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How To Survive and Prosper as an Artist

How To Survive And Prosper As An Artist: Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul

by Caroll Michels

Published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC
New York, New York
Fifth Edition, 2001 ISBN: 0805068007 Price: $17.00

For many artists, the business of art, selling and self-promotion is the largest hurdle to face. Caroll Michels's How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist, now in its fifth edition, is a must-have textbook for every artist who has never had a business management class, and for the curious who want to know some of the psychology of selling art, dealing with rejection, and more. For Michels, the image of the 'starving artist' is a falsehood perpetuated by artists, dealers, academians, buyers, and just about anyone who can be found in the art world. Her book offers anecdotes and some tough-talk that eliminates this image and provides alternatives.

Beginning with "Overcoming Career Blocks" and "Entering the Marketplace", Michels moves into types of presentation tools, pricing, and how to keep your PR machine working. She then addresses "Exhibition and Sales Opportunities", establishing rapport with dealers, and getting grants and other opportunities. The book ends with perhaps some of the best advice on "Generating Income: Alternatives to Driving a Cab", and "Rationalization, Paranoia, Competition, and Rejection." Michels also adds an extensive appendix of resources for everything an artist needs to succeed, from professional organizations and on-line galleries, to artist-in-residence programs and insurance plans.

New in this edition are on-line marketing and exhibition opportunities listed in the appendices along with hundreds of new and updated resources. Ms. Michels has also recently created a new sister internet site to the book at http://www.artisthelpnetwork.com in addition to her personal site at http://www.carollmichels.com. The Artist Help Network site contains most of the information included in the appendix of the book and will be kept up-to-date, with new additions added regularly.

Michels's expertise derives from the school of hardknocks that most artists experience only after they've been catapulted out of art school. "Managing my own career was something that no one person taught me," says Ms. Michels in her introduction. "I learned from several individuals, positive and negative encounters, trial-and-error experiences, and personal intuition." She offers an anecdote in the book about an artist (her ex-husband) being cheated out of his paintings by an unscrupulous New York gallery dealer who claimed that the paintings were not consigned but given as a gift.

Caroll Michels has been a career coach and artist's advocate since 1978. Having counseled thousands of artists in their careers, she has seen and heard just about all there is, and has harnessed their anecdotes and solutions for her book. Among the sturm und drang are positive and sometimes humourous quotes, one of which deals with how one artist creatively dealt with the mounds of rejections he received. There are literally hundreds of quotes from artists, dealers, curators, and critics to which everyone can probably relate similar experiences or stories from the grapevine. They all sound so familiar, and Michels has assembled and deciphered what it all means.

There are many in the art world who would have everyone believe that art is more than a business -- which it is. However, not everyone is going to be, or wants to live like Henry Darger or Vincent Van Gogh. Art inspires and enhances our culture above all else. However ask any artist what their idea of success is, and they may all have a different response. Some artists may aspire to be an Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jeff Koons or Dale Chihuly -- the type of success defined by mass-market name-recognition or material wealth. Other artists may define success as international museum exhibitions. And still other artists may think that a simple yearly income derived solely from their art is all that's required.

This book does not address the issues surrounding what constitutes a sucessful artist, "talent," current trends in art, or philosophy of art. Instead, it focuses solely on the actual business of being an artist, that which every artist should truly know, whether you are a Henry Darger or a Jeff Koons: the importance of insurance, legal, accounting and estate issues. Michels refutes the belief that artists can not make a living as artists, and shows how it is done.

How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist is the missing manual for all artists at all stages of their careers. It is the textbook for the 'business of art' class so often missing from many art school curriculums. Michels shows the art world that there is more to art than simply making art -- but that you don't have to become a well-oiled public relations guru to be an artist.

--Richard Donagrandi

Richard Donagrandi is the Executive Producer and brains behind ArtScope.net. He is an artist with a BFA from Michigan State, and currently shares a studio space in the Flat Iron Building on the corner of Milwaukee, Damen and North Avenues. You can visit his homepage at http://home.earthlink.net/~donagrandi

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