Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Question of the Week

Hey Slash,
Do you know a good newsletter service? Which one do you use?
I'm in the process of setting one up... I'd like to set up an HTML newsletter eventually, but for now even just a text one that addresses everyone personally and deals with spam reporting and such, would be great.

Answer: Everyone is using Constant Contact. Yawn, Yawn. It looks cool, right.... maybe too cool? Definitely, sort of like the mall looks cool to a teenager. Do you really want to go and hang out at the mall. I don't. Most times I don't want to read a newsletter either.

In a world where the tweet is replacing Facebook messages and e-mail is old skool, the e-newsletter is like a dinosaur. If you're really wanting to connect with your fanbase I would suggest asking yourself what your goals are and then work from there.

Do you have enough content to warrant a newsletter to begin with?
(If you have too little or two much it's a liability, not an asset).

What do you plan to achieve by sending me this dinosauer bone every month?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Myth #4: Artists Have Demons

when “the neon man and me” opened in richmond, there were only four people in the audience. one of those four would eventually lead me to pbs. sometimes, it’s not about the number of seats you fill, but the quality of the crowd that counts.

i’ve performed in front of sold out shows, where the audience was flat and made me question my decision to perform. i’ve performed in front of smaller crowds where the audience laughed at every thing i did and made me feel like a million bucks.  there is a certain energy that artists feel from others, a certain validation, a certain magic, which doesn’t necessarily come from the number of people in the crowd.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Gratitude Blasts

Want to keep the demons at bay, try Gratitude Blasts

Another important step I take after reaching a goal involves what I call a Gratitude Blast. First, for a week after I’ve reached any important goal, I begin and end each day by naming out loud and writing down the people I am grateful for helping me reach my goal. I’m not sure exactly why it works, but some amazing things will begin to happen in your life when you do this. It seems like the more grateful you are for things, the more things come into your life for you to be grateful for. Try it for at least 30 days and you’ll be surprised at the results.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Myth #4: Artists Have Demons

At the EG conference in December 2007, artist Jonathan Harris discusses his latest projects, which involve collecting stories: his own, strangers', and stories collected from the Internet, including his amazing "We Feel Fine."

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Myth #4: Artists Have Demons

Coming to Terms with Rejection
Here’s the most common dilemma. An artist wants more exposure, but fears rejection. Rejection in the past, especially in terms of his artwork, may have included an extra sting because his self esteem has been, for so long, directly connected to his artwork. Reject his artwork and you reject the reflection of who the artist feels he is as a person. Even a small comment may send the artist into a tailspin resulting in depression, anger, or ennui. Then, when all is said and done, a comment like, “Why do you have to be so sensitive?” comes along and now the artist feels like he’s walking around with his skin on inside out.

Businesses obviously don’t view their “work” this way. If they did, the shelves in our stores would probably be pretty bare. Can you imagine the Budweiser distributor falling into the fetal position every time a convenience store owner decided not to carry his product? Businesses view their work as a product or a unit with a price tag. Products can be plugged into a spreadsheet. Products can be rung up on a cash register. Simply speaking, the number of units sold minus the cost of creating the unit equals the amount of money the business gets to take home. The business has no risk connected to the “self.” Their product isn’t an extension of anyone. There’s no anxiety at the cash register in the convenience store when you choose a can of Pepsi over a can of Coke or a pack of Doritos over a pack of Fritos.

Traditionally, this typical struggle of the artist is viewed as a psychological hurdle - nothing a few therapy sessions wouldn’t cure. I’ve heard it suggested that this is a negative trait that needs to be eliminated. But, I disagree. Rather, I would say that it’s a noble trait that needs to be honored.

Artists aren’t broken. We don’t need to be fixed. Our sensitivity doesn’t need to be dulled down. The same sensitivity that allows us to create our work is the same sensitivity that allows us to feel such anxiety during business transactions

Friday, September 25, 2009

Myth #4: Artists Have Demons

In my documentary film, “Glow,” my father is interviewed in his art studio. He says, “A lot of people think it’s easy being an artist, but it’s not. Sometimes it’s a curse. I mean, it’s like you have a lot of demons inside of you that you have to fight with and sometimes they have a tendency to want to come out.” He then proceeds to put his arm around a life-size sculpture of a demon. 

Unless you make demons for horror movies as my father does, then the demons you may be contending with are all of your own doing. It doesn’t make them any less real, but what artists sometimes refer to as demons, are for all extensive purposes just unresolved issues that may be better worked out with a therapist. Everyone has them; artists just tend to link them together with their art.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Artist of the Week

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is comedian and designer, David Pijor. (Visit our group page to find a link to his work and read more about him).


