Monday, November 30, 2009

Artist Branding: Image

Technology has leveled the playing field in terms of what I call personal image transportation or more precisely how artists package themselves and get their message out into the world. It seems like anyone with a video camera can get a film to Sundance, a high school rock band can easily have a slick CD package that makes them look like a million bucks.

On the positive side, open access to what would have been considered cost prohibitive packaging allows smaller voices to compete with larger ones. On the negative side, since everyone seems to have matching accessories in terms of marketing: a glossy brochure, a slick CD package, a flashy website, a book, etc., it’s extremely hard to tell the difference sometimes between an advertisement for Coca-Cola and an advertisement for an individual artist. With the mass branding that has washed over into the art world, savvy fans are become apt at recognizing it and quickly being turned off by it.

As storyteller and story coach Susan Klein says, “Full color glossy brochures does not a career make. Anyone can look good on paper.”

Unfortunately, most artists seem to consume themselves with their packaging rather than paying attention to two areas that should require much more attention:  their voice and how they interact with others.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Artist Branding Homework

In one of my many incarnations as an artist, I thought I wanted to go into traditional acting. The whole "head shot, audition, stand in line with a thousand other competing actors" route.

Although I always felt inside I was a Dennis Hopper Blue Velvet type guy, when I started asking around I realized my outward appearance didn't really lend itself to that type of role. And so, I made a list of about 100 roles on a sheet of paper, went to the Portland airport with a friend and conducted an informal survey. I took a seat and my friend went up to strangers and said, "You see that guy over there, what role as an actor do you think he could play?"

What I got back was a little eye opening. I wasn't the weirdo bank robber type. In fact, I was just the opposite. We asked 80 people that day and most of them saw me as a granola type mountain biking every man. So much for my acting career.

Oftentimes, others can pinpoint the theme of your work much easier than you can. This week, I suggest you interview others to begin to narrow your brand.

What are you trying to say with your artwork? You may not know. So, this week, bite the bullet and ask 3-5 friends what they think the underlying theme is in your art form. You may be surprised at their feedback.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Artist Branding: Attitude & Altitude

In the past few years, as I’ve come to produce more shows, I’ve started hiring artists for productions, and have a new appreciation for the word professional. I won’t work with an artist who is high maintenance or pretentious. In fact, I’ll choose someone that is easier to work with over someone who is more skilled every time.  

“In my line of work,” says stylist Josh Coleman, “We call certain stylist/designers “screamers” because they are notorious for screaming at their co-workers. Keep in mind that these artists are hired because of their talent, not their social skills. Maybe their success all boils down to skill and their ability to produce something impressive or shocking. That’s a pretty tricky question.”

Josh Coleman, a fashion stylist in Hollywood and who was working on the Oscars within a year and a half of arriving says his southern charm and hard work have earned him a reputation as a solid stylist who follows through and works extremely hard. “I continually surprise new clients,” Josh says, “who just aren’t used to this type of old skool work ethic.” Josh’s attitude propelled him both higher and faster up the industry ladder than someone else who might have carried a slightly more laid back work ethic into the position.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Artist of the Week: Susan Singer

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is painter Susan Singer. Through her paintings of female nudes, (all sizes, shapes, races, and ages) she helps women come to terms with their distress about their bodies and to learn to LOVE themselves more.

Check out our Facebook group “Manifest Your Creative Destiny,” at to read more about her fantastic artwork and her fantastic blog.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Five Ways to Get Started on Your Artist Website

Still don’t have a website? Don’t fret, the following list will help you get focused so you can hit the ground running when you either decide to bite the bullet and create yoru own or hire someone else:

1. Write Your Goals:
Define at least 5 goals for your site and write them down. For instance, do you want to sell products like a store or just have visitors come and view your tour dates and new work?

2. Define Your Audience:
If you want to sell merchandise, who is your intended buyer or audience? A site for a children’s entertainer would look very different than a site for a painter whose work costs $25,000 per painting.

