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Become a Working Artist

Lesson 11 of 22

Your Messaging & Communication - Part 2


Become a Working Artist

Lesson 11 of 22

Your Messaging & Communication - Part 2


Lesson Info

Your Messaging & Communication - Part 2

I want to talk a little bit I want to hear more examples but I want to talk a little bit about this idea of messaging and part of that is what people experience when they come to your site right? That one thing I didn't write up there is also what people experience when they communicate with you um you will if you don't already once you're our career launches and you get things off the ground which you all will if that's your goal you will start getting email enquiries every single day you will get an email enquiries about interviews you will keep somebody want to interview you for their block or is it okay to use these images on my block because I want to write about you I know you're busy I won't bother to interview you but I'm gonna write about you or they might want to buy something of yours or commissioned you to make something or they might want to hire you for an illustration job or license some of your work they might want um feedback on something you you'd be surprised they mi...

ght want advice so the important thing is no matter why somebody contacts you, the important thing is and I'll talk about this maur especially when we get to the illustration segment because that's if you're an illustrator you get a lot of emails um is to reply promptly politely and professionally even if you can't do the interview or you don't want to do the interview even if you can't say that I take the job, you don't want to do the job even if you don't have time it's really important? Why is that important? First of all, why is the prompt thing important? Darlene it's respectful um, julia saying it's respectful dolly, maybe people have deadlines for the project way might have deadlines, but it shows other people that you value their time also and I haven't got a message on my e mail, but you may have encountered you've tried to email me that's like a really busy, but I'll try to get back to you as soon as I can and that's because I'm one of those people if I had time, I'd respond right away because I appreciate it when people respond to me not necessarily right away. I understand that that's hard and email takes over our lives and by prompt they don't necessarily mean the same day. But in a reasonable amount of time our days and also letting people know that you appreciate that they've reached out, you may not be able to help them. Whatever they're asking you to do may not be a good alignment with what you do or, you know some sometimes people want to collaborate but honoring people who take an interest in your work and showing them that you appreciate that is really, really, really important. Um, so and that is part of your branding that is part of your messaging. I wrote an article for etc, um for their cellar handbook recently about tips for selling fine art on etc and we're going to go over some of those in segment six, but I interviewed or I talked to ryan berkeley who's, the man behind berkeley illustration and he's, one of the most successful pull etc sellers in the history of mankind, and he makes these you've probably seen his working if you don't know his name, he makes these animal portrait's where they're wearing like suits and ties and like regular clothing and, um and his thing is, and his wife lucy, helps him run his business. His thing is really awesome customer service that, you know, they think, oh, I'm dealing with this etc seller who is like the biggest thing since sliced bread, you know? And yet they have a question or a concern or something arrives damaged and they get this really immediate, friendly personal response for me either ryan or lucy addressing their concern, and so people are surprised because they think they're dealing with somebody whose big time and yet they part of the reason that he's built this business is he has great customer service and people want to come back because they see him is this human being who responds to their email is willing to replace something that's been damaged or whatever the issue is, and I love that, um, and I think it's so important, so all right, other examples, um, one thing that's really important to me is to that my work connects you to the past, and then you see how we in the present are connected and informed by the past that's, that's one thing that you want, people experience that's great, and you know what? That might even stem from some core value that you have right around honoring the past or nostalgia around the past? Yeah, often the things that we value or think or important or want people to experience our themes in our work, I want people to feel welcome and comfortable. My art is very much something that you can live with in your home, so I want them to feel that, but also challenged because I like to try new things, and so I want them to have a sense of, you know, I could take this on a bit of that, right? And can you see when you're designing a site or going back and like, thinking about what you're going to post that running yourself through these filters of, um, making sure that whether it's this list of key words or phrases that you've developed today or something that you work on more next week that if you're messaging is consistent and reflects all the things you want people to experience, like I realized when I was developing this course that I do a really good job of sort of being very personal in my block posts in my bio in my instagram feed and my twitter feed but my at sea listings are terrible they basically are like eleven by fourteen inch print of such and such and you know and I don't necessarily feel like I need to write a novel for each that's the post but what I realized is that, like there's so many little areas that I've sort of been ignoring in my brand that really could be beefed up by better by better messaging. And so I'm doing this like internal filter when I'm planning this