Check our "Manifest Your Creative Destiny" group out at

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Myth #5: You need a day job to support your art

They say that the words our parents use with us are the words that we use against ourselves for the rest of our lives. This means that all of that self talk we hear in our head, like, “You’re not good enough” or “That was such a stupid mistake,” are things we’ve heard someone else say to us at one time or another - more than likely it was our parents. For me, the myth about the day job has been the hardest myth to kick. Although my father has been an artist his entire life, he really believes Myth # 5 to the core and he pushed it into my head with all his might.

So what’s an artist to do surrounded by a world of limiting beliefs that’s as big as Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s all rolled into one? Nothing makes me madder than hearing others around me buy into those myths. As someone famous once said, “To suffer in silence is a sin.” I will reprimand you if you’re around me and your slinging such hash. What do you do?

The answer is in your art, my friends, in your heart my friends, not in the outside world or in the opinions of others, for it is in your heart and your art where your dreams are born, grown and manifest.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Myth #5: You need a day job to support your art

Ditching the Day Job?
Does your day job give you enough time and energy to not only create, but also market your art consistently each week?

If not, there are still some things to consider before you make the jump. If you’re going to have a legitimate art career without a day job, you should, at the very least, plan to: 

·        work long hours, usually 10 to 15 hours a day seven days a week.
·        spend about 65% of your time doing business tasks as opposed to creative tasks.
·        devote 3 hours of business promotion time for every hour of creative time.
·        spend some of your savings on your start-up costs.
·        have an income that isn’t steady or consistent.
·        get lonely.
·        fight the odds of failing. According to the Small Business Administration 4 out of 5 small businesses fail within five years.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Question of the Week: Naca and the College Market

Q: Have you ever done any of these college booking conferences - NACA, APCA, APAP? Looking into them wondering if the investment is worth it and if you haven't gone if you know of anyone who has that I could talk to and see what their experience with it was.

A: The reality is that the college market is a beast and breaking into it is a b*^*h. Let's just say it takes some tried and true strength to do it. The learning curve is huge to say the least and the pay off, is, well, lets just say it’s not consistent.

If you want more info on taking on the college market check out these great links:

1) My "Fringe or Die" blog article on NACA -

2) This is the best blog article I've read on booking the college circuit. It's very truthful:

3) My friend's article on NACA (Her name is Jeri Goldstein, she wrote the book "How to be Your Own Booking Agent") -

4) Derek Siver's (the owner of article on the college market was awesome, especially his article on how to create a flyer and postcard for that market - (it's a very different beast). I used all the advice he gave in this article and it was very helpful:

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Artist Speak: Hari Sreenivasan

"Collaboration can be a huge lift to the mundane. When I was making my living as a painter, my friend and I held something called art church. We would meet at my studio one Sunday each month and paint each other’s portraits. Then, after a short break we would work on our own stuff. Sometimes having company in your studio while you work can add a really great energy to your work environment"

 Below, watch how 3-d chalk artist, Hari Sreenivasan, finds inspiration in the ordinary.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Artist of the Week: Valley Haggard

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is writer Valley Haggard.Valley Haggard is a memoirist, blogger, journalist and Book editor for Style Weekly. Her upcoming book is about international travel, reckless sex, cruise ships, cowboys, trains, buses, lesbians, decadence, hash, red wine, Jonah and the whale, heartache, rainbows, God, dying, baby horses, and coming home to Richmond, VA.

Check out group out at

Friday, September 18, 2009

Myth #5: You need a day job to support your art

Ever wonder why some artists seem to shoot straight to the top, quitting their day jobs and manifesting their creative destiny almost immediately while others linger in struggle for what seems like forever? In this inspiring video Margaret Wertheim talks about how filling a 3,000 square foot space with a coral reef she knitted (yes you read that correctly) helped an entire creative universe unfold.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Myth #5: You need a day job to support your art

In the closing lines of my one man show, The Neon Man and Me, I reflect on my life and say, “So now, after 134 jobs in 8 different states, in two different countries, I’m home, to be, as my best friend said, amongst my people.” It took me almost a year of performing the show to finally hear the number “134” as if someone one else were speaking it to me. I’ve never bothered to measure myself against others, but I’m sure the number of day jobs I’ve held in order to pursue my creative passions can’t be all that big when compared to other artists who’ve kept menial jobs or even entrepreneurs who seem to be driven toward their own private sense of accomplishment.