3. What’s in a name?:
 “.com” is still the way to go, though it’s not as important.  “.biz” and “.net” and .”org” will still do in a pinch. What is important is that the name is memorable and you don’t have to spell it out. Most artists use their name as their url, so see if that’s available first. Once you find it, I recommend buying it from Yahoo domains.  Q: Aren’t other places cheaper? A: Yeah, but do you really want to buy your next car from the used dealership on Jefferson Davis Highway, the one beside the Papoosaria?

5. Key words:
Write down 20 words you think someone would use when they are searching for a website like yours. Here are some samples of my keywords: Richmond, Virginia, Slash, Coleman, Slashtipher, storyteller, etc 

If you’re curious about what other sites use for their keywords use the “view source” tab at the top of your browser window. It should actually become your best friend. Once you visit a site, open the tab. Another window will open where you will see the html that other web site builders have used to create their site. Scroll down until you find the words “keywords.” Beside this you’ll see the key words.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Five Ways to Make Your Artist Website More User Friendly

1. Go white or go home: You want to keep visitors in your web site as long as possible, especially when you have merchandise to sell. If you look at the number one tea selling site on the internet,, you’ll notice that the background is white and the words are black. The site won’t win any creativity design awards, but they will sell a million dollars in tea in the next few months. There’s a reason why Yahoo! and Google use a white background with a black font. It’s easy on the eyes. It’s something to seriously consider.

Recommendation: So many artist websites use funky, unreadable fonts and dark backgrounds. Ditch what you know about art aesthetics. It’s a website, not a painting or a poem.

2. Navigation Links: Use only 3- 5 links at the top of your site. Don’t put them on the side and don’t put them on the bottom if they’re already at the top (it’s redundant). Give the viewer too may choices and they end up taking less. Is that a problem? It is if you want them to see something important.
Recommendation: Your website shouldn’t feel like a diary and slide show of your boring trip to the Baltimore Aquarium. You don’t have to include everything you’ve done since the beginning of time. Links to include in keeping with 3-5 are: work samples, your artist bio, contact information, your store, and press. This makes it extremely simple for your visitors to find important things on your site.

3. Bells and Whistles Suck: The amount of extras you include on your site is directly related to the amount of irreverence you have for your visitor. As artists, we’re already working in a visual or auditory medium with a site that can be loaded with graphics. Start adding pop-ups, blinking text, mouse overs, and it just adds load up time to a page and becomes another reason for a visitor to leave your site. Don’t make it easy for them to do this.

High end advertisers are famous for creating flash splash pages that just tell me they have too much time on their hands and aren’t really thinking about me when it comes to their site. Do you know how many visitors you lose while pages are uploading? If you did, I think you’d reconsider these annoyances.

Recommendation: That bell and whistle and music clip that I thought was cool the first time I saw it or heard it becomes a superfluous pain by the third time I visit your site. There’s something to be said about traditional means of connecting with others. It’s not old skool. It’s old kewl. Simple is simply better, period.

4. Encourage Interaction: Including a guest book, an interactive blog, or a page that changes regularly will keep visitors coming back for more. Viewers are more hungry than ever to be involved in an on-line community. Facebook proves this.

Recommendation: Make it easy for others to sign up for things on your site and include things like e-letter sign-ups or calls to action on your front page.

5. Your Homepage is your Ocean Front Property: How will you capitalize on this valuable property? Will you use a useless splash page that includes an extra click that says, “Skip the introduction” or will you include your web site name (usually your own name) so people know exactly where they are? Also, remember to include your most important information on the upper part of the screen above the scroll.

Recommendation: You have to make a decision of why you’re using your site. Is it to sell more? To refer venues to? To just have for your web presence? Depending on what your objective is will determine how it will function?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Challenge of the Artist Website & Search Engine Spiders

The words on your website are used to feed “search engine spiders.” These spiders spend their days (and nights) crawling into websites and looking for words to bring back to the search engines. The search engines then store these words and wait for people to type these words in places like Google or When the search engine gets a word, it gives the person who asked a list of sites that utilize these words.