class about the things that I've been ignoring because I spent so much time focusing on on other things. Um and so a lot of what this means is that, like when you're on twitter, for example, or instagram a tte least on your professional account are you complaining about your mom or your husband? You know, probably not you wanted to be a place where, you know, people are going to be both engaged in the conversation and not turned off by negativity so staying positive is really important I think what regardless of whatever you want people to experience anything else happening online there are also totally open to questions in this area. Great now we have two more examples that I want to read here sarah trouble says I want to share happiness and acceptance with my art and hopefully have them share those feelings with others then julie tillman says, I want people to experience beauty, joy and essence of me and art that they loved so much that they have to have it in their home that's right? So it's important to take all of those things and really filter through all of the ways that you are seen out in the world as an artist um not just on the internet but all of the ways and make sure that those things are reflected because again that's part of your brand anybody else any questions about branding personality developing your voice? Yes about commitment so for myself it's hard for me to commit to designing a website with branding because I feel like I then I have to commit to it because we need this continuity like we've been talking about. So how did how did you come to your branding by redoing it over and over every couple years and that's what you'll do to you have to start somewhere so if there's never going to be the perfect time um you know gabrielle gabby pointed out this morning that you know like she was she had worked a little bit harder on her branding before she went to sir tex but that was a lesson it's not like you can put yourself out there with nothing you have to start somewhere and sometimes you're going to realize you got a lot more work to do but you have to start somewhere and so you take what you have now and the ideas you have about your business now and you begin to build your brand now what happens to all of us as creative people is that changes over time the work I do now is very different than the work I was doing seven years ago. The work I do now is actually different than what I was doing two years ago um and so every couple of years I don't unnecessarily rebrand aesthetically um too much but I'll make a new website cause it's also important to keep up with new technology and ways you know there there was a time when all the images on your site had to be pretty small or they would take forever to load that's not a problem for most you know, internet service providers now like load our larger images can load relatively quickly so we can have larger images images on our site there are new ways to share your work that didn't exist before, so we're all were changing partly because technology's changing and options for us and showing our work are changing but also creatively and artistically you're you're going to change um and I think lisa was talking about that too you know your focus is going to change your work is going to change sometimes it's going to get better sometimes it's just going to be different you're gonna experiment with new things, you're going to decide that you like things better um and then you switch things up and you know the great thing about being a working artist is that like the more successful you get and the more income you bring in the more freedom you have to pay people to help you do it better, you know, exponentially, but you have to start somewhere even if you were re sources are slim. My first website was something I paid a student to help me make, and I think it was only out for about a year and was so clunky, and then I decided that I could do it better. So in three days I read a book about dream weaver number that that's like dream weaver for dummies, and I made my own website, which is probably even clunkier than the one she made for me, but like I made it so I was really proud of it and I remember once I went to the bank andi I had to meet with a teller like in one of those little offices and he was helping me with some banking thing and he says so what do you do? And I said, well, I'm on artists he said, well, what's your name and I had only ever looked at my site on a mac and he had a pc so he googled my name and my state came up and it was terrible like you couldn't read it and everything was all wrong and nothing looked right to know it so embarrassed because this guy was looking at my site and I was like, oh gosh, I've never looked at my work on a pc this looks terrible I mean, now it is I don't have to worry as much about that because platforms are automatically geared to show well on different browsers and everything, but it was a big learning lesson for me and so I like literally went home and it's like I have to make a new site right away. Then for the first time I paid someone to do it for me on dh, then I've continued to pay people tto make my sight better, which is once you're bringing in an income something that you've spent money on us an artist is, you know design and branding and all those things you don't have to do them all yourself just like you don't have to do all your accounting yourself you don't have to do all your book keeping yourself you don't even have to do all your promotions yourself yes you should do some of it yourself but you know eventually you khun farm these things out but yeah started somewhere and know that it's going to change and that's okay um all right homework if you have the energy and people over in europe you're probably have already um you can continue to work on your vision map core values and goal setting charts and I encourage you to do this if you have energy because it's fresh in your mind and you're probably feeling a certain level of motivation so even if it's laying in bed tonight going home sitting on the couch with a glass of wine