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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 10 of 22

Your Messaging & Communication - Part 1


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 10 of 22

Your Messaging & Communication - Part 1


Lesson Info

Your Messaging & Communication - Part 1

Messaging and communication so we just talked about look and feel now we're going to talk about messaging and communication which is a really important part of branding and this is the north's from example is perfect example of that so these are the elements that you it's important to think about descriptions of your work in process so um what am I communicating about? My work and my process bog post content tells a story about you and who you are and what's important to you all of those things social media content and communication newsletter content customer service messages and policies literally everything you write is part of your branding you're about page in your bio email communication with clients and customers so not just what sits on your blogger your website but also how you communicate with people who contact you about your work important to ask this question what do I want to be known for and to ask yourself that question whenever you're developing any written message tha...

t goes out anywhere in the world because it's a reflection of you as an artist and as a business owner so on that note um before we move on to the activity, any questions about messaging and communication or any any stories you have about messaging in communication that you feel you want to share um so what I do is a writer and asked I often ask people you know should I basically my job is to translate people stories into a poem and hand it back to them and I work so much in the realm of vulnerability and of truth telling in the art that I make actually took that turn is well on dh I realize that in my website and in my newsletter and all my communications I was like not being a real human in a way like not the way that I am when I engage with people in person or even you know, an email which is a lot more private and it was incredible to me to see and it was mostly because like I got kind of tired of myself like like sounding like a robot in this place was like spending a lot of time trying to sound like a robot instead of like myself um and so it was incredible to see how much more well read and more like passed on and referenced all of my communication became when I got really authentic and actually as like, vulnerable and honest and open as the people who come to me you know, my clients like people that I'm working with all the time how you got to that place where you realize that um your communication didn't feel genuine or authentic to you it was like three o'clock in the morning and I know what to say andi I realized that it was because I was like, okay, so what's happening right now is like three o'clock in the morning I should be sleeping instead I'm trying to write a newsletter and why is that so because the life of an artist sometimes is that you're doing way too many things and I was just honest about it and I just wrote this post about, you know, sometimes life overwhelms you and like, sometimes you have all these things you want to do and how do you get respite? You make a piece of art like that's what I do like what do you make? And it became this really incredible weigh in for me to understand like what? I was actually about what I was is doing and also an insight into why people are drawn to what I do like I don't think I had realized that and then the feedback that I got from it was just incredible and, you know, same thing with like, they were personal things going on in my life in the last few years deaths and all these other things that were showing up in my work, but I wasn't like talking about them in newsletters and stuff and then I was like, well, I just need to talk about this so the more that I was really authentic and not in a like, bleeding heart yeah uncomfortable way but um in a way that was just really authentic I mean it's been incredible to me to see how responsive it's been and how people are like I'm writing this incredibly personal thing but they write me back and say this is exactly what I needed today and then I look at stats and it's like click throughs are just, you know, way up but I'm like wow like it's just it's been pretty amazing to see that the more I'm willing to be authentic and even a little vulnerable with being like who I am is a person and artist completely um the more I get response from people yeah, I think that's great and I also love that you you asked a question of the people who were paying attention to what you were doing and asked for them to respond that also shows that you are open to feedback and to knowing who's listening and you even open yourself up to the possibility that no one's listening because what if no one had written back right? Yeah, I'm sure I'm sure we're gonna talk about that a lot in um segment five about marketing, which is really partly just sharing your story because really I imagine that your art business and your sales grew a bit once you sort of became this really person and felt like you were being a more of a real person any other questions or stories thanks so much, sylvie, I'm melanie really relate to your story also, I recently also wrote a newsletter to my my group and about a worldwide event that was happening related to climate change, and I felt kind of nervous about like interrupting the regular broadcast, but it was really amazing to see how many people wrote back and we're appreciative of me sharing how important this event was and what I saw is the relationship to art in creativity. So is there's really beautiful to be that authentic and writing vulnerable? And again you're also reflecting back to your audience where the people who follow you work your core values you know the things that are important to you because we are complex people we are not just people who sit and paint and draw all day we are driven by different things we have different motivations, we their connections in our work that may not be obvious to people so it's important to try to talk about those there. Was there another at rachel? Yeah, I think sylvia's point was great and then just to touch on that further think we as artists were all constantly learning and one of my biggest personal projects this year has been including a segment, a weekly segment on my block where I write about an artist or designer or illustrator or any creative professional who's really just got a unique perspective on their process and you know just their life and I think that can also inform me and then also show hopefully my readers that I'm not just talking about myself I'm also trying to engage and learn um as I keep going