Artist’s websites, which tend to be heavy on visuals and lite on words often struggle to feed the spiders a sufficient amount. How you meet this challenge will dictate how visible your site becomes.  If you use your site strictly to refer venues to, this won’t matter.  Otherwise, it’s good to visit sites that are not related to art, to see how they meet this challenge. The official term is web site optimization.

For instance, on my own website I was challenged to create searchable words for my Storyprints which is my line of whimsical art prints that portray an image and a story. Take for example my art print, Holy Cow!

(You can actually check out the page at my website too

I use the following tricks to help make the image "read” more like a word and less like a photo:
1) I give the image itself an appropriate title. In this case, whimsical-art-print-three-cows
2) I use the word “cow” in the title itself.Ie. "Holy Cow"
3) Beside the image I use the following description: “Whimsical three cows take over Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.”
4) I also use a generic description such as “Each beautiful limited edition art print is attached to a 11"x 14" mat, wrapped in a poly sleeve, signed and dated by artist Slash Coleman.”

It’s worth it to go back through your site and think about how you can make some of your photo’s more search- engine friendly.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Artist Blog as a Marketing Tool

In 2002, Diablo Cody started writing about her experiences as a stripper in a blog entitled The Pussy Ranch. Her blog, like most others, was simply an on-line journal where she wrote about her experiences on a regular basis. Most bloggers also post photos, poetry and other things that inspire them, etc. on a regular basis. Diablo’s blog led to a movie offer which led to the award winning script for the film “Juno.”

But before you think that blogging will lead to your quick “discovery,” you should know that blogs don’t work as a direct marketing tool. Blogs work because there is a truthful story contained within them that reveals a personal journey and struggle. If you try to use your blog as a marketing tool, people will see right though it.

As jewelry artist Nikole Sarvay says,” I tend to only read blogs that reveal a certain “vulnerableness” about the writer. When I read about someone else being vulnerable I feel more connected to them. My initial blog entries were about my struggle with my own miscarriages and I quickly became part of a very tight community. When I took the jump and started creating hope and belief pendants which eventually branched out into a more mainstream jewelry line, my blog community supported me.”

Nikole Sarvay is a self-taught jewelry designer who forges with metal and hammer.
using semi-precious stones, glass, sterling silver, brass and unique findings in her jewelry. Having spent the majority of her professional career in the social work field, Nikole Sarvay began creating jewelry as an emotional release from the demands of her stressful work environment. After a major life transition in late 2006, her creative process evolved into a moving meditation - a practice in approaching her life in an entirely different way. Nikole lives in
Richmond, Virginia with her husband, two cats, and their Bernese mountain beagle, Rilo. Etsy nikolesarvay designs shop

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Why You Shouldn’t Barter for a Web Site

Although I believe empowering yourself with website building knowledge first. you might think this might go against my blog entry on barter earlier this week, I recommend against bartering for web work.

The only thing I can think of comparing bartering for web work for is like being married and not in love…. really truly not in love.

My family traded website work for our gallery to a designer that owed my uncle money. Since it was barter, the web site work was always the last thing on his “to-do” list. When it was finally finished two years later, it was already time to update it. Guess what? He didn’t have time for that additional work. Can you imagine the frustration of having to explain to a potential gallery or venue that you have a web site, but it isn't up to date?

Bite the bullet. Gone are the days when you had to either learn html, a difficult program or depend on a web-designer to build your website. If you can use the cut-and- paste feature on Micrsoftword you can build, manage, and update your own website on your schedule, not some web designers! Now, almost every hosting company has a free web site building program that is easy to use.

I recommend Yahoo Sitebuilder or Mac Website builder because those are the two that I’m most familiar with. Both are free programs that allow you to build a website for free. Hosting is now as little as $12.95 month. With programs such as this, there is a very minimal learning curve and if you want to add Paypal buttons, audio, or video it’s simply a matter of cutting and pasting these components into your website. The best thing about Sitebuilder is that it comes with a 24/7 toll free help number.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Social Media VS Web Sites 101 and a half

An interior decorating boutique approached me in October about helping them with their web presence. With the economy still face down they felt that having a web site would help them bring in more customers for the Holiday season. They also wanted my advice on a Facebook Fan page. The gallery has no web presence at all – no website – no Facebook page – nada – zilch – goose egg!  If you Google them, the only thing that comes up is their Yahoo Yellow pages entry.

