating such a wonderful event!


This course was fantastic! The format was great and Lisa was extremely helpful, knowledgable, and engaging. I was so inspired and loved that she gave very real information and great advice. I came away with a great new plan for my business and a renewed excitement for growth. I would highly recommend this class!

Simply Stated Architecture, PC

Professionally, I am an architect, but I also dabble in some watercolors as well as wood and metal work. When I started my own architectural office, I found good resources for business information were scarce. Most of what I found applied to retail or service businesses that really did not apply to a creative professional. One of the best resources I have found has been my local art guild - The Yellow Breeches Chapter of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen. I found that the painters, jewelers, potters, fiber artists, and other artists faced much more similar issues to what I was dealing with than the contractors, store owners, financial planners, insurance salesmen, and other business people that I was finding in business groups and classes. Lisa Congdon's class is the first CreativeLive course that I've taken. I had signed up for the CL email recently and Lisa's class just caught my eye. I'm glad that I took the time to sit through the sessions. A few of the segments - such as that on illustration and licensing or fine art - really did not have any practical application to my own situation. But there were items of value in pretty much all of the segments that I could take away to adapt in my own business. For someone just starting off in a creative profession, I'd highly recommend Lisa's course as a roadmap of items to keep in mind and plan for in their business. But by no means should you consider this to be a "beginner only" course. I started my business four years ago and I really wish that I had found something like this course in those first months or first year. But even after four years, I found great value in this course. The information on setting goals, actionable tasks, and the final segment on managing your success were extremely valuable and gave me many items to work into my own business in the coming weeks and months.