forward that's right and that you're interested in what other people are doing all really great examples um so one of the things that I want teo have you guys think about um and we'll just take a minute to think about this what do you want your customers and clients the people who follow your work to experience when they encounter your website your facebook fan page her instagram feed your twitter feed or your blogged what what do you want them to know about you so start writing those things down as soon as they come into your head what do you want them to know about you? What what descriptive words can you come up with that? What are the feelings that you want them tohave when they encounter your work um and again these don't have to be like touchy feely pleasant things they you know, a lot of artists they're all their work is about challenging people in getting people to think differently about things so again this is what your vision is about uh what you want people to experience when they encounter your brand essentially on which is reflected in all of these places and then as people finished with those descriptive words I'm gonna ask you guys to share while you're writing exactly while people are writing here I've got an interesting question related here this comes from nala kabbalah and they said I would like to hire someone who doesn't know me to critique and evaluate my brand my identity my web presence like this how do I go about finding the right person to do this? Do you have any advice for hiring someone to help with your brand that's a really interesting question I think that um there are you know, I think if you're if you're most designers out there are designed thinkers or people who help you organize your website or help you with your brand are people that you hired to sort of take help you take thank you through the process, right? Um you might be able to find someone if you've already developed something and you just want feedback so that you can go make it better. Um I'm not I'm not exactly sure where to go for that and there are people that offer that service, but most of time you're hiring somebody toe actually design and develop something or I'm about to embark on a website redesign and it was really important for me to hire someone who understood the depth and breath of the kinds of things that I do I am no longer an illustrator or a fine artist, I am also a public speaker and a teacher and an author if you go to my website that's not reflected there, so why didn't even show it? But I think my website is beautiful and it shows my artwork, but it doesn't show the depth and breath of what I do now. My block does to a certain extent, but you sort of have to dig for it. So I'm being really transparent here is not to say that your art practice is always going to be of evolving and their ways that you're going to have to update your brand or your branding or your website to reflect how you change as an artist and the ways that you're working differently or the new things that you're doing. And so I've found somebody who actually worked with on my block, designed to help me redesign my my website, and it was really important to me that she understood that I wasn't just an artist, an illustrator, that she understood that because it's important to me, that when people come to my website, they can see the depth and breath of what I do, and yet I don't also don't want my artwork to be hidden, right? Um so so I think there are a lot of people out there designer's brand experts, people who you can higher and again, it depends if you want somebody in your local community or if you want to hear a lot of this, that kind of work could be done online now, um, or if you have an accountability group with friends who you trust, you know, do it that way and you don't even have to pay people wonderful. I think we have time for another question. While people are writing here when posting images on the internet, stay on facebook, for example, should I add a small watermark or a copyright symbol with my name to protect the image but also to promote my brand on my website? I don't watermark the images, but I'm considering doing it in public sight. Yeah, you know, that's the interesting question and again, I think it all depends on your I'm personally not a fan of water marks. I feel like it takes away from, uh, sort of the beauty of what is underneath it, but I do think that in some instances, putting a copyright symbol with your name on it really small on the image cannot hurt. Um, you'll notice a lot of the stuff I posted my block, I will often put a little copyright leased a condo at the bottom, I never did that for the longest time, and now my work gets re pinned on pinch arrest and ends up all over the place and to the extent possible I'd like to make sure that people know that I made it um so that is up to you if you're fine with watermarks and watermarks work for you than use watermarks copyright symbol is also great um if you if you don't feel like it detracts too much from your artwork either I think it's fine if that feels like something that's important to you okay, thanks yeah um all right, so let's let's do some sharing and I'd love to hear from some people who haven't opened their mouth yet today um what do you want your customers and clients to experience when they encounter your website facebook fan page instagram account twitter feed or blogged anybody wantto not just share but talk a little bit about what they were thinking about when they came up with a list right now come on now this is a volunteer, okay, let's talk about it why're you feeling shy? I see them writing so they have things to read out this is this is a little bit of ah a vulnerable thing to share, isn't it? Yeah so I can understand that and that's ok if you don't want to yeah christian um one of the first things ever it was relatable and open and thinking about the work that I do um I wanted to be is is open and sort of as many entry points to it inside they kind of think that the branding or the sort of identity that I put out there I would like it to reflect that as well um so that was one of the first things that I put in just it just was a way of relating what I do and with the work that I'm making is back to who I am and how I want that those that connection to be made so that when you go to my instagram for example you feel very welcomed into my life and process that's right in the same way that if you walk up to one of my paintings I want you to feel judges welcome um and I feel just as comfortable there in front of that piece and my work's not joining and I don't want my presence to be jarring to the same way I think that's that's wonderful and um I'm going to recommend a book right now called show your work by austin clear on and he talks about that among other things the book