Full disclosure: Lisa Congdon is my friend. My crazy talented, enormously gifted, incredibly smart business woman of a friend who decided in 2006 to take a chance on art and succeeded beyond her wildest dreams. Art, Inc.: The Essential Guide for Building Your Career as an Artist is her latest book.
If you’re creative in any way chances are you’ve daydreamed about making a career of it, and that’s exactly what Art, Inc. is about. It’s essentially a guide to making your dreams a reality and debunking the myth of the starving artist written by someone who has taken the plunge and lived to tell the tale. Learn about the ways artists can make a living from their art (you don’t have to be on a street corner with an easel, although that was always sort of my dream). Lisa shares her knowledge of licensing, sales, teaching, promoting, managing, and tons more. Not only from her own career, but from art world pros like Paula Scher, Nikki McClure, and Claire Desjardins who we’re going to dig a little deeper into below with an excerpt.
Claire Desjardins, Painter
Montreal native Claire Desjardins spent her childhood summers in the countryside, where she discovered painting. But although she loved the art form, she chose to study business in college as a way to a stable, well-paying career. After graduating, she worked for ten years in technology and marketing. Several years ago, she set up a painting studio at home to get back in touch with her creative side, painting for the first time since she was a child. Over time, she moved from small to large canvases and began painting abstractly. By 2011, she was selling enough of her work to pursue art full-time. Since then, Claire has received grants to attend artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and Da Wang Culture Highland in Southeastern China. She is represented by Galerie Lydia Monaro in Montreal and Muse Gallery in Toronto and is a top-selling artist on Saatchi Online. Claire’s work can be found in both private and corporate collections around the world.
Lisa Congdon: As a self-taught abstract painter, how did you go from painting in your studio to selling work?
Claire Desjardins: I’d been painting for several years, and around the advent of Facebook, I started posting my work there. I had given a painting to a friend and then another friend of his saw it on Facebook and he contacted me about whether I had anything else for sale. That was how it all started. I began meeting a lot of people online who were interested in my art. That year I did quite well with my art, but I was still working for a marketing communications company. I worked only four days a week, so I would paint on my free weekday. My company was restructuring and merging, and I got laid off in 2011. But it was a perfect time for me to leave my job.
LC: How did you first get gallery representation?
CD: I sold a painting to one of my fans on Facebook. It was one of my first paintings that I had sold to someone I didn’t even know, so it was pretty exciting. I made sure that I really took care of her. I packed the painting properly, sent it with a booklet of my art, and called her to make sure everything went smoothly. Sometime later, I received an email from Muse Gallery in Toronto. Apparently, the woman from Facebook who bought my painting lived around the corner from the gallery and had told them about me. The gallery owner looked me up, liked what he saw, and contacted me to work on an artist agreement together. I did some research on them and called other artists who the gallery represented. I asked them about their relationships with the gallery and eventually, it all came together. I borrowed my father’s minivan and drove a bunch of paintings to Toronto! They have represented me since and have given me a couple of solo shows, too.
LC: Right around the time you left your job, Anthropologie contacted you. They sell your original paintings and license your paintings to make prints and for use on their products. How did this relationship come about? What are the advantages and disadvantages of working with a big company to sell and license your work?
CD: It all began one day when I got an email—and in the subject line it said “Anthropologie Interest.” They were looking for local artists to feature on the walls and windows of the new Montreal store. Four of their buyers came to my studio. I heard that they had read about me on Mocoloco.com.
There are both advantages and disadvantages to working with a large company. The main and obvious advantage is the exposure of my art. Other advantages include the additional revenue, as well as seeing my art on different products. The disadvantage is less obvious; it’s that a small portion of the artistic community came to perceive my art as too commercial or that I’m “selling out.”
LC: What is your main mode for selling original work now?
CD: By far, I make most of my sales online. Specifically, I’ve had success with Saatchi Online. In order to nurture this relationship, I try to keep up with my social networking as much as possible. This is a very important component to my job, as it’s the only advertising I can afford (it’s mostly free!), and it reaches so many people. Whenever I post a new painting online, I make sure to link it to a page that allows people to purchase my art, like Saatchi Online. I make sure that I give them credit for the good things that they do, in a timely fashion. So if they include one of my pieces on their home page, I make sure that I blurt it out for all to read, on all my social media like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter.
LC: You are an advocate for signed agreements— whether in licensing or when you work with galleries. Why are they important?
CD: When you sell or license your art, money and image rights are involved, so spelling out the rules in advance helps to manage expectations and eliminate surprises later on. It protects both the artist and the reseller. Proposing the writing of an agreement should not be perceived as an unfriendly gesture or an indication of mistrust. In fact, it should be considered an act of ensuring mutual understanding. We all have contracts with our cable or cell phone companies, so why wouldn’t you have an agreement with the resellers of your art, whether they are galleries, agents, or commercial companies? The exercise of writing an agreement will raise many questions that had not been thought about before. Those questions can be imperative in terms of the health and sustainability of the relationship.
