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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 6 of 22

Understand the Fine Art World


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 6 of 22

Understand the Fine Art World


Lesson Info

Understand the Fine Art World

This next segment is called understand the fine art world and we're gonna spend the next about hour and a half talking about, um this world that for a lot of people can feel really mysterious and elite if you have big gallery dreams if you aspire at least for part of your career to feel are to be a fine artist, it can feel very intimidating. Um if you've gone even if you've gone to school for fine art, this might be an area that that feels a little overwhelming to you like, how do I get into a gallery? What are the things that I can do tow potentially have a gallery show? So whether you want teo, whether your goals center purely around fine art or whether you are just interested in sort of part being a part time fine artist like I am, I'm really hoping that this next segment answers some of at least some of your questions. So before we bring on our special guest because I have two amazing yes today to help answer your questions let's sort of go back to this, um graphic and where this n...

ext segment is really a research segment for you, so if you're interested in showing at a gallery or organizing your own show are entering a juried show, this is an area where you can collect information about some things that might inform your goals or might inform your actionable tasks or your daily to do list all right fine art world what does this mean so fine art is defined as art that has developed for aesthetic or conceptual purposes as opposed to commercial purposes okay do you understand the difference we've been actually talking a lot about commercial art already like licensing and illustration and we'll get into more depth about those in segment seven but fine art is really developed for artistic aesthetic conceptual purposes as opposed to commercial purposes traditionally fine artists sell original work and sometimes limited it reproductions through gallery venues or art dealers traditionally there has also been a separation between fine artists and commercial artists those lines are blurring so in the old way of doing things you had to choose for the most part to either be a fine artist or a commercial artist you could not be both because one might contaminate the other those lines are blurring now there are many people who do a bit of both and you may have questions about is there a right or wrong way to mix the two and those are things we can talk about today all right I want to welcome up lisa solomon and carry lederer who I will introduce once they were on stage so let's welcome them up hi guy we're all friends I've known these ladies lisa for many years and carry for a couple of years now and worked with both of them in a number of capacities and I'm so excited to have him here today and I'm about to read some of their credentials and you my people in a way because they're both really amazing. So lisa who's sitting here um received her b a in art practice from u c berkeley in nineteen ninety five and her m f a from mills college in two thousand three her drawings and installations have been featured at various national and international venues including the ulrich museum santa's a museum of art academy of art in honolulu honolulu hawaii the richmond art center the comey maki museum in in nagano prefecture of japan her work has also been featured in exhibitions at a in san jose the sun valley are center for the arts and ketchum idaho the cinema county museum of art in california the lot in gallery at the university of wisconsin the oglethorpe museum in atlanta georgia she's exhibited with david weinberg gallery should talk chicago garson bigger gallery in new york women in their work in austin, texas the fine arts gallery at san francisco state university and the south florida art center she currently works with walter may seal gallery in los angeles as well as fallujah projects here in san francisco her next solo exhibition is with walter scheduled for november two thousand fourteen so look out for that she okay a cz if that wasn't enough, she um thirteen she was the artist in residence at the oakland museum of art. She will be an artist in residence at qalat institute in two thousand fifteen, which is in oakland, california. She has received a travel award from the comey maki museum, inheritor family foundation, grant and eisner prize for excellence and fine arts, as well as a grant in two thousand ten to complete a site specific exhibition for on lee's gate, a nonprofit space in southern california. She currently teaches at san francisco state university on dh. She's also taught at u c berkeley mills college cc, a cow, sadie's bay. She was a member of the curatorial board for the richmond art center from two thousand sixty two thousand eight, and she has taught numerous workshops and classes across the country. She also has an interview in our ink to that. So the reason I'm saying all of these things is to just let you know how accomplished lisa is, and that is not just because she makes amazing artwork, but because she works really hard at putting yourself out there and applying for things and really making sure that her career has has really gone on this path, so that is a credit to her, um now kari kari is the curator of exhibitions and programs at bedford gallery that's, actually how we met. Because I was in a show there she's curated informative stimulating and provocative exhibitions at bedford for twenty years bedford is in walnut creek it's a pleasure center for the arts in california. Under her guidance, the bed for gallery has consistently shown divers and inspiring work by a broad range of local national and international artists. Carrie is also as if that wasn't enough in a word winning artist whose work has exhibited nationwide and abroad, she has been producing artwork and exhibitions for thirty years or painting sculpture and installations focus on the line lifeforms found in nature and our relationship with the natural world she was raised in detroit. She attended michigan state university and received her bf and sculpture and b a in art education. She's exhibited her work nationally, including exhibitions at mills college art museum in oakland, bronstein quaid gallery, sfmoma artist gallery route division, the lab institute of contemporary art and museum of art in seven at san jose, pictograms gallery and the gallery in new york city. And on and on and on. Her exhibitions have been reviewed in local national publications including artnews san francisco chronicle art week, san jose mercury news, our issues magazine, diablo magazine. She is the recipient of the prestigious fly shocker foundation eureka award and her work was included in the new american paintings catalogue, which, by the way is creme de la creme published in two thousand five in two