the title of the book is show your work but he really talks about how sharing your process or sort of snippets of how you think about your work whether it's visually or through diagrams or through photographs of your process really opened up the dialogue about what you do and hence the interest on the part of other people, too. What, you d'oh, it's such a great tool and social media is a great way to share your process, or you're thinking, if you look at austin's work alone, he he often you know, he does he's used first became known for these blackout poems where he would take a page either from a newspaper, a magazine or a book, and black out everything except words that he would choose to leave open that would form some sort of poem, and he also was a great hand letter and just sort of art and design and creative thinker and he's, a great writer. And, um so he's written this book about people who are really good at sharing their process and showing their work and opening up a dialogue about what they do and that that's really a great way to build an audience for your work. And I think, that's what you're speaking to is that, like, um, maybe it won't be through a block, but through your instagram feed, you want people to feel like they can get to know a part of you and that that's part of you is accessible. And relatable that you're a human being making this thing, this isn't just about this piece of art, and you find that when you do follow people on instagram ifyou're in instagram person that once you sort of start to see pictures of their studio or how they make things or something that's midway three midway through it captures your interest right in a way that if you just only saw the perfect thing at the end, it wouldn't right so it's really important to do that, and that makes us feel vulnerable. I've been working on this gigantic seven by nine foot commission that I got that's going into the lobby of the building in san francisco actually still deliver it on monday, and, um, I decided from the beginning, even though it was going to look really weird and funky at some point, I was going to share pictures of the three month process of painting this painting. I actually also took, um photos of it about every three minutes as I was painting it, and I'm gonna do a little stop motion thing when I have time. I'm just to show the train the the transformation and what that does is, you know, it shows people that that giant piece of birch wood in my studio didn't just turn out like the final thing that I finally finished last week. Overnight that there was this whole process of layering that went on and, you know, of course halfway through everyone's like it looks done to me and I'm like no, I get to decide when it's done, you know, so you you invite commentary when you show things that or some people say, oh, that's beautiful and I felt like saying, but it's going to be even more beautiful when it's done, you know, it does open you up tio feeling like, you know is a little odd to share things sort of halfway through is an artist, right? We just want in some cases we just want to show things when they look done or when we feel like they're done, but I feel like people getting toe witness this transformation of this giant painting, which I've come to call the horse only because it's giant um, because I called my other work, this puppy is done or whatever, so I just like to call this one the horse anyway, people started calling it the horse for me and using a little motor con of a horse every time they commented on it. And so people got really engaged in and wrapped up in my process of making this big painting, and what I did was I built though mo mentum and the excitement around, you know, around finishing it and that's something that's pretty new right with the internet we get to share our process in a way that never existed before people would only see finished things for the most part in the old days. So and yet it's it's a great way to, um, build your following and teo open up people to what to what you're doing. Um so thank you, christian, for that that's a great example. Anybody else? Yeah, charlie so what I think I want people to see when they were visiting my various sites are my human, my humor a reflection so my kind of thought process I put seeing what I see, which is, I guess, my perspective, azzam walking through my neighborhood or see it's a funny thing, a narrative, my hand when I'm working on paintings and thie every day and for my facebook fan page to my instagram account, I try to do kind of snippets of work, so if you were tuned into my various things, you would see a full picture and also I don't like I kind of always shoot at a kind of an odd angle for, you know, going back to that watermark to kind of like so that it's not really an attractive thing to reproduce somebody might want to copy it, but it's not reproducible, but also on facebook I make the the image very small in photo shop so you can't blow it up without it being like a horrible pixelated mess yeah, they're different ways to deal with that thank you other other folks who have come up with a list we have some online examples of people are thinking about this so now alice says I want my customers to feel intrigued I want them to feel at home and welcome when they see my paintings and drawings I want them to feel like they've stepped into paradise like they can feel the are like it's almost surreal but I want I want it to be to the point where they would like to purchase the art once they have that feeling I have a few more here knew go says I want people to be like whoa and really take their time exploring and being curious I wanted to sort of be a shock but also be really different I don't want them to be comfortable I want them to feel something very strong emotion there well the one more here ma jo says I want people to smile be interested in making my art part of their lives to imagine the person me behind it all and to know more about my process in the way that I feel and think when I'm creating my art great I want to hear more all right cabbie um I would like him to feel happiness what they see my mother visiting my sight and also play excitement and curiosity to maybe what events are going to be ad. And if they're interested in going on like that, so they're kind of my top three. Great. Yeah, um, I want people to feel a sense of calm, um, calm, okay, beauty and ah it's, some sort of emotion that resonates with them. I think a lot of my fine arts little more melancholy. I don't necessarily want to make people's that, but if you will probably be ok, a little bit of that, yeah, yes, yeah, I'm lining them, yeah, there's, happy art and there's art that's. Just whatever is reflective of wherever you are, um, and that is deep is darker.

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.