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Advice on Getting Advice Part 2

by Luann Udell on 2/13/2013 7:31:59 AM

This post is by Luann Udell, regular contributing author for FineArtViews.  Luann also writes a column ("Craft Matters") for The Crafts Report magazine (a monthly business resource for the crafts professional) where she explores the funnier side of her life in craft.  She's a double-juried member of the prestigious League of New Hampshire Craftsmen (fiber & art jewelry).  Her work has appeared in books, magazines and newspapers across the country and she is a published writer.  She's blogged since 2002 about the business side--and the spiritual inside--of art.  She says, "I share my experiences so you won't have to make ALL the same mistakes I did...." You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.


Continuing my last column on how—and how not to-- get good advice.


4)  There’s no such thing as a sure thing.  (AKA There’s no one thing that will make your career.)


Usually, the best advice is simply what gets you to your next step.  There shouldn’t be a huge risk involved.  I mean a HUGE risk.  Putting the advice into play shouldn’t cost $10,000 or make you take a second mortgage your house, or take any kind of gamble that could ruin your finances, your resources or your marriage.  (Unless you’re trying to get out of a bad marriage!)  Sometimes life calls for that kind of risk.  For those people just starting out, or trying to suss out the next thing, it does not.


One artist did just that.  Someone convinced her that getting into a certain show would make her career.  She invested $10,000 in a brand new booth, show fees, photography, advertising, travel costs, etc.  She and her husband DID take out a second mortgage on their home, sure that this was the one big break that would change everything.


Her work was extremely labor intensive, so her prices were outrageously high—especially for a person just entering the market.  The show was the wrong fit for her work.  She’d never even done a big show before.  The booth fee alone was $1,500.


She didn’t make a single sale. 


My heart aches for her.  She gambled everything, and lost.  A little homework on her part would have saved her...well, $10,000.


Yes, there is “believing in yourself” and “taking risks”.  But if you gamble everything, you truly have to be willing to lose everything.


5)    Sometimes, the best advice is right in front of you.


I have a theory.  I believe most of us know, deep down, there’s a simple answer in front of us.  (I didn’t say EASY answer!)  For many reasons, we simply don’t trust our instincts.  Or we don’t get a chance to walk ourselves through to find our own answer.


I sometimes meet artists who obviously have talent, passion and drive.  But they’re stuck.  I’ve learned not to make assumptions about what they need.  And I’ve learned not to even act quickly on what they SAY they think they need.


Instead I ask questions—lots of questions!  When you give people a chance to be heard, when you listen deeply and carefully, and ask about what you don’t understand, you learn so much.  And then the “answer” is so simple, so obvious…  The “advice” I give feels like shining a light at their feet so they don’t trip over it.


One talented artist was in a panic.  She had a body of work she’d had some success with, but it was no longer selling.  She wanted help figuring out a new marketing plan for it.


But during our conversation, she told me about an exciting new series she wanted to work on.  She talked about it enthusiastically, but bemoaned the fact that she couldn’t get started on it til she’d sold all her old work, so she could get it out of her living room.


Wait a minute….  How many pieces were we talking about??




Did she need the money?  Not really.  It would be nice, but not a top priority.


I asked her if she had an attic that was clean and dry.  Yes, she did.  Then why not carefully wrap up those six paintings and store them for awhile.  She could get to work on her new series, and worry about those six paintings some other time.  Why waste time trying to build a new audience for old work she didn’t want to make anymore??


She was so stunned, she was speechless.  “I never thought of that!” she exclaimed.  She said I’d given her “permission”, and that was all she needed.


6) If it makes you happy/excited/re-ignited/ and it doesn’t cost much, do it.


There’s a certain reaction we have when we hear the advice that’s right for us, where we are right now.  It’s like our heart leaps up to meet it.  It just feels right.  It feels like what we need to hear in order to take our next step.  Even if it heads us down a wrong path, we get the affirmation and the energy to take that in stride—because it got us going down a path rather than fretting about how to find the path.  When you’re moving forward, more things can cross your path.


And often, the best advice is just that—simply the way to take your next step.


So listen to all of us here who write for FineArtViews.  Some of us think one thing, some of us another.  Maybe they’re right for where you are now.  Maybe I’m right for where you’ll be in a few years—or never!  Some things will sit well with you, some things won’t.


The one thing you can bet on?  It’s all good.  For somebody, somewhere, sometime.


Maybe even you.  Right here.  Right now.