For instance, when I first started performing my one man show, “The Neon Man and Me,” I took on a day job as an upholsterer at my family’s furniture business. Having the day job took the pressure off me to continually fill a venue to pay my bills. I wanted to build a fan base and let the show grow without any pressure. The decision paid off.  “The Neon Man and Me,” eventually won awards, took me off-Broadway and became a PBS special. In the early days I could barely fill a forty seat community center, whereas now I feel confident renting out a black box with a couple hundred seats. And yes, I eventually quit my day job.

The reality is that unless you are working with some numbers written down on a piece of paper comparing your expenses each month to your income, you really have no idea if you need a day job to support your art. Success changes for each artist and is relative to the goals and objectives he is working toward. Besides, you may need to keep a day job for the social aspect, or because you crave the structure of a routine. The truth is, like anything related to art and life, a day job is a choice and the choice to work at one or not is always a choice under your control.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Myth Six 1 g: You will get "discovered."

I was surprisingly comforted when I read Steve Martin's book and learned that he too thought his world was going to change after his first appearance on national television. Yet, his first appearance on the Johnny Carson show barely left a blip on the radar. The amount of money in the bank didn't change for him, the number of people in his subsequent shows didn't increase for him, the number of fans who recognized him in the streets didn't change. 

My guess is that instead of being "disvovered" he discovered a little bit more about himself. He went onto to say that it wasn't until he had appeared on Carson about 12 times, Letterman around 17 times and then had another appearance on SNL that things began to shift. Does it make sense? Of course. When I see a comedian on a show or an actor in a movie once, I don't rush out and Google them. It takes a while for me to recognize who they are and what they do.

When I landed my first cover story, it was a bit of a mind game. I was excited, but the money in my bank account didn't change, I wasn't suddenly inundated with telephone calls asking me to perform, and I was never recognized in the street from it. Yet, I was excited (very) and then disappointed. I realized that the feelings that I wanted to feel (that "rock star" feeling) needed to come from inside of me. These feelings aren't dependent on any person, place or condition. Generating these feelings on an ongoing basis is what helps to comprise our self-esteem and self-confidence. It's up to us to manage these feelings on our own independant of what may or may not be happening in our career.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Myth Six 1f: You will get "discovered."

Hidden in the old growth of judgments and expectations and fears, there is something you want to say with your art, something that burns inside you so passionately that you would have to do it or risk burning up in the atmosphere and crash. My guess is that this story has nothing to do with being discovered. My guess is that it has very little to do with being on Oprah. Yet, it has everything to do with finding that one illusive thing that people will connect with.

As Jeri Goldstein, artist consultant and author of the book “How to be Your Own Booking Agent,” confesses, “Artists need to understand that they have to create a demand for what they are offering and this can’t be created out of thin air.”
The demand that you create comes first. The so-called “discovery” comes next. What have you done today in terms of your art career to help you connect with others in the world? If you said nothing, you should know there are thousands of artists out there with less talent than you who did at least one thing today to bring them closer to their own success. If you’re waiting to be discovered, it may just be an excuse. You need to focus on what you want, move in the direction of your vision and be vigilant about your plan of action.  
Jeri Goldstein
Jeri Goldstein is a former music agent and manager who is author of the award-winning self-published book How To Be Your Own Booking Agent (now in it’s 7th printing). The book is used as a text book in music business courses at Universities across the US and in Canada and by musicians and performing artists world-wide. Jeri is also a performing arts consultant who offers strategies and techniques on booking tours, negotiation techniques, marketing, music business and performing arts career development.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Myth Six 1e: You will get "discovered."

Though American Idol and The Secret would have you think otherwise, there really is no short cut to your dreams. You still need to do the basic work to create a road map for where you eventually want to end up in terms of your career.
How will you lending a hand to yourself as you create a solid foundation to attract the artistic success you’re seeking? If you’re crying now, how will you take a growing fan base? If you’re complaining now, how will you be able to handle more and more media exposure? If you’re exhausted now how will handle an increase in your artistic value and a public appearance schedule that may make you week in the knees?
The truth is you won’t. Enjoy the arduous climb up; it’s building your muscles so you can stay dedicated to your creative ambitions over the long haul. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Myth Six 1d: You will get "discovered."