I had them fill out one of my Website Building Helpers and then had an honest sit down with them. Here was the gist:

1) NPR reported in November that according to projections retail sales in stores would be down 1% and retail sales on-line would be up 6%. Does a web presence affect sales? No doubt. Yes!

2) A web presence is more than a website or a Facebook page. A web presence includes everything that comes up when you Google your name. This includes: Your website, blog, articles that have appeared in print, on the radio or on TV, social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, My Space, Linkedin, etc.

3) A website takes up to 6 months to start establish. A Facebook presence takes up to 3 months to establish before a “Call to Action,” is effective.

4) The boutique wanted to pay someone to create a website. I recommended against the website and instead told them to take the money and hire a teenager to maintain a blog and a strong presence on Facebook and Twitter presence.

Have things changed for you in terms of how you use your own website? If so, I’d love to hear from you.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Artist of the Week: Heidi Rugg

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is puppeteer/puppet builder, Heidi Rugg


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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Better Business Through Bartering

You may have noticed that the artwork in your dentists office is a bit on the shabby, and need I say, outdated, side – the matt board has faded, some have brown mystery stains in the corner. Next time you’re sitting in his waiting room, take a look around and consider trading your artwork for dental work.  Although it’s probably the last thing on your mind, it’s just such an experience that makes it a prime situation for barter.

Bartering is a business transaction where you trade your item or service for another item or service. The more connected you are to someone; the easier the barter is to pitch. I once traded a painting for an expensive personal growth workshop and traded gardening work for a years worth of marriage counseling. Anything and everything is open to barter. 

To successfully barter you obviously have to have all the things that I’ve been recommending on my blog in place before you attempt to barter at this level – a web site, business cards, an Artist Menu, etc. Barter doesn’t necessarily have to take place with only people you know. Believe it or not, you can receive just about any goods or services that you would normally pay for simply by trading art. 

If you’re interested in taking barter to the next level, Google “organized barter and trade exchange.”  There you’ll find a ton of information on businesses that are willing to barter and tax information as well. And yes, barter is a tax write off.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Artist Inspiration: The Karma Kitchen

This past weekend I spent two days in DC seeing shows at the Capital Fringe Fest. This is the first year I didn't perform in the festival, but I have a lot of performer friends up there, I love the fringe vibe and I was there to support Becca who was performing in one of the shows. This note is about a very interesting experience I had while I was there.

I booked a hotel room near DuPont Circle which was close enough to walk to Becca's theater and it ended up being a really cool area to walk around in with a Sunday Farmer's Market, a really cool book store and a lot of castle looking architecture.

I had the hankering for a Indian food and so on Sunday we flip-flopped around in search of some. We passed a restaurant called the India Polo Club that looked like it might fit the bill, but there was something odd about it. Over the sign there was a make-shift paper sign that read "Karma Kitchen." I thought maybe the place had switched owners and they had been too cheap to replace the sign and so we flip-flopped on by.

After a thirty minute walk and a huge loop, we found ourselves back in front of the India Polo Club/Karma Kitchen and went in. We were greeted by a friendly white guy who mumbled something that I couldn't understand and he seated us. He poured us water and I asked if he took credit cards. He said, "No," and I said something about going to an ATM to get money and he said, "Don't worry about it." When I stood up, he insisted I just stay and chill.

He walked away leaving Becca and I with a one page paper menu. The odd thing - there were no prices on the menu. Odder still was the set up. When I looked around, everything looked a little too makeshift. There was a cork board at the entrance way, a large piece of colorful clothe draped over a bar as if to disguise it and a small box by the door.

What I was about to experience in terms of abundance, prosperity and my relationship to money was something no book could have prepared me for.

