Category Archives: Getting a job after art school

Artist Profile: Kelly Ventura for Crate & Barrel

Kelly and I met in Book Arts when we attended art school years ago. I always remembered her pieces for being subtle and thoughtfully brilliant. We crossed paths again in Chicago when she was showing her incredible fiber pieces at the gallery where I worked and at The Renegade Craft Fair. Now we’re all back in the Ann Arbor area and Kelly is a full time product and surface designer. We were so thrilled to hear that a line of her illustrations had been picked up by Crate & Barrel to be reproduced for their Spring 2014 art print line. Congratulations, Kelly!

N captured some great shots of her working in the studio in preparation to send to C&B for their artist profile.

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Kelly works largely in watercolor and pen. She has a beautiful signature style that’s whimsical and saturated with color.

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See more of Kelly’s work at KellyVentura.com and her Minted site. We can’t wait for her collection to come out next spring – look out for it!

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To have your works of art or yourself captured in the studio, give us a call at 734-929-2498 or email us at info@chin-azzaro.com

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How to Sell Your Art and Other Helpful Tips

Yesterday’s post on pricing student or “emerging” art work tackled the difficulty of pricing your works to move. But maybe even more difficult is gaining the exposure and putting your works in the right venue to be seen and sell. When I was talking to Paula Shubatis about the value of large scale oil paintings, I was also considering the proper space for the pieces to be hung.

She had a really great idea to have a non-profit sponsor so that she could apply for a permit to exhibit in an alley downtown. I immediately posed the question, “How will that make you money?” Yes, it would gain her intrigue and possibly some press, but I was concerned with how she was going to be rewarded for her efforts. Too many times we think about the work but we don’t know how to translate to tangible values. Most of society is already programmed to consume art in small manageable pieces so while seeing a painting in an alley might be exciting, it might not speak to a buyer or get a buyer to come out to the alley to begin with.

Paula answered that it probably wouldn’t be a money-making ploy but the alley would complement her painting. Although it would be for a short time, I had to agree. So we started brainstorming on how she could further the visibility of her paintings and who her potential clients were. This is what I suggested researching.

Corporate collections

Although many have been dissolved over the years, corporate art collections were and still are a barometer of a corporations success. The historical, educational and sophistication level of a curator’s choices can communicate a vast number of nuances to a client. Some focus on specific topics relevant to the company but most are diverse and worth millions of dollars. I suggested to Paula to research any collections that were still active in the southeast Michigan area and send a professional letter and images to those that collect contemporary.

Art Fairs

From creating enough inventory to sell to the logistics of travel to getting into the fair itself, the career of a professional artist is a tough one when you’re traveling cross country to sell your wares. But I know some very successful artists that make a living of this and they love what they do. Research each market, figure your costs (including booth fees, lodging, food, airfare/gas, insurance, shipping if needed) and try out a local one to see if you like the art fair circuit culture.

Representation

The art dealing culture has changed drastically over the last decade. Gone are the days of sending slides and lugging heavy portfolios to the gallery. While it may still stand as the pinnacle of an artist’s I’ve made it moment, getting representation is getting harder and harder each day as galleries downsize and restructure what it is to be in a gallery’s stable of artists. Now there are an infinite number of online galleries and stores to sell your work. Besides the ever popular Etsy, there’s also Big Cartel, a foolproof store that handles your art sales and monetary transactions safely.

If you are interested in going the traditional route of being represented by a dealer, read the instructions carefully and make sure you include everything they ask for and nothing they do not. Use the best materials you can afford and have friends or colleagues proof all text. Also, do not send unsolicited packages. I used to be an American art dealer (known impressionism, modern and contemporary works) and would receive numerous packets from artists. Had they taken the time to research the website, they would have seen that I generally worked with museums and collectors to sell paintings by deceased and market-established artists. Vet your galleries carefully and save yourself the postage!

If nothing else, having a website is a must. Take clear, well-lit photos of your art work and make sure your site is easily navigable and concise. Include an artists statement and any information that will intrigue your clients. Branding yourself properly is probably the most important tool of all.