The movie “Lost in Translation,” is about an extremely successful advertising actor named Bob Harris (Bill Murray).  He gets paid millions of dollars to travel to exotic locations and have his photo taken sipping drinks. He also spends most of his life alone in a hotel room, away from his friends and family. He’s rich, but he’s miserable. He’s well traveled and he’s completely lost. The two tag lines for the film are “Everybody wants to be found” and “Sometimes you have to go halfway around the world to come full circle.”
Bob Harris would be considered, by most standards, to be someone who had achieved most of his goals. Why then is he so miserable? 

Artists don’t often think about what the driving force is behind the things they want so bad. What is significant to you? What has meaning for you? What are you most passionate about? Or in the words of storyteller and career coach, Susan Klein, “What makes you creatively salivate?” 

If you don’t think about these things first, it’s easy to wake up years down the road and realize you’ve been chasing someone else’s dream or doing things you never really wanted to do. Like Bob Harris you may get 1.2 million dollars for each commercial, but you might be incredibly miserable. Before you even begin to think about what success means to you and before you sit down and write down a bunch of random goals, you should know what is behind your driving need to succeed. 

Susan Klein
Born and raised on Martha's Vineyard, Susan Klein is an internationally-known, professional storyteller, and author of Through a Ruby Window, a collection of stories about the Vineyard in the ‘50s and ‘60s.  As owner of Ruby Window Productions, Susan offers acclaimed Story Wisdom® workshops for lawyers, educators, writers, and speakers, and coaching and editing for the page and stage through An Alien Eye. Susan is a director/producer of numerous award-winning spoken-word recordings, an the 2007 recipient of the Creative Living Award presented by the Permanent Endowment of Martha’s Vineyard and the National Storytelling Network’s coveted Circle of Excellence Award.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Myth Six 1c: You will get "discovered."

“Like a lot of artists just starting out, I didn’t have a lot of focus in the beginning of my career. I mean there isn’t a factory that is manufacturing success templates. I just wanted to be published and didn’t put much thought into it otherwise. And so, I ended up reinventing the wheel lots of times. 

What I didn’t have then is faith and trust that things would work out. Creating my own 2-3 sentence mission, which reveals a certain level of maturity and growth as an artist has helped me head in the direction I want to go in, assess where I am now compared to where it is I want to be, and empower me to decide which projects I should say, “No” to. Now I see that it’s not a mystery to build the artistic career I’ve always wanted. It’s just that you have to have the courage to clarify it, claim it, and take steps toward it.”

Martha Randolph Carr
Martha Randolph Carr, is a nationally syndicated columnist, author, and speaker. She is the author of “A Place to Call Home,” (Prometheus), “Wired” (Nimrod House) and “The Sitting Sisters” (Cumberland House). Carr speaks to groups across the country through The New Voice Movement speaker’s bureau on the topics of race & politics, change, celebrating your children and spiritual growth. She is also the founder of the Family Tree Project, an online orphan registry to reunite the more than 200,000 older alumni of U.S. orphanages. She resides in New York City.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Artist of the Week

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is performer Noel Williams. 

Check our group "Manifest Your Creative Destiny" at

Myth Six 1b: You will get "discovered."

The value of nothing and something out of nothing. Eighteen minutes from Amy Tan that will change the way you think about getting discovered.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Artist Myth Six 1a: You will get "discovered."

From the time PBS gave me the green light to film my production to the actual airing of the special was nearly three and a half years. The project itself included about five separate Action Plans. It seemed there was a new goal related to the project around every turn. 
During that time there were a lot of ups and downs related to that particular project. In addition, I also had many other projects going on. Mounting my PBS fundraising efforts alone took a huge amount of emotional and social energy. In addition, I had massive expectations that I carried around in my head the whole time about what the opportunity might mean for my career. 

When I reached my fundraising goal, you would have thought I would have felt elated. Instead, I felt incredibly empty and lost. Had I not experienced the feeling before, the very first time I went on a cross country tour and had a similar experience, I would have been convinced I had been struck with clinical depression. Other performers and artists I’ve talked to have experienced the same thing.  And how can we not, considering what a huge emotional swing it is to go from performing in front of a huge crowd one day to being alone in your apartment the next. Moving toward a goal and achieving it can often have the same effect, so it helps to plan for it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set
When you begin to make a living doing what you love, there will be a flip or a change that occurs. What was once a joyous escape will suddenly become your work. If you aren’t prepared, it can be overwhelming, after all where do you escape to when the things you once escaped to no longer exist? Long hours and a constant work drive can and will burn you out and feeling overwhelmed can easily happen when you don’t give yourself enough options. 

