Summer Reading: The Creative Entrepreneur Chapter 3 Part One

July 9, 2012 § 1 Comment

2 weeks ago (sorry I took a week off with the holiday) I finished off Chapter 2 of The Creative Entrepreneur: A DIY Visual Guidebook for Making Business Ideas Real by Lisa Sonora Beam.  This week gets a little meatier with The next Chapter 3.

Francesca Woodman

Chapter Three, is vast, messy and I feel like it’s going to take time to really digest it all.  I’ve broken it up in pieces with part one as the largest.  This chapter begins by sorting out Right Brain function from Left Brain and really delving into your strengths and weaknesses of each.  Beam still has this hippy-dippy language she writes in but its grounded enough to make you want to stay a part of the process of self-evaluation.  I found the exercises really helpfully; especially as I always thought of myself as left brained…after this, I realize, I couldn’t be farther from it.  Probably I just tried to live in a left brain life for too long until a few years ago.  So, in that sense, things about myself I saw as deficiencies, now I can see more honestly and appreciate their benefit…the same is true for the left brain quirks that hold me back.

Another truth that Beam kept hitting on was the idea of forcing ourselves to do the things we find weakness in; i.e. you like to write all day and you stink at math.  Apparently, there is a good bit of study and thought that delving into those weak areas not only strengthens our weaknesses but doubly strengthens our gifts!  This past week I did take on a bit more detailed business work (stuff I loathe!) and I’m not sure if it gave me a push creatively in my other areas…but it did feel like it cleared away a lot of the minutia in my head and allowed myself to create without distraction.

Francesca Woodman

Also, this week, by a happy accident, I watched the documentary, The Woodmans on Netflix.  I was somewhat surprised to have never heard of this family of artists back in school; though it seems the daughter, Francesca, gained the most notoriety with her hauntingly beautiful photographs.  The thing that really got me though was their work ethic.  They just don’t wait for inspiration; creating art is a job.  George Woodman, the father, makes a comment somewhere in the film that “if you don’t have any ideas you go into your studio and sharpen pencils…eventually you might just get an idea!”  If you find yourself reading along with this book; now’s the time to watch this film to enhance this chapter.

Next week, I’ll focus just on pages 60-61, Mapping Your Remedies…so check back next week to find my progress.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Advice for the New Year…for creative people

January 1, 2012 § Leave a comment

I just happened on to the work of Ann Marshall and I’m in love.  Best yet, I’m digging her advice for Art Students, which really could be applied to all of us creative people…take a gander:

1. Work hard. This can be a brutal and fickle profession and there are no guarantees, even if you’re excellent at what you do. There will most likely be a long period where you receive little to no money for your personal work and if, after a very honest appraisal, you can’t see yourself making art without concrete deadlines, projects, or consequences, you may want to enter another field. However, if you can’t stop making art, and despite all sensible advice to the contrary, you want to pursue it as a profession –then congratulations, you have the calling. Welcome to the creative world.

2. Be honest about your personality and chose a style and field of work to suit it. If you dislike working alone all day, you may want to gravitate to a field where you’ll be working in an office or a studio like animation or design. If people bug the crap out of you, than fine art or illustration may be a good match. If you have a short attention span, develop a style that allows you to finish quality projects quickly. If you’re obsessive — indulge it, because in the long run you will be happier. Happiness in a career has more to do with what you deal with a do on a daily basis than with any romantic ideas about your chosen profession. Find work that you enjoy doing in the moment, because that is what you will be doing most of the time.

3. Do not take on debt and keep your overhead as low as possible. Sadly, student loans are a necessity for many, but don’t add to your debt load through personal spending. Also, keep your overhead as low as possible. This is hard in expensive art centers like New York, but do your best. You want to be able to work on things that interest you or will forward your career, and not be trapped in dead end situations just to pay your debt load and overly high bills. And even if you become successful, creative income tends to fluctuate wildly (I’ve read of situations where people made $400,000 one year and $8,000 the next). Keep your overhead low and pace yourself so you can weather the low periods.

4. Develop a style, not a gimmick. Your style will emerge with time and work. Don’t press it. Gimmicks may attract immediate attention, but just as quickly will lose it. And by all means, learn everything you can from your teachers, but do not become a clone of them. You will always be a second rate Mr. or Mrs. X. Try to do the work that only you can do.

