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Creating a Fine Art Series

Lesson 56 of 70

Failure vs. Sell Out

Brooke Shaden

Creating a Fine Art Series

Brooke Shaden

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Lesson Info

56. Failure vs. Sell Out
Brooke shares how the most successful artists straddle a line between personal work and consideration of audience.


  Class Trailer
Now Playing
1 Class Introduction Duration:07:25
3 Your Timeline is Nonlinear Duration:05:37
5 What Factors Dictate Growth Duration:08:24
7 Niche Branding Duration:04:57
11 Idea Fluency Duration:10:33
12 How to Represent an Idea Duration:07:01
13 How to Innovate an Idea Duration:07:07
22 Shooting for a Fine Art Series Duration:05:45
24 Wardrobe and Texture Duration:04:54
25 Posing for the Story Duration:05:32
26 Choosing an Image Duration:01:23
28 Posing for the Story Duration:04:17
29 Creating Backlight Duration:02:37
33 Shooting the Background Images Duration:06:14
54 Oil Painting on Prints Duration:05:41
55 Encaustic Wax on Prints Duration:03:09
56 Failure vs. Sell Out Duration:05:14
58 Branding Yourself Into a Story Duration:05:40
59 The Artistic Narrative Duration:05:26
61 Get People to Buy Your Story Duration:11:36
63 Pricing For Commissions Duration:06:43
65 Class Outro Duration:01:00
66 Live Premiere Duration:16:14
69 Live Premiere: Q&A Duration:16:10
70 Live Premiere: Photo Critique Duration:47:33

Lesson Info

Failure vs. Sell Out

We're going to talk about the business of fine art, and there is a lot to talk about when it comes to that, because fine art again is just personal work. So how do you set up an entire business around something that's completely personal? What are you supposed to do with that? Well, we have to talk about branding, because personal work means that we're putting ourselves into the work that we're doing. So we have to create a very special narrative all around us. And if you're uncomfortable with branding yourself into your business, think of it as more of your essence rather than you yourself. You have the choice of how you move forward with branding. We're also going to talk about galleries creating original prints, creating Siri's prints, limited edition and open edition prints. So all of that is going to get covered right now, and I'm really excited to dig in because it's one of my favorite topics ever. The first thing that I wanted to bring up is this idea of being a failure and bein...

g a sellout, because very, very often artists get branded as one or the other, and it is a massive problem, in my opinion, because both of them have negative connotations for things that most people will have to do in the industry to survive. So let's start with failure. What does it mean to be a failure? Well, first of all, it essentially means that you didn't reach your goal, but as we talked about with the timeline goals and timelines and setting dates for your success is pretty arbitrary. So I don't necessarily like to talk about failure in terms of not meeting a goal by a certain time. We often think that were a failure if ah goal isn't met or if an image doesn't work out or if success doesn't come in the way that we think that it's going thio. But those are all things that will necessarily happen on the way to success or to quitting. So failure is a stepping stone, of course, and it's often the thing that forces people to stop their business or to never start one. So if you want to make money from fine art, you have to recognize that failure is part of that process, and the more you can incorporate your failures into your brand the more likely you're going to be to move forward through those failures rather than letting them stop you the next term that I absolutely hate. ISS sell out and sell out really just refers to somebody who changes their style or their values in some way to accommodate outside influence and to make money. There should be nothing wrong with changing something about the way that you work to put more wealth into your life unless you're going against your moral code. So this is where there's a lot of confusion in terms of how do you make money from fine art? Because artists more than any other profession, I would argue, are expected to be humble and to stick to their own values and never compromise, even though almost every other profession is allowed to acquiesce to other people's demands or, um, anything that they want really, for getting the product out to them. So this is, in my opinion, one of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to artists having a career in fine art, which is not wanting to be labeled as sell out as not a really artist, but also feeling like a failure when you don't get to that point where you're making money from your art. It's a little bit of a Catch 22 because either you're compromising in some way usually to sell your art or you're not selling anything, so you haven't reached that milestone. I think that some compromise in art is probably a necessity for a lot of people to be able to sell their art. Now that does not necessarily mean changing your style, changing your concepts, anything like that. So I'm not trying to say change what you do to please a crowd. That is not what I am saying. But I think that if you're willing to make some slight changes for connectivity gain, so to connect better with an audience or for monetary gain, I don't necessarily think that we should be able to sell out for doing that. So then think about this. How often do you think does somebody cell substantially without making any compromise or taking the audience into account? How often do you think people are selling Ah lot without thinking about the market that they're selling? Thio? I think it's quite little and I think that the artists who have been able to create anything that they want and still sell that still have a brain for branding. And they're thinking about how that work is being presented to an audience. You might call that sellout. I call that smart, and it's okay if we disagree about that. But I want to make something clear, which is that if you want to make money from your art, it's very beneficial to think about how you're going to get that art into the hands of who's going to buy it. That's part of marketing that's part of branding, and some might say that's part of selling out, but I don't think so. It's all about this willingness to consider the customer.