Public and Temporary spaces

Like Paula’s idea to show in the alley, outdoor spaces garner attention from people that might not normally see art. It’s exciting, fresh and enlivens a space if it’s installed properly. Remember to consider the logistics of transporting the piece, whether you need electricity, if it’s safe from the elements, if you’ll need a lock or security overnight and whether you need to insure it for potential loss or damage. All these things considered, public art is also a great excuse to garner publicity…

Publicity

Getting in front of a buyer is difficult without a dealer or gallery. That said, there are many perks to representing yourself, namely not having to pay a share to the middle man. But that means you have to know how to talk about your work and how to publicize it. I always tell students and artists to learn to write a press release. It’s one page, has all the relevant information a magazine, newspaper or TV would need to cover your story. But make sure it’s newsworthy before you send it. It’s also important to make rounds at the art fairs, openings and museum circuit. Learn not only to talk about your work but art and design history in general.

There are tons of details that go into the success of an artist and these are just a few starter tips. Sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing the right person, being at the right place at the right time…but I like to believe that forethought, planning and talent matter too. Good luck!

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Challenge: Point vs Pro | Why Do You Need A Professional Photographer Anyway?

We’ve gotten a few photo shoots under our belt since the start of the company and we have to say, we’re pretty happy with the results. From food to portraits, we’ve been able to offer a variety of takes on what the client wants while injecting our own flavor into things. Thing is, there’s still some apprehension from time to time about what it is we do, why we do it and if it’s truly that different than just picking up a camera and taking a point and shoot photo. The answer is “yes!” We don’t strive for just good enough, we want exceptional. See for yourself.

People may not always be able to voice what it is about the photo that doesn’t seem quite right until they see a proper example of how it should be done. You’re probably wondering what we shot with and why there’s such a drastic difference. The shot on the left was taken with our trusty Nikon Coolpix S4100. It’s a great camera for fun, social gatherings. But if you’re a business owner wondering why your mailers aren’t getting response or why you can’t achieve the results as we did on the right, it’s because we pack and bring an entire studio with us.

Although a point and shoot camera is good for documentation it only offers one light source from a fixed point. For the professional shots, items were lit from the side with the assistance of white bounce cards to fill and highlight, making the item more robust. Every aspect of the shoot is in a controlled environment, much like the food campaign we shot a couple weeks ago. If you’ve ever wondered about professional photography, we’re happy to answer your questions.

We look forward to working with you.

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Bye American

“I was born in ______ in the United States of America. My skin is ______ and I’m a ______, and believe in  ______. I work ______ and pay ______ and don’t believe in ______. I exercise my right to ______ and appreciate the ______ of those before me. I eat ______ and am not scared of all of the ______. I feel that ______ should be free and that ______ is our choice. I’m not for ______ intervention, but feel that ______ is necessary. I know that ______ don’t get paid enough, while ______ live lavish lifestyles. Each night I watch the ______ only to see ______ over and over again. To me, it’s obvious this country has forgotten how to ______.”

-______

Nick Azzaro ©

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The Process

Our ideas begin here.

They’re given life here.

The keepers are then digitized.

Lastly, they’re printed on high quality archival photo paper in rich, saturated colors and sent to you.

The end.

-NY-

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Father Photography.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, my father enjoys photographing wooded wintry scenes. Below are a few he’s taken in the recent past. My father has been photographing since the 60’s. For a period he even developed film and printed images in a darkroom built in the basement of the house I grew up in. It’s safe to say that his style, eye and passion for photography have positively influenced my life.

-N-

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Icy hot.

My father has always enjoyed photographing wooded winter landscapes, while I like more urban and abstract scenes. The sun broke through the clouds yesterday just before sunset, allowing me to capture the winter woods as I see them (and then some).

-N-

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How to Get a Job in the Art World: Branding Yourself through Resume, Grooming and Other Important Stuff

We’re pretty involved at our alma mater, the University of Michigan School of Art & Design. In a couple weeks we’ll be meeting with students at the Portfolio Expo, a great event where students get to share their work with professionals that can give them insight on internships and jobs, what approach to take to achieve their next goal and general advice for exploring the art world.

I remember how nerve-wracking it was trying to get my foot in the door at a gallery. There’s a steep learning curve involved with molding into the culture of dealing with clients and that’s something that can’t be taught. Since the bulk of my background has been in gallery and art administration, I’ve interviewed and hired a few interns over the years. For the most part, I knew my future intern within two minutes of meeting them. But before that, the resume tipped me off on who I should look out for. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Include organizations you're involved in. The 1st Slideluck Potshow Chicago, 2009 Image: Casey Kelbaugh.