whatever like finishing up the stuff that you feel like you just got started on while it's fresh and then I want you to also continue to develop the key words for your businesses personality and really think about those uh what I do sometimes when I'm brainstorming ideas or feelings that I want to imet into the world I'll make a list of them and pin them somewhere to make them visual and you can remind yourself of that um so today what if we done what we accomplished tell me shout out what we accomplished today one of the most awesome things was talking teo your guests about how to get into galleries and getting all of the nuts and bolts together for profession ality and um teo get ready tio show and tryto submit that's really awesome. So that motivated you and inspire it it I think any time you take the mystery out of something it takes the fear away from it. Okay, I think is really powerful. So you know, I think knowledge is always gonna do that for us. Shed some light on the shadow. Yeah that's great else what else to be accomplished today? I liked the exercise where we did the vision mapping I think it's something that we've all done in one form or another, but it's just a nice reminder to see what where you are now as to pose as opposed to where you are. We're before over the last time you do that exercise and it's also very motivating to do it in a group like this and talk about it because there's a sense of accountability with it. So I thought that was extremely helpful to begin the day with that's great, what else have we accomplish her achieved today? Uh, see people looking around out there as the mike makes its way over, we talked about taking those big visionary goals in breaking them down, chunking them down until one hour or one day segments right and that's really important because this has to feel manageable. Umm I want all of you two I feel like whatever your goal is as an artist, whatever. If you want to make a full time living in doing a combination of things eventually, or doing one thing, if you just want to make enough income so that you only have to have a part time job, whatever your goal is, whatever your big goals are, I want you to feel like they're possible, and you may not have gotten all the information you need today, and you may not have all of the tools, but my hope is that you have more than you came in with this morning and that you are able to take the first steps and that you know that this process of saying I want to land here, um, in order to get there, I need to do these things and part of that is research, right? Because, again, we don't always know what it takes to get where we want to go, which is why it was important to have lisa and cary here because they filled in a lot of the gaps, and we'll get that again tomorrow around illustration and licensing. And also selling your work online, which I'm going to talk about at length, so that's the research part and you're gonna continue to do that. We can't give you all the answers, right? You have to seek them out. A lot of them are in my book, a lot of them are in other people's books, too, or just out there in the internet and and so doing a research and then making a plan based on that and then beginning to take action and some small steps, um, makes it potentially feel more manageable. So anybody else? Yeah, hi, I'm alexa hung. I'm a photographer and arts educator and it's one of the most simple and bold things he said, but he repeated it over and over, which is just a start now. Yeah, um, and anyone at any stage, you know, whether you hired the the young student for your first website, it's, really incremental and having the actionable steps? Um, even if it's just like once a week that snowballs and people sharing their processes liberating to here. So, yeah, I think that that's such a great point because, um, I think that we look at other people who are successful, and we think if you didn't know me from back when I had that clunky website like let's say you only learned who I was through signing up from this course or you might say oh wow you know, like she's always had like she's always had a successful business but it took me years to get where I am now and I had to start with where I had to start, where I wass and what I could afford then was a student to design me a clunky website um but it was a website, you know, and I sort of have incrementally like gotten better and had more resource is toe have nicer things or for the look and feel of my work to be more professional but best to start now because if you wait forever for all those things to fall into place you're never gonna get there because you're waiting so start now any last thoughts all right. I just wanted to, uh thank you for talking about fear and the creative fear and how to embrace it and I tried not to make it paralyzing. Um I found that very helpful and I enjoyed hearing what you had to say about that. Thank you. Thank you. Um yeah super important to understand that this is something we all experience this vulnerability sense of fear, a sense of insecurity um we were talking lunch about I had mentioned the gerhard richter documentary earlier and how it's just so clear that he is in this state of discomfort quite often about his work. And and christian was also saying he had watched the documentary, and he was saying that he also noticed that this how he has to he's very shy man and has to engage with the public constantly because this is really well known artist and then that's it clearly very uncomfortable for him. And yet he does it. He does it because it comes part and parcel with with, with the rest of the package of being ah well known, fine artist. And so that often we're gonna be doing things that are really uncomfortable and difficult. And you know, some of those things we can choose to do or not choose to dio depending on what our goals are. But that this idea fear and, you know, discomfort doesn't necessarily go away. So we just have to learn to work through it and work with it and embrace it and use it to motivate us.

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.