thousand six she was commissioned by art sources san francisco to create a public art installation in the lobby of one california street in downtown severance so let's welcome to move we're going to cover a lot and so what we're going to do is sort of break this down into a few different areas the first one is preparing to enter the fine art world so there are some sort of necessary things that you should have prepared and we'll talk about how to enter and ways of entering in a moment but just having a few things prepared I've talked about a lot of these things in our ink is really the first step so if you're interested in being a fine artist I'm making sure you have this artist packed ready to go is a great place to start so um your cv or your curriculum vitae we saw what is the cv you know it's actually kind of confusing because some people refer to a tv is an artist bio on dh there are often seen as the same thing so basically think of it as a resume but this is your resume for your art stuff so this isn't your work life this isn't you working at starbucks or even you know whatever job you have to make money this is all about what you've done with your career so there are several ways to go over. I think when I teach this to my students, I talk about it having chunks of information and I and tell them not to worry if they don't have all aspects to put into the cvi yet this is something this is a growing living document, so it's going to start one way today and hopefully a year from now, you'll have more to add to it and then another year you'll have more so just kind of to think of it as something that will grow over time and to have these sort of sections ready and prepared so that as you're going out there and trying to do these things, you can collect them to put into these sections, even if they're empty now and you can jump into if I forget. Yeah, don't say there's an example of a cv in art inc it should be in chapter whatever chapter is about the fine art world. There is an example like I pretend cv that has but let's talk for a little bit about the section like what are slighted example sections in your cv so some people lived where they were born, because that's kind of a point of interest. You don't have to do that and some people list the date and some people don't again it's one of those things some people don't want to talk about how old they are and some people really want to talk about how old they are like face feel like I'm really young and I'm super accomplished her I'm really old and I'm super accomplished whatever whatever you want to do so I think it's up to you whether or not you want to put that in but I do think it's very interesting how people kind of glom onto facts about you when you're a creative person so for example, I was born in arizona but I didn't live there for very long and it was on my tv once and somebody said to me, oh, you're from arizona and this whole long conversation started just because that was on my cv so it's a really interesting way for people to make it you take it off is a result of that now I didn't but it was a really interesting thing to just kind of note that somebody paid attention to it so again you can leave it off if you want but that's I think one of the first things that goes on your education definitely should go on there if you didn't go to school for art is it's still important to put your education on there? Do you think I think that's a good question I think sometimes it's really relevant I think sometimes it's really interesting if you went to school and you got an accounting degree and now you're an artist, that could be a really interesting fact especially if your work has to do with numbers or accounting or something again I think like one of the great things about being in the art world is there are rules but you can also break all the rules at any point in time we were here first so it's confusing, I think a lot of times like I've taught classes on how to put these packets together and people say, well, should I do this or should I not do this? And I'm always like, well, you could or you could not and there's really think you can rationalize both ways so I think the most important thing is that you feel comfortable with what you were doing on what information and you're putting out there because if you don't feel comfortable with it like no one else is gonna buy it really or get it right so education is important and I always tell people it should be college and later so don't think about high school think about college and if it's an art degree great and if it's not an art degree what you feel like it's relevant than included, so usually you we talk about organizing things with the date on one side and you always go in reverse chronological order so it's the newer thing first on dh that's really important and a lot of people don't get that right and you really you really want to start with the most recent things so if you have ah graduate degree you would start with that and then you would go to your undergraduate degree if you just haven't undergraduate degree you start with that if you have a city college a that you want to talk about that would go underneath the ground underneath a nationals degree if you have so it's a date and then information so and the information you have to think about putting parsing it in a way that's easy to read so it would be degree b a m f a institution that you went to san francisco state university in the city unless it's in the name of school so you wouldn't say san francisco state university san francisco because that's pretty obvious on dh then the state california and that's pretty much how you chunk out all the information for the rest of the cvi to s o then after that section usually you would put in when you get to a point in your career where you have I would say maybe two or three solo exhibitions you can pull those out and make a separate category for solo exhibitions. But until you have two, three, four, I would lump all year exhibitions together in one list and one line, one chronological list, right river river sort of newest friend was first always the newest first, the latest greatest. So and a lot of times, people say selected, because at some point you may want to edit which exhibitions you're including or not, including for whatever reasons. So you can you can see exhibitions, you selected x ambitions, and then you list them. And again, it's date the year you don't need the month or the day. It's the title of the show it's the place that you had it. So neon bedford gallery, walnut creek, california. Okay, so you have to give everybody all of that information on dh. Some people list the year over and over some people this year once and then list all the exhibition's under it. This is where you get teo, play a graphic designer and figure out how you want this toe look. So then after exhibitions, the order is kind of really up to you. And I always talk about tailoring your cv to fit what you're applying for. Um so if you're