Saturday, October 31, 2009

Artists and Facebook: 10 Reasons Why You Should Kill Your Fan Page Now

(or 10 Reasons Why Your Fan Page is Hurting Your Artistic Career)

1)       Ego - Smoothie: Although your fragile artist ego might not be prepared for what I’m about to tell you, the fact is you just aren’t famous enough to have a fan page. Fan pages, like fan sites are set up by fans. With an artist like my favorite author Chuck Palahniuk (creator of Fight Club), his fans actually run his site. Fan pages are for fanatics, hence the root of the word “fan,” as in “fan the flames” of your platform. You can’t fan the flames yourself. Only your fans can fan those flames. If you try to fan those flames, it’s like trying to massage your own back.

2)       Content Boredom. If you have a fan page your breaking one of the most important rules of web content. That being, you shouldn’t repeat it. Don’t repeat it. Don’t repeat it. Don’t repeat it. Do you really have enough unique content to divide it between 2 Facebook locations? Not.  Oh, I know, your fans are on one, but aren’t most of them on the other too? Not really? So, you’re telling me only your family and friends on your regular page and only your fans on your fan page? This philosophy is akin to opening an envelope, reading a letter, sticking the letter back in the envelope and taking it back out and reading it again. Can you say content boredom?

3)       It’s Bizness Baby: Facebook continues to work well for individuals because it is for individuals – not businesses. This is why businesses get shut out on Facebook. You don’t see Coca-Cola with a huge Facebook presence for a reason. Sure, they have 3 million fans on their fan page, (but that’s because this ties into rule number 1 above)  - you don’t see them with an individual profile page.  Even when businesses try to bridge the intimacy gap by appearing to be an individual, most Facebookers can see right through it. Remember, Facebook was originally started so college students could connect with one another. Sure, there are all kinds of wing-nuts out there that will tell you how to cash in on the social media scene, but the fact is when you create a Fan page, you are saying that you are a business and Facebookers just don’t dig businesses.

4)        Dilution is No Solution: Each month the amount of information that Facebookers must sift through doubles. For an individual Fan page it’s becoming like a combination of a genetically altered personal website and Google. Although this may scare you, it also feels a lot like what My Space went through before it became the seedy section of Vegas On-line. As such, Facebook becomes less and less user-friendly. I personally find it hard to sift through a fan page and find, view or listen to samples of an artists work, check out tour dates on a calendar, etc. And so, thanks to Facebook, good, user-friendly artist websites are making a comeback.

5)       Because Everyone Else if Doing it: Listen, I know why you have a fan page. Because some artist you know started one and you think you need to have one too. You’re just getting in your own way as an artist. In what other ways are you getting in your own way as an artist? My guess is this is just the tip of the iceberg.

6)       Mass Confusion: Most friends will join your fan page out of obligation. Fan rather than offend – that is the golden rule here. Besides most Facebookers (count yourself as one of these people) really don’t understand the difference between becoming your fan and becoming your friend. So, you’re just perpetuating the idea of mass confusion.

7)       Once removed, once looked over: If I’m your friend you can ask me for anything… well, almost anything. If I’m your fan – not so much. By taking friends and making them fans you’re cheapening your relationship with them. When you make a call to action, most times you’re going to get a response of 3% or less. For instance, if you ask 100 fans to come to your next show, 3 or fewer might. With friends the rate increases dramatically. From experience, I’ve seen this rate jump to as high as 25% with relationships that are nurtured constantly. Do you plan to nurture this “fan” relationship on your fan page? Not.

8)       Decaffeinated Procrastination! How much of what you do on Facebook is procrastination? You know you blow hours of your life on there. Do you really need to have a task like updating a Fan page on your to-do list? Remember, it’s not how many people you know in the end, it’s about how many people you knew who knew other people. In terms of networking, you should be nurturing the relationships amongst your FB friends rather than worrying about how to give your fans a decaf version of your life.

9)       Community Disability: Every time you do something on Facebook with your fans you should think of it as a notch. Some notches are cut deep and some are cut shallow. What’s important to know is that after a while your fans and friends will become numb to these notches. Fans want to feel like they belong to something and to be honest being a fan to your fan page (which isn’t set up to foster community) doesn’t provide this. After a while your fan page is more blah, blah, blah.