The young Indian waitress introduced herself to us and asked if there was anything on the menu we wouldn't like. Thinking I had mis-heard her, I told her the two entree's Becca and I had both decided on. Her explanation pushed me into a discomfort zone.

"Our vegetarian meals are served family style, which means you'll get everything on the menu, including dessert and drinks (Mango Lassi, Chai or Passionate Fruit Juice). Your meal was also paid for by someone else. At the end of the meal you will get an envelope to make a gift offering to place in the box by the door. There is no recommended dollar amount and no one knows how much you put in."

The food came beautifully served and as I ate, I have to admit I felt a little strange with money removed from the equation. I was out of cash and Becca only had $11. Feelings of self-worth and what was right or wrong crept into my mind.

During the middle of our meal, the pretty waitress came back and asked if we wanted more and I began to tell her about my experience and asked many more questions.

"Each Sunday, we make the Polo India Club into the Karma Kitchen," she said. "It started in Berkly and now we have it here in DC. As a customer you can stay as long as you want and eat as much as you want. If you want to stay for 3 hours and eat once every hour, that's fine. No one tries to push you out the door and no one will rush you."

She explained that all the waiters and waitresses were volunteers and most had never done that sort of work before. She also said I didn't have to pay by money if I didn't want to and gave me a card of ways I could "Pay it forward" that included: buying a dozen balloons and taking them to a retirement home or telling someone in my family how much I appreciated them.

I asked her about a large table off to my right where a lively conversation had been going on.

"That is our community table. Strangers sit with strangers and become friends by the end of the meal.Last week a young journalism student met a writer for the Washington Post. The next week, the WP writer took the student on the tour of their offices."

Three times during our meal we were "tagged." In one instance Becca was given a box of beautiful stationery, in another I was given a candle and in the third we were both given karma cards that were meant to have us reflect on our experience.

At the end of the meal, our bill came in an envelope with the final price of $0.00.

As odd as it sounds, as I left the Karma Kitchen, my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I wondered if this sort of thing could be replicated in other places, in other types of restaurants. Odder, still, I knew I wanted to come home and write about the experience in a Facebook note.

I hope you'll get a chance to experience this for yourself.

For more about the Karma Cafe visit

Serving Karma in DC every Sunday.

Karma Kitchen

Every Sunday,

Polo India Club Restaurant
Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC 20009

(202) 483-8705

Closest Metro:
Dupont Circle (North exit)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Artist Speak: Artist Tithing

"The only kind of tithing I had heard of was what my uncle did at church and what many business books recommended. I never could understand the rationale though. How could I give 10% of everything I made away to someone else when I barely had enough money to pay the bills some months? When you’re barely getting by, tithing may not seem like the most logical step to take in terms of your career, but that’s why I’ve included it in this section.

When I created “The Neon Man and Me,” I decided to give 10% of every dollar that came in from the show to my friend’s family. It only seemed right. I was, after all, benefiting from a story that only partially belonged to me. 

On paper though, it didn’t seem to make much sense. Before the show started paying for itself, I was still using money from my day job to pay for the production. It seemed more logical to put all the money from the show back into the show.

I did it anyway and it’s interesting that something magical happened every time I sent a check off to my friend’s family. I attribute much of my success to this form of giving. I’m not sure how it works, but it does."

Monday, November 16, 2009

To give you must receive. To get an answer, you must also ask.

Many of the artists I know have limiting beliefs that are related to low self esteem. In fact these types of artists who live in a “If I only had…..” world, far outweigh those with decent self-esteem. Unfortunately, these beliefs directly affect one’s success in life as an artist. Truth is, if most of these artists had everything in place to ensure a perfect, abundant career in the arts, they would still be in the same place, lurking around with  their un-abundant attitudes.

Through the years, I’ve had many highs and lows in terms of finances and how they related to my artistic career. For instance, my first year out of the gates as a visual artist I netted 30k. Four years later it was down to 7k.

Regardless, I’ve always maintained that everything that I’ve ever needed was easy enough to manifest. I believe that coming from a family of immigrants has helped me immensely in regards to manifesting. (I’ve heard it said that first generation Americans actually make the most successful entrepreneurs).

