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The Thriving Artist - The Clark Hulings Fund 15th December 2016
Balancing Art, Life, and Business

Balancing Art, Life, and Business

After recovering from a health scare, Aletta de Wal took her skills in corporate training and development and applied them to artists in Artist Career Training, a business coaching enterprise that focuses on small group classes, home studies, and one-to-one advisement for artists. She is also the author of My Real Job is Being an Artist, which is the winner of the 2016 Benjamin Franklin Award for Best Voice in Non-fiction.

In this hour long show, Aletta takes the time to talk about her transition from corporate life into artist advisement, and her take on balancing life and business. Topics Include:

Artist Career Training:

  • Marketing & the Importance of Consistency
  • What is an Artist Advisor, anyway?
  • Creating a signature body of work
  • “The general curriculum began as one single program; then, I gradually said one size does not fit all.”
  • “As I saw artists struggling the last 15 years, I began to realize that most of them are coming to me with some knowledge of what they had to do, but they didn’t know where to start.”
  • “Most of them, will take my home study programs, for example, and they’ll go through the first and the second one on their own because I like people to be able to manage their learning as their time demands. Then, they will come to me for some coaching.”

Artist and Corporations:

  • “If you look at some of the performance management systems that corporations use, they’re elucidating for artists, and I use them in my coaching.”
  • “An art business is a business, so artists could use [corporate] tools to look at their careers in a different way.”
  • “If corporations could open up to the fact that they use art and artists every day in their business, they could be supporting artists and overall creating a more vibrant economy.”
  • “There’s a real need to bring back the essence of what art is for humanity and culture.”

Self-Sustaining Art Career:

  • Art as a hobby
  • “Artists have to realize it’s not going to happen in two years, for most of them.”
  • “The first thing an artist needs is a very strong body of signature art because if you have that and continually refine it, that takes you back to the reason you’re doing all of this.”
  • “The second thing is, if you want a sustainable career then don’t build a business vision that is so far away from where you are now that it feels impossible because you’ll just give up before you really go far.”
  • “Artists need to have good work habits. If you don’t go into the studio every day, it’s unlikely you’re going to have a body of work to travel across the country in 25 years or even 50 years unless you’re actively working at that.”
  • Artists need to ask themselves, “What do I need to support myself and my family and my art business in the way that I’m accustomed to or want to and what it’s going to take for me to get that?”
  • “Artists typically don’t and that’s why I think organization like yours and Artist Career Training have an important role to play.”