10)   Jellyroll: If you can’t find a good enough reason in this list to kill your fan page right now, then jellyroll. That’s right jellyroll! Jellyroll is THE universal reason and if Jellyroll isn’t good enough, then jellyroll on you.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Artist of the Week: Phineas Henshaw

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is musician Phineas Henshaw.


Check out our Facebook group “Manifest Your Creative Destiny,” at to read more about his music.

Artists and Facebook: New York Times Magazine Article

The following article on Facebook ran in the New York Times Magazine on August 26, 2009 and was written by VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN. You may find the orginal article by following this link:

Things fall apart; the center cannot hold. Facebook, the online social grid, could not command loyalty forever. If you ask around, as I did, you’ll find quitters. One person shut down her account because she disliked how nosy it made her. Another thought the scene had turned desperate. A third feared stalkers. A fourth believed his privacy was compromised. A fifth disappeared without a word. 

The exodus is not evident from the site’s overall numbers. According to comScore, Facebook attracted 87.7 million unique visitors in the United States in July. But while people are still joining Facebook and compulsively visiting the site, a small but noticeable group are fleeing — some of them ostentatiously. 

Leif Harmsen, once a Facebook user, now crusades against it. Having dismissed his mother’s snap judgment of the site (“Facebook is the devil”), Harmsen now passionately agrees. He says, not entirely in jest, that he considers it a repressive regime akin to North Korea, and sells T-shirts with the words “Shut Your Facebook.” What especially galls him is the commercialization and corporate regulation of personal and social life. As Facebook endeavors to be the Web’s headquarters — to compete with Google, in other words, and to make money from the information it gathers — it’s inevitable that some people would come to view it as Big Brother.

“The more dependent we allow ourselves to become to something like Facebook — and Facebook does everything in its power to make you more dependent — the more Facebook can and does abuse us,” Harmsen explained by indignant e-mail. “It is not ‘your’ Facebook profile. It is Facebook’s profile about you.”

The disillusionment with Facebook has come in waves. An early faction lost faith in 2008, when Facebook’s beloved Scrabble application, Scrabulous, was pulled amid copyright issues. It was suddenly clear that Facebook was not just a social club but also an expanding force on the Web, beholden to corporate interests. A later group, Harmsen’s crowd, grew frustrated last winter when Facebook seemed to claim perpetual ownership of users’ contributions to the site. (Facebook later adjusted its membership contract, but it continues to integrate advertising, intellectual property and social life.) A third wave of dissenters appears to be bored with it, obscurely sore or just somehow creeped out.

My friend Alex joined four years ago at the suggestion of “the coolest guy on the planet,” she told me in an e-mail message. For a while, they cultivated a cool-planet online gang. But then Scrabulous was shut down, someone told her she was too old for Facebook, her teenage stepson seemed to be losing his life to it and she found the whole site crawling with mercenaries trying to sell books and movies. “If I am going to waste my time on the Internet,” she concluded, “it will be playing in online backgammon tournaments.”

Another friend, who didn’t want his name used, found that Facebook undermined his whole notion of online friendship. “It’s easy to think of your circle of ‘Friends’ as a coherent circle, clear and moated, when in fact the splay of overlap/network makes drip/action painting a better (visual) analogy.” Something happened to this drip painting that he won’t discuss. He said, “Postings that seem private can scatter and slip unpredictably into a sort of semipublic status.” 

That friend was not the only Facebook dissenter who was reticent about specifics. Many seem to have just lost their appetite for it: they just stopped wanting to look at other people’s photos and résumés and updates, or have their own subject to scrutiny. Some ex-users seemed shaken, even heartbroken, by their breakups with Facebook. “

I primarily left Facebook because I was wasting so much time on it,” my friend Caroline Harting told me by e-mail. “I felt fairly detached from my Facebook buddies because I rarely directly contacted them.” Instead, she felt as if she stalked them, spending hours a day looking at their pages without actually saying hello.
But then came the truly weird part: “Facebook was stalking me,” Harting wrote. One day, on another Web site, she responded to an invitation to rate a movie she saw. The next time she logged on to Facebook, there was a message acknowledging that she had made the rating. “I didn’t appreciate being monitored so closely,” she wrote. She quit.