Class Description


  • Beat “creator's block” by practicing exercises to help you overcome it
  • Conceptualize a series that nails story, emotion, and connection
  • Execute a low-budget, high-impact photoshoot for your series
  • Edit your images for series cohesion and seamless compositing
  • Brand yourself and your art into a story that others can connect with


Creating a fine art body of work can be daunting when you consider that a great series has innovative ideas, cohesive editing, and an undeniable connection to an audience. During this class, Brooke will walk through the entire process of creating a fine art series, from conceptualization, shooting, and editing to branding and pricing. The success of a body of work comes from the artist’s ability to go beyond the connection to an audience; it must land in the heart of the viewer and then instill a call to action within them. Brooke will lead you through not only how to make your work relatable, but how to take that extra step to become unforgettable, and ultimately, sellable.


  • Intermediate creators who want to focus on personal work and find a deeper level of creating.
  • Creators who not only want to tighten the cohesion of their work but ensure that the full depth of meaning is communicated.
  • Artists who want to learn simple yet effective ways of creating a body of personal work.


Adobe Photoshop 2020 (v21.2.4) and Adobe Bridge CC 2020 (v10.1.1)


Brooke explores the darkness and light in people, and her work looks at that juxtaposition. As a self-portrait artist, she photographs herself and becomes the characters of dreams inspired by a childhood of intense imagination and fear. Being the creator and the actor, Brooke controls her darkness and confronts those fears.

After studying films for years in college, she realized her love of storytelling was universal. She started photography then in 2008, excited to create in solitude and take on character roles herself. Brooke works from a place of theme, often gravitating toward death and rebirth or beauty and decay.

Ultimately, her process is more discovery than creation. She follows her curiosity into the unknown to see who her characters might become. Brooke believes the greatest gift an artist has is the ability to channel fears, hopes, and experience into a representation of one's potential.

While her images come from a personal place of exploration, the goal in creating is not only to satisfy herself; her greatest wish is to show others a part of themselves. Art is a mirror for the creator and the observer.

Brooke's passion is storytelling, and her life is engulfed in it. From creating self-portraits and writing to international adventures and motivational speeches, she wants to live a thousand lives in one. She keeps her curiosity burning to live a truly interesting story.

*This course contains artistic nudity.


a Creativelive Student

Brooke never fails to deliver. I found this course superb from start to finish. From exercising your creative 'muscle', demystifying taking self portraits, and showing that they don't have to be perfect before you begin editing, to walking you through her editing process and how to price your work. Brooke's enthusiastic personality and excitement about the work shines through it all. Definitely recommended!

Søren Nielsen

Thank for fantastic motivating an very inspiring. The story telling and selling module was very helpful - thanks from Denmark

Rebecca Potter

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Brooke for this amazing class. Inspired and so full of practical knowledge, this is the best class I've ever watched. You have given me the confidence to pursue what I've always been afraid to do. Watch this space!