Moody, Minimalist Landscape Painting

Posts tagged “writing about your art

Mentoring for Artists for Career and Work Support


The very idea of functioning in the marketplace often brings up feelings of fear and dread for artists. Add to that the sense of being an outsider and you have an inner construct of resistance and defensiveness (you reject me?—I reject you!). As a result, some artists simply never step out of their studios with their work, while others resign themselves to the effort, but do it sporadically and badly, carrying their baggage of resistance.

As a full time, self-supporting artist, exhibiting in multiple galleries for decades, I have followed my natural curiosity about how things work, consistently gathering information from my galleries, my artist friends, and my collectors about how art and sales are successfully made. Finding myself  frequently passing this information on to fellow artists at openings and other events, I decided to more actively share my knowledge, forming in 2006 my first mentoring group. Blending the modalities of coaching, support groups, and seminars on career development (and designed to be affordable for artists), my groups have been filled through word of mouth.

It pleases me greatly to help other artists mitigate their anxiety about the process of entering or participating in the art marketplace. Many times artists are in isolation, reinventing the wheel, when the information that they need is fairly straightforward. Other times, situations have their own wrinkle and require the targeted advice that comes from experience. In either case, I love sharing what I know, and also enjoy working with the highly diverse bodies of work presented by the artists who I mentor. 

Mentoring support is designed to help artists in any and all areas needed to help them progress on their paths, both artistically and in the marketplace.

The areas in need of support vary from artist to artist, but include:

-Focusing on art-making via a body of work that explores, with consistency and depth, a unique set of interests.

-Learning to network effectively with other artists and developing a collector list; the use of email, social networking, websites and blogs.

-Helping the artist understand the difference between the venues available for exhibiting art: finding those that are appropriate to their work and experience; discussing how these relationships work and how to navigate them.

-Creating all of the written pieces that are a requirement for the exhibiting (and submitting) artist—resume, artist’s statement, bio—and in the process, becoming comfortable with any piece of writing called for in future  relationships and events.

-Pricing: framing, mounting, or 3-di presentation; studio and file organization; selecting work for a show or submission; and open studio or studio tour events.

-Learning to speak about one’s work, which then applies to all of the situations where that not only gives the artist an edge, but also allows them  the confidence and peace of mind that they can conduct these conversations effectively (and even have fun doing it).

-Issues of self-confidence, not getting waylaid by setbacks, and developing a proactive habit of ethical self-advocacy.

My intake workshop is the intro to this work, but can also stand on its own as a way of advancing and inspiring an artist’s career. This is a day-long seminar that includes much information necessary to understanding the functioning of the art world, and an opportunity for each artist to show their work and air their issues, followed by advice from me and feedback from the group.

Monthly meetings are three hours long, and open to all who have attended an intake workshop for new artists or have had a private consult with me. With a current pool of  about 40 artists, each meeting capped at six artists, the mix for any particular meeting is always interesting and invigorating. Each artist brings in work or concerns that are current, with a round-robin discussion that gives the artist time to seek advice for particular or pressing concerns.

Private sessions are in the artist’s studio, when geographically possible, or through a combination of email and phone. All of the above areas are covered, with the targeted focus of one-on-one. I am available to help organize and select work for an upcoming exhibit; sequence the hanging of a show; help prep an artist’s studio for an open studio event; and work with the public if the artist is not prepared to do so.

Phone consults are available as needed, often in conjunction with emailed images or documents requiring feedback, sometimes supplementing studio visits and/or monthly meetings.

“In the six years that I have been working with Christie, her mentoring has opened up a new vocabulary and path of action for approaching art as a vocation, as well as a broader appreciation for what other artists are accomplishing in their practices.  Producing art can be a lonely process, and Christie has provided many opportunities to get feedback on work, find outlets, meet other artists and most importantly, work out the next step.”

 Kari Feuer, 2012

“When I finally bit the bullet and enrolled in my first mentoring session with Christie, one of the other participants was shocked that I was there, asking for help with my career. Well, I was stuck and unsure about what to do next. My work was, and still is, at a good level but my career was stalled. I had always admired Christie’s grasp of the business of art and I wanted to learn, so there I was. I am moving forward now, thanks to working with Christie; and I have peers with whom I can discuss ideas, in a safe, calm, and respectful environment. I now, when finding myself in an art situation that I am unsure how to handle, ask myself “What would Christie do?” And I do it. And it works.”

Polly Law, 2012