Julie Klam, a writer and prolific and eloquent Facebook updater, said in her own e-mail message, “I have noticed the exodus, and I kind of feel like it’s kids getting tired of a new toy.” Klam, who still posts updates to Facebook but now prefers Twitter for professional networking, added, “Facebook is good for finding people, but by now the novelty of that has worn off, and everyone’s been found.” As of a few months ago, she told me, Facebook “felt dead.”

Is Facebook doomed to someday become an online ghost town, run by zombie users who never update their pages and packs of marketers picking at the corpses of social circles they once hoped to exploit? Sad, if so. Though maybe fated, like the demise of a college clique. 

Points of Entry: This Week’s Recommendations
THE QUIT Put “Why I Quit” into Google, and the search engine proposes you look into both “Why I Quit Facebook” and “Why I Quit Church.” If you aim to be a lapsed social networker, wikiHow, the collaborative how-to guide, provides a useful step-by-step way to disengage, emotionally and practically:

AN INQUIRY You’re not the first to think it’s creepy to have your personal life commercialized. Jürgen Habermas has been especially eloquent about this. Start with “The Theory of Communicative Action.” Copies are available on

Also interesting on this score: “The Purchase of Intimacy,” by Viviana Zelizer.
GET BOARD ONLINE Scrabble is alive and well in cyberspace. If you like Scrabble, try For backgammon:

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fundraising: Self-Publishing

Think you need a big publisher before you start pushing your book out in the world? Are you opposed to self-publication because you think it's all about vanity?

Think again.  
Gazzo is recognized as one of the world's foremost street entertainers and magicians. For over 25 years he has been performing his unique style of magic throughout the world. From the streets of Boston, USA and London, England to Cruise Ships and Las Vegas, Gazzo is held in high esteem by his fellow professionals and audiences alike.

Much of Gazzo's show uses comedy and humour as a presentation tool. He has been asked many times to share the lines and jokes that make his work both memorable and successful.

Gazzo's Read Between the Lines is a collection of over 500 one liners that can be used for most situations that you will encounter performing at any venue. This is a collection of Gazzo's one liners as well as many from various other artists. Real performers will see the keen value in this collection. A single line from the book used at the right time will more than pay for the price of the book.

Gazzo copies them on a copy machine. The book has a simple card stock cover with two staples in the middle and consists of about 36 pages. The retail price for the book is $40. You won’t find the book at Barnes and Noble, but the book is available on hundreds of sites on the internet and most performers I know have a copy.  I bought the book because the knowledge is invaluable. I paid for the knowledge, not the package.

The magician, Randy Charach, sells an e-book called “Secrets of a Millionaire Magician,” for $67. How many does he sell? Every magician friend I know owns one and they bought them when the price was over three times that amount. 

Check out Gazzo at:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fundraising: The Living Room Tour

In 2006, PBS green lighted my production of “The Neon Man and Me,” to become a special. There was one stipulation. I had to raise the money myself. My first words were, “No problem.” I knew the living room tour was the perfect medium to help me raise the money.

After creating an Action Plan for both the creation of a documentary film and then the subsequent tour through living rooms I went to work. I found a film student off Craigslist who would shoot the film in exchange for exposure, and after learning how to edit the video myself, and making a 30 minute DVD, I set up the Living Room Tour for the documentary film entitled, “Glow.”.

The idea for my Living Room Tour for Glow was simple. I asked my local fans if anyone was interested in hosting the film in their house or apartment. Hosts would invite over 10-15 guests who would donate $10 - $25 to watch the film. After the film, I would discuss what I was doing, perform a selection from my show and provide a Q&A. Over the course of nine months, I ended up raising all the necessary funds. It wasn’t exactly easy. I was touring with the documentary film alongside my other tour. Every weekend for nearly nine months, I was taking the DVD into a new living room and watching it on a television with various hosts and their friends.

During that time, I also continued my media goals, landing my quest in the news very a number of times. As a result, PBS was so impressed with my desire to succeed, that they lowered the amount they were requiring me to raise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Artist Speak: Kyle Vincent on The Living Room Tour

“After years of playing traditional venues, I realized that putting up with dreadful sound, smoke, drunk patrons, incessant chatting, and then walking out at 1AM with a whopping three dollars in my pocket was not for me. A fan asked me if I would consider playing a backyard pool party for them. I said, “Well, if there are chairs, a sound system, no alcohol, and people who are there to listen to songs and stories, then, Yeah!”

