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Click on each image to go to the project.
All photos copyright of their respective sites unless otherwise noted.
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
The only thing I really miss about regularly moving from apartment to apartment in my 20s is the necessary culling that happened with every relocation. I like going through my belongings to find the things I forgot I had, the things that I’m over, and the things that deserve a better life. Now I donate a few times a year, but there are always a few pieces that are maybe just a bit too good to put in a trash bag or cardboard box.
I’ve gathered some of those pieces as I pack up my life to move halfway across the country and am going to be posting them in the next few days for an Instagram sale. This sale is for Oklahoma City locals who can pick up their purchase only. The Sunbeam mixer above as well as pillows, lamps, art, and more will be available. If you’re local and looking for some deals you can follow along at @designcrush!
01/ I hate zoos, so Zootopia sounds like an fascinating concept.
02/ Every bus stop should be as fantastic as this typographic version in Baltimore.
03/ In case you’d like to jump off of the world’s largest suspension bridge, well, you can.
04/ If you haven’t seen Justina Blakeney’s floral portraits check out her Instagram!
05/ No big deal, just a wall built out of Jell-o and plaster.
06/ Reading Between the Lines is a see-through church constructed of 100 layers.
07/ Kids fight off scary monsters in Laure Fauvel’s Terruers.
08/ The eerie innards of America’s abandoned sanitariums.
09/ Pitbulls get such an undeserved bad rap, Flower Power shows off their softer side.
10/ Can you guess what these paper masks are made out of?
This week on Design Crush:
Trust me when I say you need to enter our Rebecca Atwood giveaway for TWENTY chances to win a set of her incredible throw pillows!
We did crepes 10 ways.
Check out Carly Waito‘s painted gems. Yes, painted.
Michael Afsa creates some incredibly detailed metal works that I’d like to crawl inside of.
This month’s mix is out – Mixtape #39: Everything I Do I Do in Slow Motion. Have a listen.
Another Country explores home goods designed with British country kitchen, Shaker, Scandinavian, and Japanese influences.
What happens when 19th century French poets meet American rappers? Kate Gavino shows us.
I’ll be teaching at next month’s Alt for Everyone – will you be joining me??
This sleek metal swinging love seat would look great on the porch of the new house!
Design Crush elsewhere:
What do you think about the rose gold trend??
We’re offering FREE SHIPPING on everything in Design Crush: The Marketplace through the end of the week!
We’re also hosting a flash sale on the paintings of Kuzana Ogg to fund her next few exhibitions.
The house I’ll be moving into next month has a swing on the front porch and I really can’t even explain how happy that makes me. I’d love to eventually install a more designer model, perhaps this Swinging Love Seat. Inspired by the edginess and ingenuity of Southern California’s Hot Rod Culture during the 1950′s and 60′s, it’s all sleek curves and slim profile.
Photo Elly Yap
Ever wanted to attend Alt, but couldn’t get yourself to Salt Lake City? NO PROBLEM. I’m happy to share that I’ll be teaching at next month’s Alt for Everyone once again. All of the knowledge and tips that are dropped at Alt brought to you in the comfort and convenience of your laptop screen! Wear your PJs, lounge in bed, whatever because no one can see you. I’ll be sharing a case study on Design Crush and how I made it the site you read today, I’ll also be sharing advice on how to grow your own blog. (You can check out the full working schedule here.)
For the registration price you’ll get to attend:
- 7 online classes of your choice
- 1 online keynote session
- 1 virtual social meet-up
Don’t forget, a box full of goodies will show up in your mailbox as well! And for the fourth Alt for Everyone you will have the option of adding more classes for an additional price. Take up to 13(!) amazing classes. Read more about Alt for Everyone and register here. Hope to see you Saturday, September 27th in my class!
What would happen if famous French authors teamed up with equally famous American rappers? A lot if illustrator Kate Gavino is correct. In her project 19th Centruy French Authors vs 21st Century American Rappers Gavino explores the idea by pairing up famous quotes with rap lyrics. Who even knows what sort of collaborations might happen… once time travel is possible.
I definitely have a crush on Another Country‘s contemporary craft furniture and accessories. The clean lines of their offerings are inspired by British Country kitchen style, Shaker, traditional Scandinavian, and Japanese woodwork. Clean lines, 100% functional, quality goods at a respectable price point – all of which will only make you feel better about adding any one of these pieces to your home.
Photo: Werner Schnell
Listen to Everything I Do I Do in Slow Motion on Spotify.
Michael Afsa lies somewhere between designer and visual artist, and he describes his beautiful sheet metal sculptures as “abstracted flora and imaginary landscapes, inspired by the desert environment, folk craft, and architectural forms.” I describe them as worlds unto themselves that I want to crawl inside of and explore.
(via Design Milk)