RESUME

You are a brand, and your resume is a product of that. I really appreciate a thoughtful resume with attention to font, spacing, color and if it’s relevant, a logo. It’s especially effective if the content of your resume stands up to the aesthetics. Many times I see gimick-y resumes but there’s little to no content or not enough text to tell me what skill sets students possess or what they did at their last job. Conversely, a resume that’s content heavy but runs text all the way to the margins when it says they’re graphic design majors, is just as disconcerting. Striking a balance is difficult and every interviewer or potential employer is going to look for different things. My advice is to send your resume to at least three professors and/or professionals in the field that have the time to give you feedback on both aesthetic and content.

Here are a few other tips:

  • Curate and edit. Keep your resume to one page, if possible. The second page is usually overlooked, mostly due to time constraints.
  • Don’t fill up the page with an extra large font if you’re short on experience. Own the fact that you’re green and be honest about your ambitions during interviews.
  • Please use spellcheck. I cringe thinking that you’re not only sending it to me, but lots of other potential employers as well. It’s indicative of the type of work you’ll produce.
  • If you don’t feel confident on your design skills, do a trade with a graphic designer to spruce up your resume.

A panel discussion on the artist's role in society

GROOMING + INTERVIEWING

I once had a student show up for a 9 a.m. interview at 9:15 (Strike one. I’m a stickler on punctuality, especially for interviews)! We had a nice conversation but I knew right away that she wouldn’t feel comfortable on the gallery floor. The collectors I dealt with would walk all over her. Plus, she hadn’t brought a copy of her resume (strike two). As she was speaking, I noticed that her hair was a bit unruly. As she turned to the side, I saw a huge matted knot on the back of her head that stuck straight up. Bedhead. (Strike three. Must brush hair to work in gallery). After she left, I never heard from her again. Then there was the student who showed up in a tight white, see-through waffle shirt and dark, red lipstick – all over her teeth. She wasn’t called back.

Last year, our good friend John Luther, the Career Development Coordinator at the School of Art & Design, sent me notice that Kelsey would be calling to meet when she moved to Chicago. She was open to various positions but was really hoping to get into a design consultancy that handled all kinds of creative campaigns and products. Although it wasn’t my realm of expertise, we had a great conversation about the art scene. Not only did she show up on time and brush her hair, she was dressed appropriately, brought copies of her resume (although I had already seen it electronically) and had done research on the gallery. Consequently, Kelsey got herself a great position from meeting the President of a major company just weeks later.

It may seem obvious but I used to have friends during art school that didn’t shower. And one notorious friend who didn’t brush his teeth (gum was the stand-in). Whether you know it or not, people will recognize you from gallery openings and class which could affect your outcome in getting a job later. Brush your hair. And your teeth.

There are some great perks to working in a gallery.

There’s an old saying that goes, “Dress for the job that you want, not the one that you have.” There’s a lot of truth to that. My first year of art school, I couldn’t afford a lot of interview clothing. My “uniform”, as it came to be called, consisted of black long sleeve shirts, a black sweater vest, black dress pants and black boots. I pegged myself into the stereotypical artist garb but I never had a problem with matching outfits or looking underdressed. I always made sure my hair was coiffed and kept out of my face. I interviewed for two jobs this way and got them both. The point is, do your best and carry yourself like you mean it. Here are a few points to remember when interviewing:

  • Practice out loud. Make sure you can answer simple things like, Tell me about yourself? or Why do you want this job?
  • Answer the question. Don’t get caught up in telling long stories and forgetting what they wanted to know in the first place.
  • Research the organization or company you’re interviewing with. Even one factual tidbit will let the interviewer know that you’re serious.
  • Bring your resume, no matter how many times you know they’ve seen it.
  • Smile and try to have a good time!
  • Follow up. Thank you note or not, it’s a helpful reminder to email or drop a line to keep your presence fresh in their mind. If not for now, maybe down the road.

It’s a daunting but exciting feat to obtain an art-related job. Internships are competitive and really test your ability to thrive under pressure. In between final projects, tests and papers, it’s hard sometimes to figure out what you want to brand yourself as and ultimately, how. Think about your business card, your website and consider how cohesive they are to representing you and your work. Art school is a competitive business but don’t be afraid to show your work to peers and ask for feedback. We should all be well-versed in giving active and helpful critique by now so offer to do that same for your friends too.

We’re hoping to acquire an intern as our business grows down the road. Who knows, maybe it’ll be you. Best of luck to each and every one of you!

-Y-

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