It was then that the living room show was born for me. That was many years ago. I then spread the word amongst my fan base that I was available to come into their living rooms and put on a concert for their friends. Soon, I had a performance contract that specified the obligations of the host and myself, including a pint of soy ice cream, and sliced watermelon for “the talent”! It’s all laid out in black and white. I even sell tickets via my website.

Word got out that I was having success doing these and suddenly I had record companies and booking agents calling me wanting to know my “business model”. That was so funny to me.

Over the years I’ve played so many successful living room shows that I now rarely play club gigs. For the most part, they’re just not worth the aggravation. I mean, what artist wouldn’t rather come into a home and perform their art in front of 40-60 people who are there specifically to see and hear them, to appreciate what they do, and then share some personal time with the artist afterwards? It’s better for both the artist and the fans.”  

Kyle Vincent, is a singer/song writer and the current lead singer of the Bay City Rollers. He is the former lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the teen pop band, Candy.  As a solo artist Vincent toured with Barry Manilow promoting his album Trust, (MCA records) and later with Kyle Vincent (Disney's Hollywood Records). His songs have appeared on MTV's Road Rules, The Real World, Daria, ABC's All My Children, and "Save the Planet: A CBS/Hard Rock Cafe Special". Vincent's song "Sierra" was adopted by the Sierra Club and John Denver's Windstar Foundation.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fundraising: Using Craiglist

In 2002, I took my one man show “Love in Boxes,” from Northampton, MA to Portland, OR. I arrived at the theater space in need of volunteers to help me assemble the stage set which consisted of hundreds of cardboard boxes. A few weeks before my arrival, I posted an ad on Craigslist seeking volunteers. When I arrived at the theater, my volunteers were there.

Educated, rockin’, creative, weird, artsy, and passionate are just some of the words I would use to describe the volunteers I’ve used since then.  From housewives looking to get out of the house, to foreign exchange students looking to connect with others to people who are truly passionate about volunteer work in their community, Craigslist can bring you volunteers, and more importantly volunteers who will work for free.

Most people are willing to donate their time for little more than the spirit of contribution, or extra practice in their field. A film maker with a new camera may want a reason to try it out. A photographer looking to get more experience with head shots may need the extra practice. I’ve also used Craigslist volunteers in the past when:
  • I needed a film made.
  • I needed a music video made.
  • I was seeking legal advice regarding a performance contract.
  • I needed publicity photos for my new show.
  • I needed a stage manager, ushers and a cigar girl for my burlesque show.
  • I needed a T-shirt designed.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Fundraising: The Student Loan Book Blues NoMore

If you’re like me, you may have a somewhat intimate relationship with that money hungry queen of student loans, Sallie Mae. Like a jealous lover she’s always looming at the end of my month waiting to take any extra money I make.

When I began to sell my chakra paintings at $5,000 each, I decided to offer my student loan payment book out in lieu of payment directly to me. And so, when I sold the first painting in the series, instead of receiving a check, I received something better, a respite from my relationship with Sallie Mae. Along with a signed agreement, the buyer took my payment book and kept it for four years making the $217 payment each month.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fundraising: The Family Fundraising Letter

When I was accepted into massage school, I needed to come up with $3,000 for tuition. I needed the money in two months. My Action Plan was titled, “Family Fundraising Letters.”

My plan involved writing a personal request for money and sending it to friends and family members. The letters, which were addressed personally to each potential contributor, blended a professional request with a personal appeal. Without sounding like a sales pitch, I included: what I was doing with my life, why I thought a massage career would be beneficial to my own well being and valuable to our family, and then a request for a donation or a loan.

Potential contributors could either make a donation or a loan. Loans would be paid back with no interest over an agreed amount of time after graduation. To include everyone, (from Uncles with jobs to Cousins with piggy banks) I gave contributors the option to give by check in each of the following dollar increments: 5 / 25 / 50 / 75 / 200 / 500 / 1000 / 2000. With the letter I also included a SASE.

Within two weeks the envelopes started arriving back. Some contained money, others contained only congratulations and good luck. Three weeks before the deadline, I called anyone who I hadn’t heard from. By the time school started, I had raised all the necessary money.