As Book Editor, Valley Haggard, admits, “It’s easy to get sucked into the field. So much energy is put into writing about other peoples work that I find it challenging to take the time to develop my own work. There’s a fine line between doing what you love and having to do what you love. It can definitely steal some of your fire if you don’t watch out.”

Valley Haggard
Valley Haggard is a memoirist, blogger, journalist and Book editor for Style Weekly. Her upcoming book is about international travel, reckless sex, cruise ships, cowboys, trains, buses, lesbians, decadence, hash, red wine, Jonah and the whale, heartache, rainbows, God, dying, baby horses, and coming home to Richmond, VA.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set

From my interview with artist/designer Noah Scalin:
"There’s the job that you to make money and then there’s who you are. I’m not my job. The way that I make a living as a creative person doesn’t define the totality of who I am. A lot of people are surprised that my studio is at home and I work regular business hours (M-F 10-6) For me, if these boundaries are blurred it leads to confusion. Structure allows me to be a part of the business world."

Noah Scalin
Noah Scalin is a blogger, musician, visual artist, author, graphic designer and founder of ALR Designs. Noah’s work at ALR has gained international exposure in over two-dozen books and is frequently featured in design publications which led to the development of a course on socially conscious design for Virginia Commonwealth University. Noah also founded, SPROUT, a long running community supported agriculture group. Skulls, a book based on his award-winning blog Skull-A-Day, was published in October 2008 by Lark Books.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set
Does your day job give you enough time and energy to not only create, but also market your art consistently each week? If not, there are still some things to consider before you make the jump. If you’re going to have a legitimate art career without a day job, you should, at the very least, plan to:
·         work long hours, usually 10 to 15 hours a day seven days a week.
·         spend about 65% of your time doing business tasks as opposed to creative tasks.
·         devote 3 hours of business promotion time for every hour of creative time.
·         spend some of your savings on your start-up costs.
·         have an income that isn’t steady or consistent.
·         get lonely.
·         fight the odds of failing. According to the Small Business Administration 4 out of 5 small businesses fail within five years.

For artists like TV host, Mark Montano, this freedom allows him to spend the majority of his days creating. “I’d say I spend about 12 hours a day creating, says Montano. “It’s what I love so I also feel that when I’m deep in a creative project, it’s a form of active meditation.  So, I’m lucky in that aspect.  It’s like being a creative monk you could say.  I try my best not to get in my own way.”
Mark Montano
Mark Montano is an interior designer, artist, writer and TV personality. Best known as his work on both the Style Network and The Learning Channel: Ten Years Younger, which he hosted, While You Were Out, on which he frequently appears as a designer, and My Celebrity Home where he has been both host and designer.  Montano can currently be seen on WE TV's new show, "She's Moving In". Montano is also the author of several books and has a regular column in the teen magazine Cosmo Girl. His latest book is "The Big-Ass Book of Crafts.”

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set

Myth Seven: When I make a million, I’ll be set
In the early days, before I knew better, I used to hire fellow artists and friends to help me with menial labor. I mean why not, right? They were always willing to help me frame paintings or pick up supplies, especially around the holiday season. It worked out relatively well. They made a few bucks and I didn’t feel as stressed. Besides, it was nice having company in my studio.

When I started needing help marketing my art, I applied the same equation, not realizing that “strapped for cash,” and having “free time,” weren’t the best qualifiers to use for a potential employee.  Can you imagine what it would sound like if you applied for a job and during the interview you said, “Well, I need money and I’ve got free time to kill, so I think you should hire me?"

It took a couple of years and a lot of damaged friendships for me to realize that most of my friends just weren’t qualified to act as my art agent or sales representative. Artists and artist-run businesses run into this problem again and again. Qualifications just don’t figure into the equation when hiring. 

Hire Out
“Strategically, the idea is that hiring someone will free up time to do the things that only you can do,” says author, Jeri Goldstein. 

If the time you’re spending doing menial tasks is taking time away from your ability to bring in larger, money-making gigs, then it may be time to think about hiring someone.

Christina Augello, the producer of the San Francisco International Fringe Festival says, “As a producer of a 4 venue, 2 festival arts complex there are many tasks I am not able or interested in doing.  In this case, it has definitely been worth the investment of hiring a managing director and production manager as well as hourly house managing staff.  This lets me go home at night when I’m not rehearsing or performing.”

Christina Augello
Christina Augello is a performer actress, arts advocate and founding artistic director of EXIT Theatre and the San Francisco International Fringe Theater Festival. She has performed in the Bay Area for over thirty years and has toured with ensembles and solo shows in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.