The Professional Development program has launched a new blog that chronicles New Jersey artists’ growth and process through our Blended Learning Program. Blended Learning is a multi-format course in financial and business management that helps artists establish a secure base upon which to create and grow their work. Thanks to the generous support from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Creative Capital’s Professional Development Program was able to bring Blended Learning to the artists of two communities in New Jersey—in Trenton and Newark.
We’ve asked them to share their stories throughout their journey—testimonies of what they’ve learned, the questions they still have, the strategies they’re trying out, and the results they’re seeing in their art and in their life. Here’s one of our entries from artist Christy O’Connor, who took part in the Blended Learning workshop in Trenton on April 3, 2016.
I am a mixed media artist, working in both 2-D and 3-D works. After a seven year hiatus, I started making art again. Over the past year and a half I have been showing work in various galleries and working as a vendor in various craft fairs and art festivals. I feel as though I have been experiencing a great deal of success very quickly. When I first started working again, it was more for my personal creative needs than it was for any career opportunities. However, since I have been given so much positive feedback, I decided it was time to take my practice much more seriously, and see if it is possible to elevate myself to the next level. I decided to join Creative Capital in order to better understand how to market myself, organize my finances, and find more opportunities through grants.
There were so many key points mentioned that really resonated with me during the first workshop. First and foremost, Colleen Keegan spoke so matter of fact about valuing yourself as an artist and valuing your work, that for me, it really translated to treating yourself and your work with respect. She made me feel that I should give myself the right to show my value through the way I price my work and not to short change myself. With that in mind, I also learned that when pricing my work it should stay the same price, regardless of various commission rates galleries collect. Keegan stated several times, “The price of your work is the price of work.” I believe that this will continue to help me in the future to price my work confidently, consistently, and unapologetically, without the need to explain myself to potential buyers.
Dread Scott had a lot of insights on networking. I personally get overwhelmed meeting new people and “trying to sell myself.” Scott put networking into terms that are definitely less intimidating for me, which has already helped in my most recent gallery drop off. Rather than thinking in terms of networking, he told us to think of it more in terms of developing partnerships, of working together. I believe this mantra will help me to get over my social anxieties and to open up more with the galleries and other art organizations I partner up with in the future. Another very important point he brought up, that I would have never thought of otherwise, was the idea of writing thank you cards to various galleries I have worked with. After I complete this round of thank you cards, I plan to continue this practice on a yearly basis, as means of “keeping in touch” with those I worked with that year.
Overall, I left the workshop feeling empowered to pursue the arts more seriously and professionally. I should be looking at myself and my work as a business, with the intent to be successful. My definition of success does not necessarily look like another person’s, but it is right for me.