The Family Fundraising Letter is a good technique to use when you have a specific plan in place for a product you want to create and a plan in which to repay the money. Notice that I didn’t just ask for donations, the loan option allowed those who wanted to “invest” in my career in a more traditional way to do so. 

Keep in mind that the Family Fundraising letter is generally a one shot deal, which means you only get to use it once. In other words, you won’t be able to send out a Family Fundraising Letter every time you have a potential project.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Fundraising: Feeling Stuck?

If you’re a musician trying to create a CD, by the time you pay for studio time, session musicians, cover art, and CD replication, it can put you anywhere from $3,000- $8,000 in the hole and that’s a low end CD creation. Even with a great day job, most artists don’t have that kind of money in a savings account. For those seeking funding from a potential investor, there’s virtually no assurance that the CD will sell well enough to warrant an investment.

And so, most artists feel stuck when it comes to raising money. The only option they think they have is in the form of grant money. If you’ve ever looked into grant possibilities, then you know the grant monster is a difficult beast to conquer. Often, deadlines occur a year in advance and require applicants to jump through tons of hoops even before they submit. For most grants you practically have to be a financial wizard to apply and many, though not all are awarded to mid and late career artists who have an established record in their field.

Have you raised money in creative ways? If so, I’d love to hear your comments.

Artist of the Week: Kim Weitcamp

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is nationally renowned storyteller and humorist Kim Weitcamp.

Check out our Facebook group “Manifest Your Creative Destiny,” at to read more about her work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Artist Myth #1: The Non Profit

I have to admit, in the early days of my artistic career, I chased so many “golden,” poorly-communicated collaborations that I nearly ran myself ragged. And, I would be lying if I told you that they no longer interest me. As an artist, I tend to be susceptible to signing up for things when they appeal to me on an emotional level. Now though, instead of walking blindly into them and hoping everything works out through a wing and prayer, I usually sleep on the idea, give myself some time and then, if I feel it will benefit me and is in line with my mission, I will be very clear up front about how much I expect to get paid, when I expect to be paid, and what the work will entail.

Through the years I’ve made the wait time more official by having an imaginary personal assistant on my side, (I’ll blog more about that in the coming months). It’s easier for me to tell someone, “I need to run it past my business partner and get back with you,” then it is for me to say, “Uh let me think about your proposition.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Artist Myth #1: Money gets in the way. It’s better not to talk about it.

To treat your career as a business, you’ll need to gain some distance on your work. It helps if you can begin to think of the fruit of your creative endeavors, not as artwork, but as a product. The easiest way to do this is to create an Artist Menu. Creating an Artist Menu will help you begin to view and organize your art from a marketing perspective.

The Artist Menu
Now that you’ve come up with prices for your services, paintings, shows, or merchandise it’s time to do something with them. I suggest you create an Artist Menu. Like a restaurant menu, the Artist Menu is a descriptive list of everything you offer including prices. Just like a patron at a restaurant likes to have information about possible items (which includes prices), this information can be invaluable for any number of reasons.

First, having this information can help you make income projections for the year and develop a budget. For instance, if my T-shirts sell for $25 each and I know that I sell roughly four t-shirts per show, I can calculate how many t-shirts I may sell by the end of the month or year based on how many shows I will be performing.

Secondly, it’s good to have an Artist Menu on hand when you meet with a potential venue. I not only bring one into every meeting, but I leave one behind for the person I’m meeting with. The menu adds a nice professional touch and helps you appear prepared and organized which can give you the upper hand when you’re competing with other artists. Venues like to work with professionals.

During my last meeting with an art center, having my menu on hand helped me sell three additional products which probably might not have happened had I not had the menu. By the time I left our meeting, the venue booked three shows, one workshop and decided to take the menu to a school and pitch an additional workshop for me.

Third, the artist menu puts all your information in one place, which is good to have when developing your website. Whether you build your site yourself or have someone else do it for you, you’ll want to have all the information in one place for easy reference.