Here are some things I’ve manifested even when I didn’t have a penny to my name. Perhaps they’ll inspire you to think outside the box too:

1) Consider the student health clinic at a nearby medical college or alternative medicine school. You’ll receive care from students who are in the final stages of their program at greatly reduced rates. I’ve gotten excellent work from naturopaths, counselors, dentists, acupuncturists, massage therapists, and chiropractors just to name a few. The average price range for these services? $20.

2) Ask for a free gym membership. Although it’s not advertised, with a well written letter and a clear, professional plan most gyms will take your financial situation under consideration and offer either free membership or membership at a greatly reduced rate.

3) Ever considered a dentist barter? Art in exchange for care. When I noticed that my dentist had horrible taste in art, I made a definitive pitch he couldn’t refuse.

4) With a freshly minted bankruptcy and over $30,000 in student loan debts. PBS asked me to raise $65,000 to produce my special. I set up a living room tour and got down to business. A year and a half later I handed them a check.

5) In grad school, I was required to buy nearly $1,700 in books. I wrote to each of the publishing houses, told them my situation and the books started rolling in.

6) Needing $3,000 for massage school, I sent out a family fundraising letter, giving family members the option to donate or loan me money for school. Within 6 months I had all the money I needed.

Get with it. Quit lurking around thinking about what you don’t have and come up with a plan to create what you want. You’re an artist after all, creation is what it’s all about.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Video of the Week: The Fun Theory

Pulled right from The Fun Theory site, it’s a company, sponsored by Volkswagen, with the following mission: “We believe that the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better is by making it fun to do. We call it The fun theory. Do you have an idea that uses fun to change behavior?”

Check out more of their inspiring videos and ideas at

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Artist of the Week: Joni Davis

Our Facebook “Artist of the Week” is Art Lawyer and author, Joni Davis, who’s new book “Feng Shui Love,” is due to be released next Tuesday, November, 17, 2009.


Check out our Facebook group “Manifest Your Creative Destiny,” at to read more about her, her artist-centric law practice, and her book.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Artist Inspiration: The Mentor

I'm one of those people who you can always call when you're moving. I'm the guy that will show up to help when all you're other friends have bailed on you. Why? Well, as a guy who's lived in 134 different apartments in 8 different states and 2 different countries, I know that when I help someone else move, it's like putting a karmic deposit into my bank account. Because of this, I've always been blessed with friends who have helped me pack my stuff away. Luck, strategy or a good investment of time? I'm not sure.

Which is a good tie-in to the subject of mentors and mentees and the often overlooked idea that a mentor may be able to help you with your artistic career.

In the golden days of art, it was standard practice for a young artist to apprentice himself under a professional who had been working in the field for quite some time. The artist would shadow his mentor, learn the craft, hopefully pick up some business tips and then be sent out on his own. The advice, given in exchange for work, was meant to save the budding artists time and energy from learning his craft strictly through trial and error. One day in the future, as the young artist’s career blossomed, he might be expected to take on an apprentice himself, thus perpetuating the cycle. 

For instance Alessio Baldovinetti served as a mentor to Domenico Ghirlandaio who served as a mentor to Michelangelo. Williams James served as Gertrude Stein’s mentor who later served as Ernest Hemingway’s mentor. 

Having someone on your side who has created his own map of where you’d like to take your own career can save you a lot of time. From learning about someone else’s patterns of success first-hand to having someone high up in the career food chain listen to and respond to your unique questions can be invaluable. Why recreate the wheel when someone out there already has the plans for it? 

Looking for advice on your next CD project? A potential venue? In the process of finding out how to get agent? Make sure you hit Google, but think about hitting it for a potential mentor as well. Why not  partake in this tradition that is part of the very fabric our artists culture?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Artist as Introvert: Your Personal Style

My friend owns a comedy club in which she sometimes performs. I occasionally go there to see shows. One night, she was pulling audience members on stage as part of her act. This is generally the funniest part of her show. That night, thinking I’d be a “shoe-in” for funny, she chose me. Had she known my secret (that I’m an extroverted-introvert) she probably would have reconsidered.