5. Work all the time and treat your art like a job. Treat art school like a student preparing for a career in law or medicine. This means scheduling time to work on your art and to staying to that schedule. Don’t wait around to be inspired, though always be on the lookout for inspiration. You get better at making art by doing it, and by doing it a lot. Like anything else, practice will improve your abilities. Art is not magic. There will be some days that are better than others, and some projects you like more than others. Always try your best, but some pieces might not turn out as well as you would like. Sometimes, projects just suck. Complete them and move on.

5. Look at art in person, not just on line and in books. Go to museums, shows, and galleries. Look at both contemporary and traditional art. Read (a lot) and educate yourself. Question everything. Reason, test, and research. Be curious. Read reputable newspapers and periodicals that still practice actual journalism. Travel everywhere you can.

6. When choosing an art school, check out what the seniors are doing. Is the work they’re producing the kind of work you want to produce in four years? As for the cost of art school, this is an problematic issue which a lot of American higher education is facing. The fact is that art is a difficult profession and you will need excellent training, competitive peers, and professional connections to even have a chance at success. Unfortunately, with the exception of a very few schools, this can’t be found at a state or community college. On the other hand, private art schools are profit-driven ventures with exorbitant tuition, especially considering that unlike some other fields, you’re probably not going to be walking out of college into a high paying job (financial success can come, but it usually does not come immediately). I do not have a good solution for this, but can say that taking on $100k in debt for art school is a very bad idea. If you haven’t left home yet, you can’t really understand the magnitude of this owing this amount of money and the years and years of your life you will have to work, sometimes in soul-crushing jobs, to pay it all back. Think very carefully before taking this on.

7. Develop thick skin. There will always be people who don’t like your work and will spare no detail when explaining why. Don’t worry about them. Target your work at the people who like it. Also, be wary of people who rank different sorts of art as high and low, and tell you you are wasting your time at doing ‘x’, when you could be doing the much more culturally significant ‘ y.’ You are a lot more likely to have success in a field you are truly interested in and will enjoy it a lot more.

8. Have fun. Remember when art was fun and not a pressure-cooker? Try and get back to that mental space. If you do not have fun making your art, no one else will have fun looking at it.

9. Do not get obsessed with technique. Only other art students care about how well you pulled out the highlight on the orange. You can be a technically brilliant painter and a terrible artist. Good craftsmanship is paramount of course, but most people are more interested in looking at an interesting picture than applauding masterful rendering.

10. Do not be difficult to work with. No matter how brilliant you are, there are twenty other people outside ready to take your place. Always be courteous and professional.

11. Exercise and keep yourself in shape. You do not need to be an athlete, but mind your health. This seems a little off topic, but your physical shape effects everything you do from brain function to over all stamina–and these will certainly effect your career. Trust me, you will save a lot of time and incredible amounts of money in the long run if you can do what you can to prevent chronic illness and conditions that could have otherwise been avoided. General maintenance is far easier than a total body overhaul in your mid-forties after a health crisis. This goes for mental well being as well.

12. Network. In the end, its far more likely that people you know or who are degree removed from those you do will give you jobs and other opportunities. It sometime seems obnoxious, but make sure everyone knows what you do and how awesome you are at it. This is one of the reasons its important to go to a good school: peers who will still be helping you fifteen years after graduation.

13. Keep in mind its a business and their are a lot of extra duties like marketing, emailing, taxes, and taking care of logistics. Take care of your business.

14. Luck matters. Be prepared for when opportunities appear. One conversation on the street can change your entire life’s course.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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The Sketchbook Project

August 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

This year was the first Sketchbook Project Tour; a collection of submitted sketchbooks traveling the United States.  A really unique idea that shares what is thought of an intimate practice of sketching and journaling with the masses.  After the tour each book is kept and filed in the Brooklyn Art Library.

The Sketchbook Project is now gearing up for their 2012 tour and you have until October 31st to sign up.  The entry fee is a modest $25 which includes the sketchbook and helps with the logistics of such a massive undertaking (this year they are taking the sketchbooks beyond the US!). If you would like to have your sketchbook professionally digitized, it’s a mere $20 to share your book with a wider audience online.

–Lisa LeBlanc

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Revolutionary Art: Egypt

July 28, 2011 § Leave a comment

I had been meaning to post this a couple weeks ago when I first saw these amazing images from NBC chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel of revolutionary art in the Tahrir Square, Cairo.  So often we make art to say something about ourselves that we forget how powerful art can be in telling people something about themselves.

Everyone back to your nest.... the revolution is over

on the sides "Detention, Poverty، Coercion, Torture, Fear, Frustration" In the middle "Injustice, Loss of identity"

Political awareness is the key to the future

–Lisa LeBlanc

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