And lastly, once you set a price, it will give you an idea of who will want to pay the set price, thus helping you define your ideal buyer.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Question of the week: Book Publishing 101

Q: hey slash!  wow, you are INCREDIBLE!  i am so inspired by your dedication and success! congratulations my friend.  i do miss actually getting to correspond with you, though.  you are so busy with all of your endeavors i'm sure it's hard to keep up with everyone!  sounds like a lot of traveling, too!

so i am in the process of writing/finishing my book.  i am REALLY wondering how it is you published your book?   if you can send me just a little information on the process of publishing i would be eternally grateful.  anything you can tell me, any directions you can point me in.  
 this is the biggest project/endeavor of my life and i would be eternally grateful to see it accomplished.  so would millions of women out there!  they need this!  

if you can help me in any way slash, it would truly mean the world to me!

you rock you fabulous artsy boy!

love, L

A: If you want to sel-publish check out

Q: i would prefer not to self-publish as funds are scarce for me.  did you self-publish?  is that the website you went through? Thanks again, L

A: If you're going to go the publisher route it's all about your platform, not how good your book is. A platform is made up of your accomplishments and how well known you are. Do you have articles written about you in the NY Times, The Washington Post, have you been on NPR, do you have a database of e-mail contacts that total more than 1,000 potential fans you could sell the book to? If not, you should know there are 1,000 writers standing in the front of the publishers house with those accomplishments. Unfortunately, these days, publishers want to know you can sell the book without them before they'll ink a deal with you.

All my accomplishments stem from my desire to build my platform which started 4 years ago. When you write a book and want to get it published you have to send agents and editors a query letter that tells them what your book is about and why they should buy your book.

The last paragraph is dedicated to your platform. Four years ago mine was empty. No one had written anything about me, I had not published anything and so I was really at a disadvantage. I remember making the decision to build my platform. I ended up writing an article for Massage Magazine and they paid me $75.  I suddenly had one thing to put in that last paragraph of my query. Four years later that last paragraph  could take up a few pages.

If you are serious about publishing your book and getting the information out into the world, you'll start building your platform today. And you won't be concerned with a time line. Be it today, tomorrow or four years from now.

I would suggest the website Find a book on how to write a query letter and another on how to write a book proposal. And if funds are slim for you, go to the library check these books out.

Join a writing group. Put an ad on craigslist and meet once a month to read pages and give feedback on your work.

Volunteer to work at a writer's conference. You'll get to network with other writers and others in the publishing field.

Also, read my blog at Over the course of the next year, I'll be including all the secrets I used to propel my own career and build my platform.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Artist Myth #1: Money gets in the way. It’s better not to talk about it.

Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi asks, "What makes a life worth living?" Noting that money cannot make us happy, he looks to those who find pleasure and lasting satisfaction in activities that bring about a state of "flow."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Great Book for Artists: Gene Simmons "Kiss and Make Up"

Think it's fun being poor, think again. I pulled this from Gene Simmons book which is an inspiring read from an artistic and business perspective. If you haven't checked out the story of how a poor Jewish boy from Israel, raised by a single mom, took over rock and roll, get to it!

"We have no illusions about our corporate identity - we're like any other corporation. Some rock bands are delusional. They say they're the peoples band, but even they don't perform for free. 

Whether you have long hair or razor blades in your eyes, you're a corporation. KISS broke all the rules and ended up on the cover of Playboy and Fortune. We've never made any bones about the fact that the American dream is about not only fame but also riches. Money does make you a  happier person.I t's not everything, but it's better to have more money than less. 

Americans by and large feel a little awkward talking about money and showing it off when they have it. That's why the richest men in the country walk around in jeans. When a band that has sold millions of records walks onstage in jeans, it's every bit as much a costume as KISS's costumes. Each outfit is designed to illicit a certain reaction."

From the Book, "KISS and Make-up" by Gene Simmons (2001 Three RIvers Press)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Artist Myth #1: The Non Profit

The money talk wouldn’t be complete without a small entry on the non-profit. It’s true; if you’re not making any money with your art, semantically speaking, you are a “non-profit” making artist. In fact, most of your artist friends who are probably in the same boat with you, are probably, semantically speaking, “non-profit” makings artists. My mother, who is not an artist at all would be considered a “non-profit” making artist under this stipulation as well.

In fact, if you and all of your artist friends got together with my mother and decided to form an artist’s support network, you would be considered an informal nonprofit organization. You could even advertise the organization as such.

But, if you wanted to receive tax deductible donations, be granted tax-exempt status from the IRS or apply for all those art grants that exist for 501I(3) nonprofits, then you’d be out of luck.