What does it mean to be an extroverted-introvert? Consider this.  If you watch me perform one of my hour long solo shows on stage, you’d be likely consider me confident, passionate, articulate and extroverted. Yet, pull me up on stage as myself and the extrovert completely disappears.  I clam up, feel stupid, turn red, sweat profusely, and sometimes stutter. Needless to say, pulling me up on stage that night was possibly one of the least funny moments in theater history. 

This dichotomy is something I’ve struggled with through the years and it’s been confusing to explain to others. There is a distinct difference in the social situations where I thrive and the social situations where I’d rather run in a hole and hide. 

For example, most formal networking environments send me into a panic because I’m horrible when it comes to making small talk - I second guess myself, censor my ideas, and feel self conscious. 
I’ve heard from others that this insecurity can make me seem shy, unsocial or pretentious. Yikes! Yet, put me in one-on-one conversation at a trade show booth or at a coffee shop and I can talk until the cows come home.  In an environment where I’ve got a specific role to play, I come across as self-assured and communicative.  Like many artists, I’m considered borderline on the Myers Briggs test. Have a similar experience?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Video of the Week: Val's Art Diary

Do you have a secret place? Check out the latest video from visual artist Val. Want more? Visit her at

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Artist as Introvert: Your Personal Style

Obviously, you’ll find that some tasks related to your art and business will make you feel more comfortable than others. These are your marketing comfort zones. For instance, I really enjoy one-on-one conversations and so I do my most effective networking in coffee shops, not by handing out 150 business cards each day as most business book recommend.

Other topics will bring up a sense of hesitation. You may find yourself putting them off. If this is the case, remember, you get to choose how you do it. If you find yourself hesitating, try to find the place within the task that will help you stand in your comfort zone, even if it takes you outside the box.  

The truth is, until you reach a certain level with your career and can hire others to do the things you don’t want to do, each of the things you’re not exactly proficient at will, with practice, become nothing more than a strong weakness.

That’s ok, they’ll never be your favorite tasks to do or your strong points, but you will get better at them. The important thing to do is to give yourself permission to tell the world about your art in a way that fits your personality type, which even if it changes daily, is ok too.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Artist Speak: Introverts

“Half of me is completely introverted and half of me is completely extroverted. This can be a big problem when you’re an artist who makes art to sell. It means others are going to be making money off of you.”

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.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Artist as Introvert: Chuck Palahniuk

As a professional storyteller, I know there is a huge swing between the time I spend alone and the time I spend in the public eye. Creating my stories requires a great deal of time staring at my laptop screen whilst locked away in my room. On the other hand, when I tour stages with my work, it’s rare to find a moment when I’m not surrounded by people.

Author, Chuck Palahniuk, in his prologue to “Stranger than Fiction,” writes about the swings in an artist’s social time, saying, “You spend time alone, building this lovely world where you control, control, control everything. You let the phone ring. The emails pile up. You stay in your story world until you destroy it. Then, you come back to be with other people. If your story sells well enough, you get to go on a book tour. Do interviews. Really be with people. A lot of people. People until you’re sick of people. Until you crave the idea of escaping, getting away to a…” 

The truth is, despite that I straddle the fence as both an introvert and an extrovert, sometimes I need time my alone time and sometimes I love being in front of people. This is an important consideration with art and business. There are portions that are so secluded that it has all the makings of an introvert’s dream and others that require you to muster the strength of an extremely gregarious extrovert. 

Considering that introverts make up 25-40% of the general population and 60% of the gifted population, (Jonathan Rauch “The Habits and Needs of a Little-Understood Group,” chances are, you fall into the same category as I do – someone who leans a bit toward the introverted side. As it stands, many of the suggestions I make in my blog are geared refreshingly toward the introvert. Given this fact, if at any time you feel a business recommendation is outside your comfort zone, find a way to individualize it further so it works for you.