And once again here’s the fun part – two of you have the chance to win a copy of Art, Inc! Whether you’re an aspiring artist or know someone who aims to be this book is the guide you’ll want at arm’s reach. You have until midnight CST Sunday, August 24th to toss your hat into the ring!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I’m a big time fan of Brooklyn-based designer and artist Rebecca Atwood, so I’m over the moon about this week’s giveaway. The creation of Rebecca’s original collection of home textiles as a process starts with her sketchbook: drawing, painting, creating collages, and testing colors. Then each piece is created as part of a small batch edition with an eye towards hand dying, printing, and painting to retain the integrity of the original concept. The unpredictability of the dye is whole heartedly embraced as well as the variations that naturally occur.
Rebecca has such a keen eye for color and texture, nowhere does this show more than in her pillow collection. I was especially drawn to her shibori collection with its vast pattern variations from pillow to pillow. The fabric was created using a modified version of the traditional shibori technique which involves folding the fabric into rectangles before dying to create the gridded end result.
So here’s the part you’ve been waiting for ever since you read the word giveaway. We’ve teamed up with Rebecca Atwood to give away a pair of her coveted pillows to one lucky reader! Choose from the Grid Shibori Marine Pillow, Lattice Shibori Marine Pillow, Striped Circle Pillows, or the Waves Natural Pillow – or mix and match. Enter for a chance to win below – you have until midnight CST Sunday, August 17th!
I’d had my eye out for a pouf that I loved for over a year when Loom Decor reached out about their impressive collection of customizable silhouettes and 400+ fabric options. (And it doesn’t stop there, you can also customize a variety of pillow styles, poufs, bedding, table top or even create your own custom window treatments.) After scanning through all of the fabrics I knew immediately that the Optrix pattern was the one for me. It provides a perfect graphic punch that adds some interest to the otherwise solid pieces in my living room.
The pouf showed up on my doorstep in about two weeks, which is super fast for anything customized. Like lightning! It measures 24 x 24 x 13″ and has already served multiple purposed around my space. My favorite is above, where I sit to work when I’m in the living room. I love propping my legs up on it, basically converting part of my sofa into a chaise. I’ve also used it as extra seating and even a stand-in coffee table (mine is being repaired) by simply placing a large tray on top. And I love that Loom Decor offers a range of price points with their fabric offerings — basic, prime, and luxe — which allow customers to find pieces that fit within their budgets.
Now’s your chance to tap into Loom Decor‘s high-end, luxurious home textiles – they even offer personalized decorating assistance! Two lucky Design Crush readers will win $100 towards the custom piece of your choice. Hop over to the official giveaway page to enter, you have until July 20th!
This summer BRIKA has teamed up with their artisans and designers to create eight exclusive summer necklaces to amp up your warm weather style. I was lucky enough to receive The Pamela Necklace – each one is named after their maker – by Totem Color Block. It’s a fresh, fun, and feminine pastel piece that pairs well with the plethora of whites, blacks, and neutrals I tend to wear most.
Surprisingly shop owner Pamela Foeckler has been designing jewelry for just over a year after a decade of working as an art conservationist. Her minimal and colorful aesthetic were honed while earning her degree in sculptural and architectural history, and what was once deemed too “eccentric” now lends itself well to her jewelry designs.
Check out the entire BRIKA exclusive summer necklace collection and to find one that matches your own style.
If you live in a part of the world where summer evenings are in the 70-degree range, mild breezes are de rigueur, and humidity is at a solid zero percent then I am in completely and total envy. Because that is my summer dream, to work (or play) the day away and relax into a backyard oasis with perfect weather in the evenings. My current backyard is basically the size of two postage stamps next to one another, so I’ve resorted to creating a virtual oasis to satiate my longings. Outdoor Trunk is just the place to shop for such outdoor necessities, so i dug in and found some pieces I love that would make any backyard a dream.
I dream of owning a hammock some day soon, so I’m completely envious that you have the chance to win what is possibly the most relaxing piece of outdoor furniture to ever exist. And what summer is worth anything without a great BBQ set to assist with some solid grilling? That’s right, none. Enter to win both from Outdoor Trunk and then report back with how awesome they are when you win!
If you’re like me you prefer to wake up to one of your favorite mellow tunes rather than the jarring blare of an alarm clock. Those first few minutes of the day can determine your mood for hours (especially on a Monday), and Soundfreaq created the alarm clock/bluetooth speaker hybrid Sound Rise with just that in mind.