applying for a grant or residency I might move grants and residencies up above even exhibitions because ah lot of times they're interested in knowing they have a track record and that you know what to do at a grant our residency that you've already done them they like to see that you don't have them don't worry about it but if you do you could move those so think about this is a movable document to doesn't have to stay in one particular order so grants and resident teases another section or awards or some people lump those altogether publication's some sort of bibliography so if you have been articles written about you, some people separate those into books and catalogs and then other articles um newspapers, online articles, magazines, et cetera um some people list commissions that they've done some people list collections that they've done or that they're in most of the time I recommend listing public collections so public collections are in institutions like museums or big corporations like microsoft has a huge art collection so if you get into microsoft's collection you would list that you don't generally intend to list private collection so people that own your work because that sort of really esoteric and not helpful my missing anything no, I think the only thing I would add and this comes from both maybe an artist and also playing the other side is curator is and since some of you might just be starting out to think about this maybe create at least two documents one is ah file that is your running log of everything anything and and keep it up you know state keeping up to date and make sure you have that although the entire enchilada what you're going to send out to curator zor in your packets will be two pages I think a condensed version it doesn't need to be getting it might be one page and then eventually it might be on page right but but then keep it up two pages and that's pretty easy to do it should be pretty easy to do with those various I mean three max beyond that they're not going to get two maybe a critical piece at the end like all of your articles you're all of the ways in which you've been recognized because there's just not enough time of the day so just keep that top of mind yeah great and a poor questions about specifically about cvs coming in a chat room right now so let's see we have one here user says that I've recently been asked for a one page cv how on earth do I compress it? Any advice for those people I think you pick your favorite so when I'm thinking about I'm thinking about who I'm sending this to and what might interest them research is a huge part of your job so if I'm sending it to a specific curator, I look at other projects that they've done, and then I try to pull from my cv projects that I think they would find interesting so in space is that they're familiar with or cities that they're familiar with, um or anything that you feel like it's a bigger or important name, for whatever reason, I could be more specific just to try and give you an example. So if I was applying for a show that was in an educational in institution, I would pull out all the other educational institutions that I've had work in and make sure I include include those in the cvs, because educational institutions tend to put on shows differently than other spaces, so I want to show that I have a proven track record doing that, thank you, great. Now let's, see let's get one more online and then will come to our students here. Well, we have two questions here that are pretty similar. Jennifer lin wants to know what if you never went to college at all? How do you do that? How do you emphasize that in the c v? Another question? If you're just starting out and you have no art school experience, should you ever how do you create the cvi to not emphasize that maybe you don't have that previous experience? Yeah I think it's ok to not have an education section is not vital you just leave it out and you know there's actually a k lang wrote a book and you were in it and she talked about different ways to sort of think about crafting a cv if you were in the very beginning on one of the things you suggested was talking about different bodies of work that you've done or if you've done any other arts organization work like if you've interned at an arts place or in a studio assistant for an artist you could include those kinds of things in your cv to prove that you have some sort of relationship to in our world and I think those are great alternative ways to think about crafting a cv and honestly I don't know that you I mean I have my education and where I come from pushed to the back so I think you know what you're doing in the art world right now in the way in which your engaging is I think about most important what it's what I look at first when I look at a resume so I don't care where you went to school or if you do if you did honestly I care if the work is good yeah I think that's so everyone cares if the work is good first yeah and then the other stuff is just cool information it's true, right? I mean, I've definitely had people say, oh, you went to mills and they're interested in that because they have some connection to males but it's only after they've already been interested in the work none of these paper documents are going get you anything if the work isn't what they're interested in is right on it. Did you have a question? Yes, it was somewhere specific question because I do murals, but I don't know where that would be issuing exhibitions, collections or more something that I would just put in my portfolio and not in my city. I think if you're doing murals and you've done more than one, then you might have a section for public commissions because not most artists don't, so public artwork is a hole other thing you know, it's apples and oranges and I pull it out, as lisa said in terms of those categories in the resume, yeah, because great, great question uh, deline time, darling, I'm I have a quick question when you're doing that long list at one point don't dio like cafe shows that you might have done it earlier in your career as opposed to more gallery shows an institutional shows where does that line can you pull that out or should you pull it out? I would pull him out of it if you can yeah, it's all you have in the beginning, that's, probably that's. What you put in. Absolutely, yeah, I mean, you. Everyone starts somewhere. I started there. I think again. One of the really interesting things is that there is no right or wrong way. I mean, someone may look at your cv, ingo. I've done a lot of cafes shows where someone else might not care and there's, no way to know and it's better to have something than nothing, right? So, again, it's, what you're comfortable with if you start feeling embarrassed about them, where, if you feel like you don't want to include them, then don't include them. But if you're proud of them, if they were good exhibitions than by all means, put them in it's a great point.

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.