Monday, February 22, 2010

Art and Money Interview

Some time back, I did an interview with Zoe Westhof, part of the Unconventional Guide to Art, whose ideas I have been using as part of my personal quest. I wanted to share that interview here this week.

Before, what was stopping you from using the internet to expand your art career? (you can talk about fears, doubts, etc.)

Before I came across Chris's blog last summer, I had been busy with my teaching career here in Turkey and with parenting my young son. I had an acquaintance at my school who I knew had an website where he sold some of his drawings, but I felt pretty overwhelmed with my other responsibilities and I had some misconceptions about what would be required to put my art online such as having advanced computer skills and expensive fees, etc. Such misconceptions kept me from giving it much thought. I returned to this States last summer from my home in Turkey and in the course of this visit, I came across Chris's blog from a friend. His ideas about doing what you love, as you can see from my blog, resonated with me and coupled with some deep seated frustrations about teaching in educational institutions, re-energized my interest in putting more energy into my art that I had been. When I got the Art and Money package, I learned about how easy it was to start showing my art online and dove into those resources. Essentially, my own misconceptions were the main reason I did not start sooner. There is an old adage, when the student is ready, the teacher arrives, that seems quite relevant here.

How have you been using The Unconventional Guide to Art and Money? What were the most useful things you got out of it?

I found the whole thing to be wonderfully accessible. I enjoyed listening to the art interviews for the ideas that people had success with, particularly the photographer who seemed to add some needed counterpoint to all the successes your other interviews brought out. His evident skepticism was actually quite reassuring for me as I have seen a number of marketing systems such as multi-level marketing that always emphasis the ease of their system to gain riches. I appreciate Chris's sober approach which seems genuine. He seems to walk his talk, which I find so refreshing.The suggestions about how to market my art and how to think about one's business through the corporal metaphors( head, heart, voice, etc ) made a lot of sense and was a useful organizer. The suggested websites were extremely useful as I immediately started employing them as you can see. Chris's and your own emphasis on sharing and building community were tremendous draws for me and part of what feel so right and are the reason I want to be involved what you are doing. The whole package leaves one with a sense of "I can do that" and "here are the things I am going to do". Through Chris's blogs, I get inspiration and a model that is quite natural to emulate.

What were the first few things you did to set yourself up online?

I already knew a bit about blogging and had put some art on the web through blogspot, but reading Art and Money gave me the idea to create a blog that had written content as well as my art. I found that writing about what I was doing, following my bliss, seemed to be the most natural way to keep having something to say and since I have had that notion for the last twenty years, I think I have learned enough about that concept to have ideas and experiences worth sharing and reading. I already had some high quality pictures of my work through my earlier foray into brick and mortar galleries and access to a high quality scanner made it easy to start uploading images as I joined red bubble for its print on demand set up, fine art studio online, wix and cartfly all for my originals. I have been adding art to those sites and learning at my own pace about marketing myself. I have appreciated that sense of taking things in my own time and in my own and I appreciated one of Chris's recent blogs about doing things as he sees fit rather than blindly following experts. I found the art community on red bubble quite fun and love getting feedback from other artists there. Because it is so easy to self-publish on the internet as I have now learned, I jumped to it. Now, it seems the next part of the learning curve for me is to how to bring "my people" to the sites, both those who resonate with following their bliss and those who want to have my art. I feel gratified through having the base of these sites to work from and see that I can now tinker and fine tune, perhaps do more with designing my own web pages, use word press, etc.

What approach are you taking with your blog? Was it hard to start blogging?

I am using Chris's approach as a model. He seems to base his work on sharing what he is doing and discussing the ideas, the process and all the things that come into play on the way. I thought that writing about my experiences in following my particular bliss, creating art, would be useful and interesting. I set a goal of writing an entry every week which seems to work to keep me focused on the goals I've set and through writing, the self-reflection helps me to process and evaluate what I am doing. It has been quite easy to stick to this as I keep coming up with things to write about. I also gathered from the artists you interviewed that sharing personally about their art and their life seemed to influence their business positively, that along with a desire to keep my friends and family around the world more informed about what I am about on a regular basis, I felt that a blog would be a really good thing for me on a number of levels. That has been borne out in my own increased level of satisfaction with my life since starting the blog and from the feedback I am getting from friends and family about my blog.

What has changed since you started using these online platforms?
I had felt myself to be a rut creatively for some time and all the energy I have added to my art in the process of creating these online platforms has me feeling quite energized. I feel that this process has been the spearhead for getting me back on track with my deepest desires for my life. I am in other vital stage of transforming my life and feel that you and Chris have been a kind of silent partnership in that, companions on this journey. Even if I never sell enough of my work to live on that alone, what I am experiencing through engaging in these endeavors is invaluable. Truly, the work is its own reward and the money, though wonderful, really a side benefit.

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