Two points to consider:

One - Most artists think that just because they aren’t making a profit that it’s reason enough to become an official “non-profit.” You’ve probably considered it yourself? You should know that by the time you finished filling out all the required paperwork, you’d be ready to cry. From articles of incorporation to the governing board of directors to the regular meetings you’ll be required to organize and attend, you’re life as an artist has just ended. For what little grant money you’d likely receive from your hard earned status, it barely makes sense to even consider the process.

Two – You’re on crack if you think non-profits are poverty driven rather than profit driven. Last I heard the CEO of Goodwill industries had a salary cap at $1,000,000 – that’s a lot of digits behind the first one. I’ve also worked for the rare, well-run non-profit where I was paid better than I ever was in a for-profit company. A million dollar non-profit can still be considered a non-profit if, after it pays all it’s bills, it doesn’t keep any of the money earned.

So, what does it all mean? Don’t be fooled as an artist, into giving your good hard earned work every time you hear the violins start playing. Instead get out your own violin and learn how to negotiate your terms.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Myth #1: Money gets in the way. It’s better not to talk about it.

Our conversation went something like this, “So, I just started this new line of petwear with matching furniture and of course I thought of you and your art prints. I mean, I wouldn’t think of anyone designing these things except you! You could make tons of money and of course your style is totally perfect and the fact that you’re a Leo and we’re friends makes us a perfect match as far as working with one another and I could pay for your flight out here and of course you could do the work here at my house and I would feed you and you could stay here because my kitties love you…..”  

She never took a breath and I never had time to get a word in. I wrote an estimate for what it would cost for me to paint the whimsical images of cats and dogs on her new line of pet furniture, e-mailed it, flew to the west cost, and did the work (all on my friend’s good faith).  Three years later, I was still staring at an I-O-U. 

We talked minimally about the “business stuff,” but there was no formal agreement about specifics, especially what we might do if she failed to pay me or return my phone calls or any of the typical business things that comprise a business transaction. Neither of us overlooked it. It was just that we felt too awkward to acknowledge the reality. We were just artists participating in the cliché of myth number one. 

If you think it feels too weird to talk about money now, it’ll feel even weirder to talk about it later. When I finally got a hold of my friend, our conversation was extremely uncomfortable. If you’re doing business and the weirdness comes knocking, it’s most likely Mr. Clarity just saying, “Hey, did you forget about me?”  Clarity, not emotions, is key when it comes to the business of art.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Facebook Artist of the Week: Paolo Garbanzo

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is comedian and juggler Paolo Garbanzo,.


Check out our Facebook group “Manifest Your Creative Destiny,” at to read more about his work.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Artist Myth #2: You have to live in LA or New York to be a real artist

In the days of old, trawler fisherman would drag a net behind their boat and scoop up everything in their wake: shellfish, cod, lobster, crabs, car tires, etc. This style of fishing worked if you were hungry, but not if you wanted to make a profit, especially in terms of maintaining a long term industry. This style of fishing left fisherman with a lot of product they just couldn’t do anything with.

A lot of artists think of networking in the same way. They think that more is better. That meeting as many people as you can in a speed dating-like frenzy (akin to trawler fishing) is the best way to network, but that’s simply not true. In fact, this premise takes away from the focus of networking which is simply about meeting new people, (including those in and out of the art world) and winning them over with your authentic self.

An honest, authentic interaction wins the race in terms of networking. It’s not about selling someone something; in fact it’s better if you don’t. It can be as simple as meeting someone for coffee or exchanging a business card in a parking lot.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Myth #2: You have to live in LA or New York to be a real artist

The other day I was in Staples, picking up a draft of my memoir. As I was waiting in line, I started to make small talk with an older women standing beside me. She was picking up a poster for her dog that was missing. I told her what I was doing and soon the conversation involved another woman making copies nearby.  It ended up both women were writers, one had published four children’s books and the other had a friend who was involved in the publishing world in some way. Before I left, we exchanged cards and I drove home astonished, once again, by the random contacts and connections that exist all around us in any given moment.

 It’s true, every person you meet has the potential to buy a ticket for your show, purchase a painting, buy your book, and connect you to someone in the know.

Gone are the days when you literally had to write to a journalist living in New York to get an article in the New York Times. There are freelance journalists living all around us that send stuff off to national publications every day. My press exposure in the New York Times, Backstage Magazine and American Theatre Magazine were all the result of local contacts.