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Related Posts:

Advice on Getting Advice Part 1

Topics: advice for artists | art marketing | exposure tips | FineArtViews | Luann Udell | sell art | selling art online | selling fine art online 

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Michael Cardosa
Hi Luann,

Good follow up. I think that some people need to distinguish between advice and opinion. It's always easy to point out to people what they might do in their present situation but is it real advice or just an opinion. Does the person really understand the situation or are they just projecting based on a quick observation? It's up to the individual artist to figure that one out. As to those big steps like you mentioned when big money is involved through research should be the first step. Investing in your career should be no different than investing money in anything else.

thanks again,


Cathy de Lorimier
There's something you wrote that I just keep repeating to myself because it rings so true in my whole life, as well as my art life:

"There's a certain reaction we have when we hear the advice that's right for us, where we are right now. It's like our heart leaps up to meet it."

For me that's the workings of the Spirit leading me on a path, and as you point out, any path can be the right one, as long as we're moving forward and looking out for the sign posts. I had an experience recently of my heart leaping up at a suggestion, and know just what you're talking about!

Judy Palermo
Thank you Luann, for this upbeat, encouraging article that starts the day well! This perspective is very keen, and does lighten the mental load that hits us when we face our easels everyday. The journey to progress and improvement is worth it!

Sandy Askey-Adams, PSA
What a gtreat article. Thank you.

I have to remember back to a couple of years ago, a company that selects artists for their art books had thought of an idea. A novel idea they felt it was.
They called the artists who had been in past (successful and beautiful) books and asked them if they would pay some huge amount to have their work featured in a new and different type of book idea that would be all over the world...etc..etc.. and get them a lot of publicity and get their name and work all over the world, etc....
They offered things like openings, big name art collectors, Big art galleries...whatever..I cannot even remember all, but it was enticing.
It seemed too good to be true. To invest in this book idea would cost each artist thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars if they afreed. Think it was $10,000, for this and then $15,000 for an even better plan of action.

Anyway, some of us artists spoke to one another, discussed it and we took advice from one another....which was a Huge "NO." Some of us even prayed for guidance.

As it stands right now, that company, we believe, has gone bankrupt...and there are over a hundred artists still waiting for the book BEFORE their last great book idea.
But, I think I know why they wanted to do that last great book idea that would cost so much... . . help their company, and not really to help the artists.
They disappointed many artists because they had done many great books for the artists and were very nice to work with. But.

Forgive me for this being so long. But bad advice is bad advice and it is better to know that before something terrible comes from that advice. Sometimes we know what is best... and what is not best...alarms start to go off. And in the above happening, many alarms could be heard from one State to the next, from artist to artist. I donot know if any artist went along with that NEW IDEA..I actually think a few did.
Have no idea what happened. I hope it turned out well for them.

Anyway...A lot of people like to use artists for their own selfishness and profits. Do not know why that is.
I think they think that our heads are foggy from our working with some of the toxic art materials...
Or think that we are unable to take our brains out of our art work long enough to have other thoughts, outlets and visions unrelated to art.

Brian Sherwin
Luann -- That first story is rough... $10,000! I know artists who have fell for international vanity galleries after an 'expert' advised it... we are talking, in some cases, $3,000 for the exhibit plus additional money for shipping / transportation.

An artist I know from Italy spent $6,000 (after everything was added up) to exhibit in NYC at a vanity gallery. Oddly enough, he had contacted me before signing papers... I warned him -- but the trap was already set. He knew in his 'gut' that it was a vanity gallery... but he just could not accept it. He thought it would be his 'big break'.

Something was broken -- his bank account. None of his work sold. Technically he paid $6,000 just to be able to say that he had an art exhibit in NYC. He set himself back financially all based on the smooth talk from someone working for the vanity gallery... he set himself back for nothing.

Imagine what he could have done with that money. I'm sure he thinks about that all of the time.

sandra white
Wow, that was a light at my feet. I have been struggling with making inventory that no longer interests me for that big show next summer, where I have a booth next to you!

I am going to move forward and work with those new ideas that are waiting for me.....

yes, they excite me....thanks for the light at my feet. You are correct, I am enlightened, I will move on.......

Marian Fortunati
You're right... It's often the practical common sense advice that we could have thought of ourselves that is the best advice.
Thanks, again, Luann!

Sandra Pearce
Our art is so personal, we are so attached that we...I...often can not see the forest for the trees.

Sometimes another artist will make a simple statement to me about my situation (shows, current "failing" piece, whatever) and it's like a cold smack on the face! I just think "Duh! Of course!"

And other times I smile and thank them, knowing they do not fully realize my situation or what they are suggesting. It's true, when it's right for you, you know in your heart.

I may have heard the same thing several times over the years, but only one time - at the right time for me - it sinks in.

I always research well before spending my hard-earned money - especially on my art career. I always encourage art friends to be wary of big investments and too-good-to-be-true promises.

Thank you for your good insight, please keep it coming.


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