The stacked design looks right at home on your bedside table in either black or wood tones, and the sound quality is seriously impressive. You can also enjoy solid sound while you get ready or soft music to relax to while falling asleep. Control the tone of your music with neutral, warm, and bright options for a customized experience. One of my favorite Sound Rise functions is the ability to set different alarm times for weekdays and weekends – who hasn’t accidentally set their Saturday wakeup for 6am? The worst. And you can even blackout the digital display, perfect for someone light sensitive like myself. Sound Rise features a USB power port you can use to keep your phone charging while you sleep, without having to fuss with a dock of any kind. Just one last thing: a nap timer. Soundfreaq has seriously thought of everything!
And now the part you’ve been waiting for – a chance to win your own Sound Rise! Get every day off to a better start by entering any number of ways below, but do it before Sunday, June 15th at 11:59 pm.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Let’s kick off this week with the biggest giveaway Design Crush has ever been a part of – Drake General Store’s Au Courant: Curated Classics! At the end of February Drake General Store launched their first major campaign, it’s brimming over with tried and true favorites and we’ve teamed up on a major giveaway – I’m talking $1,000 worth of prizes – to go along with it!
Toronto-based Drake General Store has been on my radar for awhile now as a fantastic modern gift shop paired with a classic general store that carries contemporary nostalgia with a Canadian twist. (You might also know them for the cultural hotbed that is The Drake Hotel.)
I’m the happy owner of an HBC Caribou Throw that’s amazing on the coldest nights (and Peanut the Cat approved), as well as the Shared History Macho Man Robe which is basically the biggest sweatshirt hoodie you’ve ever laid eyes on or cozied up in. Both of these pieces are included in the giveaway among FORTY OTHER ITEMS. It’s complete insanity, all because these Canadians want to share their best sellers with you.
You can enter for a chance to win the best giveaway ever from now until March 14th. Just click over to the Drake General Store’s Au Courant: Curated Classics giveaway page to toss your hat into the ring. Good luck!
It’s no secret that I love a good mood board or collage, and today I’m happy to share that I’m partnering with Polyvore for Project Decorate! You probably know the site best for their super easy drag-and-drop fashion boards (aka “sets”), but Polyvore is expanding into home decor and interior design. Absolutely perfect for those of us who consider creating dream homes a hobby, as well as those who do it for a living. You can even follow me if we have similar taste.
Create a room, an inspiration board, or an entire home in a few clicks of your mouse. I’ve already pulled together a living room, bedroom, dining room, and kitchen goods that are tugging at my checking account along with a set that tells you a little bit about my style aesthetic. Not only was it fun, it’s completely addicting. There’s even an app if you need to get your fix on the go!
Now here’s the best part – visit my contest page, create a set about Modern + Bright style, and you just may win one of two $500 West Elm gift cards! That’s right, we’re giving away a total of $1,000 for you to feather your nest. So get to creating a Polyvore set with some of the pieces I’ve selected as part of my collection and be sure to tag it with #ProjectDecorate. Click here to enter and good luck!
I’ve hope you’ve all been following along with 24 Merry Days because my day is finally here and I couldn’t be more excited! There have already been 19 incredible giveaways, but I have to say mine is definitely, absolutely, without a doubt THE BEST.
What can you win, you ask? Only the biggest haul in Design Crush giveaway history – $500 worth of Mud Australia dishware!!! The haul includes a square large platter in ash, a square medium platter in citrus, a one tier cake stand in plum, a dipping bowl in pink, a vase round medium in milk, a beaker cup in pink, jug small in pink, and two espresso cups in pistachio. (Whew. I got a little tired just typing all of that.)
Mud Australia is an incredible Sydney-based company that I’ve been following for years. They’ve created a beautiful, minimalistic line of porcelain that combines hand made processes, clean lines, color palette and functionality since their founding in 1994. Mud has an inspiring small business history that you can (and should) read about.
This giveaway is a bit different than others on Design Crush because you have up to 30 entries using the Rafflecopter below. Yes, THIRTY. The more tasks you complete the more times you’re entered to win! The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only and ends December 27, 2013 at 11:59pm PST. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email, so please be sure to provide a valid email address. Best of luck!
Do you remember 24 Merry Days last December? Well, this year it’s back and about a million times better than ever. In case you’re not familiar, 24 Merry Days is an advent calendar of giveaways – one a day from December 1st through the 24th featuring 24 bloggers. Audrey of A Little Street has completely outdone herself pulling the entire project together with gifts from Public Bikes to Max Wanger to Mud Australia – times 24. (I can hear your jaw dropping over here. It’s okay.)
I’m not allowed to spill who’s giving away what when, but I can tell you that it’s going to be amazing. And that you can check in on the 24 Merry Days site each day starting December 1st to find out where to go to enter that day’s giveaway. You can also follow me on Twitter at @designcrush where I’ll be sharing the same info each day. Get ready to click guys, cause it’s gonna be AWESOME.